The BCA Photo Group was privileged to have Michael Hintlian as our speaker on January 10. His topic was ‘What is your Big Dig project? What it takes and why you should do it.’ He gave a very personal presentation on his self-assigned, self-funded, multi-year, completely unofficial project to document Boston’s Big Dig. Armed with a hardhat, vest, camera, thousands of rolls of black & white film, and nerve, he repeatedly ventured into Big Dig work sites at all times of day and year to photograph the work and the workers.
The nature - and necessity - of a long-term undertaking was clearly explained in his talk. Michael recounted why he undertook this journey and how even after several years of shooting it was not completely clear to him what his project actually was – the core of what his project meant to him and how he was trying to communicate it. The heart of the work was present but not yet recognized in the thousands of shots he had made. A review of his work with another photographer gave him the final insight into the story he was trying to tell, and from there the work gelled into a unified whole.
It was an important lesson. Transformative work demands dedication, experimentation, repetition, and just plain living with a project long-term to reach the insight needed to execute a project in a way that satisfies the toughest critic of all – the photographer him/herself.
To see Michael Hintlian's work, including images from his Big Dig project, visit his web site.