Collaborating Artist, Lysa Morgan (aka Dazzle!), plans to do the project at a local event and requested some instructions on how to do the project... so here goes (also for anyone else who wants to do it at a festival, fair or any sort of event).

(1) Ask people to write their answer to "Why do you do what you do?" BIG on card paper.
(2) They fill out info on reverse side (name & release form)
(3) You take their picture.
(4) Upload to this site.


1st fileHANDOUT of sample images. This helps a ton when you are recruiting people to participate, (examples go a long way!), so print a bunch of copies.

2nd fileTIPS for asking "wdydwyd?" effectively (it's harder than you might think).

3rd fileSUBJECT RELEASE FORM to be copied on card stock, and which is also used for the sign. You don't have to use this, but if you did, it gets you permission to use the images for exhibits or publication down the line. That's a nice option to have even if you don't have plans for it right now.

4th file (in subsequent post in this thread) — JPG of the same HANDOUT of sample images, which can be used to print an 8x10 photo, which can be nice to have one copy of (optional of course).

5th file (in subsequent post in this thread) — Collaborating Artist License, which is an agreement between you and me... so we can include the photos in upcoming BM exhibits or anything else like a book we might do (all the Collaborating Artists at BM08 did this too). Again, this is optional. It would enable you to potentially be included in a book, which I plan to publish at some point, as well as exhibits we get invited to do such as at Burning Man or at UCLA like we did last year.


1) MOMENTUM MATTERS — Prime the pump by getting a critical mass of folks in line to do portraits, then you'll get more demand than you can handle. Without critical mass, people can be pretty shy about stepping up.

2) RECRUIT CO-CONSPIRATORS — It REALLY helps to have three or four people to help facilitate. They focus on recruitment & intake, which allows you to focus on shooting. Their basic assignment is (a) recruit people (mostly just at first), (b) explain what the project is and show a few examples, and (c) challenge people to take their answers a step or two deeper (this usually requires a conversation, which can be pretty meaningful for them, and is partly why you need several people to help). It's actually not very easy to get people to write compelling answers (but a fun/meaningful challenge to take on). Co-consipirators usually have lots of fun doing "intake" b/c they meet new people and have conversation that is beyond party-chat. (fyi, people who do personal coaching or group facilitation often are really good at this role)

3) WHY COMBINE SIGNS + RELEASES — I should explain in more detail a key tactic to keep organized during the rush of taking photos: have model releases available on card stock. People write their answer to wdydwyd with thick marker on one side and also fill out contact and "releases" info on the other side. Using the RELEASES is optional. If you want any of your images to be included in future books or exhibits that I produce or other things you may want to produce, it's smart to get releases, otherwise it's not necessary. So, if you do releases, send copies to me and I'll send you back a spreadsheet that enables you to quickly find who's who based on the content of their sign.

4) PROMPT EXPRESSIONS — A simple request that often gets a good expression is to ask the person to reflect their statement. If they write, "because I choose to" — I ask them, "Can you give me a because-I-choose-to look?" They may not get it, but they'll give you an odd expression nonetheless.

5) WHAT TO DO ABOUT REJECTION — This project isn't for everyone. We've had some people say "no thanks" on the playa, only to return the next year saying that they thought about the question all year and wanted to do it. The question prompts reflection, regardless of whether people are ready to answer it right then. Also, occasionally people balk at releases (But it's then good not to photograph them b/c they probably don't want the image out there anyway. And, you don't want to keep track of who doesn't do a release. So, politely accept their "no." It's cool.)

1) 10 or more sharpies or thick markers (for writing wdydwyd signs)
2) 10 or more regular pens (for subject release on other side of sign)
3) 3 or more clip boards (optional). But it helps to stock each one with signs/releases.
4) Photocopies of the SUBJECT RELEASE FORM if you chose to use them (on card stock b/c ink shows thru — grey or "off white" b/c signs are more legible).
5) 30 or more cheap photocopies of the HANDOUT (attached PDF) to give people as examples. I can also include a JPG version that you can use to get one nice 8x10 photo print for $3 at Walgreens, which looks great (fyi, the JPG doesn't photocopy as well as the PDF).

AN IDEA — if you do digital photos (or video), you could actually find a way to project a selection during the event itself. People usually love seeing themselves blown up large like that, and it helps recruit folks. You could recruit one volunteer to focus exclusively on getting images, editing them and projecting them.

When you have images, here are upload & sharing instructions.

IMPROVE & ITERATE: Please post any feedback below... or recommendations for others who want to do this project.

Have fun!

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Replies to This Discussion

talk about timing! I just took a look at the website and the How to is listed! Great.

Here are the 4th & 5th files that I couldn't post to the intro message:

4th fileJPG of the same HANDOUT of sample images, which can be used to print an 8x10 photo, which can be nice to have one copy of (optional of course). Walgreens has them for $3 per 8x10, you can upload them here and select a store near you.

5th fileCollaborating Artist License
update, I downloaded the attachments and am going to send an email to the group that is having the party tomorrow to prime the pump... Have to admit I'm not completely sure even I understand the concept but I guess I will after I'm done doing it!
Lysa, I'd love to clarify the explanation... can you tell me what you're not sure about in the concept? (and, I agree, there is no substitute for just jumping in and experiencing something)


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