Week 11 – Reflections on Proposals

Much of the week was spent finalizing the Research Proposal and the Work In Process Portfolio.  In the time since the submission of the Oral Presentation, I have been able to spend time on the site doing surveys, verify fixed site locations, run aerial photo mission profiles and begin imaging of flora, fauna and cultural features on the Coul Links site.  Further research and reading has helped to provide more insight into how to do what I plan to do and has revealed that while the project will bear similarities in techniques applied by others in the past, it will also be unique in its scope and its integration of several photographic approaches.

It was interesting (as well as sometimes confusing) to find no clear definitions, and in fact often conflation, of terms like repeat photography and rephotography.  In the end, photography is a creative process and how I choose to adapt various methodologies and techniques to reach a desired outcome is completely independent of what anyone before me has done or how they have chosen to define a particular approach.  I will discuss more in a separate blog post how I have chosen to distinguish between repeat photography and rephotography.

My research project is principally a natural science technique based project that may require some adaptation due to the compressed timeframe in the MA and may result in a slightly non-traditional result compared to a purely scientific approach to a repeat photography project.  To my mind this is perfectly acceptable as long as I am able to convey the story I am attempting to tell about this place over a period of time.

A large part of my time in my nearly 20 years in the aerospace industry and even more in 15 years of consulting work involved working on major proposals.  Most were large scale, complex and high value projects ranging from $100 million to $1 billion plus.  The U.S. Government is generally very prescriptive in the Requests for Proposal on content requirements, page counts, fonts and formats.  Within those constraints it is up to the proposers to determine how best to tell their stories and sell their solutions.  The consultancy for which I first worked was at the time considered the best in the business and had developed a proposal process that had been instrumental in winning nearly every billion dollar program defense and space program in the prior 20 years.  The process was disciplined and iterative one that began broadly and with each iteration increased the level of detail.

Creative work proposals may be generally less prescriptive in form, but nonetheless need to serve the same function as a billion dollar proposal.  One needs to understand the question or problem the client wishes to answer/solve and develop a strategy for creating a solution. What themes will be necessary to convey that story and then what detailed information can be provided to substantiate the proposers credibility and capability to perform.  In the case such as the MA Project proposals, we are not responding to a client brief per se as would be the case in future when trying to embark upon creative personal work.  In this case the principles described above still apply except that one needs to convince someone to buy what we are selling even though they may not have realized they want it.  We often used a series of 7 words beginning with the letter C to convey the essential elements of any proposal; Correct, Compliant (with requirements), Credible, Concise, Coherent, Consistent, and Compelling.  Capture those attributes well and one is likely to have a winning proposal.

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