4 Songs Southeast

Photographer Helynn Ospina plays with the notion of formal strategy and visual design inspired by an exercise from The Photographer’s Handbook.

4 Songs Southeast is a body of work I began creating earlier this year just as restrictions were starting to loosen towards the end of the pandemic. The project was born out of an exercise from the Photographer’s Handbook. As an introvert, the pandemic felt like a deep sigh of relief, but as we started coming out of the lockdown, I felt a deep anxiety growing about the post pandemic world. I wasn’t ready to return to normal, but I knew that creating new work would give me something to focus on. I was too overwhelmed to really “figure out” a new project so I turned to the book and found an exercise created by photographer Shawn Records.


The exercise is simple, roll a pair dice to determine how far you are going to travel and in what direction. The dice I rolled had me journey for 4 Songs, in the southeast direction. The goal of the exercise, as described by Shawn, is to force yourself to explore the world in terms of formal strategy and visual design rather than in terms of objects and things, to develop a broader definition of what is “photogenic”. It continues to be one of my favourite practices for creating new work.


The photographer

Helynn Ospina

A lifelong search for meaning, beauty and identity has taken Helynn Ospina down an unconventional path to photography. An intuitive storyteller with a cinematic eye, she has photographed actors, activists, artists, business leaders, and profile subjects for leading newspapers and magazines.

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