This past week we met as scheduled, with one difference. Instead of bringing work in progress, everyone brought work from 15 or more years ago. I have seen enough of each person's newer work to have a pretty good idea of their styles, yet this was the first time I'd seen anyone's photography from before about 5 years ago. It was a very enlightening experience. Each person's work was obviously still their own --the raw roots of their visual strategy was evident --yet strangely different. Rawer. More direct. Perhaps more transparent? It was a bit like when you go to someone's wedding and meet their oldest friends and their parents and siblings, and it shows you a way of looking at that person you hadn't considered. For me it cast a new deeper perspective on everyone's current photography.
If you have a regular photo group, especially one that's been meeting for several years, I suggest you try this for just one meeting. Everyone bring old work that is unfamiliar to the others, that is hopefully radically different from what you are doing now. It's certain to generate intellectual sparks.