Start a Photography Project this Year

Jan 21, 2020

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about the value of setting goals to grow and develop as a photographer. In that article, I discussed some essential tips to keep in mind when setting development goals.  One of the points I mentioned was how important practice is to the developing photographer. Practice will help you grow in your technique and as an artist. 

Before starting a photography project, it's essential to consider how much time you have to dedicate to your project. Any attempt at the process of learning will result in positive gains but remember it's a lot more fun when it doesn't feel overwhelming. Choose something that you're passionate about. If you can commit to one passion project, you're more likely to be motivated to pick up your camera even on days when you don't want to. Passion is a powerful motivator! 

Here are a few ideas for photography projects this year: 

1. Daily or weekly project

Project 365s or Project 52s are fantastic ways in which to motivate yourself to pick up your camera. There are many different photography groups, both online and, likely, locally, that you can seek out and join. Sometimes the sense of community and connection in these groups is a motivator in and of itself.

I cannot commit to a daily photography project due to our hectic extracurricular schedule, but I can commit to a P52. I have a fantastic P52 group on Instagram that I love to participate in each week. 

ISO 400, 112mm, f3.2, 1/1000SS

2. Shoot for a theme 

There are many different themes in photography. Shooting for a theme can change week to week or month to month or can incorporate something important to you. I have a loose theme titled, "At the Window." Once a month or more, I photograph a scene at one of the windows in my home. This year, since I have a new puppy, I'll be creating a theme around him as our new furry family member. I want to document his growth and connection to my children and our family.

I know others who commit to a self-portrait once a month. Some photograph with a specific colour in mind for a month and create a collage. Theme based photography can be incorporated into child, macro, landscape and all photography genres. There are no limits here, but having a topic can guide and help you stay focused. At the end of the year, think about printing your images into a little keepsake book. It'll be a beautiful memory. 

ISO 200, 105mm, f3.2, 1/800SS

3. Choose a lens

Do you have a lens that's collecting dust? Perhaps you've always wanted to push yourself to learn how to freelens (see this article if you need help with that) or maybe use a Lensbaby or vintage lens? Choose a specific lens and set a goal for how often you'll capture an image with that lens. 

ISO 500, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/1000SS

4. Photograph for a creative idea or with a creative tool

It's no secret that I adore creative photography. It was a few years ago when I was out in my beloved mountains that I accidentally captured an image with sparkle bokeh created by light hitting a pine tree. Since that time, I have developed a bit of an obsession with finding different ways in which to infuse sparkle bokeh into my images. I look for and see sparkles everywhere! Creative photography ideas are endless! Some of my favourite creative tools are a prism, copper tubing, glass, slime and lace. Creative ideas could include photographing images with intentional motion blur or using creative panning. Choose an idea or tool and make an effort to infuse creativity into your pictures.

ISO 1000, 35mm, f2, 1/200SS

5. Change perspective 

Perspective in photography is a powerful tool. Is there a perspective that you find yourself particularly drawn to but don't often use? I love the results of shooting down. It's a unique perspective that takes some thought and consideration. I tend to compose my images similarly, but when I push myself to shoot down, I find I like the results.

Try shooting down on something, or up at something. Lay down flat or shoot through foreground elements. These changes in perspective are bound to be a fun way to incorporate a project idea into your everyday. 

ISO 1250, 35mm, f3.2, 1/250SS

6. A similar scene in different ways 

 Do you ever feel like you are photographing the same scene? Start a project this year in which you photograph the same scene but in a variety of different ways. I do this a lot in my landscape photography because I often capture the same ranges of mountains. I like to compose my images differently and photograph at different times of the day and night with different types of light and weather. Although I'm photographing the same scene, my images are all different due to the variance in elements. This idea can apply to all genres in photography, and it's a fun and unique way to get creative!

ISO 1000, 14mm, f6.3, 6sec                                                                                         ISO 100, 17mm, f14, 3sec

Photography projects are a fantastic way to practise and develop your photography skills. I do hope you'll begin one this year. If you do start a project, be sure to share it with me! I'd love to hear what you're working on!