The new year is a great time to look at starting a photography project, though any time of the year has its merits. It’s always good to be involved in a project, this will give your photography a lot of focus. Working within the constraints of a defined creative photography project will also make you think out problems, and come up with innovative solutions. It’s great to go out photographing every weekend, you will find your level quickly plateaus if you do that. To push past that point it’s recommended you choose a project, and work through it to completion.
Planning your creative photography project
As with anything in life, it’s important to make a plan. This is a big step towards being successful. There are a number of projects you could attempt, but before you do, think about the following points:
- Give yourself time. Keep in mind the amount of free time you have. Is it realistic for you to complete the project? There are some projects that take a real commitment of time, make sure you have a good plan in place if this is the type of project you decide to take on. Are there any important events in the next year such as a wedding or a house move that might make it difficult?
- Plan out all the details. If your project is a long term one, perhaps lasting a whole year, then make a plan for how you’ll achieve it. A 365 project is especially demanding as you need to take a photograph every day. Take the time to plan every day of the project if you can, and do this prior to starting the project.
- Allow for the unexpected. There will be times when you get sick, come home late, and your drive or motivation isn’t quite there. The plan you make for your project should include some easy days. Think of it as cooking ahead and having some frozen food in the fridge ready to reheat. In photography, there are always a number of photos that are very easy to take, but that nevertheless look striking. Have a number of the easier photos held back for the times you need a break.
12 creative photography projects to energize your work
Taking the advice above into consideration, you’re now ready to choose a project. As a year is 12 months, there are 12 project ideas to choose from. There is a mixture of projects, some you can do in a weekend, and some that will take all year. Take your pick, or choose more than one!
#1 – The 52-week project
This is a year-long project where you’re going to take one photograph per week. Taking on a year-long project is demanding, giving yourself a week to plan each shot will help. This type of project could simply be one photo a week, or you could customize it.
- You can have a monthly theme. This might be a month of portraits, one month of landscapes, one month of spring, and so on.
- A particular theme can be chosen for each week. The first week can be shadows, followed by camera rotation, with digital blending after that.
The 52-week project is a great one to choose as you can work on it on the weekends, and it allows some planned photographs to happen.
#2 – 365-day projects
This is an intimidating project to take on, which is why many people go for the 52 week version listed above. Like a relationship you have to put a lot of time into, the reward for this is often worth it. The original 365-project was a self-portrait one, which made it even tougher to complete. A lot of people doing this now simply look to take one good photograph per day be that landscape, portrait, or macro. The following are a few ideas you might attempt.
- The self portrait 365 project, take a selfie every day for a year.
- What’s on your plate? Show the world by photographing your meal everyday.
- Life at sea, show the different aspects of sea life. This is a diverse project that can include seascapes, macro photos, fisherman, and underwater photography if you have the gear.
#3 – One consistent theme
Keeping all your photographs channeled to just one theme can really focus your mind, though some themes can be more diverse than others. This creative photography project can easily be combined with a 365, or 52-week project, and below are just a few of the ideas possible.
- Concentrate on a technique. Produce photographs that only use a crystal ball, or are all infrared photographs.
- Use a topic for inspiration. Look at everyday objects and occurrences and photograph only Chinese food, for example. Another option is clothes, you could make a project on denim, or if you’re in Korea you could photograph hanbok.
- Photograph at the same time every day. Pick a time of the day and photograph at this time only. The time of 6 pm has many different types of light that will change throughout the year.
# 4 – Limited yourself to 24 photos
Those that still photograph film will attest the need to really consider every photograph, and with 24 frames to play with that’s not much. The number of photographs you allow yourself is a personal choice, to make it meaningful keep to a smaller number. Using 24 is a nice number as it harks back to the days of film, and those holidays when you’d take two or three roles with you. To really emulate the feeling of shooting film with a digital camera try only allowing 24 photographs for one week, and no deleting! Now every time you hit the shutter you really need to know you’re photographing the best possible angle, learning to do this will improve your work.
#5 – A musical song or album
Delving into other mediums is a great way to come up with a cool creative photography project. A lot of people take the photo, and then make a title to go with it. A better approach for creativity is to know the title of your photograph before you take the photo. Now that you will have to plan the concept to fit the title of your shot, are you capable of the problem solving involved in this creative process?
Going to your favorite music album or song for the title of your photo can be a great project.
- The project could use an artist’s album titles.
- You could choose song titles, and turn them into photo titles.
- The lyrics in songs can often be poetic, and well suited to photographic concepts.
#6 -Use only one lens
Like anything new when you first get it, you’ll use that thing all the time. Whether your lens is new or it’s been hanging around in your camera bag for a while, focusing in on just one lens is a great idea.
A really good lens to get started with on this project is the nifty 50, that fixed focal length will force you to consider composition more carefully. All the lenses you could choose for this will have their merits, try for the extreme though with a fisheye, tilt-shift or macro lens.
7 – Only use a Smartphone
Who says your creative photography project has to be hi-tech? There is a lot to be said for stripping your photography gear down to the basics, and your Smartphone is great for this.
Everyone knows Instagram, but apps such as isynchflash, autostitch, and slow shuttercan give your phone dSLR-like functionality. There are external lenses as well, so the Smartphone can really have punch. This all said, the purest for this type of photography project will say only use the phone’s basic camera app, and see what you can do with composition, light, and moment of capture. You get to decide how you do it.
#8 – Find a story
Wherever you’re from, there will be a story to tell. The story you tell will differ depending on whether you live in the city, the country, a hot climate, or a cold one. Is the area where you live famous for any type of food? Are there any famous landmarks such as castles or temples nearby. How about an annual festival, the town fair could be a good opportunity.
Once you have settled on your story, approach it in the way you’d photograph for a magazine. This will give you invaluable experience at this type of photography. You never know when you’ll get a chance to photograph for a magazine, reading this article will help you organize the types of photographs you need to take.
#9 – Learn a totally new technique
Once you’re competent with your camera it’s easy to get into a comfort zone. The idea of learning a new technique is both exciting and intimidating. It’s also a real time commitment. There are not many creative photography projects more energizing than learning something brand new, though. Here are some exciting ideas to try:
- Digitial blending – This is a good technique to help improve both your landscape photography and your photoshop skills. There are aspects of this that are tough to master, but well worth it when you do.
- Crystal balls – The use of a glass ball as a type of external lens to refract an image is a lot of fun, find out more here. 7 Tips for Doing Crystal Ball Refraction Photography or How to Create Glass Ball Landscapes – 6 Techniques
- Light painting – This is a hot topic in photography, and a vast area to experiment with. Will you learn to take zoom bursts? How about making light orbs, or using a Pixelstick?
- Drone photography – Another type of photography that’s becoming increasingly popular. Invest in a drone, and get to the cutting edge of photography.
- Hyperlapse – Take a series of photos and turn them into a video, some of the most creative photography projects out there today use this technique.
- Off-camera flash – Many find using flash in their photography difficult to master. Take the time to get this kind of photography right and you’re going to go a long way.
#10 – Potluck photography party
Everyone’s been to a potluck party, they’re the ones where everyone brings along their own food. The collaborative nature of potluck parties makes them perfect for getting together with other photographers for your creative photography project.
The idea is a simple one. Working with others allows for a lot of creative potential. Everyone has their strengths, so use them! How do you organize a potluck photography party then? Each person can bring the following with them.
- A camera body and one camera lens.
- One prop or piece of camera equipment.
Those restraints mean you might only have one tripod in your group, or someone could bring an umbrella with them. Every event the available equipment will be different, offering different photography opportunities each time. Each participant should have the chance to work on their own photograph using the available equipment, so if the group is large consider dividing into smaller groups.
#11 – A-Z photography list
This type of project can be a long or short term one, the aim is to photograph the alphabet. It’s an adaption of a language game where you make lists based on a theme such as animals or food. In this case, you don’t just write the list out, you photograph it as well! This is a fun game that could be used as an icebreaker for a new group of people meeting for the first
This is a fun game that could be used as an icebreaker for a new group of people meeting for the first time or just a way of collecting those letters in the alphabet over the long term.
#12 – A day in the life
A day in the life projects are good short ones to work on, and they last just one day! That doesn’t mean you have to stop there, though, as you could decide to do a series of different people. The project doesn’t even have to be about people, life is everywhere and could mean your pet, or the ecosystem of a tree. That said the best projects are those that are about people, and their lives. A day in the life that looks at different people’s professions is a great choice.
Get started with your creative photography project!
There are many ideas on which to focus your photography, these 12 ideas are here to get you going on a creative photography project of your choice. One of the biggest hurdles is starting, so make that plan and then dive in!
There will be plenty of people reading this who have already tried out some of these ideas, we’d love to hear from you in the comments. What was your experience? Are you in the middle of a project right now? Are there other project ideas you’d like to share with everyone here? Let’s hear from you if intend to do a project, what project are you planning? Most importantly once you have finished a project share your results right here.