7 minute read
Photography Project Ideas to Inspire You
Sometimes, all you need is a reason to pick up your camera. Here are some top photography project ideas to ignite your creative flame
The difference between a group of unconnected photos and a bona fide photo series is intention. Initiating a photography project requires a considered approach to the whole undertaking, thinking deliberately about the result as a sum of its parts. The knowledge that your images will be viewed together as a body of work should influence subject choice, composition, and post-processing.
This is a considerable effort, but once completed, can be viewed as a true achievement. A finished photography series gives you something concrete to display, showcasing both your image-making ability and capacity to weave a narrative, or create work that goes beyond a single impressive photo.
Whether you’ve never completed a photo series before, or you’re a veteran creator seeking new horizons, read on for some ideas to inspire your next photography project.
1. Document Your Locale
This is a rite of passage for any camera owner. What better stomping ground is there for honing your photography skills than just beyond your front door? But while you have almost certainly made plenty of photos of your local area already, try reapproaching this subject with the express intention of creating a photographic series.
Whether you’re creating landscape, architectural, street, or any other genre of photography, dial in a style that connects all the images in your project. This is something to think about from the planning stage – long before stepping outside.
The great thing about a photo project like this? It’s a win-win. If you live somewhere rarely photographed, you will be creating a unique series, finding and documenting the beauty of a place that might not be considered conducive to photography.
However, if you live in a regularly pictured area, you’re forced to search out new and inventive perspectives. Either way, you’ll be looking with fresh eyes at things you see every day – not as a passive observer, but as a photographer.
2. Make a Photo Every Day
Taking on a daily photo project will not only challenge your creative vision, but it can also help if you’re experiencing a creative dip and need some extra motivation to get out and make images.
It’s a simple concept: make one photo every day. Beyond this, the brief is open to interpretation. It can be treated as a kind of photographic journal, where you create images without much forethought, or it can be made with the utmost consideration: for example, a series of photographs demonstrating the gradual change of seasons.
Daily photography projects can run for a month, a year, or longer still – but consistency is critical. Depending on how long it lasts, it could become a visual representation of how your personal style – your composition, lighting choices, and the type of subject you are drawn to – changes throughout a given period, leaving a record of your creative development.
This forces you to stay constantly on the lookout for photographic opportunities. What’s more, it gives you a reason to always carry a camera – so you won’t be caught short next time the perfect image-making scenario unexpectedly emerges. Fundamentally, it will help deliberately make more room for photography in your day-to-day life.
3. Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
While routine is essential for a consistently streamlined workflow, too much of anything can eventually stifle your inspiration. A great solution in a situation like this is to challenge yourself to create a photo project completely outside your usual genre. If you normally spend your time making landscape images, try creating a portrait series. For sports photographers, have a go at a street photography project.
This trains you to open your mind and look for photographic subjects beyond the confines of one style. You’ll be forced to search for compositions in places you scan past all the time. There’s nothing like creating an architectural project to make you pay close attention to the shapes and textures of the buildings you walk by every day.
Photography projects like this will also make you a more well-rounded image maker, helping develop genre-specific skills to take back to your usual area of expertise. Or it might awaken a completely new passion for a previously unexplored aspect of the craft!
4. Restrict Yourself
This suggestion for a photography project makes use of an idea called ‘creative limitation’. The theory is that by purposefully adding constraints to the way you make photos, you can force yourself to be more creative. This concept has seen a lot of success among creators of art, music, and film.
Some photography challenge ideas could be using just one prime lens, or committing to making images only in manual exposure mode for a whole project. The former could help you become a more spontaneous photographer, leaving the kit bag at home to avoid gear indecision. While the latter may help you slow down, becoming more considered and purposeful with capturing light.
An advantage of building a photographic series around this kind of concept is that the images will already be visually linked by the limitation you impose.
Restrictive photography challenges are meant to make the process slightly unfamiliar, compelling you to discover innovative solutions. They also sharpen your technical abilities, helping you recognize the perfect conditions for the setups and settings you’ve been limited to, ultimately making you a better all-round image maker.
5. Perfect a New Technique
If you need some photography inspiration for your next project, try dedicating a series to mastering a new technique. Certain image-making procedures have limited use cases, meaning even experienced photographers are not as familiar with them as they may like.
Creating a project based on a single technique parallels how an illustrator might fill a sketch book with studies on a particular feature – that is, the idea that practice makes perfect. You could create a series focused on something simple such as monochrome images, or a more advanced technique like creating double exposures or star trails.
Again, this project idea naturally lends itself to creating a coherent photo series, as the images produced will have a clear visual link. Yet, by framing a broad range of subjects, you’ll add variety to the finished work – while also deepening your understanding of how to apply the technique you’re perfecting.
No photographer starts with complete knowledge of how to employ every technique – only through trial and error are skills like this perfected. Dedicating a project to a single method can be beneficial – it never hurts to add another string to your bow.