For many photographers, their camera becomes an extension of themselves. This is how you see the world. In a series of 2 parts, we’ll be looking at a list of photography projects that you could pick up to really diversify your portfolio and have something to do on the side.
On top of learning new techniques, you’re challenging yourself and also improving your portfolio in the process. You can shoot with your camera or your smartphone but either way, you’re going to gain experience from these projects. At the end of the article, we’ll jot down some ideas as to what you can do from the final outcome from your projects.
Stock photographer Arif Jawad spent a whole day walking around London in pursuits of shooting an ad for Apple. All he had on him was his iPhone 7 and a brief to capture London from dusk to dawn capturing emotions, sights and motions.
Inspired by the photographer, you could do something similar. Challenge yourself and devote a day to just photographing a day in the life of your city. The sky’s the limit with this one.
There are two ways to go about this project. One is to photograph objects that start with each letter of the alphabet. This makes your day more eventful because it’s harder than it looks to photograph all the letters! It’s fun looking for the subjects and the element of surprise will potentially produce really great shots. The best part is that you yourself don’t know what you’re going to photograph until you find your subject randomly.
The second way is to literally find the alphabet around the city and photograph it as a collection. You can photograph signs, shop fronts and anything else that resembles letters. There’s a way to be less literal like looking for the letters in landscapes. For example, the curve of a river forming the S-shape or these rails forming an ‘H’.
Still life bokeh
If you don’t feel like getting out of the house and going on adventures, set up a lightbox at home and play around with the things around you. Still life is a popular genre in our database so you won’t go wrong there. Something as simple as a piece of tinfoil can form the bases for a creative photoshoot.
One technique is to position your subject on a sheet of glass with a dark material underneath, crinkle tinfoil and use it as the background. When you shine a lamp or a flashlight at the tinfoil, it will form patterns which makes for a great bokeh effect with a wide aperture.
Check out our interview with Bogdan Dreava and find out how he’s pushing boundaries with still life photography on his free time.
Perhaps it IS time to go on an adventure! If you do go, go with a goal in mind. This project requires you to refine your vision and seek landscapes that are more minimalist. You can shoot a series of minimalist long exposure landscapes. To make this trip even more special, shoot in black and white. Here’s a little inspiration:
If this is something you haven’t tried before, you need to expand your horizons. You probably remember our guest blog on astrophotography or perhaps you’ve seen our special collection. On top of really great tips, Paul Gana encourages everyone to try it at least once – to really embrace the night sky and experiment a little. With some basic research, you can go out in the field and try your hand at a new genre.
Inspired by Stephen Wilkes’s TED talk, “The Passing of Time, Caught in a Single Photo”, this project requires more post-production work and commitment. Although it is one of the more time-consuming projects on this list, it’s rewarding and the results are really striking. Force yourself to try this technique at least once and you’ll be hooked.
50 strangers project
This is a classic project that requires some guts. The idea is to come up to strangers on the street and ask them if you could photograph them. You have to find exactly 50 people. There are other variations to this project such as the 100 strangers project but of course, that is putting more pressure on yourself. Go for a reasonable number.
Coming up to strangers and asking them to take their portrait will not always be a casual encounter. This project teaches you about communication and you will find the results quite amazing when you do get to chat with strangers and come back home with a unique set of photographs.
If you like the project but don’t think you can talk to that many strangers, alter the project brief and photograph people faceless. One of our contributors, Logan Bannatyne, has made living shooting photographs like this.
Social awareness project
This is a chance to dig deeper into social issues relevant to your city. Capturing dramatic moments that influence people and make them think twice is a mission for many photographers. Spend a weekend or a day shooting things you see on the streets. This is great practice if you’re interested in photojournalism.
Also, it’s a great way to meet new people, talk about concerns and issues and become more aware of what goes on around you. These projects are not easy to work with both technically and emotionally, but it’s a rewarding experience that will produce very candid shots with emotional undertones.
How do we even begin here? One of our top photographs is an image of BBQ. Food photography is in constant demand and there is so much room for creativity. For example, food landscapes. This is type of a photoshoot where you play around with the proportions of fruits and vegetables. Establish a sense of narrative and go with it! You can include characters and figures to make it more believable.
You can also pick a day and treat yourself to eating out all day. Take photographs of all the food you’ve had and enrich your portfolio with delicious foodie shots. You can also go to markets to photograph the hectic space. If you have a lightbox at home (which is really easy to make), you can do some fine art food photography.
Looking up architecture
When we wander around buildings, sometimes we miss some of the most intricate details. We’re used to seeing buildings from one vantage point. For this project, pay attention to the ceilings and the incredible work that goes into architecture and interior design. All you have to do is look up. This is rewarding in the sense that you find really striking patterns that make for great abstract imagery.
More inspiration coming your way! One of our recent interviews featured the works of Ahmed Thabet, who photographs architecture in very unusual and innovative ways with an artistic touch.
Pick a theme, stick to it
Of course, these projects don’t come close to mentioning all the possible topics you could shoot. Sometimes a creative spark comes unwantedly, so choose a theme and stick to it. Find something that interests you and make your own project. It’s important that you stick to your ideas. If you have any other project ideas in mind, share them with us in the comments section below.
I’ve picked my photography project, what’s next?
You are bound to have some great shots from your projects, which you can select and submit for photo contests. You have just as many chances of winning as anyone else. It’s time to bring your work out from under the shadows.
Finally, you can print your best photographs and even self publish the winning photographs! This is a more time consuming and costly activity but seeing your work in print makes it that much more special.
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