It’s good advice to say the more you go out and take pictures with your camera, the more you’ll learn about how to use it. You’ll find that it’ll make you happier with the pictures that you’re taking. But it can be incredibly hard to keep coming up with ideas of places to go and things to shoot. So I thought I’d sit down and brainstorm a list of some photography project ideas to give you a start. That I feel are easy to have a go at, and follow, and will get you out taking more pictures. In fact I’d go as far to say that you don’t need any extra accessories or software to have a go at these projects.
1 365 project/52 project
The 365 project is taking a photo every day for a year. And the 52 project is a photo every week for a year.
Pick the one that will suit you and your lifestyle best. On one hand a photo every day could be a self portrait documenting your year, which is a great idea that has you thinking of all kinds of other subjects that could fit nicely with it.
But at the same time it is a large commitment that, as I know can be a struggle to keep up with! On the other hand you may like the 52 project more, as it gives you more time to plan what you want to do each week. You could even pick themes for each week, like black and white or a different angle to shoot from each week. Yes there’s a long time commitment with this one but the rewards will be great also.
2. Black and White project
How about taking all your photos in black and white for a month (otherwise known as monochrome). I’d pick at least a month so you can have a real good go at concentrating on this style (or more if you wish).
Doing this makes you look at your subject more. Because monochrome has some real strengths that you can look for, that will create really eye catching images. High contrast situations work really well, and look out for strong lines and shapes that will stand out. So when colour is taken away the shape and structure takes over and speaks for itself. That’s why architecture can look so cool in black and white.
3. 10 shots in 10 feet of where you are
I heard about this one from Chase Jarvis. It’s self explanatory, but you may be surprised what you can find right under your nose when you really look for it. I loved doing this one probably because when I got going with it, it surprised me the most.
Even if you’re doing it from home there’s so much in the kitchen and garden or even on your street that can be interesting to take. You could cover food, macro, wildlife, lifestyle and street photography for instance with just them. It’ll definitely make you look closely at everyday items and help you become a bit more creative…
4. Only use the camera on your mobile phone
I know, this one makes me jittery too. It’s so often the camera that you have on you all the time. And the one that probably gets overlooked the most when thinking about taking a ‘decent’ photo.
But this will make you look at composition and how you are going to take the picture a lot more. Because you don’t have all the distractions with the features and settings and lenses on your phone that you have on say a DSLR. So you are getting to know the camera on your phone, and what it’s strengths are or aren’t. This means you’ve learnt it’s limitations and therefore you know how to get the best out of it, when it’s the only camera to hand.
5. Your local area
As we go about our busy daily routines, it can be easy to not even notice what is going on around us, so it can be great to just stop and look. I’m lucky to have a large city to one side of where I live and beach and countryside to the other. So depending on what I want to do, I can go for Cityscapes and Architecture or Beach and Landscapes. You don’t even have to look that far a field. I have a park right around the corner if I’m looking for wildlife and nature.
It can be surprising what is on your doorstep that you pass everyday…
What do you have locally that’s easy to get to, and could give you some photo opportunities?
6. Pick a lenses and use only that for a month
Pick a lens and only use that, the 50mm is a good example as it’s small and light (I love doing this one with my 50mm lens). And again it makes you look at composition and the subject differently, because you are confined to the one focal length.
One focal length or fixed focal length means whether it’s a 35, 50 or 85mm lens you only have that one size of lens to use. In other words you can’t zoom in or out (fixed length = not a zoom). It means you get to zoom with your feet! And I find that gets me moving more around my subject. Also then you get to see something that you wouldn’t have seen before.
7. Go the Zoo
Go to your nearby Zoo, Safari Park or Nature Reserve and watch the animals.
Which can be so interesting just on it’s own. And hey you’re at the Zoo!
But the key to this one is to be patient, take your time and notice how the animals move. This will give you ideas for your pictures. Do you want to get them on their own or in a group? What is the interaction like between them? When is feeding time! Taking notes like this will give you a load of photo opportunities.
Having a zoom for this one to get close enough to the animals could be an advantage.
8. Sunrise and/or Sunset
Depending which time of year it is can depend on which one you choose here. I know 5am mornings can be a bit of a push sometimes, but you do tend to be on your own. Where as sunset, especially in popular spots can be more crowded, so it comes down to personal preference I think. Either way the colours that you get can be amazing. But it is a good idea to check the sunrise/sunset times so you don’t miss it, and remember to give yourself time to set up. And it does pay to get there a bit early.
There are two times that you are looking for to get the most out of your sunrise and sunsets, the Golden hour and the Blue hour.
Golden hour is a short bit of time just after sunrise and before sunset when the sun is lowest in the sky and creating the warmest colours, reds and oranges, hence Golden hour.
Blue hour is when the sun is just under the horizon, so just before dawn or just after sunset. When you can still see some reflected light from the sun but it’s not up and everything gets a blue hue to it.
9. Capture the world from a different angle
It can be so easy to get stuck taking the same angles and orientations for your pictures. Using the traditional angles for a landscape or portrait. But there are so many great viewpoints that create very interesting and creative images.
Look up, look below, shoot from the hip or shoot from an angle very low down?
It’ll train you to look beyond the obvious, even if you do that first and then explore what else could look interesting. Either way it’s good and fun to experiment.
Ok this can be a hard one if you’re hungry, but I love doing food photography.
There’s gorgeous patterns everywhere in raw food, like onions for example and very vivid colours like limes.
I think this kind of food photography can be so creative and easy to do. You can get great results using just natural and available light. If your getting shadows though, just use a large piece of white card on the opposite side to the light and that will reduce them.
If you’re up for a multi tasking challenge, then you can take pictures of what you cook while cooking it, which can get messy…
If you’re going to take a picture of your food while eating out, ask for a table by the window. So you have as much natural light as possible.
And there we go, 10 photography project ideas that are easy to do without a whole load of extra equipment. And also in most cases I think fairly easy to fit around our hectic lives.
But what ideas do you have for a photography project or theme that could get us inspired. Let me know in the comments…