No matter what your career goals it’s important to always stay on top of your craft. We gain experience and wisdom through practice and photography is no different. The best way to do this is by challenging ourselves and pushing the limits of our comfort zone. Below are a few photo projects to help enhance your skills as a photographer.
1. 365 Projects
We’ve touched on this subject with more detail before. Now that the new year is approaching there’s no better time to think about a theme for your next 365 project than now. The best way to come up with a good one is to think about an aspect of photography you’re not too familiar with. Perhaps you’re portrait photography isn’t at the level you’d like it to be. Commit yourself to taking at least one portrait each day, even if it’s of the same person or even yourself.
Many feel 365 projects can be intimidating because there’s this notion that you must share your progress with the world via social media. Not so. There’s no reason you should feel obligated to publicize your project (although many find it motivating to do so). Whether you keep it to yourself or share it on Instagram, as long as you keep at it and work on developing your craft you’ll be well on your way to becoming a better photographer.
2. Night Photography
Here’s another example of a project that helps you step outside your comfort zone. Many who venture into the realm of night photography often find there are many unexpected challenges when switching over to the dark side. These challenges reach far beyond lighting and shadows. Composition, perspective, and subject matter change drastically when capturing after the sun has gone down.
An added challenge is to visit the same location during daylight hours and then come back to the same spot and comparing your images. You’ll find that more often you’ll see things in the dark that would have never gotten your attention during the day. Or that, what seemed like a dull subject for your image at noon is suddenly transformed into a focal point in your night shot.
Capturing an image that has texture in is completely different than purposefully seeking out textures as a subject matter. The latter can definitely help you hone in on your attention to detail in your pictures. You start to notice textures in things you often take for granted, like hair or your sofa cushion. You slowly begin to realize that there is texture everywhere but it’s up to you to and your artistic eye to bring it to the foreground.
4. Single Point Perspective
Here’s one of my personal favorite (and somewhat on-going) photo projects. One-point perspective photos are some of the most captivating images you’ll see, yet some of the most difficult to accomplish successfully. They require patience and a steady hand. When you come across an opportunity to capture this type of image you’ll often find yourself thinking critically about how to get the shot just right. You’ll climb fences, get down into the dirt, and pretty much risk your life in front of oncoming traffic to get one of these beauties. But I assure you the result are often satisfying.
5. Tell a story
More and more, with the advent of video capabilities in DSLRs, photographers are expected to capture motion photography as well as stills. This is often a smooth yet scary transition for many photographers. On the one hand, many of the same rules apply; composition, exposure, perspective. On the other hand, unlike a single still image, you are now faced with the challenge of telling a story over time. Whereas a photograph has the ability to tell a story, it is frozen in time and the viewer is the one left with the task of interpreting the story within the image captured by the artist. With video, however, you are in charge of presenting the story the way you want the viewer to see.
I’ve found that a great bridge between the two worlds is to use multiple photographs and arrange them in a way that tells a consecutive story. In other worlds, the project as a whole will need a beginning, middle, and end. This project is particularly fun in the sense that you can go as elaborate as hiring actors, stylists, and wardrobe or simply using what’s available to create a story line. The sky’s the limit.
Do you have a special photo project planned for the new year? If so, share it with our readers by clicking this link and telling ARC about your project. You just might “Get Featured” on ARCblog in 2015.