If you’re in a photography rut or you just want to stretch your creative muscles, photo projects can help you develop new abilities, step outside of your comfort zone and find new inspiration. Whether you’re looking for a one-day experiment or a challenge that will last all year, here are some of the best photo projects for improving your photography skills.
1. Self-PortraitsThis project challenges you to take a self-portrait every day or once a week for an extended period of time. Because you’re working with the same subject, you’ll be forced to find ways to make each photograph unique and different. This is a great time to experiment with wildly different angles, various light levels and interesting photo backdrops. Because you’re your own model, you have the freedom to be as unconventional as you like. If you continue the project a full year or longer, you’ll also have a great documentation of how you’ve changed over time.
2. 365 ProjectOne of the most popular photography challenges out there, the 365 project requires photographers to take one photograph every day for an entire year. While it may be hard to stay the course—especially on days when you’re feeling uninspired or under the weather—the payoff will come at the end of the year, when you have an entire photographic journal to look back on.
3. The Four SeasonsIf you’re intimidated by the idea of tackling the 365 project, scale it back with the four seasons challenge. Simply find an outdoor subject—like a tree, bridge or a field—and photograph it from the same spot in winter, spring, summer and fall. Use a tripod and make note of its height as well as the aperture when you take the original picture, so you can maintain consistency throughout the series.
4. A to Z ProjectPart photography assignment, part “I Spy” game, the A to Z project challenges you to shoot images of single letters as you find them. The letters could be discovered on subway signs, pieces of clothing or storefronts, for example. If you’re up for an added challenge, Digital Camera World suggests limiting yourself to letters with certain backgrounds or colors schemes.
5. Excursion PhotographyIt’s easy to get into a rut when you’re taking photos in front of the same settings. Change your point of view by embarking on a day trip or a weekend excursion that’s solely dedicated to your photography. In addition to documenting the people, landscapes and sights of the location you choose, you can also photograph your transportation route and take self-portraits of your travel experience.
6. Family PortraitsIf you usually stick with outdoor shots or photos of inanimate objects, try your hand at a series of family portraits instead. This challenge can give you valuable practice at giving clear directions and planning various poses. Keep in mind that you may need studio space as well as the proper lighting equipment to pull of a great shoot.
7. Themed PhotosFor a themed photo challenge, choose a particular subject—such as “eyes,” “pavement,” “the color pink” or “harmony”—and commit to taking one picture that adheres to that theme every day or once a week. This is one of the best projects for inspiring you to deeply explore a subject or a visual element, even after the novelty of the theme has worn off.
8. From the HipSome people scoff at the idea of shooting a picture with the camera at your hip. However, this technique often produces unique viewpoints and allows you to capture candid shots without your subjects noticing you. Challenge yourself to shoot from the hip every day for a specified period of time. To get the best results, use a narrow aperture and a fast shutter speed.
9. Animal PortraitsAnimals can be completely unpredictable and challenging to shoot, making this an exciting photo project for even the most seasoned photographers. Set a goal for the number of animal portraits you’d like to take and then venture out to the zoo, the park or your own backyard to capture images of both domestic and wild animals.
10. The Nifty 50Another popular photography project, this challenge involves taking a photo each day with a 50mm lens, for 50 days. Originally designed to mimic the viewing capacity of the human eye, 50mm lenses often capture images that give off a more natural feel. This project also challenges photographers to find creative ways to get the best shots without relying on their zoom functions. Photo challenges provide fun and structured methods for improving your photography abilities and fueling your creativity. Whether you try just one or several of these photo projects, you’re sure to come away with more ideas, greater confidence and a portfolio of spectacular photographs.
What creative photography projects have you completed? Which was your favorite?Interested in learning more about creative photography? Check out How to Add Humor to Your Photography!
-Backdrop Express Photography Team
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