Ideas for Personal Projects
A personal project. There will always be times when photographic inspiration seems hard to come by, or maybe the options of what to photograph seem overwhelming. It's tempting to wait for the next trip or vacation, to photograph somewhere new and 'exotic'. But often the better projects are closer to home, with themes and subjects you're likely to know the most about.
A few suggestions:
- Your home town. Wherever you grew up or spent much of your life. You know it well, it's history, the places where you have the strongest memories. Matt Day's project Friend of Mine is a good example.
- A local business. It could be somewhere you visit often. Get to know the owner. Offer to tell the story of their company.
- Your passion. It's a common adage to 'photograph what you love'. Maybe it's a sport or a hobby or a band, a social cause or charity or organization or movement.
- At home. Something we often neglect, but your everyday life is full of details that maybe feel mundane but can still be visually interesting and create a strong story. Patrick La Roque does this frequently and effectively on his blog.
And a few tips:
- Shoot plenty but be very selective. As a guideline, think 12-20 images.
- Let the project change and evolve. You may have an initial theme or story in mind that changes as you start to create the images. It's not easy to tell the story that you discover rather than fit the images into the story you initially had in mind.
- Be consistent. Choose b&w or color for all of the images. You might want to use just one focal length. Try to keep the look and feel as consistent as possible in post-processing.
- Use small prints to make final selections and establish an order rather than doing everything online.
- Don't try to make every image a 'hero'. More important is the flow or story through the images, so some might intentionally be there to lead to the next. If it helps, think of a music album. Some tracks are stronger than others but ideally there's a flow. Or a movie. Not every scene will be full of drama or action, some naturally build or lead on to others.
- Be especially careful about the first and last image, how you introduce and conclude the project.
- Be intentional but flexible about the length of the project. Some may be ongoing over a number of years, others you might have much shorter constraints.
Taking the first step, even if that's just jotting down a few ideas, is often enough to get the inspiration flowing.