7 Photography project ideas to inspire you

Photographers get their creativity challenged

 

In the world of creation, inspiration can sometimes be hard to come by.  

However, a simple goal or project can really change things. By just having some sort of end game, creative juices have no choice but to flow.

The challenge for us photographers is no less daunting than it is for any other person practicing an art form out there. Photography can also be even more challenging because of the technical aspect all photographers must factor in when wanting to get better.

Portrait of woman in leather jacket looking to the right
This photo is the result of my flash photography challenge of making a white backdrop anything but white.

In this article

 

I thought that it might be nice to share a couple of photography project ideas that I have found not only made me a better photographer artistically but made me better technically. Some of my ideas might surprise you. So if you are curious, read on.

1  A picture a day

 

A picture a day project is viable if there is a point in your day that you can allot to photography. This type of project is cool because it forces a discipline on photographers who might be less organized. This type of project offers a time constraint/deadline to what you might see as just a hobby.

So, for those photographers who consider themselves a bit less disciplined than most people, get your game on. This challenge is for you.

Theme project examples could be:

 

  • Mornings in the month of May 
  • My daughter’s growth 
  • Behind the scenes of a big event preparation

With all the students I work with, I always get feedback that they never thought they could come out with insightful, creative, and original content.

2  Gear restrictions The anti-G.A.S*. project 

 

A gear restriction photography project tells the photographer to create an outing with only limited camera gear. This gear can be a camera body, a camera lens, and even a type of photography medium.

flagpole illuminated in the museum of natural history in New York
Taken in New York where I spent the whole day only using my Fujifilm XF 18-55 f/2.8-4.0

Examples of gear restriction projects are:

 

  • Shoot a project only using film 
  • Shoot landscapes on a day hike with only a 23mm fixed focal
  • Get the best street photography with only an 18-55mm zoom
  • Only take pictures with a compact camera
  • An iPhone only photography outing 

Photography projects with gear restrictions force the photographer to abandon the idea that they absolutely need a piece of gear they do not have. It also gets a photographer to explore and appreciate what photo gear they already have.

*G.A.S. stands for Gear acquirement syndrome. Check out this humorous video on that very topic!

3  Associate a non-visual with a visual goal. 

 

Sometimes a photography project can be a little less time-constrained and more ongoing. These types of photo projects tend to be a bit more conceptual. If you want to hone your communication skills, associate a non-visual goal with a visual medium of communication. This exercise can work wonders.

Examples of non-visual photography project goals would be

 

  • Make 10 photos that communicate happiness
  • Make a photo collage that accentuates surprise
  • Present 40 photos that show the passage of time
Woman doing a handstand on a railway
My balance series and flexibility

4  Drive somewhere and capture the local beauty

 

Every place has its magic. Unfortunately, we are often blind to the magic of a place when we live there too long. Because we are all so blind to the magic of our surroundings that your best bet is to browse your local area’s tourism website; they design these sites to sell your area and, therefore, can point you in the right direction.

Back of a woman in front of a waterfall
The Montmorency falls are a 10 minute drive from my doorstep. On this photoshoot, Claudia mentioned that we should go and shoot at the base. Sometimes beauty is right in front of us and we do not see it
Back of a woman in front of a waterfall
Closer crop You could not ask for a better backdrop for a photoshoot than a majestic waterfall!
Back of a woman in front of a waterfall
Closest crop

Never underestimate the magic of your own home.

5  Pretend you have a contract 

 

To pretend to have a contract is more of an attitude approach than an actual project idea.

The idea is to pretend that you’ve received an order from a client for a specific type of visual. I strongly suggest that you put all the time constraints and limitations that a contract might have into this fictitious contract order. However, remember that, since you are inventing this project, you can make it as fun as you want.

 

This type of photography project forces a project goal on the photographer and permits a photographer to practice for real-life projects that might arise in the future.

Examples of this can be:

 

  • My friend’s wedding
  • Marketing a local coffee shop (go in and take pics and pretend they are for their site)
  • Pretend you work for the local tourism board

This type of project also forces you to do a lot of research because you will be looking at photography norms, competitors’ websites, and already successful campaigns to base your project on.

6  Make a photography aspect your mission. 

 

When I speak of photography aspects, I am talking about ISO sensitivity, shutter speed, color, and aperture

So, you might want to explore a project where you force ISO sensitivity to be at 1600 even on a sunny day. This will force you to readjust with other aspects of your gear to get what you want. You are not only increasing your technical skillset but also pushing a different look onto your photography.

Examples of projects that might be challenging

 

  • Shooting only in Aperture priority or shutter priority (ex all photos in f/4)
  • Only photos with ISO 1600 
  • Get photos where bokeh is perfect
  • Concentrate on the color green

7  Original self-portraits

 

Doing a self-portrait project hones two skillsets and solves multiple problems at the same time.

 

  • By making the subject yourself, you force a photographer to understand the subject.
  • You also get pictures of yourself. Good self-portraits of a photographer have got to be one of the rarest things out there

I do not know one photographer that can honestly say that they have enough photos of themselves. 

Photo of a photographer holding a camera to his eye
I have experimented with self portraits. However, I am aware that a self portrait project should be done once a year.

The self-portrait projects also force you to get past the self-awareness that every person has in photography. I still struggle with this. For me, it has to do with getting past the vanity of taking pictures of me. I am just not comfortable with it.

This is precisely the reason why a self-portrait project is perfect for me. The goal is to get out of your comfort zone.

Conclusion: The rules for these 7 project ideas

 

All my project ideas revolve around two fundamental concepts. These projects either have a challenge or a restriction tied to them or both. Although I might be giving away my secret, it is essential to know that you can develop your projects if you incorporate these two concepts no matter what your reality is. So my last piece of advice is to create your own challenges.

Remember that nothing limits you when it comes to combining 2 or even 3 of the challenges. For instance: You can try a self-portrait project that uses only a 23mm lens.

Remember to embrace your mistakes

 

Another thing to remember is that some failures bring about great wins. You might start with a project goal but end up with another more amazing project conclusion.

 

Now stop reading this article and go out and shoot!

Jacques Gaines looking in a camera pointing upward

About the author

 

I am a photographer, videographer, and copywriter living in Quebec City, Canada. I also have a YouTube channel and an Instagram account dedicated to creation and creativity via my main loves of photography, music, and writing.

To get in touch with me and discuss your collaboration, service needed, or advice, either go to the contact page and write to me via the contact form at the foot of this page.

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