Are you in need of some new photography project ideas? Here are 20 ideas to improve your photography, kick start your creativity and document your days!
If you have been shooting for a few years like myself, it can start to feel like you are simply photographing the same things, in the same way, every day. This is when a creative photography project can help you break out of a rut and have you capturing something different, or at least the same thing but in a different way! It not only gives you a new focus, and something new to reach for, but it can also help improve your photography skills immensely so they are great for beginners to more seasoned photographers alike.
For that reason, I have been thinking about tackling a new project next year (to keep me on my toes!) and thought it would be fun to share just some of the photography project ideas I have come across in my travels - see what you think....
You can also grab my free download for this post - 12 Creative Exercises and Photography Projects you can do! They range from from long(ish) projects that span the whole month, to shorter ones that will just take you 30 minutes, so there's a little something for everyone. (And as there's 12 - you can do one of these each month!)
1) Project 365
This is what I have been doing this year, and it's a simple one - you simply take an image each day, every day, for the whole year. It's honestly a lot of fun taking an image each day (even if many of them are just quick snaps with your iPhone) and I treat mine a bit like a photo journal. There are also plenty of sites which can give you ideas on some photographs to take if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by trying to shoot everyday - and you can get your hands on a free ebook with 100 Child and Lifestyle Photography Prompts here if you fancy a list to work from. You can start a Project 365 at any time, it doesn't need to be the 1st of January - just pick a date to start, such as your birthday, your child's birthday, valentines day and so on, and shoot for 365 days from that date.
2) One Subject - 10 Different Photos
If you really want to try and stretch your creativity and don't have time for a long drawn out project, grab any object and challenge yourself to photograph it in around 10 different ways. Think about angles, light, colour and so on, to produce a different image each time. This was one of the first photography projects I ever did, and it's great for helping you think about perspective and composition.
3) A Day In the Life
I just did a Day in the Life project recently, and it was great! I fully intend doing another one before the year is out, and it's something I think I will do at least once a year. Again, it's a simple idea, you simply photograph elements of your day from the minute you wake up to the minute you go to sleep. You can take photos randomly as you go about your day, or one at the same time every hour. It's a wonderful project to document your everyday life, and things you wouldn't normally think to capture.
4) Shoot to a Theme
In this type of photography project, you pick a theme to photograph to. Some examples could be capturing joy, exploring light, shooting from the shadows, or one word themes likes Calm, Street, Macro and so on. Some examples: "War on Seriousness" by Lisa Tichane, where she aims to capture things that make her smile, and "Kids were Here" where a group of photographer post weekly images of evidence that their kids were here by the mess they left behind! Another fab one is "Strong is the New Pretty" where photographer Kate T Parker aims to capture her girls as strong women, who don't need to look perfect to be accepted.
5) Tackle A Composition Choice
For example: framed, symmetry, colour, triangles and so on - choose a composition tool and look for it everywhere. You can make this as short or as long as you want - you could spend a hour doing it or a month!. This is great for training your eye to see different composition options and observing the world around you.
6) I am Grateful for...
Choose a time period and photograph something that you are grateful or thankful for. You could do this over 365 days, and try to find something to be thankful for each day, and photograph it. However, if you don't like the idea of committing to a project for a whole year, then you could just do this for 30 days (This might be a great one to do around the time of thanksgiving) or simply make a list of all the things you are grateful for and set about photographing them when you can - kinda like a photography bucket list for the year.
7) 30 Days of....
A lovely idea is to photograph an image a day for one month - it's a wonderful way to document a month in the life of your family, and is a great introduction to shooting everyday. You can do this for any month - December is a popular one due to Christmas, but any month is fine. You can shoot to a list for your 30 days (just write it out at the start of the month) or decide what to shoot on the day, it's up to you!
8) Pick One Subject
Pick a subject, and photograph it regularly. Some examples could include candy, toys, drinks, your bed, your driveway, car, lovies, lunches, or shoes. The trick is to photograph these differently each time you pick up the camera, thus stretching your creativity and the use of what is around you.
9) One Year / Month, One Lens
If you have more than one lens then the idea here is to stick to just one lens, and keep that on your camera for a week or a month (or even a whole year if you are feeling brave!) If you really want to challenge yourself then choose a lens that it perhaps a bit more difficult to use for everything - for example, a 50mm is generally a great choice for this project because it is so versatile, but if you try shooting with just a macro lens for a week it makes it more challenging.
10) 100 days of.....
This photography project idea is simple: take a photo for 100 days of something. For example, 100 days of Summer, or 100 Days of your Child, 100 days of lunches, or 100 days of Feet. Take a photo of your chosen "something" every day for 100 days.
11) Work Through A Book
There are some books that have been designed to be worked through, with exercises at each chapter. This is great if the goal for your photography project is to improve certain areas of your photography - there are loads to choose from depending on your skill level and goals,, but here are some ideas from me:
12) Shoot in Black and White
Shooting in monochrome brings about it's own set of challenges - good black and whites generally require a good range of tones throughout the image (from whites to greys to blacks) or have high contrast (black and white) or simply be high key or low key. Recognising these elements before you press the shutter ensures that you pay attention to what's in the frame, so it's a great photography project for enhancing creativity. Again, you can spend as long a time or as short a time on this as you wish - try shooting for a month in black and white for a good timeframe.
13) Project 52.
This is the Project I completed for a couple of years before I embarked on the 365 version instead. In this, you take a photo each week rather than every day, so it's less intense. There are numerous Project 52 groups out there - for the last couple of years I've posted lifestyle photography prompts each week to give you some ideas of what to photograph so you are never struggling with what to take - you can get your hands on my FREE ebook with 100 Child photography prompts so you can download it and have prompts wherever you are!
14) Create a Photo Essay
Tell a visual story through images - you can choose as many or as little images as you like (remember it is your project!) but try to include a range of perspectives and details that bring your story together. Although you can take as many pictures as you wish to tell your story, if you want to make it a little bit more difficult for yourself, then try to do it in just three frames - think abut having introductory image, an overview image and and image that shows the feelings or details of the experience.
15) Shoot with only your iPhone
I have spoken before about how much more challenging it can be shooting with your iPhone - you have certain limitations with this type of camera as it is wide angle, and you cannot really get the same depth of field as you would with a DSLR. All this means that you need to pay much more attention to light and composition to make a great shot - making it ideal if you are finding yourself taking the same type of pictures in the same way. It's also proof that a good photographer doesn't really need the most expensive gear - I've seen images taken with an iPhone that would blow mine taken with a DSLR out the water!
16. Alphabet Scavenger Hunt
This is a classic photography exercise - you need to find objects that look like a letter, or start with a letter of the alphabet. So for example the fork in a tree might look like the letter Y or a slice of lemon the letter O.
17. Letters to our Children -
This is a popular one! Write a letter to your child each month and take photos to include in the letter.
18. Self Portraits
How often do you get behind the frame? Not often I bet! Challenge yourself to get in the frame at least once per week, or once per month.
19. 10 on 10
Take 10 photos on the 10th of each month.
20. Birthday Week
Photograph the birthday boy or girl for a week around their birthday - great for capturing the details of them at that particular age. If you don't have kids capture your own birthday week!
I hope this has given you some new photography project ideas, and made you aware of the different styles and types of projects you can undertake - as you can see they are pretty diverse!
So, how do you know which type of project idea to choose? Personally I try to think about what I want to achieve through the project - is it to journal / document? In which case I might choose a Project 365 or 100 days of Summer. But if I wanted to get more creative? Then I might choose photographing just one subject, or creating a photo essay. And if I were still learning, or felt my images all looked the same, then I'd perhaps choose to focus on light or composition, even work my way through one of the books mentioned. Try to find a project that matches both your goals, and the amount of time you want to devote to it.
The most important thing to bear in mind that a photography project is not a race or a competition, it is something you do to improve your skills - whether that be learning composition, or seeing more creatively, or just pulling yourself out of a rut. Remember, the only person you are accountable to is yourself so make sure it is something you think is fun, and are really on board about doing.
Have you done any of these photography project ideas? Or have I missed one that you would recommend? Tell me in the comments below!