Pursuing photography means that you’ll constantly be on the hunt for photo inspiration and fresh ideas for shoots.
One fantastic (and fun!) way to add interest to your photography efforts is to start a defined project.
There are plenty of interesting projects to embark on, so finding an option to fit your commitment level and amount of time to dedicate to photography should be a breeze.
In this post, I enlisted a thorough collection of photography project ideas and inspiration.
These projects are meant to serve both beginners and pro photographers.
Photography Projects Over Time
These types of projects have become some of the most popular photography projects developed recently.
They involve taking photos for a specific time period, be that per day or week for an entire year.
In the end, the projects provide you with a recap of your year in photographs – an impressive achievement.
These photography projects can include any photography, making them a versatile option.
You can try it for a type of photography that you’ve never done before.
There are very few rules, and you can make these projects entirely your own to reflect your voice as a photographer.
1. Project 365
This project involves taking one photo per day or week for an entire year.
In the end, the project provides you with a recap of your year in photographs.
This extensive photography project is a major commitment to take on and comes with a weighty workload.
But, it’s also incredibly rewarding when you reach the finish line. It can be modified to a 52-week version if you want the same general idea with a lower time commitment.
When project 365 first began, it focused primarily on portrait photography.
Now, when people complete this project, they take one high-quality image each day, no matter what type of photography.
This project is straightforward and immensely popular.
It’s a fantastic way to develop your photographic skills because it makes you pick up the camera and practice every day.
Throughout this project, you’ll find a way to take a daily photo that works for you.
For instance, you may pack up your camera bag and bring it with you whenever you leave the house.
Or, you may set aside a specific chunk of time every day to get out and take pictures.
The 365 project takes persistence, creativity, and willpower.
But, sticking with it is wonderfully fulfilling, and the reward is well worth the work.
Check out the “Themes” section coming up in this article to help you along the way in this project.
2. “A Day in the Life”
If you need a quick photography project for inspiration, go for “A Day in the Life”.
This project lasts just 24 hours, so the time commitment is very minimal, but you’ll capture plenty of material to work with.
To complete this project, pick a date – on that day, take photographs of one person’s typical day.
The person that you photograph could be anyone, whether it be a significant other, friend, or family member.
It could be someone that you don’t know personally, but who you hold in high regard. Or, it could be a total stranger.
You may also choose to have your “Day in the Life” project to explore a specific profession.
If you’ve ever wondered how a particular career path looks on a day-to-day basis, use it as the focus of your project.
The chances are that others will be interested in learning more about that career, too.
You can draw from members of your community as inspiration for this project.
Local farmers, mailmen, small business owners, and even the local celebrities can make for engaging “Day in the Life” projects.
Even the most basic tasks and activities throughout the day can be visually enrapturing when photographed well.
When doing this project, it’s essential to get permission from your subject well in advance of the shooting day.
Make sure that the person you choose understands and agrees to have their entire day photographed, even the quiet, personal moments.
Organize a length of time for which you will photograph your subjects.
When the day rolls around, you’ll shadow and photograph your subjects for the agreed-upon time.
3. 30 Thankful Days
In this project, you’ll be taking photos of one thing that you’re thankful for every day for 30 days.
It’s especially fitting to complete it in the season of Thanksgiving, but you can do it anytime.
Taking a photograph of one thing that you’re grateful for each day will boost your skills as a photographer.
But, it will also make you more mindful of the many things that you have to be thankful for.
We could all benefit from more reflection on the people, places, and things that make us happy.
By taking photos of them, you’ll end up with a special collection of images.
4. 10 on 10 Project
For the “10 on 10” photography, you’ll take ten photographs on the 10th of each month.
This project is a different approach to the “Day in the Life” project because it limits the number of images that you take.
I find the “10 on 10” project to be especially fulfilling because it requires you to be picky in the images you select for each day.
When you capture only the best of the best for each day, you’ll have a stellar collection of pictures.
This project is also a great choice because it’s consistent and gives you plenty of time to plan for the 10th of each month.
You can organize your day ahead of time to make sure that each set of 10 images is wholly unique.
5. ABC Project
The ABC project is a blast to complete because it feels like a scavenger hunt – you need to track down eye-catching subjects that correspond with each letter of the alphabet.
You can take images of subjects that start with each letter.
Or you can take pictures that relate to each letter in some way.
For example, take photos of objects that end in a specific letter or take a photo of objects that start with a vowel. The possibilities are endless.
The ABC project can be completed over 26 days, 26 weeks, or 26 months.
This flexibility in the length of the project makes it appropriate for photographers of all levels of skill and commitment.
6. Pick Just One Lens For a Set Time Period
Focusing on a single lens in your photography for a certain amount of time is a fantastic way to grow your skills.
The lens that you use could be brand new, or it may be one that’s been sitting in your camera bag for months.
Either way, honing in on a single lens will give you new insights and experiences in photography.
One excellent lens to start with for this project is the “Nifty 50”.
It features a fixed focal length that requires photographers to give extra thought and consideration to composition.
A versatile lens option, the 50mm prime lens can be used for a diverse range of subjects.
If you need a high quality 50mm lens check out the table below for my recommendations.
|Brand||Maximum Aperture||Minimum Focus Distance||AF Motor||Price|
|Sony||f/1.8||.45m / 1.15ft||No||Check Price|
|Sony||f/1.4||.39m / 1.3ft||Yes||Check Price|
|Nikon||f/1.4||.45m / 1.5ft||No||Check Price|
|Nikon||f/1.8||.45m / 1.5ft||Yes||Check Price|
|Canon||f/1.4||.35m / 1.15ft||Yes||Check Price|
|Canon||f/1.8||.45m / 1.5ft||No||Check Price|
From portraits to landscapes and everything in between, this lens provides exceptional optical quality.
It’s zoom will likely be the best that you’ll ever work with as a photographer.
With that said, there are many great lenses that you can select for this project.
Each one has specific benefits; fisheye, macro, and tilt-shift lenses may provide an emphasized and eye-catching effect.
You can always come back to this project and try out a new lens each time.
The images that you’ll end up with will be varied and uncommon.
Enlisting the help of a theme to develop a photography project is a useful tool.
Themes foster creativity and bring cohesion to the final result.
Plus, you can couple a theme with a 365-day or 52-week project for an extensive photography venture.
One example of an excellent theme to use in your photography project is shadows.
We see shadows constantly throughout the day, but they take on a new life when thoughtfully used in photography.
Shadows are compelling photographic subjects.
They impact texture and form, add depth to a subject, and create a poignant mood.
When shadows are harnessed and embraced as the theme of an image, the result is unique and thought-provoking.
Shadows are everywhere, so you have a lot to choose from as a photographer.
You could take photos of your own shadow, or go out and find shadows in the world.
Subjects in nature and human-made objects both create visually pleasing shadows to photographs.
8. Abstracts in Oil
For an abstract photography project that you can easily do at home, all you need is oil and water.
When oil floats on water’s surface, it creates a compelling visual.
You can interpret it in many different ways in photography, making for various creative possibilities.
The great aspect of this photography project is its practicality.
You can do it on a table or your kitchen counter – just put a few drops of cooking oil onto the surface water in a glass dish.
Before shooting, place colored paper underneath the dish, then use an anglepoise lamp or flashgun to light up the paper.
This abstract photography project is so effective because it takes advantage of the refractive quality that both oil and bubbles have.
This visual effect emphasizes and distorts the vividness of the colors in an image for a fascinating final result.
When shooting abstracts with oil, you will need a macro lens for the best results.
A macro lens will give you the ability to focus on the oil from very close distances.
If you don’t have a macro lens, check out the table below for some of the best macro lenses for different cameras.
|Brand||Focal Length ||Maximum Aperture||AF Motor||Price|
9. Psychedelic Soap Film
This photography project creates conceptual images that are ideal for wall art or computer desktop wallpapers.
When shooting decide if you want to shoot soap film or bubbles.
Each produces intriguing and appealing photos but in my experience shooting soap film is much easier.
With soap film, you won’t have to account for the movement or popping of the bubbles.
To complete this project, you’ll need:
A macro lens (at least 100mm)
|Brand||Focal Length ||Maximum Aperture||AF Motor||Price|
Mix the soap and the glycerine to create an enduring soap film.
Once you have your solution using the wire create a fully encased frame to capture the soap solution.
Once you have created the frame using your wire, dip your frame into the soap solution. This works best if you slowly dip your frame into the frame in a parallel motion into the solution.
Slowly remove it from the water and the result should be a soap film covering the frame.
If you are shooting soap film, this process is much easier if you use something to hold your soap frame in place.
I find that a clamp stand works well and it is relatively easy to find one under $20.
Start by setting your camera to a 45-degree angle. I find at 45 degrees it is easiest to capture the colors in the film.
Use an external light source and experiment with the effects that different angle of light have on your images.
You can also change the angle of your camera or the wireframe to capture different images.
This is another abstract photography project that you can easily set up at home.
So, it’s ideal for an easy weekend project or a quick inspiration-starter if you’re low on ideas for images.
10. Errands and Chores
Most everyday tasks can make for excellent photography subjects.
Consider chores as practical photography projects:
Grocery stores may seem like the most basic place to photograph, but the result can be surprisingly effective.
Markets and grocers are excellent image subjects because they provide plenty of visual interest.
People are inherently interesting, and produce is eye-catching colorful.
In addition to the people at the grocery store, consider purchasing visually appealing goods.
Vivid colors play out well in any image, so fruits and vegetables are likely your best bet.
While you could opt for everyday produce like apples and bananas, it will likely be more fun to seek out exotic options, like rambutan, dragonfruit, and lychees.
Starfruit, lantern fruit, kumquats, and passionfruit are a few other great examples.
Exotic produce is undoubtedly colorful but also features irregular textures and shapes.
These enable you to take risks with lighting and composition for stunning photographs.
Spices and herbs can be a fantastic subject matter, too.
In a grocery store, they’re usually organized neatly in aesthetically pleasing patterns that are practically begging to be photographed.
I find that these displays often make highly successful still-life photographs.
The owner of your local grocery store should permit you to photograph their products before you get started.
This is almost always an easy process – a simple verbal go-ahead is all you need.
Establishing permission before you pick up your camera in a store will help you avoid any conflict that could arise.
To photograph attractive displays of produce and spices, I like to use a telephoto lens.
It allows you to zoom in on the subject for maximum detail and visual impact.
|Brand||Focal Length ||Maximum Aperture||AF Motor||Price|
Also, I use the foreshortening effect, which creates the illusion of subject elements being closer together, further enhancing the photo’s appearance.
You can also consider using a macro lens to fill out the frame with small-scale subjects.
I use macro lenses to capture images with an abstract appearance.
|Brand||Focal Length ||Maximum Aperture||AF Motor||Price|
You may view food simply as fuel to get you through the day. But, it can make for gorgeous culinary art!
Especially if cooking is one of your passions, or even just a hobby for you, photographing the dishes that you make can be fun and rewarding.
Hard-cooked meals deserve to be documented and admired by others.
So, build your photography experience the next time you cook a great meal.
Culinary efforts have artistic value and visual interest all their own, so all it will take is some arranging on your part.
This photography task is relatively simple to complete because you can stay at home, and the dish is stationary, so you can experiment with lighting and positioning easily.
Other Everyday Chores
If you look closely enough, there are countless subject possibilities that you come across in your everyday routine.
Some more examples of elements of your routine that may be used as the foundation for a photography project are:
Your mailbox (or your neighbors’ mailboxes, if you have their permission to photograph them)
Your garden or nature around your home
Walking your dog
11. Your Home
We all have days when we’re cooped up at home, whether it be due to weather or merely an empty schedule.
On those days, you can still be productive by starting a photography project based around your home.
Make a game out of finding visually exciting subjects around the house.
You can start this off simply by picking up your camera and shooting anything that comes to mind.
If you have chores to get done, you can multitask and take pictures of those housekeeping tasks.
Keep in mind that your home is full of items that you see every day. As a result, you don’t see them in the same light as you would walking into the house for the first time.
So, it’s important to open your mind and see the home from a fresh perspective.
There’s an abundance of potential subjects among your belongings; you just have to be able to recognize them.
If you find yourself struggling to find sources of inspiration, set more specific boundaries for the project. This will hone your subject options and lead to focused images.
Consider collections you’ve built up or other unique items around the house.
Perhaps you have an extensive coin collection, souvenirs from international travel, or even vintage clothes.
These out-of-the-ordinary items can become wonderful photography subject matter.
To make it more fun, experiment with your composition and photograph mundane items in an innovative way.
For example, you could take a child’s toy, with its bright colors and geometric shapes, to create a striking abstract image.
Your home is the place that you know the best, and it can hold enormous potential for great photography.
You only need to look closely to see the special aspects of regular items that will make a photograph pop.
Walls are almost always around us.
They keep us sheltered and protected from the outside world. They keep out intruders and prying eyes. Walls act as our shield, providing comfort and safety from the chaos happening outside.
What photographers may not realize is that walls have infinite variations. Walls can be vast and high or short and limiting.
They may be thick and protective or thin and precarious. Walls may be any texture, from rough, rugged brick to smooth, painted drywall.
There are interior and exterior walls. Walls can be made from stone, glass, concrete, metal, wood – the list goes on.
From a photographer’s standpoint, walls are jumping board to creative opportunities.
Travel photographers will find that walls in new areas can pique your artistic interest, leading to fascinating photographs.
When I travel, I love to wander and focus on the walls around me.
This may seem like a strange activity, but walls speak volumes to the culture, climate, environment, and people of a community.
As a bonus, walls are exceptionally appealing to a viewer.
They’re filled with color, texture, and pattern. If you’re skeptical of this, take a walk in an area with public murals, wall art, and graffiti.
Walls are a canvas for visual art, and their value to photography is immeasurable.
When you go to photograph a wall, consider the impact of distance on the image.
Shooting from further back will provide an all-encompassing view, while an up-close image will reveal detail and texture.
The closer you shoot from, the more abstract the photograph will be.
This proves the versatility of walls as a subject, given that they may span multiple photography types.
Reflections are often a small part of an image. So, switch things up and try making one your main subject.
The ebbing tide on beaches is some of my favorite subjects to photograph for reflections.
Dawn and dusk are fabulous times to photograph these, given that the natural light will form remarkable color contrast in the image.
Cities also give you limitless options for reflections to photograph.
You can find reflection in the glass and sleek surfaces of modern architecture.
Puddles on sidewalks reflect pedestrians walking swiftly by, along with store window displays and the surface of cars.
Reflection images don’t always require color.
Black and white reflection photos can be immensely successful, as the lack of color enables the viewer to fully focus on the shape that the reflection has taken on.
When photographing reflections, consider these logistics:
- Instead of focusing on the reflective surface, focus on the reflection itself. Focusing on the surface instead of the actual reflection will make you lose clarity in the resulting image.
- The angle of your composition can have an enormous impact on reflections. The image from a camera positioned above a reflection will be entirely different from that of one positioned to the side of a reflection. Before settling in to take your photographs, experiment with a variety of angles.
- Clear, sharp images of reflections in water require calm weather. Wind and breeze usually come once the sun has fully risen, so shooting early in the morning is a reliable choice. If you can make it to your location before the sunrise, the result is often fantastic.
While you’re photographing reflections, let go of the real world.
These images won’t be accurate representations of the real world; rather, they’ll have a dreamy, mystical quality.
Given that they’re both artistic pursuits, music and photography can go hand in hand.
Turning to your favorite song or album can create several photographic opportunities and the chance to be creative.
Plus, it’s an enjoyable project that doesn’t require traveling or a large amount of time.
Perhaps you want to start by selecting a title for your image before you even pick up the camera.
This presents you with the challenge of developing a photographic concept that fits within the boundaries of that title.
Consider these music-related ideas to get started:
Use a list of an artist’s album titles.
Select song titles that are interesting to you and use them as image titles.
Read through song lyrics to discover photographic concepts.
Song lyrics are like poetry and can provide endless artistic inspiration.
Lines are a useful tool in capturing the eye of a viewer and carrying it through an image.
They direct the audience’s focus and keep them engaged.
Lines may be abstract or literal, physical, or suggested.
Photos with lines are pleasing to the eye and create a sense of movement.
We use wood to build our homes, furniture, tools, musical instruments, entertainment – and those are just a few examples.
Wood is a staple in our society, and it can be an intriguing photographic subject.
Just think: the earliest tools were constructed from stones and sticks; wood has been used since the very inception of the human race.
As such, it’s an impactful focus for photographers to take on.
Glass is everywhere. It may be transparent, opaque, smooth, or textured.
We’re surrounded by glass all day long, from windows and walls to counters and drinking glasses.
As a material, glass opens up a new window to look through.
The glass of a microscope reveals details that the naked eye can’t see.
Telescopes give us a view into the galactic world beyond our own.
Windows are our portal to the outside world from the safety of the indoors.
In mirrors, we can look at our reflection and consider the appearance we’re putting out into the world.
Glass is a material that inspires thought, creativity, and reflection.
When you add the element of a camera, the possibilities are endless.
Doors are a simple and accepted part of our daily lives.
They’re the boundary separating one place from the next, and we go through them all the time without stopping to think about it.
Photography gives you a chance to reflect on the appearance of doors, the details that make them unique, and the metaphor of passing through something in life.
In your photography, reflect upon the theme of leaving one place to enter another.
What feelings does this inspire? It may be fear, worry, curiosity, excitement – all of these sensations can be channeled into your images.
Words make up our language and form the medium through which we communicate.
They are all around us, from street signs to advertisements to street art.
How do words impact an image? What statement can you make by incorporating words into your photography?
More Ideas to Get You Started:
Back to Basics
“Back to Basics” projects are designed for you to improve your photography skills and expand your knowledge.
In completing these projects, you’ll gain experience and master photography fundamentals.
Master Shutter Speed
Shutter speed projects are intended to provide a visual example of the many ways in which shutter speed can alter an image.
Adjusting shutter speed is an excellent tool for adding dynamics to a photo.
You can freeze or blur action, creating eye-catching visual effects.
Some examples of projects that can help you master shutter speed are motion blur, panning, and water photography.
20. Motion Blur
You can choose to leave the shutter open for longer than you usually would.
This enables the camera to register the movement of your subject through the frame.
The result will be a trail of color across the frame and an abstract effect.
Motion blur projects tend to work out great when you photograph a busy street.
With the assortment of colors and shapes passing the camera at varying speeds, you’ll capture plenty of exciting images.
Generally, you shouldn’t use excessively slow shutter speeds in these scenarios.
You may want to start with exposures from 1/10 of a second to ½ of a second in length.
Another way to incorporate movement into your shot is to maintain a stable background, then photograph people moving by at slow shutter speed.
A tripod will most likely be necessary for this type of shot, meaning that you’ll draw attention in the street.
But, the resulting images are generally well worth the discomfort of standing out in public.
For this project, try a shutter speed of about 1/20 of a second.
I recommend you go with a small and lightweight travel tripod such as the Benro Slim.
This is an ultra lightweight tripod that still offers stability you need to use slow shutter speeds.
Panning can create the appearance of motion in an image.
This technique works because you can keep the subject of the photo in focus but make the background move.
The background doesn’t actually move. Instead, the camera moves, giving the impression of movement.
For a panning project, you’ll need a moving subject, such as a runner or a cyclist.
You’ll follow their movement with your camera, blurring the background as a result.
The subject should remain clear and defined in the shot.
To complete this project successfully, you’ll need to adjust the shutter speed skillfully.
The speed that you settle on will depend on the speed at which the subject is moving.
Panning photography generally works the best with a shutter speed of 1/20 of a second.
22. Water in Motion
Photographing moving water, (perhaps a waterfall or a stream), with a slow shutter speed leads to an image with movement.
This is an excellent project for nature photographers looking to try something new.
A fantastic starting point for this project is a coastline.
The ocean waves have ever-changing movement and are a fascinating subject for an image.
When you get to the coast, study the timing of the waves reaching their crest.
Aim to take a picture as just before the waves crash, then try shooting them when they recede.
With each shift in timing as you photograph waves, you’ll want to make adjustments to the shutter speed.
When photographing waves, you’ll need to make adjustments to the shutter speed.
Finding the shutter speed that works best will take experimentation.
When I worked on this project, I learned that when photographing freezing waves, I prefer a shutter speed of ¼ of a second.
You may also try to achieve the reverse of this: freezing your subjects in place.
This photographic strategy is fascinating because it records visuals that the naked eye can’t see.
Waves and other types of moving water are one of the best subjects to practice this with.
If you find that the ambient light is too bright as you’re working on this project, an ISO adjustment could do the trick.
Try reducing it as much as you can, perhaps to ISO 50 or ISO 100. If that doesn’t fix the problem, see if raising your aperture does.
Start by doubling the shutter speed to 1/15, then repeat: double to 1/30, then 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, and so on.
Mastering DOF will give you a clear understanding of your aperture settings.
Here are some examples you can use to help you with this project.
23. Selective focus
This leaves a single element of a scene in focus while blurring the rest of the scene.
It’s a photographic technique in which a photographer hones in on just one element, giving no definition or clarity to anything else.
For selective focus, you can use a shallow depth of field to bring the key subject into focus.
That element will be defined, while the remainder of the image will be blurred into the foreground and background.
Selective focus sets the main subject apart from every other aspect of the scene.
This enables the photographer to purposefully and directly draw the viewer’s eye to the subject that they’ve chosen.
Additionally, the visual effect of a clear, distinguished subject against a soft, blurry background is compelling and introspective.
24. Maximum depth of field
A high DOF can be used to bring everything in an image into focus.
Photographers use maximum DOF when they want to emphasize an entire scene, not just an individual element.
Examples of scenes to use maximum DOF are a field of flowers, a busy crowd in a public place, or a landscape.
25. Focus Stacking
In macro and close-up photography, the depth of field is exceptionally narrow.
This is still true when the lens is put at the lowest aperture setting.
Additionally, as you focus more and more closely, the depth of field will become narrower and narrower.
Optically, there’s no solution for this phenomenon. But, you can use focus stacking to boost the visual depth of field.
Focus stacking includes a process of taking multiple shots in succession at focus points that vary slightly.
Then, the shots are combined using the focused section of each photo. The photos are “stacked”, creating the appearance of a greater depth of field.
Focus stacking is a generally achievable technique for photographers and provides a practical solution to a limited depth of field.
Build your awareness of one of the most important aspects of photography by working on a color-focused photography project
In this project, think of the color itself as being your key subject, rather than a place, object, or person.
This means that you’ll need to let other aspects of your image such as form and texture a lesser priority.
Although finding shots for this type of projects may sound like a straightforward task, but it’s a challenging exercise.
That said, once you’ve developed an eye for it, you’ll unlock new potential for stunning images that pop.
Each color also has an impact on the mood and tone of an image.
For example, green is calm and soothing; red denotes passion, energy, and intensity of emotion.
Blue has been defined as a cool color and can suggest serenity or peace.
We can all innately recognize these color associations because they’re present in nature.
Just think: green trees and grass create a soothing landscape, while the red tones of a flame are heated and intense.
Soft white snow falling to the ground is quiet and placid.
Study the color in your photographs and consider how they impact the tone of an image.
If you’re looking to experiment, see how your photo editing software can alter the photo’s colors.
You may dull them down, boost their saturation, increase certain undertones, and more.
When the colors are artificially changed, how does the entire tone of the image change?
Here are some examples of color focused projects you can try:
26. One At A Time
To give yourself a true edge in color photography, you can experiment with using just one color in sets of images. It can be a color entirely of your choosing.
This is a great day-long project because it only requires you to focus on one subject.
So, take a walk out with your camera, a few choices of lenses, and your chosen color in mind.
Try to block out distractions and focus solely on the color.
It may take time at first to hunt down that color, but the process will accelerate, and you get used to finding the color in various applications.
Given the variety that a city has to offer, urban landscapes are typically the best choice of location for this project.
Between traffic, storefronts, street signs, building sites, street art, and more, you’re sure to find several subjects in your color of choice.
27. Primary and Secondary Colors
In this project, the subject will have a single dominant color.
You’ll need to find six separate compositions, one for each of the primary and secondary colors.
There are three primary colors (red, yellow, and blue) and three secondary colors (orange, green, and violet).
The challenging aspect of this project is that you must refrain from including the other colors in the shot.
But, you should keep shadows and texture visible so that the viewer can easily recognize the subject.
Color juxtaposition can add complexity and interest to your images.
Take two complementary colors, such as red and green or blue and yellow, and position them together in the picture.
When juxtaposed, these colors will bring out each others’ tones for an eye-catching color profile.
29. Color Harmony
Certain colors have a harmonious effect when placed together.
There are many types of color harmonies such as complementary, analogous, and triadic.
Finding harmonious tones may take time and practice, but it will become easier as your awareness of color develops.
30. Color Accents
Using the rule of thirds, identify the golden sectors of an image.
These sectors are the place of intersection of the lines created by the rule of thirds.
Then, position colorful elements on these points in the frame, ideally at least two.
Color accents are another strategy for drawing your viewers’ eyes to a certain aspect of the image.
31. Neutral Colors
Black, white, and gray are colors that have no hue.
They’re also recognized as neutral colors, which have a distinct place in photography.
As far as value goes, the three neutral colors stack up as follows:
- Black: low value
- Gray: intermediate value
- White: high value
A complete understanding of color requires full awareness of the three neutral colors.
For a neutral color photography project, find as high a number of subjects as possible for each of the three no-hue colors.
You can include other colors in the subject, but the neutral tone must be the dominant one.
Include sections of gray to bring out the brightness of while, as well as to create a smooth visual transition into black.
32. In Isolation
For images that are straightforward but make a powerful statement, isolate one element in the shot.
This is a common technique used in portrait photography since a single subject is typically a key focus.
Isolation can be used to direct the viewer’s eye in all types of photography, not just portraiture.
Practicing panoramic shots will bring a new perspective to your photographic eye.
Capturing a panoramic requires skills beyond basic composition techniques such as the rule of thirds, so be prepared to learn the complexities of this new skill.
Further, with panoramics framing options are limited – you can’t merely get rid of one element by using a tighter frame.
This can get tricky, but careful consideration of your framing often leads to exceptional photographs.
34. Negative Space
Negative space is the background of an image and takes up the space that the main subject doesn’t occupy.
It is often used in graphic design, and it can be valuable in photography, too.
For instance, the effective use of negative space in your image can greatly contribute to tone.
Think about an endless stretch of blank sky, which can be interpreted as a symbol of yearning or loss.
You can also use negative space to emphasize the visual details of your main subject.
For instance, you can place your subject in front of a blank background to help elevate its visual impact.
To work on your use of negative space, consider how it can carry weight in your image.
Use negative space as the main aspect of a shot or a complementary addition for the main subject.
35. Create a Symmetrical Image
Another way you can master composition is by exploring perfectly symmetrical compositions.
Your subjects should be impeccably mirrored so that they exactly mimic each other.
Instead of positioning your subjects, you could find a naturally symmetrical location, creating a tone of peace and balance.
For this project, you should select your subject first, then figure out how to make it symmetrical.
Symmetry is visually pleasing because it’s organized and in balance.
This gives us a sense of control and harmony that our minds are constantly seeking.
In an image, symmetry gives the viewer a feeling of stability, structure, and confidence.
Plus, the organized nature of symmetry creates a framework through which the viewer can look over the image in an orderly manner.
The risk with symmetry is that it can become too organized and too composed. This may cause your audience’s interest to wane quickly.
To counteract this, use an unusual subject, vibrant colors, or a surprising pose. This will make the difference between a passive symmetrical image and a graphic one.
You can also try using one-point perspective in your symmetrical image.
One-point perspective makes use of a single vanishing point, at which all lines in the shot coincide.
This forms vivid diagonal lines in a shot that create accents and points of interest.
This is ideal for symmetrical photos that need more complexity to engage the viewer
36. Prime Lens
Counter to what you may naturally think, cutting down on the gear that you allow yourself to use can expand your creativity. Instead of using an assortment of gear to switch up an image, limited gear will force you to think outside the box to achieve the perfect shot.
For instance, you may need to get closer to a subject, or further away to achieve the composition you need, instead of making a lens change.
It may seem primitive, but limiting your use of gear in this way is an excellent exercise.
It requires more hard work, but it will expand your perspective and boost your eye for innovative shots.
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37. Take photos of the same subject at different times of day
There are three distinct light temperature shifts in throughout the day, peaking at sunrise, midday, and sunset.
The changes in light cause a shift in color from red to orange to blue, then from blue to red to orange as the time passes.
This photography project requires you to find an outdoor setting that you can access three times in a single day (if not more).
The setting should also provide an easily repeatable composition.
At this location, find a stationary subject.
That is, you should be able to shoot it at any time of day without it having moved.
Additionally, plenty of natural light should reach this subject throughout the day.
Taking just three photographs, one at each peak time of day, is sufficient for this project.
But, if you’re already committing to traveling to your location, you might as well take full advantage of the photographic opportunity.
Great locations will have several potential main subjects – consider photographing multiple other scenes once you’ve finished with your first choice.
For this project, finding your location ahead of time is critical.
Set aside time before your shooting day or arrive early, so you have plenty of time to explore your location beforehand. Return again soon, take the same shot and repeat the process at sunset.
38. Exposure Mastery
You can couple project #37 with an exploration of exposure.
In this project, you will shoot your subjects using your camera’s exposure tools such as auto modes, exposure compensation, and histogram.
Then, on the following day, go back to your location with the exposure mode on manual.
Keeping your eye away from the image previews or histogram, shoot your subject.
Experiment with the process of setting the exposure manually and taking an image without using your cameras extra tools.
39. Start a Photo Blog
With a growing passion for photography, as well as a quickly expanding collection of images, you may find yourself hitting a wall.
You can always share your photos with family and friends, but they won’t likely have the same fascination with it as you.
If you’re craving an outlet for sharing your work, consider a photography blog.
Starting a blog is becoming more and more popular with passing years.
Having one will give you a platform to upload your images where others will be able to them and comment if they want.
40. Recreate Famous Photographs
For this photography project, you can either select a photographer or other type of artist that you hold in high regard or choose one who has an entirely different approach than you.
Spend time studying their work and considering their approach.
Think about what draws you to that work and what makes it meaningful to you.
Then, create a composition using what you learned, aiming to emulate the strengths of your chosen artist.
For reference, you can start with books, magazines and the internet. You can also go to museums or galleries.
When creating images for this project, try to inject your voice.
This project is meant to challenge you to be inspired by a specific person’s work, not to create an exact copy of an existing image.
Thus, your passion for photography should be equally apparent in the image as the artist of your choice.
Putting your spin on an iconic image can help you define your artistic style.
By studying the work of other artists, you’ll have focused, informed influences to enhance your photography.
41. Photograph change over time
An image can speak volumes to the trends and cultures of an era.
Right now, you may not realize the long-lasting impact of a photo each time you pick up the camera.
But, your photos will outlive you and serve as a window into your world for future generations.
In that vein, consider taking on a photography project that reflects upon the changes that happen to something.
There’s no limit to the potential subjects for this project.
For instance, you can photograph your home city or home town. Return to that spot and take photos once a month.
Doing this will enable you to document the changes in that area over time.
At first, these shifts will be subtle. But, with time, they’ll be striking and apparent.
Alternately, you may photograph a loved one over time.
Their development as a person will make for a moving and beautiful photographic record.
Time and transformation are concepts that drive this project.
Make each one visible in your work, and use them as inspiration for the underlying theme of the images.
Push yourself to find a deeper meaning.
Think about the meaning of transformation to you, about the changes that you’ve experienced in life, and how both may translate into photography.
This project gives you permission to explore every day and give complete focus to the ordinary.
With time, work, and purpose, those seemingly regular subjects will become enthralling.
Tell a Story in Photos
Meaningful images tell great stories that evoke feelings.
As such, storytelling projects are some of the best ways you can fundamentally elevate your photography.
These types of projects don’t need to have a clear start and finish.
The story of an image may be open-ended, prompting the audience to fill in the blanks.
A photo’s narrative may be rooted in reality or entirely fantastical.
42. Multiple Photos
Use a collection of photos to tell the story of a culture, community, ethnic group, social class, age group, club, or individual.
The story may be one of the urban renewals, of personal growth, of aging, or of reinvention. There are endless possibilities.
Remember, successful documentary photography requires a deep connection to the subject matter.
If you’re photographing people, you’ll need to grow a connection with them through interviews and frank conversations.
You’ll need to learn about their motivations, concerns, goals, and relationships to reach beyond the surface level.
Not all subjects will be warm and forthcoming, but you should always attempt to conduct interviews.
Further, remember that the individual shots aren’t nearly as crucial to this project as the overarching narrative.
The images should be taken with thought to their relation to each other.
You’ll develop a flow, and build a natural collection.
Lastly, be aware that extended photo documentaries can’t always have a set end date.
It could take anywhere from a day to several years.
43. Portraits Obscured Body Parts
When most of us think of a portrait, we think of someone’s face within the frame.
The subject we imagine is likely posed and has their eyes locked on the camera lens.
But, if you take away the visual of their face, what kind of portrait are you left with?
This concept allows you to explore angles beyond your subject’s face while still aiming to capture their spirit.
The challenge in conveying the essence of a person without their face is formidable but has exceptional potential as an artistic project.
44. People-Centric Stories:
In just one image, you can reflect a person’s past, convey a powerful emotion, or introduce a complex relationship.
A simple expression on the face of your subject can speak volumes to a viewer.
Some examples of subjects for people-centric stories:
- A subject who’s older than you.
Age develops the body, mind, and spirit. What story has led this person to where they are today?
- A subject who’s younger than you.
Youth and innocence; naivety and potential. Youth is a powerful storyteller.
- A self-portrait.
With creativity, you can capture yourself in the frame and tell a deeply personal story.
You can use a mirror, find your reflection on a smooth surface or set up a tripod and a timer.
- A photo without a person in the shot.
The absence of a person can tell a story of humanity and change.
Footsteps in sand or snow; what’s left behind from a party or gathering; or even inanimate objects in the shape of a person can portray an engaging narrative.
- A photo taken while observing people.
People are everywhere. Head to a hectic street corner, a bustling cafe, or a popular park.
Spend at least half an hour observing before you even pick up the camera.
Then, tell the story of the place through your photography.
Buy an Old Camera
45. Single Camera Stereo
Stereo photography is one of the earliest photographic methods. The first stereoscopic cameras produced two photos on one plate with two lenses placed in close proximity to each other.
The intention was to mimic human sight.
In stereo photography, there’s little space between the two lenses, meaning that the horizontal deviation between the photos is low.
This often makes for an enhanced level of depth in the images.
To see this, you can close one eye, then move your head to the left and right.
Be sure not to move your head up and down. Your brain will only recognize object moving in relation to one another, and as you move your head more, your recognition of your view increases.
This is how stereo photography works, too.
Polaroid images are a one-of-a-kind form of photography. It takes luck, science, and chemistry to make polaroids work. But the result can be outstanding when done well.
There are many polaroid cameras to choose from when jumping into this project. If you are not looking to make a big investment you can find a brand new polaroid camera for under $30. On the other hand, if you want to invest in a high-quality polaroid you can purchase one between $150 and $250.
High Budget: Leica Sofort
Polaroid film reacts well with vibrant colors and bright light, so use the flash and seek out stellar lighting.
Polaroids taken in front of a vivid, dynamic background are ideal.
One of the great things about polaroid images is that they are instant.
You will see the finished product within minutes of taking it.
A polaroid captures the world as it is, there is no photo editing which means it will truly test your photography skills.
Polaroid projects are fun because they’re completely variable.
You never know how they’ll turn out, which is part of the mystery behind a polaroid camera.
Enjoy this unpredictability and accept that not every polaroid will be a success.
By embarking on this project you transport yourself in time by using a pinhole camera, technology dating back to 400BC.
In my opinion, one of the best ways to do this project is to build your own pinhole camera from scratch.
It is not a hard task to do and there are plenty of guides online to help you complete the project.
There is a satisfying feeling when you produce an image with a camera you built with your hands.
If you prefer to purchase a pinhole camera my recommendation is Zero Image. Zero images produce teak and a brass pinhole camera in Hong Kong.
Considered the Leica of the pinhole realm, Zero Image has a collection of cameras from 35mm to 5 x 4 inches.
The smallest camera offered by this maker is the Zero 135.
It produces 23 x 35mm and 23 x 45mm panoramic images on 35mm film.
The Zero 2000 in my collection creates 12 6 x 6cm images on 120 roll film.
Similarly, the Zero 6 x 9 Multi-Format camera takes 120 film, but you get to choose between four different image formats: 6 x 4.5cm, 6 x 6cm, 6 x 7cm and 6 x 9cm.
If you enjoy creating pinhole panorama shots, try out the Zero 6 12.
It shoots 6 x 12cm images on 120 film and can produce a great result.
Additionally, I frequently use a Zero 45 camera; it’s a modular 5 x 4 inch model that’s able to accept cut film holders, Fuji Quickload, Kodak Readyload, and Polaroid 545i backs.
These back are all secured with rubber bands.
Go to www.zeroimage.com for more information. For great examples of pinhole photography, visit the following links:
Further Examples for Story Inspiration:
Use the concepts to stir your imagination when you’re struggling to find a story to tell:
- Birth and Rebirth
48. Collaborate With Another Artist
When you bring in another artist to work with, you gain an entirely new source of insight, experience, and inspiration.
Whether it be a costume designer, dancer, or musician, working with other artists can push you past your personal limits to reach new heights that you never thought possible.
One reason for this is that other artists often look at subjects from a perspective that you may have unlikely considered.
Collaborating with them can help you to look beyond your routine and strive for something new.
Plus, by reaching out to fellow artists, you’re fostering relationships that could be loved by audiences well into the future.
These artists may help create mood, subject matter, background material, post-processing effects, and more.
Their work will bring immense value to your photographic process.
Consider collaborating with these types of artists to breathe new life into your images:
Visual effects artists or retouchers
49. Immortalize Your Hero
We all have that one person who makes an immeasurable impact in our lives.
One who exposes us to new ideas and who help shape us into the people we want to be. These people are our heroes.
Your heroes can be anyone from your parents, community members, friends, teachers, or mentors.
Photography is a fantastic medium through which to celebrate our heroes.
It provides a way to thank your heroes and to capture their essence in a tangible form.
It allows you to commemorate them in a way that you can look back on later with fondness.
Images that you take of your heroes are incredibly meaningful and make for some of the best photography projects.
50. Show Your Subject Several Times in One Frame
In photography, you have the unique opportunity to create the appearance of the impossible.
One way that you can do this is to have your subject appear multiple times in one frame.
You can do this to tell a story, make for an amusing visual effect, or leave the viewer in wonder.
For this project, settle on a subject first.
You may choose to create a portrait, your pet, fine art image, or fashion shot, among other options.
It depends on the message you’re seeking the convey.
To create multiples of your subject in the frame, you can use mirrors, reflections, glass, and more.
51. Three of a Kind
Photographs are often viewed as individual pieces that stand apart from other work.
But, in reality, galleries display images side by side, and photograph collections are often highly revered.
The power of multiple images together may succeed the impact of just one.
So, consider making a triptych. This consists of three photographs placed together for display, or one image that’s been split into three.
Triptych comes from the Greek work triptychos, which translates to “three-fold”.
This concept has been utilized by artists throughout history, namely in Christian art for the creation of altar paintings.
Modern photographers create triptych projects, too, with the concept becoming common in canvases, prints, and art posters.
Bonus: Create a Photo Book
You may make use of the several photo book services available today to compile your work.
Normally, all you have to do is download design software, then insert your images in the order that you choose.
Templates are included to make layout easy, then you can simply print and bind the pages.
The quality and creative freedom allowed with photo book services vary, so it’s important to shop around.
Higher-end services will produce a professional caliber hard-backed book, but the cost will be high.
Generally speaking, the profit margin of photo books created from services isn’t ideal, so it likely isn’t the best choice if you’re looking to start a photography business.
Photobook services do work well, however, if you want to create meaningful gifts for loved ones.
These books are great for coffee tables and can even be made with a theme in mind.
For example, the included images may document a wedding, a birth, or the life of one family member.
Consider this lift of popular photo book publishers:
- Snapfish – www.snapfish.co.uk
- Album Factory – www.albumfactory.co.uk
- Blurb – www.blurb.com
- Canva – www.canva.com
We all need a spark of enthusiasm sometimes, and a photography project is a fabulous way to gain just that.
Whether clear and defined or completely open-ended, the projects listed above will build skills, experience, and artistic vision.
They may not always produce successful results, but you’ll always gain valuable insights and learn important lessons.
You have to start somewhere, so select the project that speaks to you most and gets you going!
You may be surprised at the path that a project can lead you down the road.