Looking for ways to improve your photography skills in the new year? We’ve got 8 photography projects that will not only improve your photography skills, but will prevent you from feeling as though you are always shooting the same thing.
1. Week/Month/Year Project
You’ve probably witnessed many of your photography friends start 365 projects at the start of a new year. If you’ve been considering joining one of these challenges, this is your year. Be sure to link up with others for added motivation and support.
If you’re having a hard time committing to an entire year of daily shooting, try shooting once a week for a year. Often called Project 52, there are many support groups floating around the internet that offer weekly themes to keep your photography juices stirring.
An alternative to 365 and Project 52 is to do a project that lasts 30 days. There are a number of ways to approach a 30 day project. We recommend pairing it with one of the other project ideas listed below. If you’re the type of person that would benefit from daily prompts, there are plenty of groups that can guide you along the way. Just search “photo a day” plus the month you’re in (ex. Photo a Day January 2015).
2. 10 on 10
A slight departure from what we just described, many photographers will take the 10th day of every month to let their camera go wild. For example, on January 10th, take one photo for 10 hours at the top of every hour. Whether you use the day to take creative shots or just capture what is happening in your life at that very moment, this can be a great project to start.
3. A Day in My Life
You could actually combine this project with the previous project idea if you want. The idea being that over the course of the day, you take photos that tell the story of your life using a documentary style approach to photography. These are some of our favorite types of photos and make for a great project because you’ll be forced to learn how to shoot in various lighting situations while capturing life. Be sure to carry your camera with you everywhere if you take on this challenge.
And if you don’t want to bring along your “big girl camera,” you can always use your phone or buy a smaller mirrorless camera.
4. Birthday Week Photos
When your child was a baby, you may have photographed them in the same spot each month on the day of their birth. Then the monthly stickers ran out and you gave it up.
Well this is a great project to start beyond the monthly stickers, with the potential to turn into an annual tradition. Photograph your child everyday for the week or month of their birthday. It’s a fun way to document them and what they are like at that age. For added effect, interview your child while you’re photographing them.
5. Mom…IN FRONT OF the Camera
Momtogaphers have a long-standing problem of not being in enough pictures because we are too busy behind the camera. If you can relate, then challenge yourself to get in front of the camera on a weekly or monthly basis in the coming year. You can either take the photo yourself using a remote or self-timer, or you can join forces with another mom with the same problem. Either way, your children will enjoy the process of having their photo taken more often if you’re doing it with them.
5. Improve a Skill
Maybe this year, you simply choose to focus your attention on building your photography skills. If you’re relatively new to photography, try our “Getting to Know Your Camera” series.
If you’ve already gone through the basics, you may be interested in improving your understanding of lighting or composition. Or you may just want to stretch your creativity by shooting a different style. For example, if you’re a portrait photographer, try your hands at street photography. Or, you might push yourself to learn the ins and outs of a specific lens. Either way, choosing to improve a skill is a great project to start.
6. Choose a New Subject
If you called yourself a photographer before you had children, then you remember a time when you took photos of something other than your children. Now that you’re a mom, at least 90% of your photos are of your kids. However, one of the easiest ways to improve your photography is to turn your attention towards a different subject matter.
That subject matter doesn’t have to be a huge departure from your kids. You can photograph their toys, or shoes, or a specific color, doors, food, etc. But change your perspective. Try new angles.
And the great thing about shooting something other than your kids is that it probably won’t run away.
7. Photo Walk
If you’ve never done a photo walk, maybe this is your year. Scott Kelby offers an annual photo walk in which walkers from countries all over the world participate. These types of photo walks are typically held once a year and you can join other photographers. You can also submit your images to the group for recognition.
But, you don’t have to participate in such large scale. You can take a photo walk at any time, with or without the support of other photographers. Just sling your camera around your neck and explore. Taken a step further, choose a lens that you might not typically use. For example, bring your macro lens on your next walk and see what happens.
8. Quarterly Favorites
Finally, if you’ve had a hard time taking your photos from your computer to print, challenge yourself to choose five images each quarter that you absolutely love. You can display your favorites on your blog at the end of the quarter, or organize them on your hard drive. Either way, at the end of the year, pull up these favorites and build a calendar with them that you can enjoy the following year. Grandparents especially love this challenge because they tend to be on the receiving end of these calendars.
With all that said, choose a project and have fun with it. This year is going to be amazing!
8 Reasons to Leave Your Camera at Home
Photo credits: Ashley Sisk