As a photographer trying to hone your skills, it’s easy to begin feeling discouraged and uninspired. If you find yourself taking pictures of the same old stuff, it’s probably time that you were introduced to one of these ten cool photography projects that will help you branch out into new areas while discovering new sources of passion.
#1 The ABC Project
This is a fantastic way to improve your creative thinking while photographing all sorts of new objects. Basically, you will either photograph an item that starts with a specific letter or you will photograph an item that looks like a specific letter. This project is particularly fun if you want to create a collage of photos to spell out “Welcome” or your last name.
Even if you don’t end up using all the photos you take together in a collage to spell something, you are sure to take some stunning images that you can admire and show off to your friends and family. Plus, you’ll be finding new objects to photograph that you probably wouldn’t have thought to take pictures of otherwise.
If you are trying to spell something specific out, taking photographs of large letters in a neighborhood/city marker is a great place to start for the hard-to-find letters, but try to get creative.
You can assemble objects together to make a letter (think rocks or vegetables) or find something in nature that’s in the form of a letter already (“S” would be particularly easy). When it comes to “O” and similar letters, using something a little abstract (like a round flower bloom) may end up being the perfect finishing touch to your collage.
#2 The Grateful Project
Who and what are you grateful for in life? This project helps you showcase them and put them on proud display while also helping you find meaning in your craft. Not only would the photos you take as part of this project make sentimental additions to your photo book, it all also help you focus on what really matters to you in life and help restore your sense of gratitude and appreciation.
Are you grateful for your city? For your local park? For your place of work? For the local hospital? For your school? These are excellent landscape photo opportunities to begin with, but perhaps what is even more special is finding the people you are grateful for and asking to photograph them. It doesn’t have to be a portrait set against a pretty backdrop. You can try taking candid photographs too, playing with natural light and other elements to bring out your artistic flair.
#3 The Single Lens Challenge
Many photographers invest in all sorts of different lenses because they feel like it frees them up to explore all different kinds of shots and settings. Unfortunately, this can really get in the way of your artistic progression. If you force yourself to choose only one lens, you’ll find yourself opening up to completely new ways of shooting.
With only one lens, you will be able to fully explore what it is capable of and, even more so, all the things you can do to work within your setting and what you can do to affect the image based on your camera’s setting, your positioning, the lighting, and other elements.
In the end, using just one lens will make you a much more talented and creative photographer, and that’s why famous photographers like Annie Leibovitz recommend doing exactly this! Challenge yourself to only use one lens for the next 2 to 3 months and see where it takes you.
#4 The Discomfort Zone
Whether or not we realize it, most of us find the things we like to photograph and then block out a lot of wonderful opportunities. You might love taking portraits, but have you ever tried photographing food? What about still life? Abstracts? The goal with this project is to go outside your comfort zone.
Look through your photo albums and identify the kinds of photos that you have a lot of. Now choose some themes and objects that you have never or rarely photographed, maybe even specifically think about a type of photography that you never thought you would want to try, and then go do it.
This is a very good way to push your creative limits, and it’s similar to the approach many musicians take when they force themselves to play and write in styles they wouldn’t have otherwise pursued. In the end, it will make you a better artist.
#5 The Birthday Week Project
Whether it’s your own birthday or that of a loved one, this project is a fantastic way to challenge yourself to take multiple photos in different settings while also documenting what that person was like at a certain age. Making a tradition out of this is a beautiful way to showcase how they progress through the years.
By challenging yourself to take a photo of them every day for a week (or even the entire month of their birthday), you will be able to collage those photos together for them and then both look back on them to see what they used to do, what they used to wear, and really remember how they have changed with time.
This project is a great way to grow closer and capture awesome memories while also branching out into settings that you might not have been photographing otherwise.
#6 A Day In The Life
Many photographers make it a habit to do a “day in the life” shoot annually. Most don’t do it on their birthday because they want to emphasize their normal daily routine, but you do what inspires you. You can even make a weekly or monthly habit out of this, depending on how often you want to be photographing new things.
This approach is a fantastic way to capture your normal activities and find new outlets for inspiration and photo opportunities. You might choose to take a photo on the hour, every hour or just whenever the mood strikes you throughout the day. The purpose, however, is to challenge yourself to get a good photo of each part of your day.
This is a very diverse project since you’ll be mixing things like landscape shots of places you pass by or visit with food photography of your lunch/dinner and so many things in between.
#7 Self Portraits
Far too few photographers know how to take a stunning self portrait. This is really an underexplored area of photography, and it can be a really fun challenge to commit to taking so many self portraits within a given period of time. For instance, you might take one every day for a week or month or use the “10 on 10” approach where you take 10 photos on the 10th of each month, which helps you to remember to complete this project consistently.
The self-portrait project can take on all different forms, like showcasing your progression in a year’s time (with a daily or weekly photo.
#8 The Letter Project
For this project, you will be writing a letter to a loved one and including a photo with them. Many people do this with their children, taking a picture of one child (or all of them) each month and writing a letter to them that includes inspiration, advice, and a memorable story from the month that they can look back on in the future.
This is an inspirational project that you can do for any friend or family member who you can regularly photograph. It is a fantastic way to hone your skills while becoming closer to someone in your life.
#9 The Subject Project
If you go and look through your photo albums, you will probably find that you have picked a few subjects to focus on and that’s it. Similar to The Discomfort Zone Project, in this project, you are going to pick a new subject that has flown under your radar until now and focus on photographing it for a week or month.
The idea here, however, is to choose just one single subject. It might be one that you have even tried or wanted to try before but you have not gotten around to it. Pick one and focus on it to see what you come up with.
#10 The Light Project
Playing with light is something most photographers recognize the importance of, but so few actually commit to using it to its full extent. With this project, you will take multiple photos every day, each time focusing on a different way to use light. You will try using natural light, backlighting, dramatic light, indoor light, and a mix of all of the above to see just how much light can change a photo.
To really make the most out of this project, focus on the same subject and photograph it in many different lights. This is a great way to learn how to get what you want in an image using light sources and playing with settings.