I’ll be the first to confess that there are days, when I don’t feel like going out shooting, days where I go out and that feeling doesn’t get me and I go home with shots that are a bit meh!
One of the techniques I use to get me out taking pictures is to plan a project or at least go out with some sort of plan of what I want to shoot. I find by doing this, I don’t waste hours trying to find a composition or place to shoot. Let’s discuss how a project helps me find inspiration in my photography.
Choose your theme.
Having a theme to shoot can be a useful way to start. A theme can be based on anything and it’s entirely up to you. Do you have a favourite tree? Shoot it at different times of the day or from different angles. Have you never shot in black and white? Why not try this?
A theme doesn’t just have to be limited to an object. At the moment I am obsessed with the app Hipstamatic and I have started to shoot every image for Instagram using this app. The benefits of this are that you can shoot at any time as we have our phones with us, and it gives a very particular style that works really well with Instagram. Here are a few ideas for a theme.
- Selfies(Yes, I know! If you’re creative you can come up with some great ones if you try.)
Shoot in numbers.
A popular project for a number of photographers is to shoot a number of pictures that go together. The most common of these is known as a triptych which dates back to the times when carvings were popular and often consisted of a collection of three reliefs. This has evolved into the photography world and you’ll often see images put together in a collection of three. It’s a great way to start a project.
This doesn’t just have to be limited to three images. I have seen some really creative use of the Instagram grid with a set of images set to a 6×6 grid. The limit is just your imagination, but its best to keep it to small numbers as I feel that any numbers over maybe 6 lack the impact that a collection of images can bring, but I am prepared to be amazed if you can do it with more. Go and shoot those collections!
Shoot at different times.
Another popular project I have seen is shooting at different times of day, or the year. Do you have a favourite tree? Why not shoot this over the four seasons and see how it changes in the Spring as it develops new life or in Autumn when the leaves fall and the tree becomes dormant. If you’re lucky to be in an area that experiences different weather conditions then shoot that place in different weather and changing conditions. I love a good image of a tree that changes as the seasons come and go.
This doesn’t have to limited to times of the year. Why not shoot the same place in the morning before sunrise or in the evening when sunset falls, even on the same day. We are at a good time of year in the UK where the days are short, so shooting both sunrise and sunset on the same day is very easy and doesn’t have to be tiring. Get up early and stay out late.
Start an image a day project.
I’ll be honest when an image a day project is mentioned you’ll probably be thinking of… Yes, you guessed it. A 365 project!
A 365 project can be hard and can also have a negative effect on your photography. It can often force you to get that image when you’re not feeling it or days when you don’t have much time, so you left with thinking “ I must get that shot for my 365, I’ll just take that shot of that tree from my office window”. Its never good to force creativity.
An image a day project is a great tool when used to inspire or push to be creative, so best to block out a time each day to get that image. Don’t rush the image in the five minutes that you have free at lunch. This is when it becomes a chore and it starts to suffer. Enjoy the project and embrace the desire to capture that image!
This type of project just doesn’t have to be limited to a year-long project. Why not choose a theme each month? Take 30 selfies at the same time and place each day, to see how your face changes. Remember that tree I mentioned earlier, why not take a shot of this every day as the tree is growing or losing its leaves to see how it changes over the month. Enjoy the daily hunt, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself, just remember to enjoy. Good Luck and well done if you get to 365!
Stick to one genre or area.
Are you a photographer that only shoots landscapes? Then why not jump out of that comfort zone and shoot only cities for a week or a month? Do you stick to one part of the country you live in, then why not book a weekend away to an area you’ve never been to and complete a project in that area! Doing something different really can terrify but also inspire, so take that leap.
A project can be a great way of learning a new technique or skill. Have you always wanted to try Street Photography, why not turn it into a project?
I hope that you find this useful in starting your next photography project or finding that inspiration you have been lacking. Be sure to share your projects in the comments below or over on my Twitter page. I look forward to seeing what you create!