Photo Projects and the Photographer: Are They Worth It?
If you’ve been around the photography community for long, you have probably seen a wide variety of photography projects out there. Photo projects range in structure from submitting images daily to weekly, or even just following a certain theme for a given time period. It can be easy to get overwhelmed, and even to wonder if a photo project is right for you. And if you do decide to participate in a photo project, how do you know what project to commit to? These are just a few ways that you can use photo projects to help you take your next step forward in your photography journey.
What is a Photo Project?
A photo project is a type of project where you shoot intentionally during a given period of time for a certain purpose, and can come in just about any form. The best part about them is that they can be as structured or as non-structured as you would like! There are all sorts of groups out there with the common goal of completing certain kinds of photo projects, but you can also do them on your own.
Which Project is Right for Me?
Photo projects come in all shapes and sizes, so take the time to decide what type of project suits you best. These are a few common types of photo projects:
365 Project: a photo project that focuses on taking a daily photo for one year.
Project 52: a photo project that focuses on taking a photo a week for one year, usually with each week representing a different theme.
A to Z: This type of project focuses on finding things to photograph based on letters of the alphabet.
Theme based: This type of photo project is commonly found in photography groups and forums, where a different them is introduced periodically and you are asked to shoot for that theme. You could also do this independently!
Personal Projects: Personal projects are a lot of fun. And they can be anything you want: you could shoot just black and white images, all images with one lens, one location in different ways, anything! It’s a great way to get creative! I have an ongoing personal photo project called “When Daddy Gets Home,” where I document the fun relationship my kids have with their daddy. One of the most fun times of day in our house is when Daddy gets home, and I wanted to document these moments for my kids to cherish one day!
Benefits of Participating in a Photo Project
Aside from keeping my ongoing personal photo project going, I try to participate in a photo project each year, usually starting in January. I have found a small circle of photography peers that do this together, and we keep each other encouraged and inspired. I will also participate in weekly themes within the photography forums I am a part of when I can. These are the most recognizable benefits I have noticed since participating in a project of some kind:
- Jumpstarts your creativity. Photo projects are great for getting you to think out of the box!
- Refine your skills with less pressure. One of the best things about photo projects is that they are completely personal. When I first started doing these projects, I did them with the intent of having my image for the week featured as a “winner” for that forum. I quickly found that the pressure this expectation placed on me kept me from experimenting and submitting work that I deemed less than perfect. The whole goal of the project was missed under this mindset, so I determined to shoot these projects only for personal growth, and not for “the win.” More on this later.
- Keeps things fresh and new. We all get a little stale now and then, so photo projects are a great way to continually be working new ideas and techniques into your portfolio.
- Documents your growth. It can be so rewarding to visibly see our own growth while completing a photo project! We all have moments where we feel “stuck,” but having notable documented growth is a great confidence booster!
Getting the Most from Your Photo Project
Here are a few things I recommend to ensure you get the most out of your photo project.
- Don’t be afraid to try new things. Stretch yourself. Try things you aren’t good at (yet).
- Be ok with imperfection. Don’t make the mistake of taking this growth exercise and making it a chore. Not every shot will be perfect, and that is ok. The goal is growth, fun and creativity! Take the pressure off!
- Find a way to be accountable. It helps to do photo projects with others to stay inspired! Find a group, or participate in weekly challenges in the forums you are a part of.
- Print your images. When it’s all said and done, find a way to document your project. Make a coffee table book of your images to look through. You will be so glad you did!
Looking for a place to complete a photo project? Join us in the exclusive Cole’s Classmates Facebook group, and complete our Project 52 with other members of the Cole’s Classroom community!
Photo projects are a great way to challenge yourself and grow creatively. For me, they are definitely worthwhile. How about you? Will you be participating in a photo project this year?
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