33 Easy Photography Projects to Strengthen Your Portfolio

A trend among photographers in social media today is the personal photography project. This is simply a self-selected subject or theme-based project that the photographer selects either to express their own thoughts & convictions or to practice an artistic skill.

Why are personal photography projects important for the photography professional? One major benefit is portfoliothat these personal projects can be used to beef up your portfolio. Another great benefit is that engaging in a personal photography project, especially during slow business seasons, can keep you passionate about photography in general. Photographers are creative at heart. We enjoy creating new things. If that creative muscle goes unused for too long, it will become stiff and frustrating to use. Don’t just assume that you can leave your camera on the shelf for months and expect the creative juices to come flowing back months later. Just like real muscles, you have to stay engaged in your craft on a regular basis to keep it growing.

Personal projects also give you the opportunity to think outside of the box. If all you shoot are newborns, they may start to get boring for you after a while. It may start to feel that you’re producing the same images for every client, even if you’re not. But the monotony may start to set in no matter what the subject you shoot as your profession. Google is a great tool for getting some new ideas on for poses or backdrops, etc. but it may not be enough to keep your creative excitement up.

Here’s where a personal project can be a rejuvenating experience. It gives you the opportunity to explore subjects, shooting styles, editing styles, locations, lighting, etc. that you may not be exposed to in your paid jobs.

Here’s the ONLY rule for starting a personal photography project.images

There are no rules-unless you want them. There don’t have to be deadlines, no number of images to reach, you don’t even have to post these images anywhere if you don’t want to. You’re the boss. I don’t know how many of you are StrengthsFinders buffs out there but if you have “Responsibility” in your top 5, this may be stretching for you. If you need to give yourself some stronger parameters to feel more comfortable about freely creating something, go for it. If deadlines and a set number of images to shoot for act more as an exciting goal rather than a stress-creator- go for it. It’s up to you.

Here are the typical first steps to starting a personal photography project:

1. Choose The Subject. It could be anything from flowers, to food, to living things, to TV remotes, to fingernails, fences, living as someone else- it doesn’t matter. What would be exciting to you? What would allow you to be creative? Is there another type of photography that you’ve always wanted to explore?

2. Select parameters if you want them. Do you want a project that can be done solely in your home or workplace? Would you prefer to have to go outside or travel locally to find the shots? Would it be interesting to shoot objects outside their natural habitat? Do you have a deadline? Are you going to post or blog about your images and what you are learning anywhere? Etc.

3. Begin the Project. Once you’ve selected your subject and given yourself any parameters that you desire, just pick up your camera and start shooting! It’s that simple.

There are some popular personal photography project themes going around the internet today. Let’s dig into how each one works and what the benefit may be to your photography business?

 

personal project

1. The 365 Project – This is one of the most popular and challenging personal photography projects out there today. It calls for an image every day of the year. The benefit to a project like this one is that is calls for some serious discipline and focus. not only is it difficult to remember or make time to take a photo every day for an entire year but it’s also a challenge to stay on topic. With such a long-term commitment, I can be extremely easy to wander away from the theme/topic you originally chose. This is extremely helpful when translated to a paid shoot. Especially if it’s a long day shoot, you need to remember the goal of the shoot and make sure every image is helping you get there. The benefit to participating in a 365 project is that it will strengthen your mental stamina and ability to achieve a long-term goal. There are many photo shoots that require the same skills. When you take on a new client, they have expectations that you need to meet- to cover an event, to capture a moment, to represent an idea, etc. Your client gives you a goal to meet and you have to figure out how to get there without loosing the vision. Here is a facebook group designed to give photographers a free place to display their 365 projects: https://www.facebook.com/365DayPhotoProject

2. 365 Documentation Example: The Different Coffee Mugs You Use Each Day
3. 365 Theme Example: Power-Indicator Lights On Various Digital Devices
4. 365 Online Example Using Legos: http://www.foolishlego.com/

5. 52 weeks project- If you are worried about capturing an image every single day for an entire year, the 52 weeks project is a great alternative. This project calls for 1 image per week for an entire year. The benefits of this project are the same as the 365 project: to help increase your discipline and focus when trying to accomplish & deliver a long-term objective.
 The benefits of a 52 Week Project are the same as those of the 365. Following-through on a long-term project like this will increase your disciple and focus. Here’s a facebook group designed for sharing your 52-week projects
- http://www.mocking-bird.org/blog/2009/06/27/the-52-weeks-project/

6. Alphabet Project or “Alphabet Soup”- There are two common approaches to this project. One approach is to simply locate items whose name begins with each letter of the alphabet. Another common approach is to locate each letter of the alphabet as they appear naturally in your surrounds. An example might be to take a picture of the wheel of a car to represent the letter “O”. The benefit to this type of project is that is encourages you to re-train your artistic eye to see things in a different way. Look for images within different textures like metal, concrete, glass, organic materials, etc. Allowing the creative part of your brain to engage in new ways will help you to do the same thing if you ever get photographer’s-block in an actual shoot and need to come up with new ideas on the spot.

7. Alphabet Soup Example- Locate Items That Begin With Each Letter of the Alphabet
8. Alphabet Soup Example- Locate Letters that Make up a Word or Phrase
9. Alphabet Soup Example- Locate Letters as They Appear Naturally in Your Environment

10. Alphabet Soup Example- Locate Multiples of a Single Letter
11. Alphabet Soup Example- Locate Each Letter on Different Signage
12. Alphabet Soup Example-  Locate Words That Start With A Single Letter

13. Single Object Challenge- This project simply calls for images of a single object; either in a theme (different types of shoes) or in a sequence (same pair of shoes in different locations). This project is great for

14. Single Object Example- Storm Clouds

15. Single Object Example- Wedding Ring
s
16. Single Object Example- Painting Single Objects White

17. Self-Portrait-  This project is self-explanatory. Design a project around your own self-portraits. Here is a facebook page dedicated to sharing self-portrait projects: https://www.facebook.com/selfportraitproject

18. Time-Lapse project
⁃ Time lapse projects simply a series of images taken over a period of time that document growth or change of some kind. These projects are great at helping the photographer to practice observing and communicating an on-going story.

19.Time-Lapse
 Example- Kids
 Growing Up
20. Time-Lapse
 Example- Chalk Street Painting
21.Time-Lapse
 Example-  Self-Portrait Every Day for 6 Years   Self Portraits While Walking Across China

22. Macro- Macro photography is defined simply as “close-up photography”. Most people have a lot of fun with macro photography. Although not all lenses make macro photography very easy, it is always intriguing to be able to observe the world through the eyes of macro. A macro personal project is extremely beneficial because it trains your own eye to pay attention to small details. Especially, if you are in portrait photography, it is those details (the eyes, the rings, etc.) that can really change a great image into your client’s favorite image.

23. Macro Example- Computer Parts
24. Macro Example- Insect Photography   Insects, Flowers, & Eyes
25. Macro Example-  Rain

26. Architecture A project like this helps a photographer to observe and capture strong, structured lines. This may be difficult for photographers who are used to portrait photography as those subjects tend to be a bit softer. Exploring how your angle & perspective can change an architectural element is very exciting and will come in handy whenever you have a stationary object in your foreground or background later on.

27. Architecture Project Example- 50 Architecture Photo Examples
28. Architecture Project ExampleNYC Landmark Project
29. Architecture Project Example  Example Themes & Tips for Architectural Photography

30. Night Photography-Shooting in low light is one of the most difficult conditions to master. It is also one of the most important to practice, especially since everyone’s equipment handles light differently. You must explore and know the limitations of your equipment (camera & lenses) so you know what conditions you can successfully shoot in. Knowing those limitations will also tell you if you need to invest in lighting of any kind- and then you need to learn how to use that new equipment 🙂  It’s just one big cycle. Night photography is a lot of fun and offers it’s unique challenges with unique rewards. If you’re up for a creative challenge, this is a great photography project for you.

31. Night Photography Project Example- Remi Thornton- A 100% Night Photographer
32. Night Photography Project ExampleSampling of a 365 Night Photography Project
33. Night Photography Project Example  Light Painting Photo & Video Projects

 

 

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