I'm a big fan of the photography project. The problem is that it all sounds very grandiose and consequently potentially off-putting. Photography has so many aspects to it and you can read all the books in the world, and study the greatest photographers that have ever lived, but until you get off your rear end and actually practise your are unlikely to get any better. Projects can help get you off the sofa, find inspiration and develop your skills. For me, I am starting to discover my preferred style (more on that in another post).
A project can help practise specific skills as well as bring skills together. I typically have two or three long term projects on the go, and by long term I mean months, or in one case, years. You can of course set the scope and duration of your own project to be whatever you want it to be. Here are a few ideas which I have used in the past which I have found really useful.
A Photo A Day (#PAD) - This does exactly what it says on the tin. You take a photo every day for a year. Search Flickr, Instagram and Facebook and you will find thousands of people doing this. There are many variations on this too. Some people go for Photo 52, one photo per week, and several years ago I did the 100 Day Photo Challenge. I did this simply with my iPhone. I took a shot every day for 100 days. None of the photos are particularly award winning, but my ability to see a shot in the most mundane of places increased by order of magnitude. I likened it to an artist doodling, simply to practise.
Pick a Theme - Any theme! Pablo Strong is particularly handy with a thematic, short and sharp project. He shoots mostly in London, and has a range of themes, such as ties and jewellery. He stops strangers on the street with interesting attire and photographs them, often learning something really interesting in the process. His YouTube videos are a joy. There are all sorts of themes you could concentrate on. Perhaps only shoot things which are a particular colour, or only shoot in square format. Anything which is different to what you would normally do.
Pick a Piece of Kit - Let's face it, we all have lots of kit, and some of it languishes in our camera bags, never seeing the light of day. Perhaps extract that lens you never really use and shoot for a whole day, week or month on it. Shoot exclusively on a wide angle lens, or a prime lens, or anything which makes you think differently.
Photograph a Whole Day - It is a bit of a marathon this one, but why not take a photo every hour for 12 hours, 18 hours, or if you are feeling really perky (or full of coffee), a whole 24 hours? Pick a camera and a lens, and use it for the whole day.
The 30 Minute Project - I use this to get me out of a photographic rut. I go to a place I know reasonably well, and challenge myself to take 30 completely different shots in 30 minutes. No repeats, just take a shot and then on to the next one. Often what you get are 30 meh shots, but... you will start to see familiar places in different ways, and you may find a shot which has the potential to be a winner if the light was better. Store that idea away and come back to it when the conditions are more suitable.
As for my projects... well, I shall be unveiling those in the next few months, but for now, I'd love to hear about your projects.