Much has been said and written about writer’s block and creative ruts, which are basically mental or artistic droughts that periodically affect writers and creatives respectively. However, there are very few resources for photographers who find themselves in a rut, and consequently, lose their passion for the job.
Contrary to popular belief, photographers (even hobbyists) do sometimes get tired or bored of snapping everything in their line of sight. When this happens, the camera is no longer the loyal, trusted friend that helps one turn life into art, but a heavy burden.
One way to overcome a photographer’s rut is to take part in individual or group photography projects, and push yourself to complete them. Notably, you have to be determined to undertake the said project(s) or competition, be open-minded, and most importantly, dedicate enough time.
However, to get a long term solution, you need to craft a clear strategy that covers both the immediate and long term photography needs. To help you out, I have compiled seven photography project ideas to keep you inspired.
Well, let’s get started.
1. Photo A Week Challenge
As the name suggests, this is a year-long endeavor that requires you to take at least one photo a week. Naturally, it’s a demanding project as it’s difficult for most people to follow one program through an entire year. However, the fact that you only need one photograph a week means you will have ample time to prepare and brainstorm on some cool ideas.
To avoid getting stuck or having a block in the course of the challenge, try to come up with a monthly theme to guide your work. For example, January can be all about landscapes, August about summer wear and the beach, and so on. Sounds good, right?
2. Photograph a Stranger a Day
It is not among the common photography project ideas, but photographing a stranger every day could reignite your passion for photography. You can, for example, go up to a person walking their dog, compliment them, tell them a bit about yourself, then politely ask to photograph them.
Even better, you may add some charity to the project, by donating a few dollars every day to a homeless person. You may start by having a conversation, then end it with a request for a photo. Of course, don’t share any of the photos you take unless with the express permission of the subject.
Basically, this is a 26-day program where you give each day a letter of the alphabet. Thereafter, you are required to take a photo of a subject whose first letter corresponds to the day’s letter.
This is one of the simplest projects that you can ever participate in. Not only is it easy to carry out ( as you only have to think of an item that begins with a given letter), but it also helps you to become more conscious of your surroundings. It may be a hassle if you have a 9 to 5, but you can always do the shooting in the mornings or evenings.
4. Self Portrait
If you’re not finding things to photograph, how about being your own subject? You may, for instance, endeavor to take a full-body pic, or selfie, of yourself every day or week. This shouldn’t be hard even if you’re alone, as most cameras have timers.
To get better self-portraits, try to experiment with different backdrops or using different light settings. For instance, you may snap yourself eating pizza, having fun with your dog, or just playing around in the open. Oh, and you don’t have to share your pics with anyone if you’re not photogenic (most photographers aren’t) or are not confident.
5. Pet Photography
Your pet is undoubtedly an important part of your life, and what better way to get your creative juices flowing again than by taking a snap of your pet every day? Whether he’s nose deep in his food, sleeping, or just playing around, aim to fill your camera roll with pictures of your four-legged friend.
As you review the photos, you may discover different expressions and personality traits of your pet that you weren’t aware of before. So, apart from helping to spur your photography passion, pet photography also strengthens your bond with your pet.
6. Light Painting
If you love some nighttime photography, try incorporating light painting into your works and see how fun it will be. Light painting typically involves shooting in the dark while using handheld, moving light sources, such as torches, or even your smartphone, to “paint” shapes in the scene. The key difference between light painting and light graffiti is that in light painting, you don’t focus on the backdrop, but on your chosen source of light.
To better capture the painting, keep the camera shutter open for at least 30 seconds, and use manual focus to maintain the camera’s focus on the light object. It’s not really the easiest of photography projects, but if you do learn the basics, you will acquire an entirely new perspective on photography.
7. Use Only one Lens
Using the same equipment all the time can be monotonous, and may eventually lead to a mental block. If you have a few bucks to spare, buy a new lens, and limit yourself to only take photographs using it for a given period, be it a week or month. While at it, go for the eccentric lenses, such as macro, tilt-shift or fisheye lenses.
Here is the point…
When your morale and productivity is at its lowest, it may be tempting to continue with your (monotonous) routine or even give up. However, giving up is, and should not be an option as photographers create great and sometimes inspirational pieces of art and talk to people through their works.
By undertaking the above photography projects, you learn how to take different types of photos, and most importantly, appreciate your surroundings even more. Just maintain a positive mindset throughout and have fun!
Stefano Caioni is the founder of Pixinfocus. His passion for photography helps him discover new places and live new adventures.