Towards the end of last year I was looking for ways to improve my photography in the new year. Looking for ideas I was hitting the photo blogs and podcasts looking for ways to improve. Most of the advice out there was to just get out there and shoot, take a class or work on a photographic project.
A photographic project is a connected set of photographs that are made with some theme or idea. It is also a step towards trying to say something more meaningful then you can with a single image. It also helps you the photographer to have something to focus on, a reason to lift the camera up to your eye and click the shutter.
So when it came time to decided on what personal project I should do, I turned to google to do some research to see what had been done. This research came up with these being the most common photographic projects
- 365 days: You make a photograph of something every day. A good place see some examples of this is the flickr group 365 days.
- 100 strangers: Over some set period of time you make 100 portraits of 100 strangers. There is actually a website for this project at 100stangers.com.
- A-Z: Go out on a photowalk and shoot the alphabet in any order, one photograph for every letter
- 52x: Similar to the 365 day project but where you do something every week, typically there is an overall theme hence the x. A great example of this is the 52 suburbs project of Louise Hawson
- Photo Essay: Telling a story though a series of images, generally in a journalistic way covering a news story or some sort of social issue. Some tips on doing an essay can be found on Digital Photography School, Part 1, Part 2
Many other ideas can be found with a simple google search but most will be some combination of the above ideas.
Notice one importing thing about all the projects above, they generally work as a body of work not a solitary image. So if you go though your archives and see that you have a lot of photographs with a similar theme that is a photographic project that you have done without even realising.
So at the start of the year I set myself some projects to work on for the year. When deciding on a project one of the important things to take into account is accessibility. Do you have easy access to your subject? This is becoming only too clear now.
So at the start of 2011 I embarked on two projects one Street photography in Sydney, the other Beaches of the Royal National Park (RNP). And I set the seminally simple goal of trying to produce one good image every month for a year. The street photography project has been going well though has slowed down due to the cool winter. The beaches of the RNP hasn’t even started, as I don’t drive I have a real access Issue. Hopefully I will find the time to do some hiking and camping.
I was also lucky that another project came up early in the year, to document a Theatrical society which will be coming up in the up coming proof sheets.
Not all projects need to have such a long time span, nor do they need to be plained. Here is a project that I started with out releasing till I was halfway through it. I had just been out in Newton in Goulds Books and I was walking back to Central and it was getting too dark to really shoot. So to keep the walk interesting I decided to practice panning on passing by Motorbikes and cyclists.
Now conditions were not perfect, it was dark I was shooting wide open with ISO 1600 so I was not getting a perfect pan every time. So I decided to go with it in the processing and used Silver Efex Pro by Nik Software with a tweaked Holga preset. But one or two I quite like. What makes it work as a project in my point of view is that it is a collection of images, not all of them need to be a hero shot.
Not bad for 2 hours of shooting and 30 min in post.