When you start out in photography it can be a challenge to come up with ideas and motivation to go out and take photos. It’s often a good idea to set yourself a project where you take a collection of photos all on a similar theme. It’s a great way to learn and at the end of it you have a body of work that you can use to start building a portfolio.
That all seems pretty simple and straightforward right? A common mistake when people tackle this sort of project is that they set their sights too high. I’ve done it myself, more than once. A classic case is a project I wrote about at the beginning of the year. Taking a photo every day of the year, for one year. It sounds simple doesn’t it? Yeah, I thought so. I can safely say that I failed in that project, and it’s only May!
Why did I fail?
I failed because I didn’t put enough planning into the project. I just thought to myself one day that I’d do it. For some projects, that’s enough to make it work, however, for most projects it’s a good idea to at least put a bit of planning into it.
So what planning should I have done?
Here are 5 tips on how to plan photo projects. As you get more experienced, you can make your projects more elaborate, but these steps will help for any sized project you might take on.
1. Plan your time.
Well the first thing is to work out what time you actually have to do this project and to do it well. Rushing the project is likely to end with bad results, so if you only have the weekends or certain evenings during the week (like me) then don’t pick a project that requires time every day. Make sure that when you are working on your project that you can concentrate and focus on it for a good few hours at a time.
2. Be realistic.
The second this is to work out what you have access to that you can base your project on. Setting yourself the goal of taking photos of wildlife when you live in the middle of a city is going to be a lot harder than if you lived in the country for example. You will get the opportunities, but they are just harder to come by. If this is your first project, don’t make it a hard one as your motivation for completing the project will suffer.
3. Showing your work.
The third point is to think about how you want to show your project. You might want it to be a personal project that you don’t share until it’s finished, or you might want to make it a more social project where you share your work as you go along and get feedback on it that might help you improve.
4. Don’t go large.
The fourth point is to not make it too big. A project that runs over a few weeks is a good amount of time for the first few. There is nothing to say that you can’t make these projects larger at a later date, but keep it manageable in the beginning.
5. Make it fun.
The last and most important thing to think about is to find a project that you’ll enjoy. Make it about something you are interested in. Something that will get you out of bed and motivated to go and take photos. If you aren’t motivated by it then any set backs or problems will stop you finishing it. If you are motivated then if you do come across any problems, you’ll see them more as things you can learn from which should make your project better.
Why I didn’t really fail.
Ok, so I didn’t manage to take a photo every day, but I did take photos. That’s the important bit, I went out and took some photos. I now have more photos than I did before and I learnt things as I took them. I used an Apple iPhone 6 for a lot of them, it was convenient, but while I was taking the photos I realised the app I was using to take the photos had some short comings, so I found a better iPhone app for taking photos as it gave me more control over the image and as a result I got better photos from it.
My next project.
To be honest, I haven’t decided yet. Point 1 talked about time. I don’t have much of that free at the moment, but I am doing a bit of travelling this year so I’m going to make the most of those opportunities. I know it’s going to be a documentary style project or maybe more focussed on street photography. I favour black and white a lot so maybe this will be a project in colour. Right now, I’m giving it some thought and planning it better, but I’m excited by it. It’s going to be a great learning experience and I should be a better photographer after it.
What’s your next project going to be? Please do share your ideas.