10 Personal Photo Projects Ideas

“Self-assigning photography work is the healthiest thing any photographer can do for themselves. ”

Have you ever assigned yourself a photo project? Whether you are a hobbyist or a professional photographer taking time to execute a photo project for yourself is enriching and essential. I learned about this concept from a group of professional photographers from the UK. Each year they take time to work on something outside of their professional photo jobs. Taking time for growth, personal exploration, and creating stories they want to tell. Check out many of your favorite top-named photographers, and you will find that they do a lot of project-based work. Wonder why? The reason is clear, projects provide a focus, inspiration, and a chance to tell a story. 

“Build a portfolio of work that’s meaningful and exciting to you.”

Planning, executing, and showcasing a project can seem daunting or something only for professionals. But I disagree. I have personally worked on projects for myself each year for the past five years, and they have helped me grow creatively and with my skills. Projects are perfect for all photographers! 

Photographer Aaron Chapman says, “I think we forget that photography is a language. It needs to be read. Project-based work is the best way to try and speak the language fluently by stringing together a bunch of photographs into a story. There are endless single great photographs out there, but those are sometimes sentences that often sit without context.”

 So maybe I have intrigued you with this idea! Wondering what the next steps are? Below are my top 10 ideas that any photographer can try, regardless of skill or level. These are simple, small projects to get you going. I also invite you to jump into my January workshop, where I share how to get started, the steps to execute a project, and how to share it once complete. This course is only held in January each year! 

Top 10 List 

  • Pick one subject and photograph it until you have a nice collection of images to put together in a visual story. This could be images of one color, lines, architectural elements, something in nature, water drops, etc… There are countless examples online of this type of work, photographing doors, floor tiles, and random objects that together make an interesting story. 
  • Document a current event in your life, work, charity, music group, etc… Many nonprofits love to have someone photograph their events. This is a great way to get experience with documentary event photography and build a portfolio. 
  • Start a 365 or 52-week project! While these are a big commitment, the growth that comes from shooting every day or once a week and sharing is huge! This is a great beginner activity. Flickr, Facebook, and other sites have great groups you can join. 
  • One square mile. Pick an area and document everything you see as you walk.  Some examples are walking along the coast, a river, city streets, historic roads, etc… One photographer walked the outer edge of Boston and documented it all. Document the same walk in different seasons to make the project annual.
  •  Genre swap. If you usually shoot landscape work on a totally opposite project, like shooting macro or documentary style. Spend time studying the genre, plan a photo shoot, and then put images together to tell a unified story. 
  •  Imitation. Think of an artist or photographer you want to imitate with your work. I love the iPad art images of David Hockney and want to try to capture his spring in Normandy series using my camera this year. I will study his work, compositions, style, and work to create my version with photos. 
  • Creative Technique. Try learning and shooting with a new style like multiple exposure, intentional camera movement, or creating composites
  • Take one lens for 30 days and use it all month, shooting in various settings. This forces you to work with what you have, learn that lens, and how to still get the images you want. This works great if going on a trip where you feel ok leaving some gear behind. 
  • Showcase the meaning of a place. It is easy to capture the beauty of a grand landscape, but what if you capture the details that make that place special? Think about textures, light, and small details. How does the place make you feel? What are the characteristics that you can see and feel when you visit? 
  • A Story or Sequence. Capture the sequence or story. For example, photograph a garden from seed to plant, a recipe from ingredients to finished product, or building something from scratch. Planning out the shots for this is critical as ensuring light and details can be consistent. 

Consider  ‘What would you start if you knew you could finish?’

I hope you will join me in January for the workshop to help you get started, or tag me when you finish your project. I would love to see your work! 


IG: Photography_lori

Using Format