The importance of personal projects

Earlier this year, I discussed the best ways to stay motivated during the dreaded offseason, aka winter.

One thing I didn’t address is likely the most talked about projects amongst photographers — Project 365. Here’s the thing, you don’t necessarily have to shoot a different photo every day to stay motivated.

You don’t have to follow a certain subject matter. And you don’t have to be locked into other groups’ requirements.

You just have to shoot.

I started a new photography project earlier this week, which I’m calling #solevision. I’m not putting many restrictions on this, mainly because I want to be creative in exploring different subjects.

My one restriction is being minimalist in my approach. This essentially means minimal equipment — just my camera body and a lens. No speed lights or crazy Photoshop work. I want to really learn my camera and different techniques on how to work in certain situations.

I’m often asked by other photographers how to get creativity flowing again. We’ve all been in creative ruts, and it’s important to understand them as well as how to get back in the driver’s seat.

Personal projects are key for this.

There are plenty of articles out there about personal project ideas. I’m not going to list them here.

However, there are a few things you should definitely think about when planning yours, which could help lead you to the ideal project for you and keep you going throughout the year.


Find inspiration

Inspiration absolutely has to be at the forefront and getting creative means surveying the creativity of others. Personal projects are meant to allow you to explore your photography trade. So why not go on the lookout to find what other people are doing?

Go on Flickr, Pinterest, 500px…you name it. Research some famous photographers and find some styles that you really want to replicate.

For me, I have a Flickr gallery and a Pinterest board with ideas, but I also regularly check out other websites for ideas.

Keep your camera attached at the hip

You can’t work on a personal project if you don’t have your camera with you!

When working on a project, I always use the same camera. You might take it so far as to use the same camera lens, too, or restrict yourself to certain camera settings.

But you always have to be carrying your camera. Period.

Start a photo blog

If you aren’t already blogging, start working on a photo blog dedicated to your personal project. It’ll let the whole world see your photos, and hopefully you’ll get some really positive feedback.


See something new

Just because you’re a stay-at-home mom with three kids doesn’t mean you can’t see something new. Load up the wagon and take the kids on a walk to a place you’ve never been. Drive them to a local park on the outskirts of town. Check out a forest where you can let them roam around while getting some new photos of them.

We can often get too satisfied where we are, and stick to our home and office without venturing out much. In order for a photo project to work, you have to step outside your normal spaces.

Challenge yourself

This goes without saying. For me, I can often get stuck in the habit of shooting the same types of things. Corporate event, corporate event, theatre show, corporate event. Reach beyond what you’re used to.

Just yesterday I posted a photo of a friends’ 12-week-old baby. I’m not a newborn photographer by any means. But learning the skill set of newborn photographers and seeing how I can add my own personal style to it is both challenging and exciting.

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