If you are reading these words, your creative spirit must have some level of interest in a personal photography project. Like any project, a photography focused project is ultimately what you make it. But if approached with the right mindset – a photography project has the power to cultivate the person and photographer you want to be.
I’ve created several personal photography projects. Some I completed and some I did not. But that’s ok, because each one taught me important lessons that I can share with others who are contemplating a project, just starting the journey or have tried, failed and given up. Here’s my advice….
Create a project with personal purpose
You must have ‘skin in the game’. In other words, the photography project you choose should have personal relevance to you. With no meaningful connection, your interest is likely to wane shortly after you start. I see lots of photography projects and challenges on social media, like capturing the light in your home, photographing a stranger, or shooting the same subject at varying times of the day/year. These projects seem cool, but I don’t have a personal connection to any of them, so the odds of me finishing once I start is slim to none. Once the excitement and social media comradery wore off, so would my commitment to the project. On the flip side, it is easier to committee to a project you are vested in. Whether it is tied to a cause you believe in, an injustice you want to bring awareness to, or a change you want to make in your own life – giving a specific purpose to your project will foster greater meaning and a deeper connection between you and it.
Choose the right path for your project
There is no one set way to do a photography project. You can do a daily project (p365), a weekly project (p52) or any duration in between. If you have a busy or demanding life, then it may be tough to commit to a successful p365 project. Or perhaps you get bored easily, so the idea of working on the same project day in and day for a year may not be appealing. That’s why it’s so important to understand yourself and critically evaluate your lifestyle to create a personal project that will challenge you to grow but that doesn’t set you up to fail. Another important factor to consider is what you want to shoot. Are you interested in portraits, street scenes, wildlife, flowers or landscapes? Not sure? Scroll through your images from the last year and see if you notice a theme. If a subject feels right, go for it. However, if you want to step outside the box and explore something new, consider creating a project to delve into a technique or genre you want to learn more about, such as black and white or night photography.
Cultivate a passion within your project
Cultivate a photography project that resonates with some aspect of your being. If you connect with your project on a deeper level, the time you devote to it will feel joyful and not like drudgery. The more meaning the project has for you, the more easily you will commit to it. My current photography project, The Chora Project (#thechoraproject) was born out of my desire to create more space in my day to pause and to breath. Chora is an ancient Greek word meaning space or interval. My days are busy and if I don’t intentionally create space between tasks, I feel anxious and overwhelmed. When I am behind the lens, I give my full attention to the present moment. I’m not thinking about work, making dinner or anything else. When my mind wanders away (and it always does), I bring my thoughts back to the feeling of the camera in my hand. My personal photography practice helps me slow down, stress less, and create a lifestyle that is focused on peace, wellbeing and an appreciation for life. When I don’t practice mindfulness, my life speeds by without me noticing the beauty within its small and important details. Each photo I shoot for #thechoraproject moves me closer to my “why”.
Remember this is a ‘personal’ photography project. You get to set every parameter of the project. Always shoot for yourself first, focus on the journey and create a project you love!
Have you done a photography project? Tell me about it in the comments section!