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5 Reasons to Take on a Photography Project

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Start a photography project today.

Whether you are starting out or a seasoned shooter, everyone should take on a photography project at some stage in their lives. Here are 5 reasons why:

1. Find some direction.

Photographers of any level know it is easy to get stuck in a rut where you feel uninspired with the photographs you are creating. There are a couple of sure fire ways to break free of this. Firstly, look at other peoples work. This is easy to do but may only have short term effects. The second more effective option, albeit more difficult, is to take on a photography project. The theme and content of your project is entirely up to you but starting with a clear and defined focus will give you the direction you need to break free of the rut. Your project could be a 365 project with a common theme running through it, a 50 in 50 project where you take 50 portraits of strangers using a 50mm lens, you could shoot a landscapes in every county in your country. The options are endless and you can go as big or as small as you see fit. Going small is particularly good if you are armed with a macro lens. Check out Eddie the Bugman. My current photography project is called Water Drop Wednesday. Check it out here - https://www.firstmanphotography.com/tutorials/water-drop-photography

2. Improve your photography.

Use the opportunity of shooting your project to improve your skills. If you are just starting out then aim to get out of auto mode and capture proper exposure. Check out my free eBook Understanding Exposure that will help you along with this - https://www.firstmanphotography.com/ebook Get used to visualising a shot before looking through the viewfinder and think about the composition. Before pressing the shutter button, take notice of the edge of your frame and the background behind your subject. As your project continues try to apply lessons you have learned from previous shots and apply them to your latest picture. Try to make every photograph better than the one before. Throughout the project, look back over your previous images; you are bound to see an improvement as the project has progressed, this serves as a very good motivator along the way.

3. Build a social media following.

When I embarked on my first 365 project it was purely a personal project but many photographers will use a photography project to help build a following on social media. In this age where everyone is shooting pictures, creating something special to stand out is a must and a focused photography project can very much fit the bill. My 365 was a family project so I originally only shared it with family and friends through Flickr. The project very quickly became a documentary of the year with a short description that accompanied each shot detailing a notable or amusing part of the day. Family and friends became avid followers and quickly began adding to the comments enhancing the overall documentary aspect of the project. Admittedly my family and friends were a biased audience but they came back day after day; the same principle applies to building a public following. If you have a clear idea that people can understand they will soon begin to engage. They will feed into the work, enhancing the project and your experience of it. High quality images, posted on a regular basis are key alongside some good quality engagement. For example, if someone leaves a comment like 'Awesome shot', do not just reply 'thanks'. This effectively ends the conversation so instead, share a little piece of info, show some insight or ask that person a question. You might be surprised just how many people respond to this positively. Follow me on Instagram.

4. To Challenge yourself.

This is an important one that should have veins running through everything  you do. When things get to the point of being easy it is likely that your learning will have ceased and real progress will have halted. It is not always immediately obvious when we get to this point as it often creeps up on us silently when we become more comfortable. If you have time to watch 10 episodes of Breaking Bad back to back, I would suggest you might be there. You can avoid this plateau though by continually pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and driving your own progress and growth. Get up out of your chair right now and go and capture an image. I guarantee there is a good shot within two minutes of where you are right now.

5. It is Fun.

Depending on the challenge you have set yourself a photography project can often be tough, but it will also be fun. I often think, when I am shooting, is there anything else I would rather be doing right now? The answer is always no. Especially when i am shooting with friends or collaborating with interesting people. Taking on a photo project is a lot like playing a video game (when I had time to play video games). You progress through many levels and pick up skills and knowledge along the way as you get better and better. Sometimes you might falter and have to re-do a level which will be frustrating and challenging. Eventually you fight through and get to end where you will feel a massive sense of achievement for what you have completed. Unlike a video game though you will be left with something to hold on to and you will have created some art that you will be proud of. The boost to your portfolio will be proof that you have not wasted your time and you will know the well constructed and thought out project was all worth it. Like a video game though, the sense of achievement will last for about two minutes; you will immediately starting thinking about the next one. Start a photography project today and you'll be hooked.

Take On a 365 Project

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365 Project - Photography Ideas

365 project. Words that will quite happily roll off the tongue. In the hands of a photographer these words can become something very different. Demanding, emotional, challenging, tiring and hopefully in the end, rewarding. Let me explain.

The 365 project is not complex. You take one photograph everyday for a year. That's it. Although the idea is simple the execution can become truly testing when the burden of maintaining a creative edge solidly for one year eventually sinks in.

For me creativity comes in waves. There are times when everything goes right, the ideas flow, you feel the magic happen and the work seems to create itself. On other occasions you have no idea how you ever came up with your previous work and you can taste the bitterness of your inadequacy. We each have our own ways of dealing with this feeling and sometimes it is brief and on other occasions it is not so. I was stuck in a particularly bad rut when I decided to set myself a challenge large enough to haul me out of the mire and change the way I work. I knew it had to be a 365 project.

The next decision was my subject. I knew I wanted to create quality images that were more than simple snap shots. I knew the images and eventual series had to tell a story of the year. I realised with my first child about to be born my time was going to become limited. It quickly became obvious what, or who, my subject would be.

The project started mere minutes after my daughter was born when the midwife placed her on the scales and suggested I might want to take a shot. Not one to miss an opportunity, I gathered myself from the events that had just occurred and took my iPhone out and grabbed the first shot. I never thought I would include any images taken on the iPhone but the shot was solid and my hand was steady enough to capture the shot, including the birth weight on the scales.

Although I embarked on my 365 project purely as a personal challenge, many photographers will use them to build a following on social media. In this age where everyone is shooting pictures, creating something special to stand out is a must and a 365 project can very much fit the bill. My 365 project was a based one project so I originally only shared it with family and friends through Flickr. The project very quickly became a documentary of the first year with a short description that accompanied each shot detailing a notable or amusing part of the day. The family and friends became avid followers and quickly began adding to the comments enhancing the overall documentary aspect of the project. Admittedly my family and friends were a biased audience but they came back day after day; the same principle applies to building a public following.

During the year the project almost became another member of our family. It was something that needed caring for, maintaining and required daily feeding. The nagging feeling of constant responsibility was prominent in my mind and this was only amplified by the following it had generated. I placed a large amount of pressure on myself to ensure I got each shot but now any failure would be shared by many others, I would be letting people down if I failed. Although at times it felt like a chore I had to remind myself that these challenging moments were the reason I took on the project in the first place. In the end I completed the 365 project without a missed day and it was in no small part by taking support from my followers and some creative inspiration from my wife, who's keen eye is scattered throughout the project.

My daughter is older now and looking back through the 365 project is magical. Coupled with the descriptions and comments that accompanied the shots they form a story of her first year that, in my opinion, a video could never compete with. My goal was to come out of the other end of the 365 project as a better photographer and a better storyteller. I hope this happened but most of all I took great satisfaction in the successful completion and I feel I have created something that my family will cherish for generations to come.

That only leaves the question, would I ever do another one? My wife asked me the same question a short time ago. I replied with certainty, "no way, never". She said, "I'm pregnant".