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Photography Projects: Staying Inspired and Motivated

Portrait photo of a young woman. Photo project ideas

Maintaining a consistent drive and creative edge can sometimes be challenging. Nevertheless, every photographer has faced moments of stagnation or creative blocks. 

That’s why the artistry of photography lies not just in capturing a moment but in continually finding and redefining one’s vision, so challenging yourself and diving into new photography projects is vital.

5 Photography Project Ideas

That being said, I will show you a few ways to ensure you stay inspired and motivated. So let’s dive into some unique photo projects:

Partake in Challenges

This could mean setting a target for the number of photos to take in a week or experimenting with a new style. Think long-term projects such as 365 year-round Photo Projects, 52 weeks, or just 30 days. 

For instance, a couple of months ago I decided to write an article about a simple exercise to help improve portrait photography skills. The idea of this exercise is to use a camera with one focal length and take at least 50 black and white portrait photos during one day

That day I took 208 portrait photos of both my son Nikita and my wife Alina.

Portrait photography exercise for photographers.

Here’s one more idea: challenge yourself to capture “A Photo a Day” for a year. This not only ensures you’re consistently practicing but also helps in documenting a year in your life. The repetition not only hones skills but can also showcase changes over time.

Take Self-portraits

Taking portraits of yourself has become more common, especially since the pandemic.

Play Video about Thumbnail for the YouTube video about creative self-portrait ideas

Self-portraits are personal photography projects that explore self-identity and artistry. They can be deeply personal, challenging photographers to become comfortable in front and behind the camera.

The creative possibilities are endless in self-portraits, just think of what other artists have done. The artist that comes to my mind is Vivian Maier

While working as a nanny, Maier took over 150,000 photographs, many of them self-portraits. By using mirrors, shadows, and reflections, she captured herself in diverse settings, from city streets to bathrooms.

Creative photo project ideas involving self-portraits:

  • Decade-themed Self-Portraits: You can explore different fashion, makeup, and props from different decades. This not only hones skills in setting up a shot but also challenges you to study and emulate styles from the ’60s, ’80s, or even the early 1900s.
  • Elemental Self-Portraits: Embrace nature’s elements – earth, water, fire, and air. Immerse yourself in a sea of leaves or flowers, stand amidst fog or with blowing fabric for air, use reflections in water, or be surrounded by smoke or candles for fire. Each element brings out a different mood and emotion, allowing for a powerful visual storytelling of one’s self.

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Take Photo Walks

Photo walks are about immersing oneself in the environment, seeing ordinary things in extraordinary ways, and capturing candid moments or stunning scenery.

You can take a walk in a bustling city market. There, you might capture the vibrant colors of fruits and vegetables, the expressive faces of sellers, and the dance of light and shadow through the stalls.

Fruit market photo project
  • See a place differently: Walk down a historical part of your city or town. While there, rather than capturing buildings, focus on intricate details: the worn-out textures of a centuries-old door, the graffiti marking a side alley, and the way the sunlight hits a weathered statue.
  • Creative idea – Do an alphabet walk: During a photo walk in a town or a park, you can challenge yourself to find natural or urban formations of every letter of the alphabet. It forces a more attentive eye and can result in a beautiful mosaic of letters from A-Z by the end.

Practice Double Exposure Photography

Double exposure is an artistic technique where two different images are superimposed into a single frame. 

You can do this traditionally with film cameras or digitally using software. Think of a portrait of a person overlaid with a forest, suggesting their deep connection to nature.

Play Video about Double exposure creative photo project idea

Personal Journey Double Exposures: A photographer could juxtapose images from their childhood (maybe their childhood home or school) with their current self. This creates a poignant reminder of time, memories, and personal evolution.

Use Different Lenses

Breaking away from the norms, using camera lenses not designed for a specific purpose can yield surprising results and urges photographers to think unconventionally.

Creative ideas:

  • Taking a landscape shot with an 85mm, typically used for portraits, compels the photographer to be selective about which part of the scenery to focus on.
  • A fisheye lens, typically used for wide panoramic shots, can be used for a close-up of a pet, amplifying their curious expressions.
  • Using a macro lens traditionally intended for close-up shots of insects or flowers for portraits can produce incredible detail. You can use the macro lens to emphasize freckles, pores, and unique facial features. Another idea is to take photos of people’s eyes with a macro lens.
macro lens portrait

Tips on Getting Inspired as a Photographer

The pursuit of inspiration is not just about how to plan a photography project – but about actively seeking and nurturing it. Before delving into specific strategies to reignite that creative spark, it’s essential to understand that inspiration is everywhere — in the world around us, the stories we hear, the people we meet, and even the challenges we face. 

Let’s explore some ways to tap into this.

Choosing Photography Project Themes or Subjects

This means picking specific subjects, objects, or themes for photography projects – and making them the focal point of your photography project. 

By restricting your focus, you are forced to see things in a new light or from a different angle, which can lead to increased creativity.

Example: If you choose “Doors” as your theme, you might travel around your city (or even the world) and capture doors of various colors, designs, ages, and significance. This can make viewers perceive something as mundane as a door in a new light, revealing the stories and histories hidden behind them.

Play Video about Door photography photo project

Visiting New Places

Sometimes a change of scenery or a fresh perspective is all you need to rekindle your passion for photography.

For example, going on a trip to the Amalfi coast in Italy has inspired me to look around me and capture the beauty of this place, as well as the hidden gems and people that charm this place.

Landscape of a beautiful city in Amalfi Coast, Italy in 2022.

Journaling

Write down your thoughts, ideas, and reflections about your photography journey. This can help you identify patterns, areas of interest, or subjects you’re passionate about.

After journaling for a month, you might realize a recurring fondness for capturing candid emotions. This can be the beginning of a project focusing on candid portraits during festive celebrations.

Collaborating with Other Creatives

Working with others—whether they’re photographers, artists, writers, or musicians—can provide fresh perspectives and ideas. Collaborate with a local musician to create a visual story for one of their songs, blending the worlds of photography and music.

Portrait photo of a young woman playing guitar in her room with a lot of plants.

Letting Yourself Be Inspired by The Things Around You

This section deserves an article of its own. There are many ways to let yourself be inspired and motivated by the things and artists around you.

Follow Photo Projects You Love

By looking at other photographers’ projects, you can gain insight into different perspectives, techniques, and subject matter, allowing you to learn from the experiences of others.

Example: The “Humans of New York” project by Brandon Stanton. This project focuses on capturing the stories and portraits of random individuals on the streets of New York. The simplicity of the idea paired with the profound stories and emotions that come forth make it a captivating project. It also has inspired similar photography projects in cities around the world.

Play Video about Humans of New York photo project

Creative photohraphy project idea: “Pets of Paris” – Taking inspiration from “Humans of New York”, a photographer might focus on the pets in Paris. Each image could capture the pet with a short story or quote from the owner – detailing their bond or a memorable anecdote about the pet.

Famous Projects you should know about:

  • “The Americans” by Robert Frank: A book published in 1958 containing photographs Frank took during his cross-country road trips throughout the U.S. It provides a raw, candid portrayal of post-war America and its citizens.
  • “Water” by Edward Burtynsky: Burtynsky’s large-scale aerial photographs focus on landscapes altered by industrial activity. In his “Water” series, he captures locations from the Gulf of Mexico to the shores of the Ganges, revealing humanity’s intricate relationship with water.
    “Where Children Sleep” by James Mollison: This serieso includes portraits of children worldwide and the places they sleep. It’s a poignant reflection on global inequality and the diversity of childhood experiences.
  • A Flat 6 Love Affair“: I came across this photo project by the Belgian photographer Bart Kuykens quite recently, and I absolutely fell in love with it. In this project, Bart took a series of photos of Porsche owners and documented their stories. This photo project turned into a series of 7 stylish coffee table books.
Play Video about A flat V6 affair photo project by Bart Kuykens

Follow a Range of Artists on Social Platforms

Following a diverse set of artists from various genres and backgrounds can expose you to many styles, techniques, and perspectives. And social media platforms provide a space for interaction, collaboration, and learning.

Expand beyond just photographers. Follow painters, illustrators, graphic designers, sculptors, and other visual artists. The composition, color theory, and concepts from the genres can translate beautifully into photography.

Also, make it a point to follow artists from other parts of the world. The varying cultural backgrounds and experiences can offer a fresh take on familiar subjects. 

A street photographer from Tokyo might showcase the city’s bustling life in stark contrast to another from a quaint town in Italy, where the pace is slower and the streets less crowded. Both perspectives are valuable and can offer inspiration on framing and subject selection.

Tokyo street photography

Get Inspired by Books, Films, or Music

Movies, books, and music are rich sources of inspiration, containing stories, themes, emotions, and visuals that can stimulate your creativity in photography.

For example, movies are a visual treat. The way scenes are framed, the lighting, and the selection of backdrops can be a fantastic learning tool for photographers. 

For example, The visually stunning shots in movies like “The Grand Budapest Hotel” by Wes Anderson can inspire photographers to play with symmetrical compositions.

Grand Budapest photo project

And while books lack visual content, the descriptive prowess of authors paints vivid images in readers’ minds. 

Reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s description of the Shire in “The Lord of the Rings” might inspire a photographer to capture serene countryside landscapes or focus on the simplicity of rural life.

Engaging

Participate in webinars or online courses. Attending local photography exhibitions, workshops, and seminars is another way to immerse oneself in the tactile essence of photography. 

These events often provide live demonstrations, hands-on experiences, and personal interactions – they can be the perfect place for meeting other photographers and sharing experiences.

Other places to engage include:

  • Local Photography Schools and Colleges
  • Photography Clubs and Societies
  • Photography Conferences and Trade Shows

Create Collections or Boards

Platforms like Pinterest allow you to curate boards.

Whenever you see an image or artwork that speaks to you, pin it. Over time, reviewing these collections can help identify patterns or styles that resonate with you, guiding your own creative journey.

Another thing that can inspire you is to create a photography mood board that showcases what style you’re going for.

Play Video about Photography mood board photo challenge

Other Creative Photography Projects

Documentary Photography Project Ideas

  • The life of homeless individuals in a city.
  • A day in the life of a farmer.
  • The transition of a historic building over time.
  • Behind the scenes of a local theater.
  • The journey of immigrants in a new country.

Film Photography Project Ideas

  • A series on retro cafes and diners.
  • Portraits using only natural light.
  • Capturing reflections in urban puddles.
  • Night shots with neon lights.
  • Double exposures of nature and urban landscapes.

Beginner Photography Projects

  • A day in your life (from morning to night).
  • Alphabet series (something representing each letter).
  • Different angles of a single object.
  • Color themes (e.g., a week of red items).
  • One subject and different lighting conditions.

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Black and White Photography Projects

  • Street portraits of strangers.
  • Shadows and silhouettes in the city.
  • Contrasts in nature (like dark trees against snow).
  • Textures and patterns in close-up (e.g., bark, fabric).
  • Movement captured in stillness (dancers, athletes).

Summer Photography Projects

  • Golden hour landscapes in different locations.
  • Summer festivals, fairs, and carnivals.
  • Summer refreshments: ice creams, popsicles, and cool drinks.
  • Action shots of summer sports (e.g., surfing, volleyball).
  • Road trip photo journal, capturing the essence of a summer getaway.

Frequently Asked Questions About Photography Project

Photography projects help photographers stay motivated, consistently practice their skills, and explore new creative avenues. They provide a structured approach to overcoming creative blocks and constantly refining their vision.

Photographers can engage in challenges such as the 365 year-round Photo Projects, where they capture “A Photo a Day” for a whole year, or shorter-term projects like 52 weeks or 30-day challenges.

Self-portraits allow photographers to delve into self-identity and artistry. Using elements like mirrors, shadows, and reflections, photographers can capture themselves in various settings and moods, thus creating a deep and more artistic representation than a typical selfie.

You can draw inspiration from various sources, such as other photographers’ projects, movies, books, music, art, and even day-to-day life. Following diverse artists, attending exhibitions, or exploring new places can also provide fresh perspectives and ideas.

Conclusion

These photography projects and tips aim to shake photographers out of their routines, urging them to see the world differently and embrace challenges. 

The real value in these projects is not just in the photos produced but in the growth and insights gained as a photographer.

Photographers should be prepared for some trial and error, especially with unconventional methods. Yet, that’s the beauty of these photo projects: they challenge the norms, provoke creativity, and often lead to unexpected discoveries.

And if you want to discover even more about photography, take a peek at our other articles at OhMyCamera

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Aleksandrs Karevs

Aleksandrs Karevs

Hi, my name is Aleksandrs and I am a full-stack digital marketer passionate about digital photography. In my free time, I enjoy taking photos with my everyday companion – FUJIFILM X100V. Read full story here.

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Aleksandrs Karevs OHMYCAMERA Founder & Author

ARTICLE BY

Hi, my name is Aleksandr and I am a full-stack digital marketer from Riga, Latvia. In 2018 I became obsessed with photography and decided to create this blog to share my knowledge about both photography and marketing. In my free time, I enjoy taking photos with my everyday companion – FUJIFILM X100V.

Aleksandrs Karevs OHMYCAMERA Founder & Author

ARTICLE BY

Hi, my name is Aleksandr and I am a full-stack digital marketer from Riga, Latvia. In 2018 I became obsessed with photography and decided to create this blog to share my knowledge about both photography and marketing. In my free time, I enjoy taking photos with my everyday companion – FUJIFILM X100V.

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Simply enter your email below to receive a FREE eBook filled with actionable tips for immediate photography improvements. 

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