How to Start Your Own Personal Photography Project

If you are looking for a fun activity, photography projects can be for you:

What is a photography project?

To me, a photography project is a series of photographs that highlight one concept or idea that you’re interested in.

There’s no right or wrong way to do a photography project

Only work on a photography project you’re personally interested or curious about. Otherwise your project will be weak.

You cannot bullshit passion or enthusiasm.

Thus,

Only work on photography projects you’re passionate or curious about.

How to get started

Simple idea:

Brainstorm a broad concept you’d like to photograph.

For example, projects I’ve done:

  • Only in America (photos shot while in America, of American concepts, ideals, things)
  • Suits (photographs of men in suits, as a critique of the modern-day slavery institution which is called an office)

Or, you can do a project to document a personal happening in your life:


Projects aren’t more “legitimate” than single images

Many photographers (myself included) start pursuing photography projects in the hope that they will gain more legitimacy as photographers and artists.

Don’t get suckered by this notion.

Photography projects aren’t better nor worse than just randomly going out and shooting photographs of anything and everything. It’s just a slightly different approach.


Length of time

A project can be a day, a week, a month, a year, 10 years, or perhaps your whole lifetime.

You don’t need a “deadline” for finishing your project. Perhaps it can be a life-long project, like my #cindyproject (photographing my life and love for Cindy).

I think all photography and projects are in a constant state of becoming. Don’t seek finality for your photography projects if you don’t desire it.

Some projects will naturally die out or finish on their own. That’s okay. But if you are undecided the direction of your photography projects, that’s totally cool too!


Tips

Practical tips on shooting projects:

  1. Keep it consistent with the same camera, lens, or film-processing style aesthetic. For example, in my AMERICA and SUITS project, it was all shot with Kodak Portra 400 film, and 35mm lens on a film Leica.
  2. Edit ruthlessly: Ditch weak photos. Only keep strong photos. Your photography project is only as strong as the weakest photograph in the series.
  3. Have fun! Don’t beat yourself up with your projects. Enjoy the process and have fun.

Flux projects

This is my idea:

Feel free to constantly add, remove, or change the photos within your project.

For example, I plan on pursuing to make photographs of America until I die (at age 120). This means, of course I don’t seek a “final” version of my project.

What I do is this:

Every few months, re-examine my folder of America photos, and either add new photos to the series, or remove photos from the series.

Here is currently my selection of my favorite picture from my ONLY IN AMERICA series:

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