Photo by © Angelika - personal-photography-projects

18 Personal Photography Projects to Keep You Motivated

Are you finding it hard to take time out for your love of photography while keeping up with your daily chores, work or studies? And you feel like you just need to find something to help you with improving your skills without having to put in much time? Thankfully there are lots of ways to keep you in practice.

A personal photography project is a great means to stay connected to photography no matter what you are doing at any stage of life. Whether you are a beginner struggling to build a stupendous portfolio or you are already a pro photographer looking to break the monotony you seem to have developed in your routine, taking up a project and sticking to it will help you in many ways.

Photography projects are a matter of commitment and dedication. If you truly wish to benefit from this exercise you must be willing to manage the time your preferred task requires. Besides, the following projects that I chose to share with you, are tremendously fun, will keep you interested throughout and are are easily do-able even with our fast paced lives.

Here are the ones I think anyone can manage between their busy routines.

1. Project 365

This project requires for you to take a photo every single day for a whole year. These photos can be of anything. But the main purpose behind it is to keep oneself dedicated and photograph on a regular basis. It may sound very easy but being consistent is something that does not come naturally to most people.

Let me take a photo first! - Photo by © Jill Wellington
Let me take a photo first! – Photo by © Jill Wellington

There may come days when things will get so jumbled up and tough in your life that you might decide upon leaving the task for that day and thus break your consistent journey. And it just happens to be a fact that once you break your tempo with anything it is not easy to get back on track.
Some of you might have worked with your camera just a few days ago whereas many of the people reading this might not be able to even recall the last time. So, this activity has a lot of benefits and not just one. It teaches you how to stay consistent in general, allows you to use your camera everyday and gives you a load of photos that document your improvement within them. By the end of the year when you will skim through these photos you will be able to see rather clearly how much you have improved.

2. 52 Weeks

You must have figured it out from the name that this one is not much different from project 365. In this project you are supposed to take a photo each week of the year instead of each day. Definitely simpler and easier than the above one.

To "reflect" on what you want in your photo - Photo by © Jill Wellington
To “reflect” on what you want in your photo – Photo by © Jill Wellington

If you opt for this, it would leave you with more time to deliberate on things you see around you, different subjects to inspire you and you can prepare to shoot them accordingly beforehand, plus managing time will be a lot easier as well. The choice varies from person to person, but knowing myself and my routine tasks, I would probably go with this one if I had to choose between 365 and this.

3. Project A-Z

Like I mentioned before, the project 365 and 52 weeks, alone does not have a restriction of subject. Your subject can be anything unless you combine that project with another project having a subject limitation. Such as this one.

The A-Z project mainly involves searching for alphabets. It is divided into three versions. One of them is to look out for real letters you may find around you and photograph them in a creative way.

Second asks you to search for any object / scene that looks like it’s making an alphabet and you shoot it.

Third one is the most interesting, I believe. It requires for you to keep your eyes open to capture an action taking place which starts with any letter from the alphabets, and the rule is: NOT to repeat a letter. If you have already taken a photo of an action starting with A, say for example: argument, now you cannot take any more photos with A and must search for other letters and their action.

P for Prayer!
P for Prayer!

Sounds fun yet it will not be that easy. But if you combine it with the 52 week project, and only take these photos every other week, you might just get an idea of where you will find what, if you remember to observe everything closely along the week.

4. Numbers

We all are surrounded by numbers in one way or the other, whether it be a bill, credit cards, elevators, shoes, house numbers, etc, this is something everyone can locate quite easily. So, all you do here, is find a number / numbers and click on them! You might think right now that it seems rather dull but it is in fact the opposite of that.

Numbers are everywhere
Numbers are everywhere

There are no boundaries to capture these numbers you find, creatively, and once you begin this project you will know how many interesting photographs can actually come out of it.

5. Environmental Portraits

Have you ever explored your hometown? The whole of it? Do you really know everybody who lives there and the people who visit? Well, your local area itself can turn out to be a great access for you to work on your photographic skills and portfolio. You wanted to know what is the best way to keep practicing photography with your packed schedule, here is your kind of thing.

Another story left untold - Photo by © Jörg Peter
Another story left untold – Photo by © Jörg Peter

Be it your own work place, people in your hometown, folks you meet at the gymnasium, club etc, you can capture them and their stories in your photographs. Much like what people at Humans of New York do.

6. Doors and Windows

This is something you see every other day and not just once but countless times. So, as you can imagine this project is quite vast in terms of variations. There are so many types of doors and windows, some varying in color, some in style, others might have different shapes and sizes and so on. Possibilities are endless.

Doors and windows can be a beautiful subject to photograph - Photo by © Jörg Peter
Doors and windows can be beautiful subjects to photograph – Photo by © Jörg Peter

The surrounding walls and areas will be different as well. Peeling paint, pots and plants, rugged mats, a tidy entrance… and you can’t even guess how excited I am getting with each word I write. I think, I might just choose this as my next photography project!

7. Ongoing Documentary

Photographing events will polish your skills in documentary photography - Photo by © Heike Georg
Photographing events will polish your skills in documentary photography – Photo by © Heike Georg

An ongoing documentary means photographing any event taking place in your area or wherever you think you can take some time out to go. This will usually be for a short term, which might interest you, and it will only require for you to commit yourself to visit that place for as long as the event goes on for.

8. From The Hip

It is a great technique to try and practice, for it gives you some remarkable photos from an unusual perspective. You hold your camera at waist length and then tilt it slightly upward to shoot. You will not be looking through the view finder of course, and if you find it difficult then you can flip your camera’s LCD display towards you (if it allows. This feature comes in most of the newer Digital SLRs).

This is a very useful trick for those who walk to / from work and those who go for a walk everyday in the morning or evening for fitness or any other purpose. You can bring your camera along and shoot away on the streets daily without having to take out any extra time. Also, this way, people will not be staring at you like the way they do when you look at them through the viewfinder with your camera pointed at them. This will enable more natural, candid photos for you.

Considering all the benefits of this project, I have passed this one as one of the projects I will opt for in the future. You should too. Think of all the new compositions you might discover through it!

9. Through the Season

In the busy lives we are leading, we get so wrapped up in our worldly matters that we often forget to appreciate nature. How everything in the environment changes as time goes by. Sure, we may notice the change when it is already there, but, what about when it is underway? You see nature adopting different faces on National Geographic, why not save it in your own photographs!

Witness the change in me
Witness the change in me

Find a place that you think is nearest to you and has plenty of nature to showcase. Shoot it at different times of the day, trying various angles and keep doing it for each day, all through the year. You will be amazed to find how that one thing can change so dramatically with all the different seasons.

10. Project Night Life

We went through some tips on how to capture the night life in interesting ways in the previous post. How about taking this up as a project? This project will not only help you practice the techniques you learnt, but you are bound to get some really beautiful photographs through it.

At some places, night life means a quiet alley
At some places, night life means a quiet alley

Night offers a ton of options for you to shoot from and if you love photography, it will prove to be very relaxing and satisfying after a hectic day.

11. Project 50 – 50

Project description: Taking a photo for 50 days with your 50mm lens only, leaving you with 50 wonderful photographs at the end.

Being Photogenic - Photo by © Jill Wellington
Being Photogenic – Photo by © Jill Wellington

You will figure out all that a zoom lens allows you to do, when you are restricted to only use the 50mm. This helps you become better at wide angle shots, and discover all the ways you can make a composition look interesting without zooming in on it. And if going closer is much needed, you will have to do the extra exercise and “walk” up close.

12. Self-Portraiture

I have seen many people carrying this out and that too rather creatively. It is similar to the project 365 and 52 and is actually combined with any one of them to fully achieve the purpose. You will have to take a photo of yourself everyday or every week changing the angles, props, compositions and themes etc. You have full liberty to go wild with this one. There will be no one to object on the way you want things to look and everything else.

Self portraiture is much more than this, 365 days will make you discover it - Photo by © Jörg Peter
Self portraiture is much more than this, 365 days will make you discover it – Photo by © Jörg Peter

This is again a test of consistency and dedication plus a tougher test of creativity. Each of your photos must appear different than the other ones. It will most surely ascend your skills to the next level – that is something you can bet on!

13. Your Phone’s Camera

So admittedly, it is not easy for everybody to bring their expensive digital SLR with its expensive lenses and all the other additional expensive gear – Whoa, that is a lot of expensive stuff to roam about with, not all cities and streets allow this, if you know what I mean. So, with our phones having good quality cameras, and the quality improving with time, it is quite an opportunity for everyone to take advantage from.

As you know, our DSLRs have so many options in them to make a photographic scene that is in front of you even more attractive. Ever thought about what would happen if you did not have to worry about the correct exposure and all that for a while? You will begin to focus on your compositional skills more. A good composition is like a back bone to a photograph. If your photo is not composed the right way, even if you have gotten the exposure on point, it would not be categorized as a beauty. Because it would not look stunning.

Hence, shooting with your phone’s camera will direct your entire concentration on getting the look of your image right. Keep this practice up for a while and soon you will learn what your phone and you are truly capable of.

14. Black and White

Black and white has always held a special place in most photographers’ hearts. The quality of it is that it makes you more attentive toward shapes and textures when you are composing a photograph. It teaches you how to create balance with the available tones and contrast.

Making the lines, tones and textures prominent
Making the lines, tones and textures prominent

Colors play a huge role in making an image appear beautiful, but, going black and white allows you to put the colors on the back burner for some time and produce striking photos with the two extremes only, that is black and white.

15. A Day In The Life Of

If you feel like taking a break from the usual, you might want to consider this one. This project only takes a single day and is a good source of entertainment as well. You decide upon a subject – it can be you, any other person or thing – and then you document that subject’s entire day in the form of photographs.

A chance to know your subject closely
A chance to know your subject closely

You can take it upon yourself to accomplish this task once every week. The best part, if you document a day in your own life, will be: no putting in extra time. But, if you want to carry this out on someone / something else, you can still do it on weekends.

16. Your Family

Be it immediate or extended, families have such diversity in them that photographers can truly benefit from. You are with them most days of your life. How about documenting your family? You can try it with someone else’s family too, like a friend’s, maybe. There are laughs, various ages and generations, arguments, interactions, food, gossip sessions, a whole variety of expressions, bonds and what not! You can do the same with taking your friends as your subject.

Spending time together
Spending time together

This really is an extremely fascinating idea to follow upon. Another one added to my bucket of projects!

17. Architecture

Photographing the beauty of architecture is another great way to improve your compositional skills. Architectural designs have a great variety, with designs differing in size, shape, colors and style etc, therefore it offers a diverse collection of options.

Beautiful Architecture, beautiful Light
Beautiful Architecture, beautiful Light

You may also find textures, windows and doors, reflective glass and lines accompanying your building. It mostly relies on your imagination to set everything in the frame in such a way so as to highlight any unique features.

18. One Color at a Time

You can pick any color you want / like, and then set a goal for yourself to shoot 30 images in 30 days for instance. Your main subject for each photo will have to be of the chosen color or from its family. For example, if you choose Purple, all of the 30 photos will have their main subject in purple color. Simple as that.

Discover a range of a single color - Photo by © Jill Wellington
Discover a range of a single color – Photo by © Jill Wellington

Personal photography projects are to keep you motivated and enthusiastic, because photography is something that calls for constant practice to be able to produce pro level photos. You often find me writing about “practicing”, now here was a list of ways you can start practicing no matter how busy you are.

Hope you found a project that suits your liking and interest, good luck with pulling it off. Remember, do not hesitate to start a project because it stretches for as long as a year. Just give it a go, once you begin, motivation will itself find its way to you. Good luck.