10 Tips for Creating a Personal Photo Project

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  1. What can’t you help but photograph? What are some of the common threads in the images you’ve made up until now? Think about these questions and mark down any ideas that come to mind.
  2. Make a list of some of the best photo experiences you’ve had. Then look for links between them that might lead you to similar great photographic experiences to pursue in the future.
  3. Do you have special access to an interesting place, person, or story through a personal connection or through work, relatives, or friends? Are there story ideas there?
  4. Make a list of places near where you live that you like to spend time. Do any of these places have opportunities for photo projects? How do they change when viewed at different times of the day? Do you regularly pass by places that make you intrigued to see what’s there?
  5. Make a list of photographers whose work you admire and see if any of the stories they pursue might be a direction you want to take. Look for small stories in newspapers and magazines to develop into projects.
  6. Come up with some photo shoots you think would be fun. It could be anything, anywhere; money is no object— let yourself go. Don’t think too much, just mark stuff down. Come up with a list of subject matter that you think will inspire you. It could be anything, anywhere, no limits.
  7. Is there a group of people or a person you admire who might make a good day-in-the-life or portrait series? Are there issues you are passionate about where you can aim your camera to communicate and promote awareness of that issue?
  8. Make a list of dream jobs for the future. They don’t even have to be photographic. Talk-show host, chocolate factory taster, anything. Any story ideas there?
  9. Go to a place that has newspapers and magazines from around the world and look for ideas to pursue from stories you find. If it’s not the specific story, maybe you can find a way to localize and work on a similar story.
  10. Go to a big bookstore with a great photo book section and get lost in those shelves for a couple of hours and make notes in your You Book or iPad
  11. From “The Passionate Photographer: Ten Steps Toward Becoming Great” by Steve Simon

The list above is from one the most thought-provoking photography books I’ve read in a while. I am only through the first chapter and I already have four concrete ideas to improve my photography and lots of additional food for thought. This book is about purpose, not technique.

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