In this in-depth, informative and inspiring Ebook we will take you through the planning and organisation of a photo project.
Packed with project ideas and tips for helping you create your next (or first!) photo project, we also include projects from other artists to get your imagination fired up and ready to create.
This book contains 219 pages of in-depth advice, ideas and inspiration, with 60 ideas for photo projects, as well as hundreds of tips.
You’ll get a practical framework to help you pick an idea, plan a project and get started straight away.
This is an Ebook and comes in a PDF format, which is suitable for viewing on all e-readers, laptops and smartphones. On purchase, you will be sent a downloadable link.
*If you purchased our online course The Art of the Image during our bonus season this book will automatically be added to your course. (You’ll find it at the end of Lesson 12 as a download.)
Any questions about purchasing this book? Drop Diana and a line – on firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are always happy to help with questions large or small!
Extract from the 60 Photo Projects to Kickstart your Creativity book:
I often have my camera with me and, probably just like you, I whip it out when I see something interesting.
But if I am not being aware I just end up with a long stream of random photos, which become merely a great collection of memories or singular images.
For photos to truly become part of my life, and not be just arbitrary photographs, I need them to become a compilation – part of a theme, or story, or an idea of some sort.
And the best way to bring photos into coherent entities is to do a project.
There is nothing for me as satisfying as going through the process of developing an idea for a project, shooting it, editing it and then having the finished material presented in some way (even if it’s only on my website or shared amongst friends).
With a project, you can print it, make a book, put it on a blog – you can tell a story and create an experience for your viewer.
A project will push you into new areas of your photography and awareness. It will make you push into life in a deeper way.
“Creativity is a wild mind with a disciplined eye.” Dorothy Parker
Di and I have written an Ebook packed with advice on how to develop an idea for, plan and start a new photo project – and today we’d like to give you an extract from 60 Photo Projects to Kickstart your Creativity
We’ve also included projects, books and films from other artists too that we think are great sources of inspiration and are all projects we love.
So here we go – five great ideas for photo projects:
1. The Abandoned
I love an abandoned building. To see something that man created crumbling into a state of decay is visually pretty amazing.
The photos I’ve featured here are all from abandoned buildings I found and shot on their own. In the past I have shot people and portraits in buildings like this, so that is another idea for a project. You could get some very edgy portraits in places like these …
In photography contrast is very powerful. Putting things together that are opposites generates engaging stories and ideas in the mind of the viewer: like young/old, shiny/dull, light/shadow, new/ruin etc.
Photo project: Dead Ringers, Amy Becker
I loved this project about old abandoned pay phones. Both a brilliant idea and fantastically executed. It was a huge nostalgia trip for me, and that is one thing that is so compelling about it – because for people of a certain again (over 35 maybe?) you remember how important pay phones were in your life.
I also loved that this was shot on the photographer’s iPhone. Shows that equipment is not a limiter. Your creativity and ideas mean everything!
This project reminded me of these phones I saw in Istanbul, wired onto a tree:
To me it seemed so utterly random!
Photo project: Josef Koudelka’s Industrial Landscapes
These photos of vast industrial complexes shot by Magnum photographer Josef Koudelka have a very poetic feeling to them.
This is not abandoned at all, but it has the same concept of something normally being seen as ugly made into something quite beautiful. (See: Creating beauty from the mundane.)
I always love doing that in my photography, finding rusty cans, or rubbish, and changing their context so they become appealing artistically.
Like this photo of mine from Cuba:
2. People on their mobiles
No shortage of this subject!
What do these photos say about how we use phones? Boredom? Connection? Obsession? Freedom? Information?
You can have a lot of fun with this subject. Think of some other themes you could add to make it more unique – people on their mobile phones whilst walking, whilst looking after kids, whilst driving….!
Many opportunities for humour and commentary on our modern society right?
“Abstraction allows man to see with his mind what he cannot see physically with his eyes…. Abstract art enables the artist to perceive beyond the tangible, to extract the infinite out of the finite. It is the emancipation of the mind. It is an exploration into unknown areas.” Arshile Gorky
I always seem to have a few abstract shots from my shoots. I see the world in shapes, colours and light – and so when I find interesting combinations of these things I go for it.
That’s the point with abstract expression. You are responding to the elements of the world – the colours, feeling, atmosphere, lines, shapes, elements. For me, it feels like a way to play with what is here, what we ask the imagination to find.
You can play with the ordinary, remove it from its context and make it something intensely intriguing.
If you want to learn more about the mechanics of putting photos together, then I think creating abstracts is very helpful in helping you to understand more aboutbreaking the world down into elements.
Things you can look for to create abstract photos:
Photographer: Rinko Kawauchi
Kawauchi has created some quite beautiful abstract photographs. Focusing on the feeling of an image, the subjects are often everyday objects, a slice of watermelon that’s been eaten, close-ups of birds or the shapes of birds flying together.
Her photos are quite mesmerising, both visually and also how she places them together in her books.
I have so many cat photos. I adore cats so I naturally notice them and then I absolutely must photograph them in all their poses.
My camera bag in Istanbul. Quickly adopted by these cuties.
This is an important point. Our brains filter out most visual data that comes through our eyes. If it didn’t we would be constantly overwhelmed with visual stimulation.
So by focusing our attention on finding a particular subject (yellow cars, cats, playing cards on the floor) we will notice this subject more than others parts of our surroundings.
We notice what we are thinking about, or what we are drawn to/interested in.
I could easily have suggested dogs as I have lots of photos of dogs. I adore dogs too! As does Elliott Erwitt as you can see in his photographs of dogs.
What is fascinating is that Erwitt says he doesn’t go out to photograph dogs, he simply ends up with so many photos of them.
“This is not a book of dog pictures but of dogs in pictures.”
But I would argue that he obviously has a deep fascination with dogs, so that’s why he continually notices them doing such weird and wonderful things.
“If Erwitt proves anything, however, it is that our close relationship with these furry fellow travellers is due to mutual resemblance and emotion.
Erwitt sees the dignity of the ankle-high Chihuahua; the anxiety of the homeless hound; the smugness of the adored dachshund, sitting on its chaise longue in the noonday sun; the patience of the pom-pommed poodle; and the gormless joy of a homely but well-loved pug.
In his vast range of sentiment, and in his easy going but precise mastery of the abstract elements of composition, Elliott Erwitt is an acute observer of the canine world.” Magnum Photos
It’s not what the subject is but how we capture it. What we choose to shoot, and when. The expressions and poses, where the subject is placed – all of these things affect the story of the photo.
This is not a photo project, but to me, it was fantastic, because it tells some wonderful stories of cats in Istanbul. If I were to do a project on cats or even dogs, I would watch this.
Not only that, but the film gives you unbelievable insights into life in Istanbul, and how people look after animals in the city, so take a look. It could be useful for a project on Istanbul itself.
It’s almost like a visual primer, giving you ideas and inspiration.
TIP: Think around your project. It’s always worth considering looking at other sources of inspiration when you are preparing a project – read a book, see a film or documentary, read news about the place etc. Thinking around the project allows different types of ideas to percolate within you.
Photo project: Solitude of Ravens by Masahisa Fukase
This is an extraordinary book, perhaps a little unsettling in its feeling given that it was made in the aftermath of Fukase’s divorce. Between 1975 and 1982 the Japanese photographer captured the anthropomorphic form of the raven in various views around the city.
“Dead and alive the birds punctuate the work; lone birds reduced to shadow puppetry against the snow or dislocated flocks that mimic the grain of the photographs themselves.
Although interjected with other subjects such as blizzard streaked streets or the fleshy form of a nude masseuse, it is the recurrent presence of the ravens that sets the ominous and cinematic tone of the work.” From The Michael Hoppen Gallery
5. The mystery of shadows!
This is a project that will be fun and give you some good technical challenges. With shadows you can do so much:
Wherever you have a strong light, you will have shadows. The challenge is to photograph both the lightest parts of your scene and the darkest (which are, of course, the shadows).
You need to expose your photo so that you don’t wash out the scene as well as keeping the shadow clear and defined.
Here are some I’ve found:
Using any strong and defined shape as a shadow can be effective. I like the lines of the trees and leafy expressions on the yellow wall above. It creates curious contrasting shapes with other simple elements in the photo.
Photographer: Shadow and Light – Bill Brandt
Brandt’s photos are some of the most emotive photos I have seen in their display of such simple subjects.
He was a famous black and white photographer, capturing scenes of post-war life in Britain and taking portraits of the famous, before eventually moving on to surreal nudes that focus on shape and form, rather than just the display of the female body.
You are often wondering, looking at his nudes, what am I looking at? Before realising it’s the bend of an elbow or a stomach folded over some legs.
Brandt was masterful with light and, more significantly, with shadow. Few photographers have embraced the contrast of light and shadow as much as Brandt, and used it so movingly in their images.
Roberta Smith wrote about Brandt:
“More than a visual style, his photographs have a kind of atmosphere, an emotional depth, a sense of human vulnerability that extends even to the city views and landscapes, and that expands in several directions as you study the pictures.” Roberta Smith, New York Times
There we go! We hope you liked that mini-sojourn into project ideas.
If you’d like 55 more ideas on awesome photo projects as well as lots more advice, tips and techniques – you can purchase our new Ebook: 60 Photo Projects to Kickstart your Creativity.
This book contains 219 pages of in-depth advice, ideas and inspiration that will give you plentiful tips to get you working on a fantastic new photo project in no time.