Personal Photography Projects

If you’ve not caught the photo/video bug that’s running rampant in our current culture, well, we would say we salute you but this is one bug we think is worth catching. No matter your age, it seems everyone is constantly taking and sharing photos and videos. If you’re personally tired of snaps of your dinner or your cat or dog (but who gets tired of that!?), we’ve got some ideas for you for personal photography projects.

No matter your skill level or how much you know about photography beyond switching between modes on your phone camera, we’ve got some fun photography project ideas and tips.

Why do a personal photography project? For the same reason we do anything with photos or video or even written journals: to document our lives, to discover meaning, to observe more acutely, to seek and find beauty, and then to create community around the sharing.

personal photography projects

If you took a photography class in high school or you were on the newspaper or yearbook team, this might feel pleasantly nostalgic. Remember how cool it felt to walk around taking pictures of doorways or details of any kind? How you felt like some rad artist? ((teasing and serious)) Or when you got a shot that felt legitimately interesting?

(And here’s a great article about how photography is really good for our brains!)

If you are approaching these personal photography projects with your phone, we have all kinds of helpful phone camera tricks for you.

And now… drum roll, please… here are your assignments if you should choose to accept them.

365 Photography

Just like it sounds, this project is all about taking a photo a day. You can approach this in a couple of ways.

You could decide to take a random photo of whatever is catching your attention, or you could decide to create a year long look at something specific or from a specific vantage point.

This is kinda the OG of personal photography projects, for sure.

For example, you could take a photo a day of a specific part of your garden. Or you could go to the exact same spot out in nature and take the same view every day.

The point is that by the end of the year, you’ll have quite the overview. It just gives us a new perspective, right? You could even then put all the photos into a quick video slideshow. Cool.

Black and White Challenge

You might know someone who thinks this is the best personal photography project ever. ((cough)) We are a bit partial to black and white photography around here.

Someone we look up to in photography once said, if you want to take a photo of the thing itself, use color, but if you want to capture the emotion, use black and white.

Challenging yourself to do all black and white is a great way to hone your composition and lighting skills.

Portrait Challenge

You could do a self portrait a day. And you could add layers to this: take the self portrait at a specific time each day or at a specific location. There are great self portrait challenge examples out there, like this one is freaking amazing: This guy has been doing a self portrait a day for over 20 years.

Or you could decide to take random portraits of strangers out in the world. It can be life changing to view the humans around us through this artful lens.

personal photography challenge

Photo Scavenger Hunt

This, of course, would be fun to do with other people. You create a list of items, people, places, natural elements, whatever you can think of and set a time limit (say one month) to get all the shots. Then you could come together and share your results.

Remember to make the list challenging, not too easy and not too impossible. Turn your personal photography project into a group photography project.

Photograph Gratitude

You can turn your project into another project all together by taking photos of things that represent your gratitude every day. This might be something really obvious and concrete one day — a photo of your spouse — or something more abstract and personally/privately meaningful the next day.

Personal Photography Project around photo variables

This is another time you could set up a list before you get started. It could include things like: take a photo from above, from below, from the side. Find symmetry in the world. Photograph shadows. Find lines or circles or texture. Photograph light (now that’s a huge project in and of itself!).

If you live near any water, you could do a whole series of reflection photographs.

Rules of Composition Exploration

Another way to really improve your photography skills is to learn about the “rules” of composition. (Rules are eventually meant to be broken but only after you really understand them.)

You can read about them a bit here. Then set a challenge for yourself around each one. Maybe focus on one idea a month or even just a week or a few days.

personal photography projects

Basic rules for your personal photography project

  1. Always have fun or really… what’s the point.
  2. Stay openminded. Even if you think you know something, challenge your assumptions.
  3. Find other people to annoy with your project. Okay… we’re making fun but we also are serious about community. Find other people who might share your obsession.
  4. Take notes. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ll remember exactly what you did to capture that super awesome photo that one time three months ago. Maybe keep a journal alongside your photos.
  5. Seek out professional level photographers whose work you really admire and spend time with it regularly. Thanks to things like Instagram this is easier to do than ever.

And finally, let us know what you’re up to. We wanna seeeeeeee!!!