Get personal with your photography
|A scene from my life on my street project. 1/100th f/11 ISO 100|
Photography is tough. Making a living as a photographer is tough, whether it's from competition, or the lack of business, or both. Being a hobby photographer is tough - where do you find the time to make beautiful photographs in between work, family and everything else? Being a new photographer is tough. How do you get better at this, and make photographs you're happy with, and learn a lot of very complex concepts and strategies to get consistent results?
Well, I'm at a point where I've been in all three of these camps, as most pros are. We all started out as newbs, then became hobbyists, shooting more and more regularly until we really started making beautiful photographs, until finally we decided to take the plunge and make a go if it. All along the way, though, there's been one thing I've circled back to that's helped me grow as a photographer and helped to keep my spirits up when I felt down about the craft: the personal project.
Let's start at the beginning, for those just starting their journey. When I first picked up a camera I shot everything and shot all the time. A lot of this was experimentation, attempts to learn a technique or understand a camera setting better. The result was thousands of photographs, some good, some bad. Somewhere along the line, though, that approach left me spending a lot of time wondering what else to shoot. At some point, you'll hit a wall with this and just shooting anything and everything will get pretty boring. Enter the personal project.
Defining a project in your mind before even picking up the camera will help you focus on what to shoot. Further definition of your project will help you identify what it is you're trying to say with each photograph you take for the project. And lastly, when you understand where you want to end up with a project, you can plot out a course that will help you get there. So those are pretty good reasons for new photographers to take up a personal project, but what about for hobbyists?