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Personal Projects


Keywords: glamour, photography, portrait, commercial, studio, photographic, disciplines, guides, tips

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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?


(6 Votes )
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Originally written on December 31, 2012

Last updated on August 25, 2016

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Jeff Grooms (Punky) on January 10, 2013

Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014

Extremely helpful for us newbs/hobbyists !! I like the ideas and concepts. I actually just placed an order for the "Vision Quest Cards". Jeff

Dale Kees (hotnikon1) on January 4, 2013

Very well done, thanks for all the great insight!

Zita Kemeny (zkemeny) on January 3, 2013

Hi Josh, I like your ideas. I like the 'Day In Life' the most. What I would maybe do is combine 'Day In Life' with 'Self Portrait'. I would do that as Irealized I have really only few pictures of me. We took a look at some old fotos over the past 7 years. I noticed there are hundreds (in fact thousand) of nice fotos but I may say maybe in less than 30 I found myself in middle of the family or alone :-D My daughter noticed and she wonder where I was over those years. So, I was behind the lense ;-)

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