Creative projects are a great way to stimulate both amateur and professional photographers to think creatively to produce coherent bodies of work. After all, we learn by actually DOING it. So get snapping with these five projects, created to stimulate your thinking, expand your portfolio, and improve your photography skills.
Photo courtesy of Renee Anne and Angela D’Alton of Paris + Berlin This creative duo used their travels to produce photographic works.
1. Choose a Hashtag Project
Hashtag projects are a great way to prompt creativity. Each week, photographers are given a different theme or “hashtag,” and asked to submit works accordingly. These photos can be inspired by a literal or metaphorical translation of “the tag”. The Weekend Hashtag Project is the most famous example of this branch of social media. Last weekend’s “tag” was #WHPsentbymail. Remember to use these projects to stimulate your own creativity by providing individualised interpretations to the themes.
Find out more about “The Weekend Hashtag Project” via the Instagram Blog.
The Foto Ruta Weekly excursion is inspired by a similar concept. During our excursion, we provide participants with different phrases to produce photographs inspired by these themes. These phrases are called “clues,” creating a kind of photography scavenger hunt. Our clues are very similar to the concept of using hashtags. This a really fun and easygoing method of prompting creativity.
Photo courtesy of a participant of Foto Ruta – The “clue” behind this photograph was “Rebel With A Cause”
2. Genius Steals
No one learns how to be a great photographer without first learning the basics. These skills can be learnt by copying the masters. But in a sue-happy / antiplagiarist obsessed world, we have all become reluctant to emulate classic techniques, fearing we are somehow ‘cheating.’
Try to put these fears to rest. Take into account that it is important to copy, simply to learn the basics of composition, light, and form. Find a photographer that you find particularly inspiring, and set about creating a body of work in their style. Just don’t forget to develop your own unique style down the line. Magnum photographers are fun to emulate. But there are many artists to seek inspiration from. Check out these celebrity shots by Australian photographer, Greg Weight.
Photo courtesy of Greg Weight – Photograph of artist, Brett Whiteley
Photo courtesy of Greg Weight – Portrait of artist, Tracey Moffatt
3. Start the “One Photo A Day Project” and stick to it for at least 3 Months
Set yourself a task that is DOABLE. Some projects are far too ambitious. Why not start the “One Photo A Day Project” and stick to it for at least 3 months? Use any type of camera or phone, and don’t be afraid to shoot ‘the everyday’ or mundane. You will be surprised with the results. Some artists even create blogs devoted to the images they create while following this project.
Photo courtesy of Renee Anne and Angela D’Alton of Paris + Berlin – Do not be afraid of photographing ‘the everyday.’ The results can be amazing.
4. Get a Free Flickr Account and put up a small collection or series of your images on a regular basis
Social media tools, such as Flickr and Tumblr, can be great prompters of creativity. Tumblr has a very comprehensive tagging system, and also a very young demographic. This means that users are pretty vocal about whether they “like” something. Fortunately, Tumblr does not have the same spiteful comments, as seen on YouTube. Be careful though, interactivity is encouraged on Tumblr and you may find that some of your photos “go viral” to the point that your work may be reblogged anywhere between one to five thousand times. This is great if you just want to get your work “out there.” However if you are sensitive to copyright concerns, Tumblr may not be right for you.
Flickr is great for submitting your work into online galleries. You can create photo albums under certain titles and themes. Some commercial artists submit work almost daily to this website.
Some artists have even used social media to create online businesses. Twenty-three year old Australian illustrator, and now textile designer, Caitlin Shearer is a prime example. Shearer uses Blogspot, Flickr and Tumblr to showcase her new designs and drawings. These websites are then linked back to an Etsy online shop, allowing her to sell work at affordable prices.
As these are new technologies, it is a murky area. However if you want instant feedback, social media can be helpful.
Photo courtesy of Caitlin Shearer (2009)
5. Take a Workshop and Learn by Doing
At some point, we all need guidance from people with more experience than ourselves. Workshops are an invaluable means of learning new techniques, as well as understanding the basics of photography. Picking the right workshop for you will be depend on your needs. Many workshops specialise in a particular branch of photography.
Here at Foto Ruta, we aim to provide both practical techniques, while also keeping our workshops fun and informal.
Any Ideas for a Photo Project?
Please let us know what projects keep your camera busy by submitting a comment below.