One of the best ways to become a better photographer is to commit yourself to exploring a certain theme for awhile. And what better time to do that than at the start of a new year! Some people go so far as to start a 365 day project where they take a photo every single day. It’s too bad that’s not entirely workable for most people who have jobs, kids and other activities they’re engaged in. A 52 week project is a lot more reasonable. I encourage you to make the next year your '52 week project'. Here are some ideas to get you started.
52 weeks of seeing things up close
There’s one tip I give my readers time and time again. In fact, it’s so important that it’s one of the first things I tell people when they’re new to photography and they just want a few quick tips. Get up close! Get closer than your comfort zone, and chances are you’ll get a much more interesting photo.
What better way to get up close than making a commitment to explore macro photography for a full 52 weeks? You’ll find yourself constantly reinventing the world around you and seeing it from a new perspective. On top of that, you’ll learn new studio techniques when you’ve run out of flowers and insects to photograph in your garden. The skills you’ll get from that experience will definitely make you a better portrait photographer. It’s all about getting up close!
Self portrait for college MMVI- by Flickr user andronicusmax
52 weeks of food
Arguably the most challenging 52 week project, but it’s ideal for those of you who have a second passion for cooking. Food photography requires an attention to detail unlike any other kind of photography. You’ll learn how to get the shadows just right on your glorious fluffy piece of cheesecake. You’ll notice how the texture of your subject determines its visual appeal. These are all skills that work their way into the rest of your photography.
Plus, as a cook, you’ll learn how to present food like nobody else. Unlike a lot of others, you’ll notice things like the lighting in the restaurant and the crispiness of your crust. The skills you learn from this project might just land you a position as a professional food photographer.
52 weeks of self-portraits
Most photographers I know want to get better at portraits. Unfortunately, there’s always a seeming shortage of willing subjects. So instead of constantly trying to wrangle people together to get their portrait, why not make yourself the subject? There are dozens and dozens of different ideas you can try, and if anyone accuses you of being vain, just tell them you’re doing it so you can take better pictures of others (it’s okay. I am at peace with my own vanity).
You’ll learn about studio photography, how to find an interesting backdrop, how to vary your expressions to get a different emotional appeal, and most importantly, how to create unique themes and concepts (you have to take 52 of these! that’s a lot). Once you’re done with this, you’ll be as ready as ever to start your own portrait photography business.
52 weeks of action
This one is ideal for parents who have children in a number of different sports. Just think about the world around you. It’s full of action. There’s cars zooming by, hummingbirds going about their business, and serious athletes competing for a winning edge. What I like most about this theme is that it forces you get out and participate in your community. Some of the best action photographers are athletes themselves.
Think about this too. Whenever there’s a lack of action around you, just create some. Try taking freeze-motion pictures of water droplets. That’s not an easy thing to do, and you’ll learn a lot valuable skills along the way.
52 weeks of studio photography
This one’s great if you’ve got some extra space in your basement to build a photography studio. You’ll learn all you need to know about lighting, backdrops, and props. It’s rather difficult to create the impression of actually being somewhere (say an office setting for example) when you aren’t there. You’ll figure out all of the tricks to being a solid technical photographer.
This one is perfect for people who want to take their photography to the next level and open up an actual business. Before you start taking on clients, you need to get a very solid grasp of studio photography. It will be your last resort when you can’t take your client to a location. Get this down, and everything else will follow suit.
Photograph Your Year
Have you run out of things to photograph? All the obvious subjects like your family, pets and local surroundings seem boring (and your family is so sick of you asking them to pose that they run as soon as they see the camera).
My "Photograph Your Year" course will help you! I'll provide hundreds of great ideas for things to point your camera at... plenty to keep you inspired by your photography for years to come! Sometimes we'll follow the seasons (for example you'll learn how to express 'cold' in a photo during Winter). Other times we'll concentrate on worldwide celebrations.
Do you have any ideas for a 52 week project? I’d love to hear them. Just leave a comment and share what you’ll be doing over the course of the next year.
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