What is a project?
A project is more than just finding more to shoot. It is a challenge you set for yourself so you can break free of your current limitations of creativity or skill. You can define a project and set yourself targets so that you are forced to be more creative. You should have a clear idea of what you intend to achieve, in that way you wont stop until reach your set goal. Set yourself a target to achieve, for example I want to have 10 great images for my project, or I need to shoot the same item a different way each week for 20 weeks. Make sure your goals are achievable, there is no point chasing something unrealistic, you will become disheartened and give up. Do a project that interests you. If you see that some blog mentions a letterbox project but you have no interest in shooting letterboxes then you won’t give it your best effort. In the end your project must be enjoyable, after all we do photography because we love it.
How to go about it
What if you challenged yourself to shoot 20 different images of the same flower. Most of you might begin with the predictable wide and tight shots. Perhaps you then move onto wide and narrow depth of field, you choose a few different angles, then what. After you have shot those you might have about 10 good shots but you need 10 more. Now is when you have to get creative and challenge your thinking. Where you go from there is going to be very different for most people and many of the ideas may fail but the process will teach you a lot and you will become a better photographer for it.
The Project I Chose
As I mentioned at the beginning I had run out of inspiration for locations to shoot. I began researching for project ideas and I couldn't find a good fit. It was when I was reading an article about composition that an idea came to me. A term used a lot in photography is use your feet, it was used in its normal context regarding finding a different perspective, but I drew a new idea from it, I was going to use my feet to find more interesting locations to shoot.
With an idea in mind my project needed to be better defined. It had to have meaning. As the trouble I was having stemmed from not knowing where to shoot. I decided to walk from one place to the next and look, and so my project was decided. I will walk from Stanwell Park to Kiama and each outing I will produce at least one shot I am happy with. If I don't produce an image worth keeping I walk the same stretch again next outing until I do. The expected timeframe is more than a year to complete maybe even two, but that doesn't worry me, because for as long as I have this project in front of me, I have a shoot to look forward to.
Encountering New Challenges
One of the new challenges I am now encountering is planning. Even though I know where I am going next, I still need to know when to get there, I have to consider the tides. One location I encountered was a narrow strip of rock shelf only exposed at the lower half of the tide. I had to return to get full benefit of the rock to make an interesting image. I have to plan around the tides and sunrises and sometimes that means planning to stay in bed.
Many of the scenes I am now discovering don't have an array of images from other photographers splashed all over the internet. I find I have no frame of reference to influence my a composition or execution of a scene. Even though this is challenging, it is a benefit. In this way I am challenging my own creativity and not just copying some others photographers work consciously or otherwise. I find that I am now more willing to take risks, not only with how I shoot but also how I interpret the scene in Photoshop. Sometimes it pays of and sometimes it doesn't.
Setting a project was the best move I have made so far in my photographic career. I feel like I have so much to look forward to and am keen to keep going. I thing that when this project ends I will defiantly set myself a new one. I don't see myself getting bored any time soon.
For those of you who now wish to start your own project, there are endless blogs about choosing a project so there is no shortage of information to help you get started. Go out and get started an most importantly have fun.