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14 Photography Ideas to Sharpen Your Skills

by Allison Stadd
featured, photo & video

While hotly debated, Malcolm Gladwell’s much-cited 10,000 Hour Rule — that you need 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become a master at something — is at least motivational in its insistence that nothing but relentless honing of your craft will help you improve at it. No matter how skilled you are, no matter how many years of experience you have, it’s putting in the hours that will turn you from hobbyist to expert.

But all that practice doesn’t have to be un-fun. Below, 14 cool photography project ideas to help sharpen your skills and whet your creative appetite (whether you’re shooting with a fancy Canon or smartphone).

Black and white:

There’s more to black and white photography than a simple Photoshop setting or iPhone filter. Challenge yourself to capture better black and whites by pre-visualizing the image through paying attention to lines, shadows and shapes; prioritizing tonal contrast; and nailing your light source.

Color scheme:

On the flip side, pick 1-2 colors and experiment with photographing that palette over the course of a day or a weekend. Subjects could include family members wearing clothing in your chosen color palette, interesting backgrounds that feature your shades or any inanimate objects that are the colors you selected.

Macro lens:

Take a close-up of an object that catches your eye, whether it’s a mug on your kitchen table, a bloom in the park, a fire hydrant on the street corner, a coin from your wallet or even a cobweb. Use your camera lens to turn a not-particularly-interesting subject into a fascinating one.


13 instructors spanning photography and business will show you how to build the brand you’ve wanted, amplify your creative arsenal, and unearth the heart and soul of your photography business. Join us for Photo Week 2018.


Portraits:

Exercise your portrait photography muscles by taking a series of portraits of friends and family. Vary the setting — and your camera settings — to play around with natural light, motion blur, multiple exposures, shutter speed and depth-of-field.

Self portraits:

Same as above, but selfie style. How can you capture the essence of you in unexpected ways?

Single object:

Pick one theme — windows, doors, books, shoes, tattoos, water drops — and photograph only that for a day (or longer).

Panoramic:

Shooting stellar panoramic photography requires in-the-field technique and post-processing finesse. Station yourself at a clear vantage point to capture a city skyline, gorgeous natural vista or any other vast view (remember it can be vertical, too!) that inspires you.

Your pet:

What better subject than the captive furry — or non-furry — creature in your own home? Photographing your dog, your cat or your pet snake requires you to balance agility (animals are unpredictable) with creativity (how can you capture that perfectly goofy or heartwarming moment?).

Street art:

Bold and striking street art exists in cities all over the world. Explore your own town, or a new one, by seeking out graffiti, murals, sticker art and other installations to photograph.

Light painting:

All you need to get started with light painting is a tripod and a flashlight. You’ll move your light source against a dark background while shooting with a long exposure.


13 instructors spanning photography and business will show you how to build the brand you’ve wanted, amplify your creative arsenal, and unearth the heart and soul of your photography business. Join us for Photo Week 2018.


Food:

Want to improve your food photography skills? Spend some time shooting in the kitchen or dining room to capture mouth-watering meals and beautifully styled plates. Food photography is its own still life technique, requiring impeccable lighting (natural is usually best) and harmonious composition.

A-Z:

Shoot a different object to represent every single letter in the alphabet, one at a time. Apples, books, cats, doors… you get the idea.

Patterns:

Let your lens lead you to interesting patterns, be it shoes lined up in a neat row, pencils fanned into a spiral or a broad wall of window frames perfectly spaced apart. Challenge yourself to snap images of these patterns that tell a story beyond being pleasing to the eye.

Night:

Taking brilliant photos in the dark is a challenge for some of even the most talented photographers out there. Improve your night photography skills by shooting only at night for a week, capturing the starscape, bright city skyline or even nighttime car traffic on the open road. This photo project will help you work with different exposure settings, which is another important aspect of photography.

You’ve heard that phrase: “Use it or lose it.” Push yourself to try something new with your photography on the regular, and you’ll find your skill set expanding, your eye getting sharper and your work improving. Start with the photography ideas above — and you’ll be surprised how many more of your own you end up adding to the list.


13 instructors spanning photography and business will show you how to build the brand you’ve wanted, amplify your creative arsenal, and unearth the heart and soul of your photography business. Join us for Photo Week 2018.


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Allison Stadd