2012 offers us all the opportunity to embark on new photography projects. Whether this be portraits, landscapes, urban or marco, a lot of thought should be given to a project that could potentially last all year. Having an ongoing theme for your photography will provide you with the opportunity to build a specific portfolio as well as keeping your interest and concentration high during the life of your project. Below are a few ideas to get you thinking.
Unless you live in the middle of a desert then there will be water in some form nearby. Water provides endless sources for photography inspiration and due to its very nature in the way that it moves, rises and falls and flows past obstructions, no two image will ever be exactly the same. Some ideas and locations include;
- The Ocean – Great for either fast or slow shutter speed shots, using your cameras different settings can either produce a flat silky effect by using a long exposure or by using a faster shutter speed you can capture waves crashing over rocks or onto the beach. There is naturally a lot of sky on the coast and so using this to add drama to photographs is a great way of adding extra interest, employing the HDR technique will help to extenuate the contrast between the clouds and the sky.
- Rivers and streams – Similar to the ocean you can using different shutter speeds to create a completely different feel to photographs of the same scene. Turn the river into a smooth mist by slowing down the shutter speed or use a faster shutter speed to capture the water crashing over rocks and other obstacles. Also look for aras of the river that have overhanging trees or bridges as these will add another element to the photograph and also offer added colours, light and shadow.
- Waterfalls – Another great subject for photographs is a waterfall, maybe a bit harder to find (and so you may have to travel for this one!) waterfalls are definitely worth a day trip for a photo shoot. Using the same variety of settings as for oceans and rivers with regards to shutter speed and you will achieve great effects. If you can capture a scene with both a waterfall and the river beneath then you get the best of both worlds, find this scene in a forest and then you can start to build up a truly awesome image by using the colours of the forest, the movement in the water and the light, shadow and textures of the foliage.
- Locks – Walking along pretty much any river in the UK will eventually lead you to a lock, these are great for traditional shots of river life and also offer opportunities for not only landscape shots but also portrait and candid photos. Usually these locks will have lovely gardens in the summer, full of colourful flowers and shrubs which in turn will brighten up any photograph. With the boats moving through the lock and the rising and falling of the water within you can capture a variety of scenes from one location.
- Marinas – I would say that Marinas are probably more interesting at night (my opinion only), this could cause an issue regarding access but if you are lucky enough to get access to one in low light then you can get some great photos of the jetty’s with the flat water surrounding them, the boats moored in the marina and the lights that are used to illuminate the area at night reflecting off of the water surface.
I love taking shots of the urban environment due to the many varied subjects, colours and textures. I find that urban shoots always seem the perfect excuse for some HDR images but that does not have to be the case for everyone’s photography. Some ideas include;
- Skate Ramps – One of my favourite subjects, skateramps provide strong shapes, texture, colour and capture a real ‘gritty’ feel in an image. Quite often graffiti will be present on the ramp which will offer an added interest within the photograph. Ramps lit up at night are great and if there are still people using them (and they don’t mind!) then you can get some great action shots and portraits.
- Car Parks – If your looking for symmetry then head for a car park. Pillars, markings and ramps to different floors are all great sources of inspiration for a great urban shot. If you go out when its quiet then car parks with strip lighting are also great for car or people portraits as they are well lit and the subject will stand out against the grey backdrop of the concrete.
- Stairways – Great for repeating shapes and lines and can be taken from different angles and perspectives. Spiral stairways feature in countless photographs on Flickr as they offer a great opportunity for and interesting image.
- Railway lines – Railway lines and stations are an interesting subject to capture not only the scene in general but also the day to day life of those people that use the railways to travel to work and go on day trips. Candid photo opportunities are abundant and people from every walk of life are present for contrasting images.
- Night scenes (no one around) – The world at the dead of night is a very different place, busy streets are empty, town centres eerily quiet and the world is generally asleep! Using this as an opportunity to capture images of a peaceful location that, during the day is busy and full of people or cars is a great project (if you can stay awake!).
- Roof lines – Roofline silhouette against and darkening sky, a smoking chimney or even tens of aerials against the backdrop of the sky are all images that cause interest and should be considered. Obviously be careful if you clamber up to a rooftop to capture these!
- Alley ways – Great for using lines which draw the viewer of the photo into the image. Alleys also more often than not contain plenty of character, textures, colour and light/shade to work with. Using street lighting for urban scenes and portrait shots also produce great results which have an air of mystery and darkness about them.
- Buildings and structures - Endless variants or size and structure mean that you will never run out of buildings to photograph. From small quaint village scenes of cottages and a church to the sprawling city skyscrapers. Using the reflection caused by the huge amount of glass that is used in modern buildings is an excellent wahy to add interest to a photo and to include different elements such as reflections of colour, people and other objects.
- Urban decay – a great photography subject, abandoned buildings offer endless opportunities for strange and original photos and these buildings will often have items left in them from the previous occupants, remember to ask permission before entering these areas however.
The seasons offer a great way to document a year using photographs of a location or locations. There are 2 ways that I have approached this in the past;
The same exact scene throughout the year for which I chose a woodland location. This is a great location for showing the different seasons;
- Winter – Snow covered ground, bare trees creating shadows. Low hazy sun.
- Spring – Colours of flowers, trees starting to regain shape, sunsets
- Summer – Full colour, great sunshine and blue skies
- Autumn – Autumnal colours
Different scenes typically associated with the different seasons, such as;
- Winter scene – People sledging, building snow men or an empty road due to the snow all provide portrait, candid and landscape opportunities.
- Spring scene – Flowers emerging and dew on the grass in the early morning are all great subjects for landscape and macro photography.
- Summer scene – People by the river, great sunsets, holiday scenes near a beach.
- Autumn scene – The colour of Autumn, falling/fallen leaves, Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night with Fireworks.
Churches can prove to be great sources of creative photographs. Using the church as a subject on its own is great but the interiors of churches are awesome for photos because of the stained glass windows, high arches, light and shade, textures and depth of field.
Grave yards are also a chance to capture very eerie and atmospheric images, especially on a misty morning or at night.
HDR can be used to really capture the texture in the gravestones and the church itself and when mixed with the colour of the grass and the flowers within the graveyard a truly epic photo is achievable.
Capturing a particular emotion for a project or portraying the seasons through portraits is a great way to get creative and make you really think about the images and subject matter. Using different events throughout the year you can portray the seasons through the costumes that may be worn (Christmas, Halloween, Easter etc).
Macro photography enables you to capture everyday items and subjects in a whole new light. Everything from simple household items through to insects and other living creatures can be photographed with great detail. It is also a technique that can be used at home when the weather is bad, a few lights and a macro lens and you’re away! Look for objects with texture and interesting lines as these will prove to be great subjects when using macro.
Macro project ideas include;
- Household object – Cutlery, Water droplets from a tap or self constructed studio, toys, abstract macro of everyday items, glass wear.
- Morning dew on grass
- Woodland – Forest floor, fungi,tree bark, leaves, rocks, fallen trees.
A 365 project is a popular way of capturing your life for a year and telling a story through your photography. You can capture a self portrait one day and a landscape of somewhere that you have visited the next. The only rule is that you have to take a photo every day for a year! You can even arrange to document someone’s life for a year, this would obviously require some planning and a lot of dedication from both yourself and your subject. Any of the other projects mentioned in this article could also be incorporated into a 365 project, for example, you could take a photo of a nearby bridge every day for a year from the same position to show the changing effects through the seasons and differing weather.
There is a large 365 Project group on Flickr which can be used for a source of further inspiration, it can be found here.
Point Of View
Taking photos from a different perspective gives them a unique feel and often encourage the person viewing the photo to think about how the photo was taken as well as the image captured.
Taking photos from ground level or from a rooftop are two obvious choices but what about from within household items such as cupboards, fridges or even a self portrait from within the washing machine!
You can capture some really amusing portrait/self portrait photographs using this technique and if you take some time to actually construct a scene within the room you are using you can add interest to the image with background objects and even other people.
Laying down and taking photos straight up is another perspective that is not often used, laying in a field of flowers and capturing the grass and flowers around you and also the sky above for instance.
The opposite of this is obviously taking shots straight down, whether this be from a building or other structure or simply holding the camera whilst walking down a busy street you would be surprised at the interesting scenes you will capture.