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Photo Projects: Ideas and Famous Projects

Cynthia is a digital marketer, writer, and artist. She writes about a variety of topics, especially languages, art and culture.

"Blue Lights" - Day 2 of the Christmas Photo Project

"Blue Lights" - Day 2 of the Christmas Photo Project

Creative Photo Projects

Not too long ago, I became intensely interested in photography. I started writing for HubPages and really wanted to create stunning photographs for my articles and hubs.

My background in art has really helped, but I also have been studying about the world of photography for about seven or eight months.

To that end, I have discovered the value of photo projects.

What is a photo project?

It’s a way to focus on something in your photography to help you get better at a skill.

For example, during the month of December 2012, I am focusing on a Christmas Photo Project. I am focusing on nighttime photography, use of light, and Christmas colors used in different ways.


Why Do a Photo Project?

  • A photo project can provide motivation.This is especially true if you’re part of a photographer’s community.

The idea that you have subject matter to explore rather than just taking the same kinds of photos over and over is a great way to break out of a photographic rut.

  • Photo projects can be a source of creativity. I once did a Christmas photo project, for example, I wanted to look at Christmas lights and colors in ways that I never thought of before.

I’m anxious to see how the project will play out as I experiment with things like bokeh and macro photography with regard to the Christmas theme.

  • Photo projects challenge you to become a better photographer.

Again, with my own project, I’m taking a lot of notes on my use of aperture, shutter speeds and ISO settings. I’m noticing patterns and settings that help me to take better shots every time.

  • Photo projects can lead to other things.

Now that I’m doing Christmas photography, I already have other ideas of things I want to try.I love shiny things and when I’ve taken pictures of ornaments, I am now thinking what fun it would be to try a “shiny items” photo project.

Photograph used with permission by Dave Engledow.  All rights reserved.

Photograph used with permission by Dave Engledow. All rights reserved.

A Few Remarkable Photo Projects

I mentioned how photo projects can lead to other things. A few come to mind that have really become well-known and incredibly moving:

World's Best Father

The first one is about a father who, when his little girl was born, embarked on a photo project to document life with his little girl. It’s the World’s Best Father series, where the images feature the father, Dave, doing rather precarious scenes with his daughter, Alice Bee.

In reality, he often photographs her separately and then works with Photoshop to manipulate the images into wonderful parodies of his life with his little girl.

His work is spreading like wildfire and his little girl will one day have an incredible scrapbook with pictures of herself with her father. The one thing common to every photo? A mug that says, “World’s Best Father.”

Humans of New York (HONY)

Another project that is incredibly inspirational is called Humans of New York.

When the project started, 28 year-old Brandon was out of work. He had been a trader in Chicago and lost his job.

He went to New York and looking at all the people, he decided to embark on a “census-like” adventure. He wanted to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers and plot them on a map.

Somewhere along the way, the project began to take on a life of its own. He’s garnered a huge following for his photos of people from all walks of life and recently held a fundraiser for victims of Hurricane Sandy through the project.

His story is an inspirational one.

The Fearless Project

Still, there are other projects that give more inspiration:

The Fearless Project is done by photographer Jeff Sheng.

This was a long photo project, spanning nearly 10 years. His goal was to photograph gay and lesbian athletes in high school and college who were “out” in their communities.

He wanted to help people understand and lessen homophobia, especially in sports. He himself was a closeted athlete in high school.

He began to speak across the country at high schools and colleges about his project and experiences. His project has gained international acclaim and his work is top-notch.

The Olympic City

The Olympic City is another fantastic photo project that documents what happens after a city has hosted the Olympics.

Host cities spend a lot of money to be in the international spotlight, but the project’s goal was to see the after-the-fact impact.

Surprisingly, some cities turn these places into prisons, shopping centers, and other interesting post-Olympic centers of commerce. Others have enhanced their offerings of athletic splendor.

Though these are large and wildly successful photo projects, all started with an idea and all started out small.

I'm looking at Christmas colors in new ways with this project.

I'm looking at Christmas colors in new ways with this project.

Photo Project Ideas

Where do you get ideas?

A quick search on the web will yield lots of results for photo projects and challenges. You can focus on colors, taking one photo per day or week, or letters of the alphabet.

It’s more fun, however, to stretch your imagination. My Christmas Photo Project is just a small one; it’s also one of my first projects.

I got the idea after realizing that I would be with family over the Thanksgiving holiday and my mother, in particular, loves doing Christmas-related things over that weekend.

Knowing I would be surrounded by bright lights and red and green, I decided to focus my efforts, at least initially, on those photos I captured.

The sky is the limit and I personally will do bigger and bigger projects. I also look forward to documenting the process.

Kickstarter

The goldmine of ideas would be the website KickStarter. It’s a fundraising site, but you can search for different genres of projects.

If you click on “photography,” you’ll immediately find hundreds of wonderful projects both ongoing and finished with which to find lots of inspiration. T

he same goes for regular art projects, but other categories include Fashion, Design, Technology, Theater and many more.

© 2012 Cynthia Calhoun

Comments

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on January 02, 2013:

Julie - that's AWESOME!! DO IT! DO IT! I'll cheer you on and check in on your progress. I LOVE GIMP, too. :) No worries about the hub writing: I've got a blog going, the photo projects and even teaching, but it's SO MUCH FUN! You're gonna do GREAT!

Jools Hogg from North-East UK on January 02, 2013:

Cyndi - SO glad I found this hub; it has completely inspired me to do a photo project. I am soon to start blogging about my family history but do not want it to just be a family tree with people's names and lots of text. I want to illustrate it with black and white photos and feature the places my ancestors lived (mainly my hometown). I want to do a sort of now and then theme so I will use GIMP to edit a lot of the stuff but your hub has really got me thinking about it a lot more. I already have a lot of photos of my ancestors from 20th century and would like to 'graft' them onto authentic backgrounds if I can figure it all out - I can see my hub writing coming to a shuddering halt soon.....great hub, shared etc, brill :o)

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on December 12, 2012:

Glimmer Twin Fan - awesomeness! I hope this will help lots of people to get inspired - such lovely things exist around us everywhere. :) I would love to see a photo project of yours.

Claudia Mitchell on December 11, 2012:

This is a really inspiring hub. I have been playing with my camera, trying to learn how to do different things. (Thank goodness for digital cameras). Maybe one day I'll do a project too. Voted up and interesting.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on December 09, 2012:

Teaches - aww, thank you so much. HUGS to you! I'm glad I can help inspire others with projects. :)

Om - The World's Best Father Project is soooo awesome. I got a chance to talk with the photographer (via email) and he's witty and fun. :) The other projects sure captivated my interests, too. :) Thank you so much for stopping by!

Om Paramapoonya on December 09, 2012:

Nice! I love the World's Best Father project. I'm sure that photo of the two ballerinas makes a lot of people go "awwwwww." The other photo projects you mentioned are very interesting as well. Thanks so much for this lovely and inspiring hub :)

Dianna Mendez on December 08, 2012:

Cyndi, your photography is so professional looking - really! Your talent is really show ing here. Love the Christmas tree black and white effect. Inspiring!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on December 08, 2012:

Donnah75 - thank you so much. I was so intrigued with all the stories I found on here and yes, they definitely inspired me. :)

Donna Hilbrandt from Upstate New York on December 08, 2012:

Wonderful hub. Documenting our lives with photos is so important. I love the stories you shared here. Good luck with your current photo project.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on December 07, 2012:

Stacy - you could do your kids! I imagine they have all sorts of wacky, fun poses they'd be willing to do. Hehe. Awesome stuff and I dare you to do a project. :D

Audrey - thank you so much. That is a great idea. I don't live far from the city so I could see this happening. :)

Audrey Howitt from California on December 07, 2012:

You have a wonderful eye Cyndi--I would love to see a B&W series--maybe a more urban one--I don't know--just loving your work! sharing this!

Stacy Harris from Hemet, Ca on December 07, 2012:

YOu know- I am watching you take all these awesome photos and doing the photo editing aspect and I keep thinking to myself... I really want to do a photography project. I love taking pictures but I always seem to be overwhelmed with time management having three kids underfoot. Therefore, my writing followed by chores takes most of my attention. I really do need to get back to my photography though! :) thanks for the encouragement!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on December 07, 2012:

Alocsin - thanks! I appreciate you stopping by. :)

Ruchira - I'm so glad! I hope I can inspire others...I love the idea of doing expressions. I can't wait to see them, Ruchira. :D

Randomcreative - It's addictive. Once you get the camera bug, it doesn't stop. Hehe. :)

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on December 06, 2012:

You know how I've become interested (that's an understatement) in photography the past year, too. I really enjoyed this article. Photo challenges have been a huge asset for my skills and know that they are for others, too.

Ruchira from United States on December 06, 2012:

Seriously, never thought of photos so much as after reading your blogs and hubs, Cyndi.

You are helping me develop a new angle of interest within me. I have to think of what I would like to see clicked...maybe the expressions of people since, this wide world is full of us and whatever culture we come from...the basics are instilled in us...so gotta study and find out ;)

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on December 06, 2012:

I think this is a unique gift idea and there's still time to implement this for Christmas. Voting this Up and Useful.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on December 06, 2012:

Joanveronica - muchas gracias y besos grandisimos. ;) (I noticed that your location says Concepcion, Chile, hehe) Thank you for your feedback. I have to say this is one of the things I love most about HubPages: in the past year I've been here, I've expanded my horizons so much, including incorporating technology. It's been a fun process and even if you haven't used a camera, don't let it stop you. I'm sure you'll do great! :)

Joan Veronica Robertson from Concepcion, Chile on December 06, 2012:

This was an exciting read for me as I aim to take photos for the first time in my rather long life! Voted up, awesome and interesting. I think this idea of centering on certain projects at a time, would work for me, I must get down to it soon, soon. I badly need to update here! Imagine, I've never used a camera! All these articles on Hubpages have been a great help to me and will cotinue to do so. Thank you, I am an avid reader of your Hubs!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on December 05, 2012:

GusTheRedneck

Gustave Kilthau from USA on December 05, 2012:

Howdy Cyndi (cclitgirl) - A fine article with great photos. It really takes an artist to do like this...

Gus :-)))

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on December 05, 2012:

Janine - hehe, I'm definitely enjoying my new project. Yes, do check out "World's Best Father" - his photos are AMAZING!

BB - One of these days, I'm going to use Kickstarter, too. I have some interesting ideas. :)

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 05, 2012:

I love Kickstarter; some day I'm going to use them for a project.

Great ideas lil' Sis! Now all I need is twelve more hours each day. :)

Janine Huldie from New York, New York on December 05, 2012:

Huge fan of your photos and especially your Christmas photo project. So I loved reading your article that was born out of this idea. The World's Best Father Series sounds truly inspiring to me and am going to look more at that since you shared!!

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