Keen to fill an album with photos you’ll love AND hone your photography skills at the same time? Try a photo project.
Imagine for a moment, you hold in your hands, a photo album filled to the brim with heart-tugging photographs of your family. The album you’re holding contains the details of your ordinary, everyday lives from the year just gone. Cereal bowls overflowing with weetbix, tiny fingers wet with milk. Afternoon tears on dirt-stained faces and them reaching for you, needing you still. Pause and feel the weight of it in your arms, the lightness in your heart. What would that mean to you to have those moments to keep? Because you know those moments are fresh now but that the years wear away at their sharpness.
THE LOW DOWN
There is no better way to collect some amazing photographs aaaand improve your skills as you go than with a photo project. Because you’re short on time but you’re keen to find out what all the fuss is about, let me give you the low down. After you read this post, you will be able to decide exactly what type of photo project will fit seamlesly into your daily life and commitments. I’ll have you racing to dust off your camera and format that memory card in no time!
Let me tell you about my three absolute favourite photo projects. If you complete any of these you will end up with an amazing collection of images you can hold tight to your heart forever.
THE 365 PHOTO A DAY PROJECT
The 365 photo a day project is one of my absolute favourites if you want to put your photography learning into overdrive and start taking better photos super quick. I did a photo a day in 2014 and the resulting photo albums are some of my absolute most treasured possessions. I tried it again in 2019 (when our twins were 15 months old) and found that I didn’t have time. Therefore, be kind to yourself. This one is a big-time commitment. But…
- You get 365 plus photos that you love at the end of the year!
- Shooting every day is the best way to get used to your camera and what it can do. (Shifting the settings soon starts to become automatic.)
- When you’re pushed to create something interesting out of the groundhog days you soon get good at finding beautiful everywhere. You also get ok with not being perfect. Huge bonus.
The major con of a photo a day is it is super time intensive. Shoot, upload, select and export your favourites, delete the rest, format your card for the next day. This all takes a bucket load of time. (You need to know this going in!)
TOP TIP 1: If you’re struggling to find time to do it all but love the thought of a 365, you could shoot every day and then do your processing once a week.
TOP TIP 2: Share your project on Instagram. It’s a really fun way to make friends and get feedback on your images. The captions are my favourites, an unexpected bonus to look back on the story behind the image. Tag your pics #365ordinarybeautiful and I’ll see your pics in the tag feed!
THE 52 or 26 PROJECT
Each week or fortnight you commit to shooting a mini story of your family. You begin by choosing an everyday event such as an afternoon dinner outside together and you document it start to finish. You point your camera at all the delicious details. For instance, fingers and forks and food on faces. Afterward, you pop your edited keeper images in a date marked folder and you’re done. At the end of the year, you have either 26 fortnightly or 52 weekly mini projects from which to choose the best ones for printing. This is my current bestie. Because I have four kids, a garden and a blog to tend to (not to mention a husband and a part-time job), this one seems to fit in nicely with my need to be creative as well as collect our family stories.
TOP TIP 1: Keep it casual. Choose weekly or fortnightly as it suits you and what your family is up to.
TOP TIP 2: I like to make a list of all the fabulous nothings we do as a family so that I can cross it off as I go through the year just so I don’t forget anything. New things are always added. I invariably leave things off. The list is mostly for inspiration. Some of the things on my current list include:
- Pottering around in the vege garden
- Winter morning in the kitchen making breaky together
- Summer afternoons eating at the old grey table
- Twins waking up in the morning
- Camping weekend in April
THE DAY IN THE LIFE PROJECT
To begin, check out your calendar and look for the days of the month that are more relaxed for you. In other words, when will you have enough space and freedom to make photographing your family fun rather than a task that needs completing. Then, every month or every 2 or 3 months document your day start to finish. You don’t need to have your camera on you all the time just nearby so you can easily grab it. Because you end up capturing things you might not otherwise think to document, this one is a colourful time capsule of goodness!
TOP TIP 1: Make sure you get in the frame with your family! Set up the self-timer or find an app that connects to your camera so you can set the shutter off remotely and do some crazy, fall-in-a heap photos together.
TOP TIP 2. You can also let your big kids take your portrait. They will love that feeling of being entrusted with such a special task. Make sure the camera settings are how you’d like them. Take a photo of them to show them how you want the photo of you to look. Show them the pic on the LCD screen and then hand the reins over. You are going to love what they see.
YOU CAN DO THIS!
To know I have something in the bank for all the tears, all the sunshine, all the LIFE that happened is a wonderful feeling. The albums that I have of my photo a day project from 2014 are without question my most prized possessions. Above all, when I look at those photos I know that our everydays matter. That even though our days blended together, there was just so much joy packed into them. That the little things are bigger than the big things. I know this in the core of my bones.
CRUNCHING THE GEARS
In conclusion, do you think you could choose a project and then just begin and see where it leads? Try to remember, there is no one more perfect to photograph your family than you. If it feels clunky that just means you’re learning! Crunching the gears a little. We’ve all been there. Start off slow whilst sticking with a format that pushes you just a bit and you’ll give yourself the best chance of success. I know you can do this! I look forward to seeing you over in the Instagram tag feed!
See you again soon!