2020 was quite the year, starting relatively normal and then spiraling quickly out of control as few have seen before. Plans were shredded, and normal daily life was abruptly changed like a cold bucket of water to the face.
Fortunately, I wasn't impacted much work-wise, as I've worked from home for over two decades — however, my plans for 2020 were tossed entirely out the window. I had several long-distance photography road trips planned but had to cancel them. Usually, I always have a backup plan for my road trips, but that typically just consists of alternate locations. I hadn't planned on my alternate location being my home town.
I do not expect that 2021 will be any different just because we have entered a new numerical year. Call me pessimistic, but there are shenanigans afoot. With that in mind, I have started to put together a plan for the new year, one that doesn't involve as much reliance on staying at or visiting remote locations.
Photography projects are a great way to expand your photography skills, meet new people, and perhaps gain a new area of interest. Depending on the project you pick, you might even stumble upon a new revenue stream. The project aims to expand your skills, not necessarily have a completed product, although it could make for a great calendar or book.
A 365 Project: A Photo Every Day for the Entire Year
Taking a photograph every day of the year sounds easy at first. 2021 will have 365 days. That's a lot of opportunities to shoot, but also a lot of commitment. Perhaps a little too much for my liking, but for some, it may be just the push you need to keep you engaged in photography when you might otherwise use lockdowns and stay-at-home orders as a reason to watch videos on YouTube.
Some people like to have a specific subject for their year of photos, while others just shoot whatever is relevant for the day. Some people want to focus on improving the things they already shoot, while others use a 365 project to perfect a new genre.
Sharing your project on social media is a great way to keep yourself motivated, as your viewers will be expecting that new photo every day. Don't give up if you miss a day; you can always take two the next day. However, if you're not able to get out, you might just use that day to take a photo of something interesting in your home. It requires minimal time but also requires you to be creative.
Keep in mind that the more specific your project is, the more difficult it could be. If you pick something like birds, it will be much more difficult because you have first to find one, then get close enough for a good photo.
Photograph Your Town
I'm a bit of a history fan. I like seeing photos from a time long ago, especially places I have visited. Someday, now will be that time. It may be long after you're gone, but someone will appreciate it. Buildings, parks, roadways, they all have an interest to someone.
Many Facebook memory/history groups are always asking for photos of places from the past. Someday your archive of historical images of your town may make you famous, even if it is postmortem.
One project that I think is really neat is re-taking an old photo while matching the location and viewing angle. I haven't done it before, but I plan on doing a little of that this year.
There's also the chance that your city may want to purchase prints for the local government buildings. I close friend of mine just closed a deal on providing 25 large canvas prints to our local city hall. That's a nice little chunk of income.
Genre of the Month or Week
The list of genres to photograph is almost endless. Black and White, Street, Landscapes, Portraits, Wildlife, Astrophotography, the list goes on and on. Picking specific genres for each week or month and concentrating on each for that period is a great way to expand your photography skills.
You never really know when a skill you acquire from shooting an unfamiliar genre will help you with your favorite genre(s). As the saying goes, "you don't know what you don't know."
For example, shooting portraits may introduce you to using a flash that you may later incorporate into your landscape photography. Architectural photography may broaden your experience with various focal lengths. You may even find a new favorite thing.
Hopefully, 2021 will be an easier year. Concentrate on planning for contingencies because there will undoubtedly be some rough spots. Having a photography project may help keep things a little more normal for you. Keep active and stay safe! Do you have a photography project in mind for this year? Let me know in the comments.