Exposed! :: Six photo projects to keep you shooting ::

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It's that time of year again when gyms are flooded with new members, smokers are chewing their nails and grocery carts are overflowing with healthy fruits and vegetables. We all like to make resolutions, but statistics show we're not always good at keeping them.

This year, why not make a resolution you'll enjoy keeping and become a better photographer in the process. Resolve to take more photos.

In this month's Exposed! photo newsletter we offer some photo exercises to help fuel your creativity in 2010.

1. Hourly Photo Project

I've written about this before. Ottawa blogger, "Miss Fish" of a Peek Inside the Fishbowl, developed this project that requires you to take one photo every hour for one day, from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed. To add a bit more challenge, she suggests you try to do it without retakes. The exercise is guaranteed to get you shooting but more importantly it forces you to find the story in your everyday.

2. Project365

There are various versions of this photo project out there (this flickr group, for one), but all of them focus on the same idea: take one photo a day for an entire year. No complicated set ups needed. Any type of camera. No excuses... just one simple photo everyday. Like the hourly photo project, this initiative will help you see the extraordinary in the ordinary. If 365 days seems like too much, pick a month and do the 28 days of February instead.

3. Look for events to test your skills

Search for events that intrigue you. Community events offer amazing opportunities to hone your skills. There are tournaments, festivals and sports available for shooting like the Chelsea Pond Hockey Tournament (below) in our community. Be aware of restrictions and privacy issues but a community event offers all kinds of challenges to sharpen your skills and keep your camera clicking with a smile.

Chelsea Pond Hockey Tournament
Shoot community events - see point 3.

4. Shoot the Alphabet

In this classic exercise you take 26 photos, one for each letter of the alphabet. You could choose to follow the instructions literally by finding letters on street signs or advertising, or you could get more creative and search for the shapes of the letters in the curve of a branch or the angles of a building. The truly creative might choose to select an adjective for each letter and try to capture that feeling on film. "Adorable" and "bright" might not be too hard, but "x-rated" and "zany" might leave you scratching your head. Test your success and see if the letters jump out for your viewers.

5. Lock yourself in the kitchen

No, really. Wait 'til the kids are in bed and the dog is well-walked and then lock yourself in the kitchen for an hour. Take 30 photos and try to make each one different from the last. You'll be amazed how different your teakettle can look when the pressure to shoot is on! Some creative delights are right under your nose.

6. Be the life of the party

The next time you go to a party or social event, resolve to take a portrait of everyone in attendance. Everyone. You'll get experience shooting people you don't know while being challenged to make every photo unique. And as an added bonus, you'll get to meet everyone at the party!


Resolve to take more photos this year. Choose one of the projects above to keep you on track or develop a project of your own. Challenge others to participate as well and share your results with them to see how your efforts fit into the bigger picture.

Pro Perspective

I sometimes see it in our Pro Program students. They are so busy reading about the latest photo trends, researching new lenses and trying to grasp the complexities of post-processing, that they don't get behind the camera! I have, at times, gently reminded them to keep clicking! Shooting is where photographers really learn.

For my own business in the early years I was shooting like a madman. Not because "shooting is where photographers really learn" but because I was young and trying to break into a tough business. More photos with my first agency meant more sales... and I ended up with a great body of work as well as learning tonnes about technique, systems, myself and business.

Shooting new things now helps keep me creative and the best part? It's fun!

Final Frame

No matter what kind of photos you take or how much experience you have, the more time you spend at the craft, the better you'll be. It's that simple.

Take photos. Have fun.