With the new year quickly approaching, many of us are making resolutions and setting goals for the coming year. As photographers, we are always striving to hone our skills and learn more about our craft, and the start of a new year is the perfect time to take on a photography project.
Now, there are multitudes of daily, weekly and even monthly projects to choose from, but a popular choice is a self-portrait project. Whether you commit to a daily 365 project, or a 52 weeks project, let’s look at the benefits and possible challenges of a self-portrait project for 2012:
1) With self-portraiture, you have the luxury of being able to work at your own pace, in a safe environment. You are exploring self-portraiture for you, and only you, which gives you the freedom to experiment with lighting, posing, post-processing and so much more, without the pressures of needing to please a client.
2) Whether you are a portrait, landscape or nature photographer, creativity and originality play an important role in your work. If you are not used to being in front of the lens, exploring self-portraiture can open your mind to new creative possibilities. Each of us has our own unique form of creativity, but the more we stretch our creativity, the more we grow as photographers. We can easily fall into a creative rut, but sometimes, trying something new, like self-portraiture, can help us avoid that dreaded rut, especially if you stretch yourself on a regular basis.
3) If you specialize in portraiture, experimenting with self-portraits will give you new ideas that you may then want to apply when you are photographing another person. Practicing self-portraits on a regular basis will help you narrow down what type of posing, lighting and composition will work in a given situation. That way, when you photograph another person, you will spend more time photographing them and interacting with them, rather than scrambling to set up the technical aspects of your shoot.
4) If you commit to a 365 project, good for you! You are in for an extremely rewarding experience. But, let’s be honest here – a lot of us are too flooded with work, family and life to make that sort of leap. If you do not see yourself undertaking a 365 project, then you may want to consider a 52 weeks project. There are just as many photographers who have completed the 52 weeks as the 365 project, and at the end of the journey, they have come just as far as the people in the 365 camp.
5) Finally, self-portrait projects offer you a regular dose of self-expression and exploration. With a creative medium such as photography, even if you do not regularly take self-portraits, each of your photos is a reflection of how you see the world. It is nearly impossible to explore self-portraiture without growth on a personal level, and personal growth, as photographers, almost always equals new creative horizons.