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Are you in a photographic rut? Shooting the same subject over and over? Seeing the same people, the same streets, the same scenery day in and day out?
How about an exotic, inspiring, stimulating vacation to perk up your pixels! Not an option right now? Well, you can still change the way you see your familiar surroundings and get excited about your regular photo walks by giving yourself a photo assignment!
A photo assignment is a self-driven project that can require one hour or several months – it’s your assignment, so it’s up to you! It’s a way to get out with your camera and improve your skills by challenging yourself. Most importantly, it’s a way to keep your passion for the craft fresh and alive!
Several photo assignment ideas come to mind. The first is to simply pick a different theme for each photo walk. This is a great idea if you get bored easily or need help staying focused, even for a short time. You might shoot only textures or patterns one day, people with their dogs another day or situations that bring a smile to your face! The list is endless! Your photo walks will soon become a treasure hunt, whether you are alone or with a photo friend.
Then there is the 365 day project – a big commitment which can be a lot of pressure. A good way to ease into that would be a 52-week project. These always seem like “a good idea at the time,” but both options are a year-long commitment. Be sure you want to take that on and that you don’t set yourself up for failure. Remember – these assignments are supposed to be fun!
If you’ve done the themed photo walks and maybe a year-long project, then consider a challenge on a different level – a photo-journalistic assignment. This can be a one-day event project or a story told over time. An example subject would be a street musician you’ve seen many times on the same bridge. Start a conversation. Watch folks passing by. Create a photo essay by including environmental portraits as well as detail shots. You can make a simple project more in depth by following an important or touching story for a few days. Again, the options are limitless. Maybe it’s the story of a lost dog you meet at the animal shelter who finally finds a new home. Or a landmark that is being torn down to make space for new developments and the impact that has on the local community. Or tell a simple but fun story with a series of images from your local farmer’s market. Arrive early, document the merchants setting up their stalls for the day, their interaction with the customers and closing up. You will catch an interesting variety of lighting throughout the day plus wide shots of the trucks coming and going and activity in the stalls. There will be much to shoot – details of the produce, hands exchanging money, children’s smiles and so on. You can just picture it in your head already, am I right?
The goal of the photo assignment exercise is to see your familiar environment with new eyes, and to fall in love with being a story teller with your camera all over again. Oh, and to have fun, too!