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As photographers, it’s natural we all reach that point where we become a bit bored with our work, especially if you work on the same type of photography everyday. After thousands of landscapes and flower photos, you can start feeling that desire to do something different. Starting a personal photography project can help ignite that creative fire again.
Don’t sit around and wish you had creative projects to work on. Get out there and create exactly what you want! Working on personal projects allows you to think outside the box. It allows you to play by your own rules, where there are no rules! It’s just you and your own vision. There is great power in that.
A couple of years ago I was in a creative slump. I had been wanting to do a cohesive photo series but I didn’t know what the subject was going to be. I’ve heard the phrase time and time again, “Go with what you know.” So I got thinking about what inspires me. I knew it had to be a narrative driven project. I knew it was going to be something stylish and probably a bit dark. Then one day, as I was about to wake up, it came to me like a dream. It really did! A sci-fi horror series it was.
Even though I grew up in the 80’s, I found myself watching campy sci-fi shows from the 60’s and 70’s. I loved Lost in Space, Land of the Giants, The Twilight Zone and Star Trek. I was drawn to the unusual locations, the great costumes and bright colors of these shows. I also grew up watching a lot of horror films from the 70’s and 80’s. The abstract lighting and gorgeous sets of Dario Argento and the zombie takeovers from George Romero struck a chord with me. In my photo series, “Invasion” I would combine these two loved genres together.
I wanted clones, mad scientists, abductions, robots, aliens, and bombshells in space suits. I hunted up costumes, searched for locations, gathered friends and then I started creating. I shot at friends’ houses that fit the 50’s and 60’s time period. I also found models and friends who were more than happy to be in a cool sci-fi photo. Since shooting in outer space was out of the question, I shot in my living room. Basically, I worked with what I had.
Today it’s easier than ever to dream up anything you want for free or almost free. You can find great costumes and props in flea markets, at your local resale shop or even in a dumpster! Put ads out on craigslist for models or makeup artists. Use your friend’s house as a set. Take your camera out of auto mode and play around with settings. Maybe use a flashlight or the television as a light source instead. The possibilities are as unlimited as your imagination. Once you have a goal in mind, with a little bit of sweat and photoshop you’ll be amazed at what you can dream up!
This Sci-fi inspired photo series has been the most rewarding project I’ve ever worked on. It’s been an incredible learning experience. I also believe “Invasion” is my strongest and most original photography that I have ever done. I contribute that to the fact that I went with what I knew, and channeled what I was interested in and passionate about. I challenge you to do the same and most important have fun doing it!
Here are some other ideas on starting a photography project:
Have some other tips or ideas, please share in the comments! If you’ve done a project, or started one recently – tell us about it!