365 Days of Photography Ahead of You – Photo Project Ideas for 2012 (Part 1 : Portraits and Self-Portraits)

With the holidays behind us and all sorts of New Year’s Resolutions ahead of us, most of us plan for completing those particular tasks. However, if with most people, these resolutions are in regards to how many books to read in 2012, how much weight to lose and so on, it would be nice if photography is one of your hobbies to start something that will last a whole year. Whereas this is a bigger commitment, it will not only fine tune your photography skills but it will also make it easier to commit to other projects in the future. Remember, in the beginning, things might not sparkle as much as you’d like them to – or you might hit a couple of road bumps along the way – that’s alright. That’s how most projects work and sometimes they’re frustrating and a little annoying, and inspiration won’t always come when you need it. The point is to constantly work through them.

The problem is, most often people forget about the importance of coming up with a unique project – for that matter, with so many 365 self-portraits, and 365 pictures of cats most of us feel like we’ve seen so much of those that we just don’t need another one. The point behind this article is to give you a broad spectrum of ideas, which you can personalize in order to make them your own.

One important rule is not to get stuck with numbers – don’t commit to 365-sort-of-projects if you know you don’t have the time nor the inspiration to commit to it on a daily basis since this will lead to early abandonment. A 2012 project can be as simple as 52 photowalks (which we’ll discuss at length a bit later) or something like one-landscape-per-week. You know where your limits are, the point is to commit to something that’s actually feasible and doable rather than invite failure by taking on too much too soon.

Self-Portrait Projects

I began by discussing the idea of 365 self-portraits and how we’ve all seen a bit too many of those. However, if you feel that’s something you’d love to do, don’t hesitate – it might just be the photo project you need to get yourself started. So, here are a couple of photo projects for the self-portraitist.

1.) Every Day Selfs – There are wonderful projects out there that are almost 12 years now. If you take a look here: everyday.noahkalina.com you will notice a range of self-portraits starting the year 2000. That’s one big commitment, and you can start by focusing on a self-portrait per day for the next 365 days. You don’t need to find something incredibly artistic about it but it’s important to put some thought into it. Meaning that while you’re not supposed to come up with the greatest self-portraits either, don’t make it a matter of pure randomness either.

2.) Layering Self-Portraits – Okay, typical self-portraits might be too boring for what you had on your mind. Consider a little pizazz and try a project that involves layering your self-portraits. After all, there’s no rule that says you should display your photos one-at-a-time. This way you can see what changed throughout the year. It might be a little difficult in the end, since you have to keep the same position and framing, but with a flip-screen that can easily be taken out of the way.

3.) Timelapse Self-Portraits – If layering or typical portraits mean nothing to you, consider a timelapse. You will probably end up building the time lapse at the end of the project itself (or do monthly sequences) and you can see how you evolved throughout the year. If with the layering part it was incredibly important to keep the same pose, it’s less relevant right now. But it would be nice to remain in the same side of the frame at least.

Portrait Projects

1.) The Arrow of Time – Or your family in images, over time. You might be a little camera shy, or you might simply dislike taking photos of yourself for the next year, but what you can do is focus on other people, and in this case focus on the most important people in your life – your own family. The beauty of it is not only that you pay them a tribute that will last long in everyone’s memory, but you will also have a chance at building something truly beautiful. If you’re curious about how this project was done in the past, visit: www.zonezero.com.

2.) 365 Strangers – This is one of my personal favorites, but you’ll have to work with your shyness often enough if you want to address 365 strangers and take pictures of them. The good news is that if you manage to do more than one picture of a stranger per day, you might get enough time off. Or if it seems like too much, you could cut down on the frequency – say, like 3 per week and make a total out of that. 52 strangers this year.

3.) 52 Smiles – Happy people are everyone’s favorites, and we all know how great most of them look in pictures and how it brings a positive outlook on everyone’s mind. The point here is to find those people that have an incredibly catchy smile and ask them to pose for you. Ultimately, doing one such shot per week shouldn’t be too hard – even if they’re strangers or friends.