2013 365 Day Photo Project: A Preview (Part 3)

Two days’ worth of options for photographic projects and you STILL can’t find something to shoot? Sheesh. Slackers. Here are some even shorter photo projects (which, incidentally, you can throw into your 365-day, 31-day or 52-week projects to break things up if you’d like).

7 Day Photo Project: Give yourself one week to find your theme, gather your gear, shoot, edit, and display/share your work. Document the process.

I know, I know. You work five days a week, and you set aside your weekends for cooking, laundry, competitive Scrabble, or antisocial behavior. Set aside one day per month to get out there and shoot something. You may even find yourself liking this photography thing (again), and wanting to graduate to a more frequent shooting schedule. Here are some prompts for a once-a-month shooting schedule:

  • Once-a-Month Photo Project:
  • 12 Holidays
  • 12 Guys’/Girls’ Nights Out
  • 12 Group Shoots
  • 12 Buddy Shoots
  • 12 State or National Parks
  • 12 Landmarks/Historical Sites

Maybe the thought of even something as simple as shooting ONE DAY A MONTH has you curled up in the fetal position, sobbing quietly. Just for you, a special project:

One Day Photo Project:


If you have ideas, thoughts, or suggestions, feel free to comment below, or to email thefirst10000@gmail.com. More projects will be coming in the next couple of days, and the “Official” 10,000/365 will launch on January 1. Stay tuned!

2013 365 Day Photo Project: A Preview (Part 2)

Yesterday, in addition to announcing the impending re-launch of the 10,000/365 project, I listed a series of prompts to create your own unique project. I understand that a 365-day-long project might not work for you, for one reason or another. Maybe you like a little structure, but you’ve got something going on in March or thereabouts. No long-term commitments for you! Okay, here are a few projects you can undertake on a month-long basis:

31-Day Photo Projects:

  • 31 Flowers
  • 31 Animals
  • 31 Nights
  • 31 Rainy Days
  • 31 Days of Awful Lighting
  • 31 Mundane Days
  • 31 Abstracts
  • 31 Characters
  • 31 Artists
  • 31 Signs
  • 31 Day Chance Project
  • 31 Crappy Weather Projects

On the other hand, maybe you’ve been shooting for a while — or maybe you’re still new at this — but you’d like to put your skills to a more in-depth test. Try these on for size.

52-Week Photo Projects:

  • 52 Photo Essays
  • 52 Neighborhoods
  • 52 Cities
  • 52 Photo Pub Crawl (drink — and shoot — responsibly)
  • 52 Color Studies
  • 52 Stations (h/t: Robyn Hitchcock)
  • 52 Friends

If you have ideas, thoughts, or suggestions, feel free to comment below, or to email thefirst10000@gmail.com. More projects will be coming in the next couple of days, and the “Official” 10,000/365 will launch on January 1. Stay tuned!

2013 365 Day Photo Project: A Preview (Part 1)

The New Year is coming. You’re ready. You’ve just gotten, or are about to get, your first (or fifth, or sixteenth) camera, and you want to shoot one of everything (just not necessarily in that order). You can take on the challenge that is the upcoming The First 10,000 365-Day Project (aka. 10,000/365), but if that doesn’t send you/float your boat/butter your biscuits, here are a series of prompts to help make your next 365 Day Project a success:

  • 365 Movies: Use movie titles or scenes as prompts for your project.
  • 365 Books
  • 365 Foods
  • 365 Lyrics
  • 365 Poems
  • 365 Places
  • 365 Questions: Your photos can pose, or answer, the questions. It’s up to you.
  • 365 Things
  • 365 Windows
  • 365 Doors
  • 365 Strangers
  • 365 Cigarettes
  • 365 Prop Project: I came across someone at El Morro in Puerto Rico who was carrying a stuffed hedgehog, and getting his (it was a he; I asked) photo at various places she visited. Try something similar.
  • 365 Vehicles
  • 365 Feet: Shoes, boots, pumps, pumped up kicks, bare feet, you name it.
  • 365 Abstracts
  • 365 Flat: Similar to Flat Stanley, print someone out — even yourself, if you’d like — and put them in your photos.
  • 365 Revisited: Go back to things shot on a previous 365 and see how you’d do them differently this time around.

If you have ideas, thoughts, or suggestions, feel free to comment below, or to email thefirst10000@gmail.com. More projects will be coming in the next couple of days, and the “Official” 10,000/365 will launch on January 1. Stay tuned!

Prompts and Photography

Paul Simonon by Shepard Fairey

I’ve been writing far longer than I’ve been photographing (though I guess you’d never know that by this site). One thing that you’ll find in many creative writing guides are series of writing prompts meant to help writers break through creative blocks, and to help take their writing in different directions. Since writers are hardly the only ones who hit a wall from time to time (it happens to all creative types sooner or later), or who need a change of direction, I thought I’d take the subject up today.

It occurred to me recently that I’ve discussed this before, but really only obliquely, in a post about photo projects. The idea of a “project” can be intimidating, especially if you’re a hobbyist* (where, after all, will you find the time to commit to something like that, to say nothing of the motivation?), so it can be useful just to have a bite-sized moresel to ruminate over without having to worry about biting off more than you can chew. If we’re going to extend the writing/photography metaphor a bit further, this would be like freewriting, where you free associate for a page or so, usually on a particular subject or theme, versus trying to crank out a short story or novel.

Now, if you’re not a writer, it’d probably help if I explained what free writing was. What you’re doing is a stream of consciousness exercise, leaving aside any considerations of form, grammar, spelling, and even content. If it’s in your head, it goes on the paper, simple as that. It gets a bit more complicated for photographers (we can’t just visualize a muskrat and have it magically manifest in front of the camera), but that doesn’t mean it’s not still useful. What writers and photographers have in common, I think, is a tendency at times to mull something over to a degree that the thoughts get in the way of what we’re trying to accomplish; in plain English, we overthink the damn thing (about which, more in the next post).

So where does that leave us? Well, for starters, give yourself a series of prompts. We’re not after sweeping ideas, or grand, arching themes here. The whole idea is to stay deliberately small and eminently manageable. Instead of thinking to yourself that you’re going to come up with a photo essay on the passage of the seasons in your favorite park, tell yourself you’re going to shoot something feathered, for instance.** Or set a particular small theme for the day, even if it’s something as simple as “red.”

The next thing is to just shoot. Take some time to let the rules go out the window. The results, same as they’d be for a writer, won’t be pretty, but then, pretty isn’t the point here. The point is to get your ass out there and make photos. The only rule? For whatever length of time you choose — a few minutes, an hour, or a day — if it catches your eye, it’s getting its photo taken. Once you’ve gotten to, or over, that bit (especially if you’re blocked), then you can engage your brain and start taking all of that raw material and following it in whatever direction it suggests to you.

Finally, a little something for any writers who may have come across this post accidentally (you didn’t think I’d leave you out, did you?): even — or maybe especially — if you’re not a photographer, find a camera (even if it’s just the one on your mobile phone), get yourself away from the computer, and take some photos. Once you get back home, you will have snapped enough writing prompts to last you a while. Repeat as necessary.

More photography prompts to follow… In the meantime, have any you’d like to share or suggest? Comment below!

*Or even a professional, since pros are prone to talking at great length about all the stuff they’d be shooting if they weren’t so busy making money off their craft.

**With your camera, of course.