We are so excited to welcome back Jean Smith to the Blog! Take a moment to learn more about Jean, and visit her website Jean Smith Photography. Thank you so much Jean for taking the time to share your work with us today!
What is YOUR Personal Project?
It’s a New Year. Time for resolutions. Time for recommitments. Time for goals.
Wait, what’s that? Goals? Resolutions? Ummmm, sorry, I can’t hear you, I have on my new noise reducing headphones I got for Christmas.
Yeah, that’s me. I’m the girl who loves the result of finished projects and goals accomplished, but I tend to run from the initial commitment. Planning and starting goals or projects can be hard AND overwhelming. That is quite possibly why my hopes, dreams, and big ideas from the previous year oftentimes don’t make it past the starting line in the new year. Too many ideas, too many goals, too many dreams.
Don’t get me wrong. Ideas and dreams are good. They are fabulous. And they are absolutely necessary to keep us motivated, creative, and help us to improve as photographers. But, too many projects might actually overwhelm you before you can even start them. So, that is why I suggest choosing just ONE personal project for 2013. Choose a project that speaks to you, that you will enjoy doing throughout the year, and that the results will bring you happiness. If you finish that project, than any others you choose to start will just be icing on the cake.
So, how do you choose a personal photography project that will bring you happiness as well as improve your skills and creativity?
For me, I knew my personal photography project had to be completely separate from my normal client photography. This is about renewing my love and passion for photography, something that can’t be achieved through money or shooting for others. I knew that I loved black and white images. I knew that I am crazy attracted to symmetry and basic shapes. And that’s when it hit me. My newly remodeled room has one, huge, blank wall. Because my husband and I are both photographers, I had originally figured we would find an image, enlarge it, and stick that sucker on the wall. BOOOOORRRING. I realized that this wall would be my personal project. My personal journey, if you will. It would be a huge record of our day to day life, with hundreds of black and white images collaged together to tell our story. I normally photograph other people’s life, not my own. So, I knew it would be both a challenge and a motivation to think differently every time I took a photo for my wall. It may seem like such a simple project to most people, but it is personal and motivating to me, and I am beyond excited for the result!
Finding the time to do something for yourself can be difficult in the midst of kids, school, jobs, spouses, photography clients, or whatever else it is you have going on in your life. But, you love photography, and you love yourself. So, do yourself a favor and find a project that makes you happy, and hopefully, helps you to improve your photography in some way.
Here are some ideas to get you started…
1. A Day in the Life. It goes by many names, but it is basically a photographic journal of someones life. It tells a story of daily habits, loves, hates, and dreams, all wrapped up into one day of shooting. I posted my first Day in the Life sessions of all four of my boys HERE a few years ago. Because I don’t actually take a lot of photos of my children, this is a yearly tradition that is priceless to me and I love to see each of them change from year to year.
2. 365. One of the more popular projects for photographers is the 365 project. A photo a day for every day of the year. You can do it by yourself, or you can join in a group, such as Project Life 365, 365 Project, Flickr groups such as 365 days, and Capture your 365. Doing this challenges you to think outside your box as you are required to use whatever tool you have available to you (phone, SLR, point-and-shoot). Plus, you will be left with hundreds of images that you can share online, print in an album, or turn into wall art at the end of the year.
3. Education. I truly believe continuing education is one of the best ways to keep yourself motivated, inspired, and you will acquire new skills essential for your art and business. Perhaps your personal project this year is your education and commitment to improving your skills and knowledge. Books, forums, and online courses are a fabulous way to learn from the comfort of your own home. Workshops, mentorships, and conferences are an amazing way to choose exactly who you will be learning from and get an intimate education from those who inspire you.
4. Self Challenges. One of the easiest projects you can do throughout the year to guarantee self improvement is to challenge yourself to try something new. It can be on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. In my case, I have challenged myself to try something new each and every shoot I go to. It might be a new pose, a new lighting technique, a new lens, etc. I will either fail and try again next time, or I will succeed and be left with a new skill and an awesome image to share with others.
5. Go on a (photographic) journey. Pick a day, weekend, or even a week to a location that inspires you. Spend that week documenting your journey. You are sure to come back feeling inspired and relaxed.
6. Give. The giving of your photography skills may be the most important project you could choose. Photography is an art, but it is also a gift. We are lucky to have such a powerful gift that can benefit everyone in some way. I have found that through the thousands and thousands of times I have pushed that shutter button, none has given me more joy than when I am doing it for free and for a good cause. You may already have people in mind you would like to donate your time and talent to. Or, there are many organizations already set up to help people through photography. The following is a list of some of those organizations.
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
The American Child Photographers Charity Guild
Images For a Cure
Inspiration Through Art
Shoots For a Cure
Pictures of Hope
Flashes of Hope
No matter what you choose for your personal project, just choose SOMETHING. It is sure to inspire you, as well as open your eyes and improve your photography along the way. We would LOVE to know what your personal project will be in 2013. Please share!
About Jean: I am a photographer living in New Hudson, Michigan, with my husband and four little boys. I adore my family more than anything, and also love exercise, reading, travel, travel, travel, and delicious food.