Long-term assignments always make for interesting photographs. They reflect a nature and wildlife that photographers desire to create, produce meaningful photographs and learn about the natural world.
You’re considering starting a photography self-assignment. Where do you begin? That is the $64,000 question.
Years ago I attended a nature photography conference in a southwestern state. During the conference I had the opportunity to have my portfolio reviewed and critiqued by magazine editors and other photographers.
During one of the review sessions an editor commented she frequently sees portfolios containing photographs similar to mine. Then she asked where I was from. I replied “Maine.” Her next statement still sticks in my head; “I’ve never been to Maine. I’d like to see more photographs from where you live.”
Needless to say her comment left me seriously considering how to follow her advice. Years later it resulted in a photography self-assignment.
The accompanying photographs of fall leaves are part of an ongoing personal project of mine. The goal of the self-assignment is to find a new way of capturing fall colors while avoiding the traditional scenic photographs. This particular project allows me to experiment with composition, complementary and contrasting colors, and lens choices in different ways. Yes, it involves a lot of searching, but the project forces me to see my subjects in a new light.
So now you are thinking of starting your own photography project. But where to begin?
- Start with a subject you know. It can be a particular mammal or bird. Or perhaps a favorite location.
- Consider how to tell a story about your subject.
- In the case of birds and animals, learn about and observe their behaviors. Consider how best to document their lives. Go beyond the casual bird or animal portrait. But do not completely ignore the portraits.
- When it comes to locations, explore the area thoroughly. Note what is there…streams, open fields, certain stands of trees. Ask yourself; What is unique about the area?
- Think long-term. Be prepared to photograph in all kinds of weather, during different seasons, or as young birds and mammals come into the world and grow.
- Come up with a plan. Do not be afraid to deviate from the plan. Be open to the possibilities for images as they appear.
Allow yourself so many photographs per day. This causes you to think carefully about your photographs creatively and how they relate to your self-assignment.
- Select a time of year or certain behavior as the focus of your project.
- Above all else: have fun! Photography projects should be passion filled explorations of a favorite subject or place.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post and found some inspiration to start a photographic self-assignment of your own. Please feel free to contact me through my website at www.touchthewildphotos.com with any questions. Thank you!