Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

Personal Photography Projects

I have always worked to projects or themes, this is a way of always having something to shoot. When I travel I decide what I might like to work with before I go or sometimes the theme occurs to me after I have started my travels. I have projects that have lasted decades, I don’t go looking for these images, I am just so attuned to the elements that make up the theme that when I see them I shoot. My most long standing project has been about light. It is called Eternal Light, nothing religious just the recognition that light is the most important thing a photographer uses, more important than the type of camera, lens or technique: understanding light, seeing it and having the certainty that it will be back in the same place at the same time next year and for eternity; Eternal Light. We teach this as the foundation of our Intermediate Photography course, the next is scheduled to start in February

This article by Peter West Carey on Digital Photo School addresses much of what I consider important about shooting a project or theme.

Personal photography projects are the spice of life between the humdrum of every day life and shooting. As a professional, there are subjects I shoot because I’m paid to (portraits, weddings, products, etc…) and there are subjects that interest me personally (mountains, goofy road signs, milk jugs, etc…). I’ve learned to mix the two and let work assignments pay for personal projects by keeping a list of what I want to shoot as I travel internationally as well as around my town.

You may not have thought of starting a long term project. Most of us don’t because our photographic interests change over time, more quickly as we start to dabble in photography and learn new techniques. We are all familiar with the Project 365, where the idea is to take a photo a day for a year. Think of this as a Project 365, but spread out of 5, 10, 40 years. Your goal is not to shoot regularly, but to shoot your given subject over and over and over, then compile the images tell a story.”.…MORE

all images ©Keith Barnes

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