Personal photography projects & goals for 2015
With photography technology and trends changing more and more rapidly, something like a 5-yr business plan would be tough to draw up. Be successful and be awesome! That’s about as far as you can aim ahead of you as a photographer. Still, as we enter a new year, it’s as good a time as any to consider a forward-going path for personal photography and projects.
Still, looking back at a similar post I made two years ago, amusingly perhaps, most of the intended projects didn’t quite happen. Not yet anyway. This isn’t so much plans going awry, but rather things changing.
All of these in favor of other developments that I hadn’t anticipated in Dec 2013 – such as finally getting my own studio space! This opened up many other avenues for me. It didn’t so much help me change direction, but really broaden what I can do as a photographer. So yes, plans change. As they should when other opportunities come up.
Still, I strongly believe that personal projects help keep creativity alive. There’s that forward aim with your personal photography, instead of just drifting along, directionless. I still have this intention to figure out a plan – a schedule where I work on several projects during the course of the year.
What plans do you have for your photography in 2015?
I’d like to hear from you what you are contemplating with your personal photography projects for 2015? What has caught your interest and what has intrigued you enough that you’d like to get into? What themes or ideas or techniques do you want to explore?
So let’s make it fun, and inspire each other.
Post your ideas and plans in the comments section. To make it interesting, there is this book to be won as a prize. I will pick one winning entry at random on Sunday, Jan 4th. [edited to add: Erin with entry #13 wins the book prize. The entry was chosen via a random number generator.]
Photographing the Child
Photographing the Child – Natural Light Techniques for Beautiful, Profitable Portraits.
The author, Jennifer George, wrote this book with the intention of teaching photographers how to deliver images that sound out and will dominate their markets and create life-long clients.
No matter what your skill level, her techniques and advice will elevate the quality of your images, and set you apart from your competition, and enhance your reputation as a photographer.
For 2015, I have these tentative plans for personal photography projects:
- I still want to do that artistic video clip using Anelisa. A short video clip that is colorful and dreamy and mysterious perhaps.
- I also want to a themed B&W shoot with Olive, a model I had started working with in 2014. Something with a dramatic narrative.
- I’ve also discussed an ongoing semi-documentary portrait series with a friend who is a stage performer and entertainer. Life behind the mask. The direction with this will most likely unfold as we continue the project.
- I remember when we first arrived in the USA, the bleak winter-time landscape of New Jersey looked so very strange and foreign, compared to South Africa. I want to do a time-lapse video of what would appear to be mundane NJ, but with that sense of being seen from the “outside”.
- I bought an infra-red converted Canon 5D mark II in 2013, and like the results. But, this camera can also shoot video. I’ve never seen infra-red B&W video, so perhaps this is an avenue I need to check out too. Done well, it could look ethereal.
- For years now, the images that I’ve seen in the book, The Architect’s Brother, has lingered with me. I want to aspire to something as grand and mysterious as that! Some day. Some day soon.
So there’s a rough draft of intended projects. And even if they remain half-finished or shelved ideas, hopefully they will trigger other interesting and inspiring events. We’ll have to see how things unfold.
49 Comments, Add Your Own
1Sue McFarland says
I have GOT to learn how to use lights and off camera flash. The little I know now only barely gets me by!! My goal…learn all I can about lighting!!
2Lori Fortini says
My personal projects this year will be 1. to take photos in themes that can be used to create books for my toddler aged grandchildren . . . possibly color themed, alphabets, numbers, etc. and 2. to do more stylized shoots with them.
3Sue McFarland says
And I want to do at least 3 styled shoots (with a friend of mine) that will be fantasy, vintage or or or…I am not sure what the last or will be yet, but something out of the ordinary, for sure!!
4Noel Del Pilar says
My goal is to publish every wedding in the Blog & Facebook page. Also, as a personal project, photography tutorials every month.
5onnie hull says
so many projects … so many goals … so many things to learn and put into effect… i just moved into my own little studio in november and although it’s functional i have a lot to do to make it the sweet boutique space i envision. everything thus far has been trial and error (mostly error) and going forward i have to now produce samples and examples of my work as well as come up with a proper and efficient business and marketing plan … oh yeah, and get some clients coming in the door … i am the poster child for teaching an old dog new tricks! happy new year to all!
6Sandy O'Shea says
I am going to be doing project 365 for the THIRD time! 2011, 2013 now 2015… One unique and artistic photo taken each day for 365 days… using weekly/monthly themes :-) Lots of cool ideas already flowing including a few high speed photos. Hi Neil!
7Kevin Toman says
My goal is to try ( and I stress the word try) to emulate your techniques . I am still in the process of developing my website, none of my wedding photos are displayed yet. I really admire your work.
8Roberta Wells says
One of my personal projects is shooting ‘Beauty Through the Decades’, models dressed in the style of the 20s through the 90s, and trying to replicate the photographic style. My business goal is limiting my sessions (no more weddings, no babies) and increasing profits.
9Peter Salo says
My 2015 plan is to finally acquire some decent lighting gear and set up a studio at home as I have a fairly good space for that. Since I can’t afford the Profoto B1’s I’m probably going to go with a pair of PCB Einsteins and Radio poppers (that will also work with my 2 SB-900’s. I’d like to do portraits, etc in the studio and experiment with tabletop product photography and macro as well.
Then, as a long term personal project, I’d like to choose/find a topic/subject to serve as a long term project to create a consistent, themed body of work. I was recently inspired (not an unusual thing for me) by a photographer who spent over a decade searching the world for incredible trees and making very dramatic photos of them. Not that I intend to become a world traveler, but the consistent subject matter is what I’m gonna go for.
10Ulla Vinkman says
My goals for 2015 are to try using the black foam thingy, learning to better use the speedlight, and to start taking on photography jobs.
11Shanelle V. says
My personal project for the year is to donate my time to record and edit video for any local (to me in San Diego) donation to the SUDC foundation. SUDC stands for sudden unexplained death in childhood it affects children over 12 months and up. SIDS is for children under 12 months. There is a challenge on Facebook called sing for SUDC #singforsudcchallenge #sudc started by The Progressive Parent who lost her son at 14 months. I wish I could do more to raise awareness.
My shorter term project is to produce a portfolio of really cool product images followed by fleshing out my portrait portfolio so I can get online as I transition to making a living from photography. A longer term project is to create a body of work for fun using similar lighting techniques to George Hurrell. The use of shadows to sculpt features makes a strong impression with me.
13Erin Dalton says
My projects for 2015 are as follows: photograph more events with friends and family, even if just a few photos, and then PRINT THEM!
Create photo books and prints of special moments for my husband; honeymoon, various trips, even our home. I print so little, everything resides on hard drives!
Learn my external flash and incorporate it comfortably into my portrait photography.
14Carole Ingram says
I had none till you brought it up via Facebook! LOL I absolutely NEED to improve my skills in jewelry photography skills!!! It’s a must for my Etsy shop. Also, take more candid and beautiful pictures of my kids as they are growing up too fast.
I started a gratitude journal on facebook a few months ago using photographs. Number of photos so far …. one! In 2015 I’d like to really pick up the slack. When I first began thinking about this journal, the world came alive. Even sitting on my bike at a stoplight one day, I realized how grateful I was. The stoplight allowed me to pause, take a deep breath, and really absorb my surroundings.
I also finally starting printing some of my photos in early 2014. I’d like to really make that a focus on that again. I’d definitely like to have a couple of my shots framed and up on my walls …. and eventually on the walls of other people :)
16Roy Barnes says
With 2014 the best year yet for me in terms of photography-generated income I will be seeking to surpass that figure in 2015. Equipment wise I would like to add another two speedlights to my arsenal- perhaps a couple of the Canon 600EX-RT’s. And then of course I’d like to simply progress my abilities and capabilities.
17Mike Perrino says
I plan to work on a project based on Hiroshige’s “Thirty-Six Views of Mt. Fuji”, but instead, “Thirty-Six Views of the Gateway Arch”. Started in 2014, but want to complete it in 2015!
My goal is to master the art of using flash like yourself as I have watched and read all the videos and books I could find that you wrote. My photography career is only starting to take of now after nearly 5 years to get known and get bookings. Would love it to grow even more!! Thanks for all the great stuff you are doing and inspiring other people to not be selfish in sharing your knowledge and expertise!! Have a great 2015
One of my projects is to photograph boxers in training at a local boxing gym, which will be gritty, black and white images. To be followed up with a Blurb book and/or exhibition.
I also have a converted infrared camera and have been toying with the idea of capturing my borough “Hackney in Infrared”. I would love to see these images printed large and framed in a local restaurant.
Gonna come to NY and work with you.. :)
21Lora Lee Chapman says
I would like to shoot a series called “Before they were food” with creatures we commonly eat. Also, I am finally taking a Photoshop class, and am excited about that. I am shooting only for fun, not for money, so these are personal art goals, not professional photography business goals. Thanks !
I’m currently scanning my Dad’s transparencies. They are mainly family photos but some are views around my home town in the 60s. I want to revisit some of those places and photograph them as they are now; a bit like Duane Michals ‘the house I once called home’
I don’t take enough photos, I need to take more, that’s the only way to learn. I need to spend less time on the internet, but saying that I need to focus more on my website as I feel it’s letting me down big time. My ocf sucks, so I need to do more of that, practise, practise, practise. I notice a few others have said “Print more”, yep I definitely agree with that, we should all print more.
24Steve Manning says
Mine is simple I want learn take better photos
Neil!! It’s been an absolute pleasure working with you again this year and I hope to do it again in 2015. You’re always an inspiration to me, and also I just love hanging out with you (and Annie, that was a blast!)
As far as photographic goals, I really want to branch out from portrait/cosplay photography and get into more landscape as well as nautical photography, which you’ve probably noticed. It’s so different from what I’m used to shooting, and such a challenge, but I’m enjoying it.
Happy new year and hope to see you soon! <3
Photograph more than 2 weddings like I could only get this year and assisted another photographer in 2 more. Get into photographing headshots and modeling shoots – something that is very hard to break in to in this area.
Since I do not photograph children and have no desire to, I’d rather have one of your books as a prize if that is possible.
28Michelle Hockman says
As a personal project, I plan to do some classic children’s portraiture and to learn how to “paint” the images. For a business goal I am planning to bring my website up to date and blog more of my sessions.
1) Plan on printing more of my own photos. Family, pets, land and city scapes.
2) Get back into shooting with film. Mainly Portra and Fuji film and become a hybrid shooter
3) Continue to learn OCF. I have come a long way but…(OCF will mostly be for personal work)
4) Buy more gear :)
5) Sell gear that I don’t use often enough
6) Double the amount of weddings
7) Start my headshot business
8) As the year (2015) draws to an end, stop taking wedding bookings (with some exceptions) and start to focus on engagement, family, headshot and senior sessions for 2016. I enjoy weddings but they are too stressful.
9) Continue to grow as a dad, teacher, scientist and photographer.
10) Stop hating my own work.
My daughter is an aspiring gymnast. I’d like to capture still images showing motion. Maybe something in the spirit of Dave Delnea’s athlete photos.
31Jennie Key says
I recently completed a project taking portraits of cancer patients and their primary care givers in studio. I was amazed at the response from the patients. Most recently, I read about a young transgender women who committed suicide by walking in front of a semi truck because she felt ostracized. I want to contact an organization here in town which works with transgender youth and collaborate with them in a similar project as my patients. I would like to bring awareness to this sorely misunderstood population.
Thanks for all you do! I enjoy all the information you provide to photographers such as myself.
for 2015 I gotta raise my prices and get more organized
33Nick C says
Goals for 2015 –
Shoot more/shoot less: Shooting less implies taking a more intentional approach with an emphasis on conceiving the final product before slamming the shutter home. Shooting more means recognizing that there are no shortcuts for improvement without work. So, go out and shoot but do so with more thought. Continue to work on shooting manual exposure – not second nature yet, but an achievable goal.
Become more proficient at post processing. I know the basics and then some of LR, but there is plenty more to learn. (And I can only whimper when I see my key word organization….)
Stop thinking that “if only (pick your brand of choice) came out with X, my photography problems will be solved”. Fact is, all of the most recent crop sensor and full frame cameras are extremely capable machines. To think that something that hits everything on my spec sheet will automatically elevate my game is delusional. Every camera is collection of strength and weaknesses. Learn to work around the latter while taking advantage of the former.
And, having more “ta da’s….” when shooting on camera flash.
Thank you and best for a healthy and prosperous 2015.
Since I started to take photography more seriously 4 years ago, I’ve been setting goals for myself and happily meeting many of them (CPP, Awards at WPPI and PPA). I’ve always wanted to thank you for your well written and easy to understand books which I’ve re-read multiple times. Power, Distance, Aperture, ISO still resonates in my head when I use off camera flash on manual!
I will create a set of 12-24 creative Coffee themed shots with ideas that I have. At least 1 per month. I’d like to sell/display these at local coffee shops. Next step is to pursue a deal with a large coffee chain. I’m a believer in shooting what you love, and I love coffee!
I’d like to create an in studio snow storm shoot – complete with snow machine, fog machine and talented MUA.
Another project involves using stroboscopic photography to capture dance moves. Also looking to play with short and long exposures to freeze or show movement and play with shadows too.
I am looking to create some pictographs because I think they are cool.
-Sell 2 dx format lenses (done today!) and my nikon 50 1.4 to purchase the Sigma 50 1.4 Art series lens
-Upgrade from the D600 to the D750
-Create a website focused specifically on Headshots
-Produce 4 Award winning images for PPA and WPPI and attend conventions
-Establish additional relationships with Model Agencies
-Have a shoot published in a respected magazine
-Double the enrollment into the Photography Club I lead in a local HS
-Continue the pursuit of Master Artist degree within 6 years
-Meet Neil in person!
Keep up the excellent work and Happy New Year!
Having done a 365 in 2013 (fantastic for improving your knowledge of camera and lighting) I’m now resolved on doing a ‘Shot a month for calendar’. That would reflect and incorporate each month of the year but with 12 different photography subjects – landscape, portrait – studio, architecture, sport, macro, fashion, wedding/event, Industrial/technology, nude/boudoir, portrait – environmental, wildlife and product photography. That way I can use the images for a calendar illustrating at least some photographic capability.
I look forward to the arrival of your next book – on order with Amazon.
Setting myself a very high target, I’d love to do a studio shoot mixing continuous and strobe lighting on a ‘flying bird’ themed project. Using continuous lights directed at a models arms as she drops them down to give a blurred effect and a strobe (gridded beauty dish) to light here face. Model standing tip toes on a black box with her gaze facing upwards. A talented MUA and great wardrobe essential.
Very ambitious (maybe overly optimistic!) for me.
Beyond that experimenting with coloured gels!
Thanks btw for your inspiration and knowledge I have gleamed from you Neil since stumbling across Tangents approx 5 years ago.
For me, I am a beginner and a big fan of yours, spends hours on your blog and videos, still can’t get enough of it. I haven’t quite figured out what I like most between Portraits and Macro, so planning to do more of both this year.
My wish for 2015: I would love to see YOU (Neil) venturing out in Macro world. So that I can learn more from you in that area as well ;-)
My photography goals are to:
~Get Photoshop certified by the end of 2015
~In blogging to inspire others to pursue their creative passion by moving outside their comfort zone
~Blog at least once a week faithfully
~Produce 3 conceptual images per month
~Organize my disorganized previous years’ photo files. (That’s quite a task).
Cheers to a fabulous 2015, Neil et al!
I live in an older suburb and one of the things I’ve been meaning to do for ages is photograph some of the quirky small businesses around here, primarily with my widest focal length (16mm on full frame). I finally started today with a laundromat whose interior probably hasn’t changed in 40+ years. The owner/operator seemed amused at my interest and a little chuffed. I’ve also asked a cafe owner who has an interesting graffiti mural on her wall, and she’s fine with me photographing it so I’ll do that next. It’s good interacting with local people in this way, as I get to know them a little better while trying to improve my photography skills.
So glad that a friend referred me to your website. I can tell I’m going to learn a lot. My focus this year is lighting. Although I love the editing process and it has saved me a thousand times – I want to get it right in the camera. #1 goal for this year.
I don’t have too many goals for 2015, just one big one. I want 2015 to be the year when I shoot my first wedding. Prior to that I need to do more practice shoots than I did last year, maybe for a first couple of weeks/months, and while practising, I’ll be actively trying to book my first wedding.
42Mel Gattis says
One my personal projects is to do a Kabuki Inspired Shoot. I’d really like to take some of the characters and bring them into a modern iteration. Another I’d like to so would consist of self portraits with costumes and make up. Some wacky, crazy, unusual images that would show my comical side. If people only knew the things that go through my head. Only my wife could give a glimpse. LOL.
Not sure what all will occur this year, but I would like to expand my portfolio greatly and begin developing my portrait work. In terms of personal projects I have a street photography idea that has been taking up brainwaves over the last year or two. I also want to do a documentary project revolving around mental health to expose our fears of mental “illness” and replace those fears with understanding, care and compassion. I’ll be happy if I get one of those three things done in the coming year.
I’ve finally decided to get well educated on the business side of photography, while still trying to improve technically (by buying more photography books, watching more video tutorials & shooting as often as I can) and also building a website to put up all the photos i’ve done in the last 2 years. Project-wise, i’m hoping to get better at Portraits & also cover many more Events here in Toronto and also help a few friends withe the photo aspect of their start-up businesses.
It’s all very daunting as I have a different full time career and i’m not a business person and wouldn’t want to start something that I think will fail, but it’s worse not to try at all. Thanks a lot for Tangents Neil, have a Great Year.
45Neil vN says
Erin Dalton at entry #13 wins the book prize.
(This entry was chosen via a random number generator online.)
In case someone stumbles on this post much later, and Erin’s entry isn’t at #13 anymore, do keep in mind that subsequent comments may be nested, and will bump the numbering of other comments.
Thanks everyone for adding your comments and opinions. It’s been interesting to hear what everyone wants to be involved with and progress with.
Neil, whenever I think of where I want to go, I also think of where I came from, and how my path to portrait photography started by reading your articles several years ago, then books, and more recently your Crafsty Videos.
For 2015, I want to continue to expand the number of photo shoots I do, get more comfortable and creative posing models, and continue learning the craft.
47Mitch Wojnarowicz says
I’ve been shooting for a few decades now. So much of what I have done and currently do is centered on running and gunning for clients, whether that is a wedding or a or a business presentation or a corporate shoot out in the field on a 100 degree day. It’s always get it in the can, rush on to the next setup. A bit of MASH hospital behavior really. I’ve always been intrigued by and interested in the slow portrait. I admire those who spend time with a subject and tease out some essence. Who have happy accidents, are in a spot to receive gifts from God. So I’m looking for a relaxed portrait project, maybe one that will spring off of some developmentally challenged adults that I’ve already photographed for a human services client. Maybe something else.
I understand everyone wanting to get better with their equipment, but technology is progressing so fast. Think past that and think about WHAT you would photograph if you suddenly were in possession of a high degree of skill and endless gear. Then go shoot that thing with what you already have in your head and in your hands.
With the progress of technology, all we have is the ideas in our head which differentiate us from the camera-operator on the forum next door. And those ideas are what produce memorable photographs. Go create them.
And how was it?
49Neil vN says
You know, I came back to this post when I was compiling my list of best photography purchases of 2015, and I realized I had done none of these. But let’s re-commit for 2016!