Photography Project Theme Ideas
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Casual photographers who want to grow their skills would benefit from picking a theme for a couple of weeks, ten days or a month – and pushing the theme to its limits.
Because focusing on a photography project theme helps build a body of work to reflect upon.
A photo theme helps you discover different ways of looking at the same idea. It forces you to get creative and discover angles, vantage points, camera settings, lighting and more.
A photo project theme will push you to think outside of the box, to discover other photographers who have shot the same theme (this requires some research), and to explore your camera settings to achieve better results day after day.
Tim Gilbreath from Photodoto.com said it best:
A photo theme simply means creating a set of photographs that are related in some way, whether it be through subject, color or other recurring pattern. The beauty of doing this is that you are not required to constantly come up with a new subject or idea for each consecutive photo; once a theme’s subject has been established, you only need to find new instances of that subject. This forces you to think along one idea path and allows you to forget about the subject altogether and concentrate on what’s really important…taking an interesting and thought-provoking photo.
When creating photos, think of 3 things that will make your photo have more depth than a simple snapshot of a location, person, subject, etc.
Ask yourself if you can do more with the lighting, the vantage point, the mood, the lens choice, or if you can remove unnecessary background noise in your photos by adjusting your relationship to the subject.
And most essentially, what can you do with the story?
What story are you telling in your photos? The story is up to you… it doesn’t mean you have to create a narrative with people. The story can be the location or relationship of objects to each other or the effect in the final output (like the photos at the top of this article which have been rendered in duo-tone and shot as abstracts).
How does your environment change with light or time of day? Can you create a series of photos that play off of each other by showing the same scene in a different way?
Try to keep in mind 3 things that will make your photos really pop. When you look at your photography project ask yourself if there are 3 things that make your work have more meaning. If not, push yourself to explore how to add meaning and depth to your project.
If you don’t know where to start when it comes to your own photography project, here is a long list of photography themes for you to start with.
Top Creative Photography Project Ideas for Your Next Project
The most important place to you
Urban Photography Scenes
Local Popular Attractions
Different times of day on local landmarks
Decayed and abandoned locations
Airport Landing Strips
Local City Parks
Animals in the City
City Streets in Morning
City Streets at Night
Famous local restaurants
Under bridges & overpasses
Graveyards & cemeteries
Automotive Body Shop
Black and white city scenes
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This year I made a very cool photography magazine based on the theme of water and rain. My backyard is a forest, and I like to take photos of the ferns, leaves and drops after it rains. By combining 3 different photo shoots, I designed a magazine and self-published it on Blurb.com.
By focusing on a photography theme, I was able to create a body of work, publish it, and share it professionally.
I used Adobe InDesign to make my magazine, but you can use the Blurb tool to create and publish your own magazine or book. By making something tangible, it will take your work to the next level and teach you how your photography fits together as a theme. And, you’ll impress your friends and family 😉
Funny scenes and people laughing
Things covering faces
People looking away or looking down
Hands from different types of career people
Feet from different ages of people
Different textures of hair
Different eye colors
Emotions on different people
Double exposure Self Portraits
People on the Street
Your pets and your children together
Farm life & animals
Famous local people
A few years ago, I took a series of self portraits. I combined them in Photoshop with several textures and produced a fairly disturbing series of images. These definitely reflect the stress I was under at the time. The self portraits were a good outlet for my creativity and angst… not all art is pretty flowers and puppy dogs. And, not all artist photographers have to portray traditional beauty to be acceptable. If you have a creative outlet to express your stress and frustration, use it. – Carlin Felder
The best way to learn is by doing. The Photographer’s Playbook features photography assignments, as well as ideas, stories and anecdotes from many of the world’s most talented photographers and photography professionals. Whether you’re looking for exercises to improve your craft—alone or in a group—or you’re interested in learning more about the medium, this playful collection will inspire fresh ways of engaging with photographic process. – Get The Photographer’s Playbook: 307 Assignments and Ideas and push your photography to the limits!
Paths in Nature
People in Nature
Black and white landscape scenes
Local area lakes
Water photos other than waterfalls with ND filters
Textures on rocks
Textures on trees
Ground textures – sand, stones, dirt, sticks, leaves, moss, small plants
Different times of day on famous nature scenes
Early morning dew
Bad weather or rain
Macro photography of flowers and nature
Groves of Trees
Single Trees in Nature
Bokeh (blur) in Nature
From Above – using drones or selfie stick
From Below – laying flat against the ground or using a selfie stick to get a unique angle & shooting photos from ground level
View from Inside looking out
Different times of day from the same spot every day
Photos from boats on the water
Photos from the air
Natural light through curtains
Photos of your home or buildings at night from outside
Black and white in midday
Shallow depth of field
Macro photography with Extension tubes on 50mm lens
Shooting with 1 lens only for a month
Long Exposure at Night
Motion Blur at Night
Using flashlights or fire to draw with long exposure
Bokeh (blur) in the City
Objects, Shapes, Repetition & Color:
Abstract shapes repeated
Fruit and vegetables – cut in half to expose the interior design elements
Food item repeated
Color series using one specific color
Simple shapes in a single theme – circles, squares, oblong, skinny
Interesting Wrought Iron
Old or antique objects from Flea Markets
Objects in your backyard
Now that you have some ideas to start with, get a pencil and paper and write down what appeals to you to start working with.
Write down why you want to work on this project, what you want to say with it, how you can approach it, and also how long you want to work on it.
Set some goals and get to clicking!
Carlin Felder is an artist photographer. Her love for photography started when she was a kid – back when people developed their own film – in their own home – with their own equipment.
She has a passion for abstract photography, and she created a niche in the macro photography world called Macro Expressionism. Learn more about Macro Expressionism in Manifesto of Expressionism in Macro Photography on Amazon.
She’s also a bag designer and the publisher of DigitalCameraBagHQ.com.
All Photos: Copyright Carlin Felder – May be used with permission – Please contact me if you’d like to download any images in this post. 2nd and Lost is quite popular, and I’ll let you have it if you contact me – firstname.lastname@example.org – Thanks!