Btec Photography Assignment Ideas
Variety, not only the spice of life, is also one of the most beautiful things about the art form of photography; the number of possible subjects for a photo is almost limitless. There are formats, within forms and within disciplines, and all we need to create a work of art is an idea, which can come to us at any time and in many ways.
Unfortunately, like with any creative medium, photographers can experience a block, or lack of ideas for a subject. It’s no different than a writer drawing a blank on words to add to his book or an artist having a difficult time putting that first stroke of paint to a blank canvas.
With photography, however, we have the advantage of instantaneous results, and we therefore have more options to quickly develop ideas for our photographic subjects. One of the most popular ways to do this is to create a themed project.
A photo theme simply means creating a set of photographs that are related in some way, whether it be through subject, color or other reoccurring 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.
But alas, we’ve returned to our initial problem of photographer’s block! Not to worry since we’ve provided you with 30 solid ideas to get you started. Take one and go crazy: Create an online photo book from your set, or post a blog entry describing the journey you took to capture all of these pictures. Truly, the sky is the limit!
Black and White
All photos should be taken in black and white or converted to black and white in post-processing. Focus on the tone of the image.
Pick a color, and take photos where that color is dominant in the image.
Explore an out-of-the-way or dilapidated building (safely, of course).
A great way to come out of your shell, so to speak; ask strangers to participate in quick, impromptu portraits.
You can pick a type of food or shoot a variety. Get up close and personal.
Letters or Numbers
These can be found on signs, buildings and various other places. Try to assemble the entire alphabet! For an even bigger challenge, you can also take photos of objects that begin with these letters instead.
Do some research in your local area, and see how many old signs from decades past remain in your area. Then, photograph the lot! If there aren’t enough locally, try capturing unique or interesting signs of any age.
This could include situational shots, vintage recreations, pinups…the possibilities are endless.
Homelessness, abuse, alcoholism, you name it.
Abstract and Conceptual
Here’s your chance to be a little heavy in the Photoshop department: Take a photo up close, and go a little nuts with post-processing. Alternately, you can take a picture of an “idea”; try to communicate this idea through nothing but a photo.
Pick one lens and use it exclusively; a 50mm is a good starting point, as it forces you to move around and be selective. A specialty lens such as a fisheye could also make an interesting theme.
Rough, smooth, serrated, bumpy, brick, wood, metal…there are tons of textures to capture out there. Shoot close and fill the frame.
Sunsets and Sunrises
Regardless of where you live, there are always opportunities for spectacular sunsets or sunrises. Collect several of the most dramatic.
My personal favorite. Instruments, concerts or even conceptual photos that invoke thoughts of music or other sounds.
Happiness, sadness, joy, envy…how many emotions can you capture with just a photo?
Pick a season such as winter or summer, and shoot photos that encapsulate the unique qualities of that season.
This doesn’t just mean water; it could be shiny metal or mirrors, among other things.
Sky and Clouds
Skyscapes can be dramatic and stormy or light and beautiful. Capture as big a variety as you can!
A challenging theme. Try capturing nothing but the shadow of your subject. This can be against a wall or on the ground, for example.
However uncomfortable it may be for many of us, self-portraits can be very helpful in opening up and exploring parts of photography we don’t normally find ourselves involved in. Mix it up and be creative with your surroundings and emotion.
There are many shapes to be found in nature, as well as in the man-made world. Try to collect as many as you can. You’ll be amazed to find how they’ve existed right in front of you all along.
Shoot an entire set of photos from one perspective, such as low to the ground, as a child would see, or from up high. The majority of our shots happen at eye level, and this is a great way to learn how to deviate from that.
Another challenging theme. Ensure you have the proper settings in place (checking for proper ISO, and a large enough aperture to allow for the minimal light), and create a set of night images, using only artificial light around you. Better yet, what can you capture in bright moonlight?
Historic buildings, famous landmarks, bridges, city skylines and old churches are all good places to start.
Create a theme based on your favorite holiday, be it Halloween, Christmas or something altogether different.
Once only frowned upon and instantly painted over, some graffiti artist have garnered national attention for their work and in some cities are revered for their talent. There is usually no shortage of this material as long as you live close to an urban area.
Pick one part of a building and replicate it elsewhere: Doors, windows, fences and chimneys are all possibilities.
Tattoos and Piercings
Another street project if you don’t have enough friends and family sporting tattoos. People with tattoos are often more than happy to talk to you about their origin and their meaning and usually don’t mind having them photographed.
Own a film camera? If you don’t, you’re missing out on one of the truly joyous aspects of photography, which is experiencing the way it was done in the beginning. If you haven’t already (and you really should have), you can pick up a very good SLR film camera for next to nothing. Of course, these exposures can be converted to scans for posting online.
Here’s your chance to abandon your DSLR altogether…who said you have to use your primary camera to create a themed project? Use your smartphone and Instagram or other mobile photo app to fade, vignette and colorize to your heart’s content.
Of course, this is only scratching the surface. There are literally thousands of subjects available for creating a photo project; you’re only limited by your imagination, as anything can become the focus point for a memorable theme.
Do you have a theme you’ve completed that you’re especially proud of? Thought of a crazy, off-the-wall theme idea we didn’t mention? You know what to do…post it in the comments section below. We’re waiting to see those awesome projects!
The new year is a great time to look at starting a photography project, though any time of the year has its merits. It’s always good to be involved in a project, this will give your photography a lot of focus. Working within the constraints of a defined creative photography project will also make you think out problems, and come up with innovative solutions. It’s great to go out photographing every weekend, you will find your level quickly plateaus if you do that. To push past that point it’s recommended you choose a project, and work through it to completion.
Learning a new technique such as the zoom burst makes for a great creative photography project.
Planning your creative photography project
As with anything in life, it’s important to make a plan. This is a big step towards being successful. There are a number of projects you could attempt, but before you do, think about the following points:
- Give yourself time. Keep in mind the amount of free time you have. Is it realistic for you to complete the project? There are some projects that take a real commitment of time, make sure you have a good plan in place if this is the type of project you decide to take on. Are there any important events in the next year such as a wedding or a house move that might make it difficult?
- Plan out all the details. If your project is a long term one, perhaps lasting a whole year, then make a plan for how you’ll achieve it. A 365 project is especially demanding as you need to take a photograph every day. Take the time to plan every day of the project if you can, and do this prior to starting the project.
- Allow for the unexpected. There will be times when you get sick, come home late, and your drive or motivation isn’t quite there. The plan you make for your project should include some easy days. Think of it as cooking ahead and having some frozen food in the fridge ready to reheat. In photography, there are always a number of photos that are very easy to take, but that nevertheless look striking. Have a number of the easier photos held back for the times you need a break.
12 creative photography projects to energize your work
Taking the advice above into consideration, you’re now ready to choose a project. As a year is 12 months, there are 12 project ideas to choose from. There is a mixture of projects, some you can do in a weekend, and some that will take all year. Take your pick, or choose more than one!
#1 – The 52-week project
This is a year-long project where you’re going to take one photograph per week. Taking on a year-long project is demanding, giving yourself a week to plan each shot will help. This type of project could simply be one photo a week, or you could customize it.
- You can have a monthly theme. This might be a month of portraits, one month of landscapes, one month of spring, and so on.
- A particular theme can be chosen for each week. The first week can be shadows, followed by camera rotation, with digital blending after that.
The 52-week project is a great one to choose as you can work on it on the weekends, and it allows some planned photographs to happen.
This photo is a result of a technique called digital blending. Using a 52-week project to learn one technique a week can do wonders for your progress.
#2 – 365-day projects
This is an intimidating project to take on, which is why many people go for the 52 week version listed above. Like a relationship you have to put a lot of time into, the reward for this is often worth it. The original 365-project was a self-portrait one, which made it even tougher to complete. A lot of people doing this now simply look to take one good photograph per day be that landscape, portrait, or macro. The following are a few ideas you might attempt.
- The self portrait 365 project, take a selfie every day for a year.
- What’s on your plate? Show the world by photographing your meal everyday.
- Life at sea, show the different aspects of sea life. This is a diverse project that can include seascapes, macro photos, fisherman, and underwater photography if you have the gear.
You eat everyday, so why not turn that into a 365 project?
#3 – One consistent theme
Keeping all your photographs channeled to just one theme can really focus your mind, though some themes can be more diverse than others. This creative photography project can easily be combined with a 365, or 52-week project, and below are just a few of the ideas possible.
- Concentrate on a technique. Produce photographs that only use a crystal ball, or are all infrared photographs.
- Use a topic for inspiration. Look at everyday objects and occurrences and photograph only Chinese food, for example. Another option is clothes, you could make a project on denim, or if you’re in Korea you could photograph hanbok.
- Photograph at the same time every day. Pick a time of the day and photograph at this time only. The time of 6 pm has many different types of light that will change throughout the year.
Concentrating on a theme, such as a country’s traditional clothes, can make a good project. In this photo all the women are wearing Korean hanbok.
# 4 – Limited yourself to 24 photos
Those that still photograph film will attest the need to really consider every photograph, and with 24 frames to play with that’s not much. The number of photographs you allow yourself is a personal choice, to make it meaningful keep to a smaller number. Using 24 is a nice number as it harks back to the days of film, and those holidays when you’d take two or three roles with you. To really emulate the feeling of shooting film with a digital camera try only allowing 24 photographs for one week, and no deleting! Now every time you hit the shutter you really need to know you’re photographing the best possible angle, learning to do this will improve your work.
#5 – A musical song or album
Delving into other mediums is a great way to come up with a cool creative photography project. A lot of people take the photo, and then make a title to go with it. A better approach for creativity is to know the title of your photograph before you take the photo. Now that you will have to plan the concept to fit the title of your shot, are you capable of the problem solving involved in this creative process?
Going to your favorite music album or song for the title of your photo can be a great project.
- The project could use an artist’s album titles.
- You could choose song titles, and turn them into photo titles.
- The lyrics in songs can often be poetic, and well suited to photographic concepts.
“The Passenger” is a famous song by Iggy pop. Song titles can be great inspiration for photographs.
#6 -Use only one lens
Like anything new when you first get it, you’ll use that thing all the time. Whether your lens is new or it’s been hanging around in your camera bag for a while, focusing in on just one lens is a great idea.
A really good lens to get started with on this project is the nifty 50, that fixed focal length will force you to consider composition more carefully. All the lenses you could choose for this will have their merits, try for the extreme though with a fisheye, tilt-shift or macro lens.
You get to choose one lens, which will be the one for you?
7 – Only use a Smartphone
Who says your creative photography project has to be hi-tech? There is a lot to be said for stripping your photography gear down to the basics, and your Smartphone is great for this.
Everyone knows Instagram, but apps such as isynchflash, autostitch, and slow shutter can give your phone dSLR-like functionality. There are external lenses as well, so the Smartphone can really have punch. This all said, the purest for this type of photography project will say only use the phone’s basic camera app, and see what you can do with composition, light, and moment of capture. You get to decide how you do it.
The best camera is the one you have, especially when the sky does this! An iPhone 4 was used to take this photo.
#8 – Find a story
Wherever you’re from, there will be a story to tell. The story you tell will differ depending on whether you live in the city, the country, a hot climate, or a cold one. Is the area where you live famous for any type of food? Are there any famous landmarks such as castles or temples nearby. How about an annual festival, the town fair could be a good opportunity.
Once you have settled on your story, approach it in the way you’d photograph for a magazine. This will give you invaluable experience at this type of photography. You never know when you’ll get a chance to photograph for a magazine, reading this article will help you organize the types of photographs you need to take.
It’s good to practice getting the different types of photos a magazine needs. That way when National Geographic comes knocking you’ll be ready.
#9 – Learn a totally new technique
Once you’re competent with your camera it’s easy to get into a comfort zone. The idea of learning a new technique is both exciting and intimidating. It’s also a real time commitment. There are not many creative photography projects more energizing than learning something brand new, though. Here are some exciting ideas to try:
- Digitial blending – This is a good technique to help improve both your landscape photography and your photoshop skills. There are aspects of this that are tough to master, but well worth it when you do.
- Crystal balls – The use of a glass ball as a type of external lens to refract an image is a lot of fun, find out more here. 7 Tips for Doing Crystal Ball Refraction Photography or How to Create Glass Ball Landscapes – 6 Techniques
- Light painting – This is a hot topic in photography, and a vast area to experiment with. Will you learn to take zoom bursts? How about making light orbs, or using a Pixelstick?
- Drone photography – Another type of photography that’s becoming increasingly popular. Invest in a drone, and get to the cutting edge of photography.
- Hyperlapse – Take a series of photos and turn them into a video, some of the most creative photography projects out there today use this technique.
- Off-camera flash – Many find using flash in their photography difficult to master. Take the time to get this kind of photography right and you’re going to go a long way.
Learning to use off camera flash will boost your creativity a lot.
#10 – Potluck photography party
Everyone’s been to a potluck party, they’re the ones where everyone brings along their own food. The collaborative nature of potluck parties makes them perfect for getting together with other photographers for your creative photography project.
The idea is a simple one. Working with others allows for a lot of creative potential. Everyone has their strengths, so use them! How do you organize a potluck photography party then? Each person can bring the following with them.
- A camera body and one camera lens.
- One prop or piece of camera equipment.
Those restraints mean you might only have one tripod in your group, or someone could bring an umbrella with them. Every event the available equipment will be different, offering different photography opportunities each time. Each participant should have the chance to work on their own photograph using the available equipment, so if the group is large consider dividing into smaller groups.
Photography collaborations are a really good way to improve your own work. They give you a chance to bounce ideas off others, which is never a bad idea.
#11 – A-Z photography list
This type of project can be a long or short term one, the aim is to photograph the alphabet. It’s an adaption of a language game where you make lists based on a theme such as animals or food. In this case, you don’t just write the list out, you photograph it as well! This is a fun game that could be used as an icebreaker for a new group of people meeting for the first
This is a fun game that could be used as an icebreaker for a new group of people meeting for the first time or just a way of collecting those letters in the alphabet over the long term.
K is for Kuala Lumpur. You could make your project about photographing places with an A-Z list.
#12 – A day in the life
A day in the life projects are good short ones to work on, and they last just one day! That doesn’t mean you have to stop there, though, as you could decide to do a series of different people. The project doesn’t even have to be about people, life is everywhere and could mean your pet, or the ecosystem of a tree. That said the best projects are those that are about people, and their lives. A day in the life that looks at different people’s professions is a great choice.
Following a person for a day and seeing their life can be a rewarding experience.
This girl was a chambermaid by day, and an apsara dancer in the evening.
Get started with your creative photography project!
There are many ideas on which to focus your photography, these 12 ideas are here to get you going on a creative photography project of your choice. One of the biggest hurdles is starting, so make that plan and then dive in!
There will be plenty of people reading this who have already tried out some of these ideas, we’d love to hear from you in the comments. What was your experience? Are you in the middle of a project right now? Are there other project ideas you’d like to share with everyone here? Let’s hear from you if intend to do a project, what project are you planning? Most importantly once you have finished a project share your results right here.