There is something special about long-term projects, and something poignant. One such project I recently discovered moved me deeply, and I am honored to share it here with you. Photographer Deanna Dikeman spent 27 years photographing her parents as they waved her goodbye after her visits. It sounds simple, but these photos tell a story that makes a strong impact. A story about aging, love, family… and about how hard it is to say goodbye.
Shooting Street Photography without a project is like food shopping when you’re hungry. You might get a few nice treats, but ultimately you get back and find there is nothing to sustain you.
So, if you’ve ever been out shooting street photography and found yourself uninspired, demotivated by not finding new material, or just not knowing what it is you’re looking for, I have the perfect solution for you – personal projects.
I’m a full-time photographer, I take photos for a living. It’s my main source of income. Its how I pay the rent, keep the lights on and put food on the table. The problem when you work for money, specifically when you get paid for your photography, is that you are no longer in full control.
My daily stroll through the newly built but already decaying park near my apartment in Hanoi listening to Spotify on a brisk (by SE Asia standards) morning has me in deep thought. We only get this type of weather for a couple months a year here and I absolutely love it. I grew up in New England and this is the temperature I was built for, I truly am a different person. I’m smarter, more motivated, and dare I say a deeper man when I’m able to wear long pants and a sweatshirt.
[Editor’s note: some viewers may find the images in the article disturbing, so please proceed with caution]
Photography has always held a weird space in my head. In my mind, I make things that look neat. I have always held great envy to those who create such complex, emotional narratives to their images. I sit and observe with awe and wonder at the tales that come from them, their reasons for color, pose, and other infinitesimal details. Pixels for me are a means to an end, but it’s still something I can’t help but create. It’s how I tell *a* story, but it’s not how I tell my own.
The appearance of social networks has undoubtedly redefined the notion of friendship. Maine-based photographer Tanja Alexia Hollander decided to get something more from her Facebook friends than just the photos they share online. She set out to photograph all of them in their homes, no matter where they are.
There are 626 people on Tanja’s friends list, and since 2011, she’s been traveling all over the globe to get to know them. She’s been meeting her Facebook friends in person, taking photos of them and sharing real life experience rather than virtual one.
Having a personal project to work on is a great discipline for every photographer, professional or amateur. We all get stuck at times on what to photograph and can fall into ruts where our creative drive struggles to get any traction. Being committed to a personal photography project will help us develop our vision, creativity, and technical skills.
“Describe heroin, what’s it like?” he asked Wendy.
“Oh it’s euphoric, it solves all your problems… Except it kills you.
Sometime around 1994, Australian television personality Andrew Denton conducted an interview with Wendy Whiteley, widow of the Australian artist Brett Whiteley. Both Wendy and her late husband had a very well documented addiction to heroin.
The analogy stands. Plastic is a convenience that solves a lot of our short-term problems. Except it is starting to choke us.
In December 2016, I walked across the road for a swim in the sea. It was school holidays and the beaches were packed with families, tourists and locals alike. I saw a group of about 15 children with their parents and friends laughing and playing in a section of beach they’d roped off. They had a collection of buckets filled with small water-balloons that were being ferried over to the kids from the closest tap at the surf club, so the kids could have a water balloon fight right there on the sand.
There is nobody more important to photograph than our loved ones.
1. Why travel to photograph?
Why is it that we always try to photograph the exotic?
For example, it is more interesting to photograph a villager in some African tribe, than to photograph our partner.
It is more interesting to photograph a Parisian couple at a cafe drinking espressos, rather than to photograph our mother or father.
It is more interesting to photograph an epic sunset, rather than photograph our children, our friends, or ourselves.
I feel one of the best ways to stay inspired and motivated with your photography is to focus on a project. To take lots of random photos of anything and everything often leads to a body of work that is cluttered, un-focused, and uninteresting.
In this article I will share some of my personal thoughts on how you can create your own photography project idea.