Personal Projects. The amount of passion I have for those two words is a little insane, but I feel like they get over looked ALL OF THE TIME. Personal Projects are where the learning and growing happens, if you don’t make space for them you’ll inevitably fall into a creative rut filled wasteland wondering why in the world you aren’t creating work that you love. Personal work is the core of your passion, this is the work that you would jump out of bed for, can’t stop thinking about all day and wake up in the night to make notes about.
Now before you throw yourself on your bed overwhelmed at the idea of starting a project that will inevitably take over your whole life (no? Is that just my nine year old daughter?) allow me to let you in on a little secret: you are the master of your own project. You are the boss, you get to decide what you study, for how long and to what end. It could be something you chase and build a portfolio for a few years or it could be a small project you can complete in a few weeks. The good news is you have the control, no one else is calling the shots but you.
Throw caution to the wind and explore something that has always scared you, or something that interests the hell out of you so that when you come out of it you have a new skill to present to potential clients, or a new set of images that are now priceless to you.
Below are a few ideas to get your brain going on projects you could jump into, hopefully they inspire you to get shooting!
Share one roll of film with another photographer and create a shared double exposure roll. Try this out with a friend and see what comes out of it! Inspired by this amazing People vs. Places project: http://peoplevsplaces.tumblr.com/
2. Shoot one roll of film every month and don’t develop it. At the end of the year develop all 12 rolls at the same time and look at your year like a film time capsule. Sure it might require allll of the self control you have but doesn’t it sound awesome?? Check out this article if you’d like to learn more about why waiting to have your film processed is a good practice, I think it’s fascinating: http://erickimphotography.com/blog/2015/03/23/what-i-learned-processing-164-rolls-of-film-after-waiting-a-year/
3. Try focusing on double exposures and how many different & unique images you can make with them. Throw yourself into it, make a goal of a certain number of rolls per week to really dig in. Double exposures are one of the best ways you can express yourself uniquely as an artist on film and there’s nothing so satisfying when you make one that sets your soul on fire.
4. Learn to develop your own black and white film. It’s really not that difficult, check out this 8 minute crash course by Ilford if you’re feeling the itch to try it out: https://petapixel.com/2018/02/28/process-bw-film-home-8-minute-crash-course-ilford/
5. Shoot through one disposable camera a month focusing on light and how you can make good photographs without great glass. Nothing will test you more than being without setting control and a good lens, see what you can make with a dinky little camera like a disposable. Embrace the grittiness and imperfections and check out this series “disposable cities” to get inspired and see just how many interesting images you can make with them: http://www.annettewilson.com/disposable-cities-ii/
6. Go on a trip and shoot nothing but film. It is such a freeing experience to shoot nothing but film on vacation and you owe it to yourself to give it a shot (ha, no pun intended).
7. Think of a dozen different long/movement exposures you could make and experiment with them on film. There’s something about the way film handles slow shutter speeds and movement, just think of a few ideas and allow yourself to play, you may come up with some of your favorite images.
8. Photograph an event, person or place that means something to you. Shooting something that is meaningful to you on film will force you to be intentional, to think before hand what it is you want to say with your images and to be in the moment instead of always checking the back of your camera.
9. Shoot one black and white roll once a week. I did this for two months a few years ago, Sundays are our deliciously slow days and so I’d shoot a roll of black and white on my TLR to document our life on my favorite day of the week. I love those images, you should try it.
10. Shoot one self portrait once a week. As the photographer we forget to be included in the photographs ourselves.. I’ve always been drawn to photographer’s self portraits, especially the unique and creative ones - who says a shadow can’t count as a self portrait?? Here’s a link to a pinterest board I put together (spoiler alert: there are a lot of Vivian Maier cuz I am obsessssed) that will hopefully inspire you to make some of your own: https://www.pinterest.com/melesemiller/self-portraits/