Summer Photo Project Ideas

Summer Fireworks

A summer photo project is a great way to keep the creative juices flowing and to keep your skills active.  Just like anything else, if you don’t practice your photography regularly, things can get rusty, so avoid the atrophy with these fun summer projects:

Summer Photo Project Idea 1 – Food!

Some foods are very stereotypical of summers, including hot dogs, bratwurst, watermelons, and salads (chicken salad, macaroni salad, potato salad, etc.)  Heck, even beer at a baseball game can make for some photo ops!  Try to come up with excuses to make the foods and then let your creativity whirl when capturing the images!  The best part is when you’re done shooting, your appetite is easily whetted and gratified!

Summer Food!
Beer cups at a baseball game make for a fun summer photo project

Summer Photo Project Idea 2 – Events!

Lots of fun themes surround summer – school letting out, graduation, independence, traveling, sunny beaches, fireworks, etc.  Pick a theme and look for ways to capture images of your own.  Obviously some will be more time sensitive (are you ready for July 4th fireworks?), so plan your timeline accordingly.

Summer Fireworks
Fireworks are a quintessentially fun summer photo project!

Summer Photo Project Idea 3 – Sunrises and Sunsets!

Yes, they are the intrepid photos we see all the time from all the world over, but every one is different, and every photo can tell a unique story, so stay out late one night or get up early one morning and find out where these classic shots can best be had in your area.  The nice thing about doing this during summer is that you don’t have to get up as early, and for the latter, you can usually wait until after dinner for your photo excursions – long days of summer give us extended times to approach the classic shots!

Summer Sunrise
Sunrise at Folly Beach SC – sunrises and sunsets make for excellent and inspirational summer photo projects!

Conclusion

In conclusion, having a project or theme to drive your creative vision is just one trick in the photographic tool bag. I’ve just given you three ideas for summer photo projects. But, of course, that’s not a corner on the market of creative fun summer photo project ideas. That said, you likely know where I’m going from here! What ideas do you have for summer photo projects?  Share your own experiences and thoughts in the comments!

Consuming Versus Creating Content

Swimming Duckling

Let’s face it: we have a lot to keep up on these days.  On top of managing our own social media footprints, there are magazines to read, forums to attend to (building and engaging with your own community of colleagues and friends), gear reviews, software tutorials, tech conferences, and then of course all the other life activities like laundry, cooking, cleaning, and all that other fun stuff that takes all of our time away from what we really enjoy doing:  creating content!  So, which is more important: consuming or creating content?

But if you look at all the other stuff that goes on instead of creating content, what it boils down to is that we spend most of our time consuming content versus creating content.  Thus begins the debate over how much time should be spent on consumption versus creation.  It’s a question creative ask themselves all the time:  “why does it seem I spend only X% of my time creating and Y% doing other stuff?”

The answer to the question of consuming versus creating content can be traced to a root “problem”: we are always learning.  Anyone who stands up and says they know everything about any subject is feeding you a polished pile of…well, you get the idea!  I contend that we are always learning (consuming content).  If you are reading a magazine, you are learning new material.  If you are perusing another artists portfolio (yes, even your friends), you are learning about what inspires others (and may in turn inspire yourself).  Watching tutorials?  Yep, that’s learning new tips and tricks too!  Notice a trend here?  Hopefully by now you see that consumption is just another word for learning!

So, never be afraid of saying that you are consuming more than you are creating – consuming is just a fancy word for learning, and learning is good!  What are you consuming today?

Swimming Duckling

Editor Note:  I wrote this several years ago, but it seems particularly salient lately as I have been creating much less than I have been historically.  I've been in more of a consumption mode lately, which means I am reading a lot, listening to other podcasts, and much more.  While that means the blog here has languished, it has given me a bit of time off to rekindle my own creative juices - which are definitely now brimming with ideas.  Suffice to say, I believe some new content may be forthcoming!

Spark Your Creativity and Take Time to Play

Laughing

Ever feel like your creativity is  at a standstill?  Something got it on hold?  The common belief is that creative or mental blocks come from trying too hard to actually be creative.  So, how can we stop trying to hard?  It’s not that we should stop trying per se. It’s more that we need to stop trying to make every image a powerful image.  Being playful often starts with just laughing at yourself.  Seriously…laugh at yourself.  Do something stupid or silly.  That becomes infectious and can move you forward to play, which in turn will spark your creativity!.

In being playful with your work, it’s often even more helpful to put down the tripods, and SLR’s.  Put down the lenses and filters. Put down the soft boxes and fill flashes.  Being playful means letting go of the “rules” of photography.  I’m reading David DuChemin’s book, The Inspired Eye and in it, he speaks to this idea that that inspiration can come from play.

Some ideas from David include taking a day and try taking pictures whenever the mood hits.  Even if you are shooting through wet glass, or in a moving car.  Take a picture with your focus ring taped down.  The softness from the out of focus shot can force you to look at something more generic like the lines and energy of a scene.  It really is inspired capture that David is going for here, and that can definitely come from play.

One of my favorite images from my own library is a niece – I was literally playing.  I wasn’t expecting anything great, or show-stopper quality.  Just goofing around.  I was laughing and being silly, and so was she.  I took the camera to ridiculous angles, knowing it wouldn’t work (or so I thought).  Just goes to show you the power of play in photography:

Laughing

The upshot?  Take time to play – only good things can come from it!