Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

16 Photography Project Ideas to keep you shooting every day!

Jan 21 2011

Taking a photo everyday can be a daunting task, but as I look back over the last 20 days worth of shots I’ve taken for my Mostly365 challenge I am really proud of the results. To keep everyone inspired I’m giving you 16 photo project suggestions for your 365!

1. Self portraits

Day 15: Selfie + 5DMKII
50 f/1.4, 1/30 @ f/2.8, ISO 640.

Give people a glimpse at the artist behind the camera and take a self-portrait. You can do a classic camera-in-hand mirror snap like mine, or get creative and put your camera on a tripod, set a timer, and run in a wheat field. There are so many options for creative shots and the best thing about you being the model is you can take your shot whenever you like and take as long as you want snapping it!

2. Moon shots

Day 17: I have a dream... Moon over the Bay Bridge, San Francisco
Bay Bridge, SF. 5DMKII+ 100mm f/2.8 L, 1/40 at f/8.0, ISO 500.

There are many faces of the moon and almost all of them make for spectacular photos. If you happen to own a long or telephoto lens put it to good use and grab some stunning shots. If not, consider renting one for your dSLR and go on a special nighttime shoot and capture both the moon and stars. You can even share the rental cost between friends and make a fun night of it.

You’d also be surprised at the shots you can get with your camera phone. Just make sure you prop your phone on something stable while you take your shot.

3. Nature Macros

Dew drops on grass.

There is so much beauty out there — leaves in puddles, dew drops on grass, snowflakes on tree branches. Head outside and capture all the little details of nature. Try shooting with a really shallow depth of field (f/2 and lower) to get dreamy artistic shots.

4. Portraits

*i found you*
5DMKII, 85mm f/1.8, 1/200 @ f/2.8, ISO 100.

I am most passionate about taking portraits. From candid street photos shots, to strobe light lit creatives, to magic hour back lit shots, the possibilities are endless. The only problem is you need a subject. If you are blessed with an understanding and patient partner or family member, start practicing taking portraits of them. If you are feeling a bit more bold, you can always head out on the street and try to get some candids of people walking by or even ask strangers to pose for you.

If you are looking to photograph the attractive sort then you can try finding a model through (more tips on photographinc  models here) or pester some of your good-lookin’ Facebook friends. Almost everyone wants a great Facebook profile shots, so offer to give them a nice shot for their time. More tips on taking great portraits.

5. Fun Macros

Day 13: Mini Michael Bay Movie Still
5DMKII+100 f/2.8, 1/200 at f/4.5, ISO 125 + 430EX  double CTO gel.

During bad weather days, dig around in your house for a fun little toy, keepsake or gadget to snap. You can light your subject with strobes to get a bit more creative, or just position your toy in front of a large day lit window and get great natural light.

6. Musical Performances

Day 1: Florence + the Machine NYE at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas
Florence + the Machine NYE at the Cosmopolitan, 1/60 at f/3.2, ISO 1600.

Every time you are out at a show grab a shot. Taking photos at concerts was actually how I started working as a photographer and all I had was my little Canon Rebel Xti and the 50mm f/1.4. Often, you aren’t able to bring dSLRs into concerts, so make sure you can before you head out. If you aren’t allowed to bring your gear,  try to grab a shot with your camera phone or small point and shoot.

7. Your City’s Landmarks through the Seasons

Day 18: San Francisco Union Square Heart
Union Square heart, SF. 16-35mm, 1/80 at f/4.0, ISO 4000

Every city has it’s famous landmarks. Set a goal to capture 10 of most interesting over the course of the year, and take a shot of each landmark during the 4 seasons. Imagine a a collection of shots of the same statue during fall, winter, spring and summer seasons. For more variation, you can take a shot during the day, night or sunrise and sunset. It’s always good to have your camera on you whenever you go out in your city, so that if you see a good lighting situation you can grab a quick shot!

8. Bokeh shots

Day 3- Snap!

Bokeh shots are always fun to shoot whether you set up little lights behind your subject like I did here or just use what’s in your environment. This is another great project for a rainy day. You can also get great bokeh with street or building lights at night.

9. Architecture & Building shots

Gorgeous Interior of The Plaza Hotel, NYC
The Plaza Hotel, NYC. 5DMKII, 16-35mm f/2.8, 1/125 at f/3.2, ISO 4000.

Head to your local museum, parliament building, or city sites with interesting architecture. A wide angle lens from 15mm to 35mm is ideal for this type of photography. Most kit lenses fit the bill. Obviously a really wide angle like the 16-35mm or even a fish-eye yield the most interesting results. But, if you don’t have a wide angle lens, then focus on capturing the details. Close-ups of pillars, doorways, or statues can make cool shots.

10. Landscapes

Oxbow Bend foggy at dawn, Grand Tetons
Oxbow Bend, Grand Tetons. Xti, 7s at f/, ISO 100.

If you live near nature or are taking a trip out of the city then make sure you take some shots of breathtaking landscapes. Old roads winding through snowy fields, mountains jutting up into cloudy skies, or majestic trees lining a sunken vallies all make great photos. Pay attention to your composition and look for “S” shapes in rivers, paths, and rocks.

11. Raindrops on windows

Rainy day in SF, iPhone4 processed with Camera+.

Raindrops on windows make really cool and interesting shots. You can get really creative with these shots so really stretch your imagination and see what you can create.

12. Food Photos

Ginger & Polenta Waffles

It may be slightly annoying to your friends and family, but snap a shot of your food before you eat it, especially fancy foods and deserts. Mmm. Chocolates :) Try to light your shots, either by placing the food in front of a nice bright window, or with speed lights if you have them, or just turn on some ambient light and use a nice low aperture lens like the 50mm f/1.4. If you are in a really dark restaurant you can also try moving the candle light close to your food to get a bit more light.

13. Pet Portraits

Leo's Ozzie
Leo’s Ozzie, Xti, 1/100 at f/4.0, ISO 100.

Pets are often easier to shoot than most people. Plus, they whine less and can be bribed with snacks. Here are some tips to get great pet photos.

14. Sports & Action shots

Felions at BC Place
CFL Felions, 5DMKII, 15mm f/2.8, 1/25, f/5.6, IS0 320.

Whether you are at at a World Series showdown or a little league game, there are amazing sports photos just waiting to be taken. Freeze the action with a fast shutter speed and a long telephoto, take a tilt-shift of the entire stadium, or snap a fish-eye shot of the distracting cheerleaders at the game like I did :P If you can’t make it to the Superbowl, head to a local sporting event or even down the street to the nearest park. I’m sure you can find some impromptu soccer match for some great action shots.

15. Sunsets

iPhone 4, edited in Camera+.

From cityscapes to silhouetted figures in front of a sandy horizon line, everything looks magical at sunset. What’s great about sunsets is that every camera can capture the magic . I shot the above photo with my iPhone. :)

16. Night shots

My Birthday Night view of Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
Golden Gate, 16-35mm, 10s @ f5.0, 1SO 100.

Grab your tripod and shutter release and head out into the night to take some stunning night photos. Take long 15s exposures of cars whizzing by creating trails of light, or ghost-like movement of people walking by dark buildings, or bright neon city signs. If you plan on doing regular night photography, you might want to invest in a small headlamp or LED flashlight to hemp you find your camera buttons in the dark.

Hope that this list helps keep you motivated and inspired to keep snapping a daily photo. Not every photo has to be a masterpiece. Remember to take photos that remind you of your daily life and the little things that make you smile.

If you haven’t already joined my Mostly365 project feel free to jump in anytime! I can’t tell you how happy I am to see your shots everyday. Getting a glimpse into the lives of so many photographers from all over the world is a wonderful thing!

I am also tweeting daily suggestions and showcasing some of the best 365 shots each day, so be sure to follow Mostly365 on Twitter.

Mostly365: Share a photo with the world every day!

Jan 1 2011

It takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in a field, and in the world of photography that roughly translates to about 100 pictures a day for about 5 years. It sounds daunting, but if you keep it light, stay passionate, and shoot what you love to shoot, you’ll look back one day soon at an incredible portfolio of work that is all you.

This year, I am encouraging everyone to shoot and share one photo a day for 365 days. To help you with this challenge, tap tap tap and I have created — a new website where you share your daily photos with the world with one tweet.

1. Take a Photo

Snap a pic with any camera that you have access to. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a state-of-the-art dSLR, your cell phone camera, or $10 toy camera, the important thing is that you start taking more pics!

2. Share it

Post your pic to one of the many sharing sites and tweet it using the #mostly365 hashtag. Here’s the big list of all the services we support:

You can even just tweet with a link to a .jpg image.

Two years ago I started a 365 project on Flickr and after less than 2 weeks I abandoned it. I felt overwhelmed with having to take a photo everyday and didn’t want to share pictures that weren’t “amazing” in my eyes. What I’ve learnt over the last two years is that every photo you take, good or bad, is a stepping stone to becoming a great photographer.

The beautiful thing about photography these days is that anyone can access the tools to take great photos. You don’t need professional photography gear or school-taught knowledge to capture life’s beauty. All you need is the passion to get out and capture life with through your lens and the courage to share it with the world.

I want to be a fun and inspirational place where you can share your photos, stay motivated to keep shooting, and connect with other enthusiastic shutterbugs. The most important thing is to have fun! If you miss a day, don’t get down on yourself, that’s why we call it Mostly365 ;)

Follow Mostly365 on Twitter.
Join the Mostly365 Group on Flickr.
Join the Mostly365 Group on Facebook.

8 Things to Inspire You to Keep Shooting & Sharing Your Photography

Aug 5 2010

Barry the Cowboy & Jesse the horse

I shot this image of a silhouetted cowboy and a horse at sunset over a year ago. At the time thought is was kind of cool, so I shared it on Flickr. A year later, I received an email from Penguin saying they’d found my image on Flickr and would like to use it for the cover of a new book! Yesterday, a cheque in the mail arrived. It’s my very first book cover!

What shocked me was that somebody actually paid me real money for a experimental shot that I took for fun and for free. I wanted to share this story with you because it really hammered home some really important points about the nature of the photography business in this new digital and social age and all the things that are possible for someone with no training, little money, and a strong passion for taking great photos.

  1. You can get great shots with any camera: I shot this with my trusty Canon Rebel Xti (400D) with a basic kit lens. The quality was good enough to print. Never let your gear limit you, instead learn to master what you’ve got and try to the best possible images you can.
  2. Even iPhone shots are good enough to print: We are seeing more and more publications accept images shot with an iPhone. The most recent MacWorld Cover was shot with an iPhone 4. F-Stoppers shot an entire fashion shoot with a 3GS. Additionally, when I was reporting on the 2010 Olympics for the Vancouver newspaper, The Province, they posted an iPhone 3G photo taken of me and a very large fry on the front page of the paper. They continued to use my iPhone shots in the paper many times.
  3. The more you shoot, the more you learn, the better you get: I feel like I’ve come a long way since that cowboy shoot and if it weren’t for that photo session and the many sessions after that, I wouldn’t be able to take the shots I take now. I honestly didn’t have a clue how to do anything technical when I started out. I often made big mistakes and took crummy photos. Instead of feeling bad when you take a poor photo, analyze it and try to figure out why it’s poor and how you can improve your skills for next time.
  4. Most learning happens by “just doing it”: I haven’t taken a single photography class or read a photography related book cover to cover. I learnt everything I know by doing and doing until I got it right. When I couldn’t figure something out something technical, I’d call other photographers, connect on Flickr, or dive into Strobist for a week.
  5. Other photographers are your greatest allies: Whenever I meet another photographer like Ken (pictured on left) and Scott (right), I completely barrage them with questions about gear, lighting, techniques, etc. I find most photographers are completely open to sharing information and are wonderful shoulders to cry on when you are lacking inspiration. You can meet tons of photogs on Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook. Share your ideas, go for photo walks and garner inspiration from them.
  6. Believe in yourself and your photographic abilities: We all have bad days, unproductive days, but it’s the people that keep plodding through the difficult times that end up succeeding. I’m very hard on myself and my photography, and sometimes I’ve completely abandoned it for months because I didn’t feel like my shots were good enough. Now, if I’m having a bad day with my 5DMKII, I’ll switch things up and shoot with my iPhone. I find by taking the pressure off and just shooting for fun, I can overcome a lot of my self-critical negativity. At the end of the day, we shoot because we love photography, not to create perfect images.
  7. Share your photos: If I hadn’t uploaded that cowboy photo to Flickr, Penguin would have never found it. It’s that simple. The greater distribution your photos have, the more people will see them and the greater opportunities you have to publish or sell your images. So start sharing your shots! Plus, it really helps to have others both praise and criticize your work.
  8. You can make money with your photography: It’s not easy, but it’s definitely within your grasp. I did it with no training, just hard work and perseverance and so can you! I’m going to do an expanded post on this topic soon, because I know what a battle it is to get paid for professional photography work when everyone’s Uncle Jim considers themselves a Pro photographer.

Until then start with Step One: Get out and shoot. Step Two: Share your photos! I want to see everyone posting pictures on Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, Tumblr & their blogs. Can’t wait to see your shots!!

Looking for inspiration

Oct 25 2009

*inspire me*
5DMKII + 85mm f/1.8

I feel like my creativity died with the summer sun. Dull days, rain & all that other work I do to make money have kept me from shooting. I’m mad at myself for letting my photography slowly slip away in the last while.

Other than having to pay the rent and buy food, the main reason that I haven’t been taking photos is that I feel such a pressure to produce “perfect” images. I’ve set a high bar for myself and when I don’t reach it technically or emotionally, I feel let down and oddly self-conscious about my work.

This photo, for instance, is blown out in the centre and the bottom is too dark. I’ve played around with it in Photoshop on and off for a while now, but never felt it was good enough. I have hundreds of images just like this that I’ve worked on and deemed inadequate to post. This has started a vicious cycle that ends up actually affecting my creative process, if not completely destroying it.

What we all need to remember is making mistakes makes you a better photographer. By exploring techniques you haven’t mastered and shooting creatively you learn how you how to use your camera, how to perfect exposure, how to deal with light, how to compose… on and on.

Nobody wants to take bad photos, but everyone does, even professionals. Allowing yourself the freedom to take creative risks and learn from them is one of the best things you can do.

Today I thought to myself, “Just post the sunset shot.” It’s a nice shot of an amazing sunset and landscape. Not my best photo ever, but I like it. The most important point was the fact that this photo meant something to me. And ultimately the most important thing.

If you are in the same boat, remember:

Let yourself make mistakes. Lots of them. Break the rules & Believe in your work.

Now it’s time to take my own advice!