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52 photography projects: a great technique to try every week of the year

TechRadar logo TechRadar 1/7/2022 Chris Rowlands
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Looking for photography projects to stimulate your creativity? Whether you’re a beginner who’s just learning the ropes or a seasoned snapper in need of inspiration, trying out a new technique can help you grow as a photographer. That’s why the list below features our pick of the best ideas to try with your camera.

From painting with light trails to capturing twilight landscapes, there are countless creative ways to use your camera and its lens. This round-up of our favorite weekend projects features suggestions to suit every skill level – whether you’re shooting with a smartphone or a ‘proper’ camera like a DSLR.

Some you can do from the comfort of you home, while others will have you heading out in search of specific scenes. Whether it’s a novel technique or an inventive suggestion for finding fresh subjects, every idea below has one thing in common: it should challenge you to try something different and find a fresh perspective.

Most of the projects can be attempted using the equipment you already own. Those that do require additional materials should all be achievable with pocket-money purchases – and if there’s any crafting involved, it should be well worth the effort when you see the results.

We’ve shared 52 of our favorite suggestions to do in 2022 below. Try them all and, in a year’s time, there’s a good chance you’ll be a better photographer, with a keener understanding of your camera and what it’s capable of. Plus you’ll be all set to attempt the final project: self-publishing a photo book.

The best home photography projects:

1. Water drop art

The basic idea with this project is to suspend a container of liquid and let drops fall through a small hole, then capture the resulting splash. Timing the shutter as the splash is created is everything. We achieved good results using two flashguns set to their lowest power (1/128th), an aperture of f/22 and water mixed with Xanthan gum to make a more viscous solution. We also used a SplashArt water drop kit from PhotoTrigger, which helped to regulate the size and frequency of the drops.

2. Indoor splash shots

For this project you'll need a flashgun that you can fire remotely, a container with clear sides for your water, a coloured background and a tripod. Set up the container and backdrop, then position the flash over the container. With the camera on a tripod and set to manual focus and exposure - f/8, ISO200 and the fastest shutter speed that will work with your flash - drop the object into the water and fire the shutter as it hits.

3. Shapes of bokeh

Out-of-focus orbs of light can add magic to any image, but the bokeh effect needn’t be limited to standard circles. From love hearts to stars, a simple cutout filter can transform background sparkles into brilliant shapes. 

Using your lens cap as a guide, draw a circle on a piece of card. Cut out the circle, score a small shape in the centre using scissors or a craft knife, then push the card onto the front of your lens (or attach it with an elastic band). When you next shoot a scene, any unfocused light will take the form of your shape. 

Use a wide aperture to maximize the effect and remember that, as the filter restricts the amount of light entering your lens, you’ll want to set a longer exposure or higher ISO. Try simple shapes such as triangles to get started, before progressing to stars, hearts, crosses and more.

4. Create smoke art

Smoke trails are a firm favourite among still-life photographers. But how about taking it to the next level and using the shapes in a creative Photoshop project. Once you've taken a few good smoke art photos, make a blank document in Photoshop, then copy and paste one of the smoke images into it. Set the blending mode to Screen and use Warp Transform to reshape it. Continue the process to combine a range of smoke shots into a new image.

5. DIY lightbox

Lightboxes are used to illuminate objects evenly against a plain background, often for the purposes of product or food photography. Luckily, you don’t have to have a pro budget to make one at home. All you need is a cardboard box, some white paper and a table lamp. 

Remove the top flaps, stand the box on one end and cut window holes in either side. Line the box with a single, seamless piece of white paper and cover the holes with thin paper or fabric, taped in place. Then it’s as simple as positioning a desk lamp on one or both sides: the paper will diffuse the light, evenly illuminating whatever object you put inside. 

Or for an even simpler setup, use a single piece of paper as the backdrop, with one white wall made from card, and position near a window (as pictured). Experiment with aperture and shutter speed to shoot subjects with totally white backgrounds or some shadow for a sense of perspective. Then mix things up with color backgrounds. If the quality is high enough, you could list your images for sale on a stock photography website to earn some lockdown pocket money.

6. Lubricate your lens

Want to give your housebound portraits added glow? If you have a spare lens filter lying around, try an old Hollywood trick: smear a layer of Vaseline on the glass to give your images a soft, dreamy look, keeping aperture wide to emphasize the ethereal effect with a shallow depth of field. 

Get experimental by leaving the middle of the filter free from Vaseline to create a halo effect, with the centre in clear focus but the outer elements blurry and soft. Don’t want to sacrifice a filter? Stretch cling-film tight across the lens and keep it in place with an elastic band, before using the Vaseline in the same way. If you’re not into portraits, try the effect when shooting a light source for a unique style of diffusion.

7. Make your own filters

It’s no secret that color is a major element of any image, but you don’t need expensive filters or editing software to experiment with saturation. In fact, you don’t even need to leave your home: all manner of household objects can function as color filters to bring new hues to your photography – and to transform mundane moments into brighter snaps. 

Attach tissue paper to your lens with an elastic band for an instant change of scene, or try shooting through thin fabric with a light source placed behind. Too easy? Take a snap through a laundry capsule for a liquid tone adjustment or use a whisky bottle for sepia shades with a hint of distortion. Petals are pretty effective, too, as are translucent sweet wrappers.

8. Try cross-polarization

This fun project exploits the effect that polarised light has on some plastics. You'll need two polarising filters - ideally one of these should be a sheet of polarising film. You can pick up an A4 sheet of Lee 239 polarising film for £50 (try or The sheet of film should be placed on a lightbox or in front of the only light source. An iPad screen and most computer screens have a polarising filter built in, so if you don't have a sheet of polarising film you can always experiment by creating a white document to fill the screen. Simply attach the circular polariser to the camera lens and rotate it to make the colours appear in clear plastic items

9. Food landscapes

Spice up your food photography! All you need is a set of model figures - Hornby 00 gauge figures are perfect, as they're available in a wide range of poses. Preiser has a great range too. The most important aspect is to establish a sense of narrative. Here you can see that there's a conversation between the characters, with the mountaineer on the 'mash face' being helped by his colleagues on the ground.

10. Fine-art food

Try turning your dinner ingredients into photo art using just a lightbox and a very sharp knife. Slice fruit and vegetables as thinly and evenly as possible, then place them on the lightbox. With the camera positioned directly above, use Live View to focus manually on the details. Set an aperture of f/8 to give adequate depth of field, and dial in some exposure compensation of +1 to +3 stops as the bright light can fool the camera's meter into underexposure.

11. Flowers in ice

A relatively inexpensive way of taking 'kitchen sink' close-ups that look great blown up as wall art. Freeze flowers in plastic containers of distilled or de-ionised water (available through your local auto or hardware store). The flowers will float, so try to weigh them down or fasten them in place so that they freeze under the water. Place the block of ice on top of a clear bowl or glass in a white sink or plate, so that the light can bounce through from below. Position a flashgun off to one side, angled down towards it, and shoot from the opposite side.

12. Abstracts in oil

Oil floating on the surface of water is a great way to make striking abstracts. This table-top photo project exploits the refractive quality of oil and bubbles to accentuate and distort colours. All you need to do is place a few drops of cooking oil on the surface of water in a glass dish. Make sure the dish is supported about 25cm about the table top, then place coloured paper under it and use an anglepoise lamp or flashgun to light the paper.

13. Play with fire

It doesn’t take a pyromaniac to see the photographic potential of fire, but it does take patience, skill and plenty of precautionary measures to capture a stunning action shot of a match igniting. If you’d rather not risk singeing your fingertips, try a different type of flame photography.

Shooting by candlelight alone can lead to magical results. As with any single source of light, it allows you to experiment extensively with shadows – especially if you’re capturing a portrait – while the soft, warm tone and flicker of the flame both contribute to an especially ethereal effect.

In a darkened room, try shooting with a medium-high ISO and a relatively slow shutter speed. Start with just a candle and your subject, before introducing additional elements and playing with positioning. A nearby wall, for example, will throw the candlelight back in different ways, while glass will add to the magic with fiery reflections

Tweak shutter speed to affect the strength of shadows or try adding further flames – though you might need to adjust the white balance if things look more yellow than mellow.

14. Repaint the walls with camera obscura

Familiar with pinhole photography? That technique relies on camera obscura – a natural optical effect that occurs when a small hole in an otherwise sealed space (such as a box) projects an inverted image of the world outside onto the opposite wall. You could make a pinhole camera as an at-home project, or you could go even bigger: with the right setup, you can create the camera obscura phenomenon in an entire room. 

First, you’ll need to black out a room – for example, by taping opaque sheets over your windows. Then you’ll need to make an aperture through which light can enter; the smaller the hole, the sharper but dimmer the image. Camera obscura works best in small/medium rooms, with an aperture of around 10-15mm diameter. Allow your eyes to adjust and determine whether you need to brighten the image by making a larger hole, then marvel as an inverted version of the outside world appears on the wall. 

Capture the entirety of this remarkable natural effect using a wide angle, a relatively long exposure and a tripod, or focus on specific elements of your room to emphasis the effect – such as houses appearing to float upside down on your mantelpiece.

15. Camera tossing

Chucking your precious photographic equipment into the air might sound like something designed to void the warranty, but – provided you’re not too clumsy – camera tossing can deliver some truly spectacular results. Try it in a dark room with a single light source. Set a shutter speed of around one second (roughly the length of time it’ll be in the air) and, as the timer hits zero, launch it upwards. Catching it is the important part, but once you’re comfortable with the technique you can experiment with multiple light sources, different colors and even spinning your camera as you release it.

16. Psychedelic soap film

This is a wonderful project that makes for vibrant desktop wallpaper or abstract wall art. You'll need liquid soap mixed with glycerine for long-lasting soap film, plus a wire loop, a black cloth background and a macro lens of at least 100mm. The colours created by soap film only appear when hit by light from a certain angle, so set up near a north-facing window and shoot from around 45 degrees.

17. Refractive art

Light bends when it passes through water, causing the objects behind to change appearance. This is called refraction, and you'll make use of this phenomenon in this arty photo project. All you need is a few glasses, a flashgun, a tripod and a black-and-white pattern print. Simply place the pattern in the background with the glasses in front. Fill them with different levels of water and move the pattern backwards or forwards to fine-tune the effect.

18. Kitchen close-ups

Your kitchen is an ideal location for shooting a macro project. Its reflective surfaces can be used to create interesting backgrounds for your shots, and a shallow depth of field can transform the most mundane of objects you'll find there. Creating a triptych of images can result in a piece of fantastic wall art for your kitchen too, although it's important to think about how they're going to work together before you start shooting. Here, 3 objects - a fork, a bowl of cereal and coffee granules - were all shot from a similar angle, with the impression of height linking the sequence.

19. Invert the world with a crystal ball

Shoot through a crystal ball and, while you won’t see into the future, you will capture an inverted version of the scene behind the orb. Just as light is refracted when it passes through the glass elements of a lens, the same thing happens with a glass sphere. There are dedicated photography balls on the market, but the effect can often be achieved using a clear marble or even a paperweight. Nothing suitable? A water-filled wine glass can also work. 

All sorts of subjects look good through an orb, from sunsets and cityscapes to abstract items and even portraits. Try shooting with a macro lens to fill the frame with the sphere, or with a wider angle to include some of the scene behind. To really play with perspectives, rotate the image with editing software so that the background is inverted but the scene in the orb is the right way up.  You can also incorporate elements that support the ball into the image, such as hands, bowls or miscellaneous objects.

20. Still-life bokeh

Something as simple as a crumpled piece of foil can be the basis for a creative photo project. Position a still-life subject on a sheet of glass with a piece of dark material underneath it. Scrunch up the kitchen foil then smooth it back out and place it in the background. Shine a table lamp or torch on the foil and, with a tripod mounted camera, dial in the lens's widest aperture to create some beautiful 'bokeh'. During the exposure, shine a flashlight onto the subject.

21. Play with shadows

Photography is fundamentally about capturing light, which is exactly why shadows can be so powerful. They can create contrast with lighter parts of a composition or add texture to an otherwise plain subject. They can even be manipulated to tell a story. Incorporating shadows into your images will challenge you to think not just about the objects within a scene, but how things outside of the frame can affect the light that falls within it.

To play with shadows, all you need is a light source and a solid object to block it. This could be something natural, such as the shadow of a tree cast by sunlight. Equally, it could be something man-made, such as the outline of a street sign created by a car’s headlights. Or it could be something you create yourself: try playing puppet-master by shining a torch and dancing your hand in front of it. 

You can also invert this idea by shooting a subject which is predominantly in shadow and experimenting with how splashes of light fall upon it.

22. Still life light trails

Light trails can be used in all kinds of photography, but they're perfect for a creative still life project. You can use a regular Maglite torch, but try removing the end to reveal the bulb and make the light more direct. Use some electrical tape to attach a coloured sweet wrapper, which you can use as a makeshift 'gel'. Set the canera's shutter speed to around 30 secs with an aperture of around f/8, then start moving the torch within the frame before pressing the shutter. Continue the movement throughout the exposure. Here, we suspended the torch from a piece of string and made a gentle circular movement to create a spiral around the bottle.

23. Light spirals

You'll need to attach a torch, suspended by string, to an open area of ceiling. Fit the widest lens you have on your camera, and mount it on a tripod pointing straight up. With the light turned on, autofocus on the tip of the torch and set the lens to manual focus to lock the setting in. With an aperture of f/11 or f/16 dialled in, use Bulb mode and a remote release to keep the shutter open for a minute or so as you send the torch spinning in the dark…

Outdoor photography projects

24. Brenizer effect portraits

The Brenizer method, also known as portrait panorama or bokeh-rama, provides a great basis for a portrait photography project. Invented by New York wedding photographer Ryan Brenizer, the technique helps you create photos that appear to have been shot on a lens with a much wider maximum aperture. The idea is that you shoot lots of telephoto photos of different parts of a scene at the lens's widest aperture, and then join this mosaic together using Photoshop's Photomerge option or in specialist stitching software.

Make sure you shoot each frame using manual settings - from White Balance through to focusing - so that you can batch process all the shots. Try shooting anywhere from 30-80 frames, and make sure each tile and row overlaps the last by around a third.

25. Free-lensing

Camera manufacturers go to great lengths to build robust, dust-proof bodies – so the idea of shooting with your lens unattached might seem the opposite of good photographic practice. If you’re careful, though, free-lensing can deliver captivating focus effects.

In simple terms, free-lensing means shooting with the lens disconnected from the camera body. It allows you to achieve striking selective focus by manually positioning the lens. And while the technique requires trial and error, it can also be a really rewarding way to interact with your camera.

Free-lensing is easiest to execute with a prime lens. Before you start, set ISO and shutter speed, open the focus to infinity and set the aperture at its widest for maximum effect. Then simply detach your lens and, handling both components carefully, start experimenting.

Live View is your friend here, giving instant feedback on the impact of different lens positions. Tilting changes the focus target, while holding the lens further from the body achieves a hazy glow. As you get more confident holding the parts apart, you’ll be able to free-lens in different settings – but be sure to keep the lens as close as possible to the body to minimize the risk of dust.

26. Go big with a panoramic photo

Panoramas are simple to capture with a smartphone, but for more immersive landscapes and cityscapes, try stitching one from several high-resolution photos.

Switch your camera to manual mode and take a test shot to determine the optimum aperture, shutter speed and ISO settings. Together with focal distance, these should remain constant across every frame for even results. 

Use a tripod to pivot around a fixed point and maintain a consistent perspective – a big help when compositing. If your tripod allows you to shoot in portrait orientation, this will give you more freedom to crop later. Pan across the scene, overlapping each frame by 25%.

Once you’ve got your individual images, you’ll need to stitch them together. Doing this manually is painstaking. Luckily, there are a range of accessible software options: Adobe Lightroom features a panorama setting in its Photo Merge menu, while free solutions include Hugin and Image Composite Editor.

27. Minimalist mono landscapes

Instead of cramming an entire view into a single frame, shoot a series of minimalist long exposure landscapes instead. A symmetrical composition can help to reinforce the simplicity of the framing, as can a square crop. You'll also need a strong Neutral Density (ND) filter to give you the flexibility to create long exposures at any time of the day. Use a tripod to keep the camera still throughout the exposure and fire the shutter with a remote release.

28. Starlight landscapes

To capture the best starscapes you'll need a completely clear sky. It's best if the moon isn't visible: it can make it difficult to keep detail in the whole sky in a single exposure. To keep the exposures short enough to prevent the moving stars blurring, use Manual mode and set a high ISO such as 1,600 or 3,200 and a shutter speed of two seconds. Even then, you'll need a wide aperture: f/4 or even f/2.8. This means it's almost impossible to keep both the stars and any foreground subject in focus in a single shot. Shoot two exposures, one focused on the stars and one on the foreground, then combine them in Photoshop.

29. Zoom burst effect

Forget fixing your focal length before you shoot: zooming rapidly while the shutter is open can enhance motion, add dynamism and make even the most mundane shots exciting. Achieving a striking zoom burst is really straightforward: simply pick a focal point, set a relatively slow shutter speed – usually below 1/60 – and, while the shutter is open, twist the barrel. Starting in and zooming out will produce a different effect to doing the opposite, as will the speed at which you zoom. Using a tripod should ensure the blurred lines are straight, while going handheld can introduce even funkier distortion. 

30. Car park abstracts

You don't have to travel far or commit a lot of time to an outdoor photography project. There are photo opportunities just about everywhere - even in a car park. A DSLR with a standard zoom is all you need for this project. Keep your technique simple and look for patterns, textures, colours and shapes.

31. Selective color

Rather than shoot in black and white and using pop colour techniques to make an object stand out, this selective colour challenge requires you to nominate a colour and find examples of it in the wider world. You don't have to fill the frame: use clever composition techniques to draw attention to it within the photo.

32. Focus stacking

You might be familiar with the HDR technique: taking several shots of the same scene, each at different exposures. Combining the results produces a single image in which every aspect is perfectly exposed.

Focus stacking uses the same idea, but instead of changing exposure between shots, you adjust the focus point. Do this for the entire scene’s depth of field, then merge the shots and you’ll end up with an image that’s pin-sharp across the entire frame. The technique tends to be most striking for landscapes, especially if there’s perspective at play, or detail in both background and foreground.

To achieve the effect, you’ll need to mount your camera on a tripod. Frame up the scene and, between exposures, move the focus point across the sensor, using your camera’s D-pad or touchscreen. Once you’ve covered the entire frame, it’s simply a case of aligning and blending the layers, which most editing software can do automatically.

Got a lot of time on your hands? Try HDR and focus-stacking at the same time, for truly surreal results.

33. Optical illusions

This project uses forced perspective to play tricks on a viewer's perception of the relationship between differently sized objects in a photo. The best way to approach this is to shoot a recognisable subject and get them to pretend that they are interacting with a much larger object or subject, which is actually in the background. Choose a small aperture to provide a large depth of field that will enhance the effect.

34. Small world

Photographing miniature toys and models in real-world environments is a popular photo project and one that you can easily fit around your day job. Try taking a small prop with you and photographing it in a range of situations - everywhere from the daily commute to a weekend stroll. To blend the model in with the rest of the scene you'll need to get close to the subject and balance the light. If your subject is cast in shadow, use your flash to add fill-in lighting.

More outdoor photography projects

35. Recreate a tilt-shift effect

The 'toytown' effect that you can get from using an expensive tilt-shift lens 'incorrectly' is addictive. But you can achieve a very similar look in Photoshop by blurring all but a small area of an image. For the most convincing effect, shoot the scene from a high viewpoint on a sunny day to heighten the 'model village' look.

36. ABC. Easy? Then 123

Shooting a photographic alphabet comprised of letters found on road signs, shop fronts and street furniture is simple. Harder is spotting objects and shapes that resemble letters in the real world – for example, the curve of a road forming an S-shape or the swings in a play park making a capital A. All done with your A-Z? Try the same thing again with numbers – from rock pools that make the number eight to columns that illustrate 11. Just be sure to always keep your camera handy: you don’t want to miss a flock of birds forming that elusive 47.

37. Faces in unusual places

An easy and fun photo idea: train your eyes to spot 'faces' unintentionally formed by everyday objects. Everything from a pair of bath taps to a manhole cover is fair game. See the Faces in Places blog for inspiration.

38. Light orbs

Light painting offers plenty of opportunity for creative photo projects, but how about trying your hand at a series of light orb shots. You don't need much in the way of kit - a string of battery-powered LED lights wrapped around a hula hoop is perfect. Simply spin it in front of a tripod-mounted camera. If you're shooting by yourself, use the camera's self-timer function so that you can position yourself in the frame before the exposure starts.

39. Steel wool on fire

A night photography project you'll need to do in an open area away from flammable objects… Put fine wire wool in a metal whisk, attach this to a chain, then set the wool alight and spin it. You need a brave volunteer, a tripod, and an exposure of about 15 secs at f/11 at ISO100. See our guide on how to create light orbs for more details.

40. Alternative car trails

For traffic trail photographs with a difference, shoot from a moving car at night as a friend drives slowly along a well-lit road. You will need an exposure of around 30 seconds. Use a tripod set up in the passenger seat and trigger the shutter with a remote release.

41. Get reflective with puddles

Rainy days aren’t always the most appealing for photography, but the resulting puddles can unlock a world of opportunities. Head out after a downpour and instead of looking up, look down: water on the ground can provide the mirror surface necessary for new angles on familiar scenes.

Try capturing the reflected blur of passing traffic, for example, which can juxtapose nicely with the asphalt surrounding the puddle. Or shoot the silhouette of a tree, reflected starkly against an overcast sky.

In fact, you can apply almost any photography technique to standing water: shoot long-exposure light trails that gleam in the wet ground; do a double exposure to blur the line between reflection and reality; or try rotating your image so that up is down and the world around the reflection is inverted.

Struggling with shine? A polarizing filter will help to reduce the glare on the surface of the puddle.

42. Find windows onto the world

Framing is a skill that many find tricky to master, yet ready-made frames exist in walls all around the world: windows. Whether shooting from the inside out or the outside in, windows can be used to great effect as borders for your images. 

When incorporating windows into your shots, you can play with the way focal length affects perspective – both in relation to the window itself and the scene beyond it. You can also experiment with shutter speed and aperture settings. Should the window be sharp or out of focus for a greater sense of depth? Exposed or under-exposed for accentuated contrast? And how much of the frame should you actually include? 

Considering these elements should enhance your photographic eye, improve your technical skills and allow you to build up a body of work around a single, consistent theme. You can also expand the idea to include doorways and arches.

43. Intentional Camera Movement (ICM)

You may be used to doing everything possible to take a sharp photo, but it can be liberating to do the opposite and move the camera during a comparatively long exposure. Try working in Shutter Priority mode, dialling in a shutter speed of 1/15sec or slower. See the work of British art photographer Chris Friel for inspiration.

44. Lo-Fi look

Although it's fairly easy to add Photoshop or Lightroom retro effects to your photos, you'll get a more authentic appearance if you think about the style of image you want as you shoot. Lo-fi effects work well with simple, graphic subjects that are easily recognisable once the effect has been applied.

45. Time-lapse photo

Time-lapse photography means shooting the same scene at fixed intervals, then combining the images into a video that illustrates the passage of time. Sounds simple? One of the biggest challenges is also what makes time-lapses so engaging: framing the scene not just for its current state, but with consideration of which elements in it will change – from clouds rolling through the sky to traffic rushing through a city centre. Depending on your camera, you might need a remote shutter to achieve the effect. Once you’re set up, alter the length of time between shots to see how the results change or, for added dynamism, use a slider that gradually pans your camera. DIY fans can craft their own, guided by countless online tutorials.

Long-term photography projects

46. The 365 project

A classic photo project - shoot a photo a day for a year. There are two paths to follow with this one. Either restrict yourself to a single frame (tip: shoot in raw so you can make adjustments later) or choose one photo from a series you manage to squeeze out each day. Can't face a photo-a-day project? Try a '52' project, and shoot one picture worth shooting each week.

47. Doorstep portraits

Shooting portraits of strangers is a sterling project for fledgling photographers. It helps to build confidence and quick thinking, while the diversity of subjects and scenarios can lead to all kinds of creative connections. And though stopping people in the street is less viable during these socially distant times, the idea is easy to adapt for a domestic setting.

Try doorstep portraits: ask permission first, of course, then shoot a profile of whoever’s at your door – from delivery drivers to visiting relatives. It offers a unique opportunity to photograph a range of subjects, while also capturing an interesting commentary on current events.

With a focal length of 35-50mm, start by playing around with framing. Shoot a straight headshot, then try a full-body portrait that’s framed by your doorway. As your subject is likely to be backlit, you can also experiment with different exposures and silhouetting, while tweaking the depth of field will allow you to include more or less of the world outside. Weather elements in the background, for example, might make for interesting variation.

48. The prime lens challenge

Prime lenses are a staple of many camera bags. Small and light, their wide maximum apertures allow you capture striking depth of field effects, while also unlocking excellent low-light performance. Plus their optical quality is often superior to zoomable barrels, producing sharper snaps with less distortion. But their fixed focal lengths also mean you need to be inventive when it comes to framing. Because you can’t zoom, you’ll either have to move yourself to change the composition, or get more inventive with what’s in your shot – both of which will force you to think outside the box. There are several variations of this challenge: you could start by taking 35 pictures in 35 days using only a 35mm lens – then do the equivalent with 50mm. Don’t own any prime glass? Good news: prime lenses are some of the most affordable.

49. Get creative with self-portraits

Self-portraits sound straightforward: position your camera on a tripod, set a self-timer and put yourself in the frame. But for many photographers, the idea of stepping in front of the lens is not a comfortable one. And even for those who don’t mind the limelight, composition can be quite a challenge when you make yourself the subject. 

For all of these reasons, self-portraits are the perfect project to push you out of your comfort zone. If modeling gives you the shivers, explore more creative ways of including yourself in a scene. Try capturing your silhouette, a partial reflection or using objects to inventively hide your face. For inspiration, look at the work of Vivian Maier.

50. The world at your feet

At the same time every day, take a picture of what you see at your feet. Choose a time during the lunch hour, as this gives you a great excuse to head out and find a new location. Use a wide-angle lens and include your legs and feet in the frame.

51. Faceless portraits

Take a portrait of a different person every week without including their face in the frame. How can you reveal aspects of their personality without the aid of eye contact and expression? Use the environment, the lighting, colours, props other parts of their body - particularly their hands - to reveal character instead.

52. Scavenger hunt

Ask someone to write down a list of 30 things on a set of cards – there should be a different, easily accessible subject on each one, while you write down 30 photographic treatments on another set (such as 'black and white', 'long exposure', '50mm' and 'zoom burst'). Pick a card at random from each pile and 'fulfil the brief'.

Finished those? Six bonus projects to keep you going

A month of mono

The title of this project says it all. Challenge yourself to shoot nothing but black and white photographs. Learning to see in black and white and spot subjects and scenes with the most potential is half the battle when it comes to shooting in mono, and committing a month to it can help to develop your eye. Shoot in raw, but change the Picture Style setting on your camera to Monochrome. This will give you a black and white preview on the rear screen, while still recording a full-colour raw file that you can convert later to mono later in software.

Four seasons

Rather than being a photography project where you shoot something every day, this one sees you photographing one subject every three months in order to reveal the changing seasons. Naturally you'll need to spend some time finding the right subject: lone trees work well, although you'll need to anticipate how the scene will look when the foliage is in full growth or when there's none at all.

Geocaching challenge

Load a geocaching app onto your smartphone and then head out with a view to taking artistic pictures of every geocache location you end up in. Don't shoot the geocache hiding place itself - you don't want to ruin it for other people - but just the general area.

Build a texture library

Adding a texture is a great way to give your photos a distressed look for painterly results. While it's possible to add the effect in-camera using a compatible DSLR's multiple exposure mode, it's easier to use Layers and Photoshop blend modes to add a texture shot to another photograph. While you can easily find free textures online, there's nothing more satisfying than using your own. Wood, old paper and peeling paint all make great textures to add to shots.

Pinhole photography

It might seem a waste to use your expensive DSLR to ape an ancient imaging technique, but pinhole photography can be a remarkably striking way to experiment. At its most basic, the concept requires a sealed box with a tiny hole through which light enters, creating a flipped image on the opposite surface. All you need to replicate the analogue technique is a spare body cap: pierce the smallest hole you can using a needle or drill bit, then get shooting. The tiny aperture means you’ll need to use much longer exposures than usual and any dust on your sensor will be more evident, but the resulting shots should be gloriously soft and entertainingly unpredictable.

Self-publish a photo book

Take one of the other photo projects you've been working on over the year and use the results to make a photography book. Consider ways in which you can link your pictures, such as through an obvious narrative, colour themes, juxtaposition or more abstract and unexpected ways.


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