Young man with a backpack standing on the bank of a river using his camera to take a photo.

10 Fun and Useful Photography Projects for the New Year

With the new year comes the inspiration to change, grow, and accomplish projects we didn’t get around to in the old year. A fresh slate offers us hope that things will be different and that we will make things happen.

But the new year will look awfully familiar to the old one if you don’t actually make the changes or stick to your goals.

Engagement shoot photo of bride  and groom to be hula hooping outside on the lawn of Little Lucy's Mini Donuts in Austin, Texas.  Photograph by Austin, Texas wedding photographer Nikk Nguyen.

To help you start 2019 (or any year) off with a boom, I’ve put together this list of 10 fun photography projects you can challenge yourself to. Do one or five or all of them. The goal is following through with your chosen project so that you can grow as a photographer and as a person.

Cheers to the new year!

1. Look back through your old photos.

Not only will this show you how much you’ve grown your skills over the years, but it can also lead to a whole new project. See if you can find patterns based on themes, subjects, locations, or people. If so, consider creating a collection of photos, which you can then print and frame or make into a photo book.

A charging laptop with photo editing software open, sitting on a counter with a female on her laptop and a latte in the background.

2. Finish a project.

Do you have shiny object syndrome? You know, where you start one project and then get an idea for another one, so you leave the old project behind to start the new one and…. you get the point. Look around for any half-finished photo projects you have and finish them. There’s nothing like the satisfaction that comes from doing so. You’ll feel more accomplished and ready to take on the next project.

3. Learn a new skill.

If there’s something you’ve wanted to learn, but just haven’t gotten around to yet, now is the time! Read books, take courses, and put your new skills to the test.

4. Participate in a 30-day challenge.

I’m sure you’ve seen the Instagram challenges where you take a picture based on the theme of the day, then post and tag. Challenge yourself to do an actual Instagram challenge or something similar. You can even come up with your own themes and keep them to yourself or challenge others to do it with you.

5. Face your fears.

Is there a type of photography that scares you? Maybe you like the idea of street photography, but have been too afraid to try it yourself. Or maybe you’d love to get a panoramic shot of the mountains, but haven’t found the energy to hike to the perfect spot. Don’t let your fears stop you. Even if you try something only once, at least you can mark it off your list. And besides, the further you get out of your comfort zone, the bigger it gets.

6. Document a group or charity.

Is there a club, group, or charity you admire? How about volunteering your time to photograph them? Maybe they could use your skills for their website or for a presentation. They’ll get what they need and you’ll build your portfolio. It’s a win-win!

7. Stick to one piece of gear.

For one month, only use one camera or one type of lens. This will help you think creatively, which will ultimately help you grow as a photographer.

8. Photograph in black and white.

Another monthly project could be that you only photograph in black and white. This is a great exercise in creativity for both the novice and the professional. It helps you see potential photos in a different way and grows your skills. On the other hand, if you take a majority of your photos in black and white, do the opposite and practice photographing in color.

Black and white engagement photo of a groom to be kissing his bride to be on the cheek while they are laying on their sides with a small dog in front of them. Photograph by Austin, Texas wedding photographer Nikk Nguyen.

9. Turn the camera on yourself.

You spend a lot of time behind the lens, so it’s time to flip the camera around and focus on yourself. This isn’t merely a selfie project, but a chance to take interesting and creative photos that include you. Find a way to work yourself into the photo, even if it means capturing your shadow or your reflection in a mirror or building.

Picture of a young man holding an iPhone and taking a selfie of himself as he takes a photo with his camera with a forest behind him

10. Limit yourself to a theme.

This can be a daily, weekly, or monthly project depending on how much you want to challenge yourself. Pick a theme (one color, doorways, toys, emotion, buildings, etc.) and photograph only things within the theme for the allotted amount of time.

Interested in other ways to challenge yourself as a photographer? I love growing in my skill and would love to share my own tips and tricks with you!

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