One of the main reasons I became a photographer was because of my love of taking pictures. I got given my first camera aged 10 and was hooked from day one. I took pictures of everything and anything to start with and then refined my work to focus on photographing the things I really loved.
The Advent of Digital Cameras
But when I was on film (yes, I’m that old), I found it relatively easy to keep taking photos for my own personal enjoyment. I had a large collection of medium format cameras and enjoyed taking them out and experimenting with them. The real sea change came with the advent of digital cameras and the expectation from clients that I’d be spending a lot of time in post-production making them look 10 years younger and 20lbs slimmer.
Digital photography really does require that you spend another day retouching after the – especially if you’re mainly a portrait photographer like myself. So, not only does it cut down on the amount of time you have to take photos, but also it takes (at least for me) some of the enjoyment out of the work we’re doing.
After all, I didn’t really become a photographer to spend my days in front of a computer.
Photo for Clients vs Photo for Myself
The realization that I was spending all my time for clients and no time just for myself was a slightly uncomfortable one.
After many years in the business, I was also only the kind of professional work that I wanted to and, whilst this was a good thing, it did leave me stuck a little in a rut. So, when I decided to invest some money in photographic equipment, I stepped away from my heavy and somewhat cumbersome pro equipment and went out and purchased a Fuji X-Pro 1 with a couple of lenses.
This is a fantastic little camera with an old fashioned design and totally manual features (as well as auto for those less technically inclined!). Plus it also allows users to recreate the look of old Fuji slide and negative films – a real plus-point for an old fashioned geek such as myself! Suddenly, I’m enjoying taking photos again – the camera is small enough to fit in a coat pocket and it’s easy to use.
Why Photo Personal Projects
And that’s the primary reason for pros to personal projects – it brings back the enjoyment and the love that we first had for photography, when we picked up a camera all those years ago. But there are other really valid reasons for personal projects.
As I briefly mentioned above, the same sort of things all the time in pro work can lead to getting into a bit of a rut. personal projects allows photographers to start experimenting with other genres of photography that we don’t normally work in. It also allows us to try out new techniques and lighting, without the risk of keeping a client waiting whilst we get things how we want them.
By personal projects, we can come out of our comfort zone and start working in areas that we might not normally feel as comfortable in. Part of the joy of photography is experimentation – to see what works and what doesn’t. As a studio photographer, I work primarily with studio lighting and one of the nice things about undertaking personal projects is that I can either experiment with new lighting techniques, or just go out and leave them behind!
There are tons of ideas for projects out there on the internet, but I think the first step is just having a camera in your pocket and starting to . Hopefully, by starting to for personal reasons, you’ll get a lot more enjoyment out of your camera!