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From Thought To Shot: How To Bring Your Photography Project To Life

So you have tons of ideas. And heaps of passion. And maybe even some spare time on the weekends, and a stunning photography website to show off your work… But how do you actually combine all those elements into making your dream photography project come to life?

Well, the truth is that behind every creative work hides the practical need to get things rolling. If you often find yourself thinking about amazing ideas for photo shoots, but find that those shoots rarely materialize, you might be in need of some added incentive to kick your project into high-gear! Follow these 9 steps to make your personal photography project a reality.

01. Remind yourself why you started snapping

Even photographers who are lucky enough to turn their love for the art into a full-time gig can lose focus of why they got into the business in the first place. Unlike hobbyists, full-time photographers can often find that the repetitive nature of their work can cast a shadow on that creative light inside them. That’s why it’s so important to keep the fire burning. Whatever the subject, a personal creative project will focus on your (and not someone else’s) idea coming to life.

Pursuing a photography project based on enthusiasm alone can be the turning point that will scale your hobby into something more substantial, or if you’re already a professional – a way to showcase your passion for photography, and develop your style and vision even further. When you are the client and the creative director, you’re privileged with a sense of freedom to try new techniques and methods just the way you want.

Need more reasons to go forth with a passion shoot that you’ve been putting off? Here are just 3 reasons to get started:

  • Your online portfolio will benefit from the new fresh work that you fuel it with. (Great for your SEO!)

  • Passion can (and will) produce your best work.

  • Pushing the limits of your talent can garner you some new business (that you’ll enjoy getting paid for).

Ah, and last, but not least – working on a personal photography project will be tons of fun!

02. Brainstorm is coming

Now that you’re all motivated, it’s time to set your mind on an idea (if you don’t already have one – thank you, Captain Obvious). Don’t know where to start? Think about the things that interest you most: look around for people with compelling stories to tell, or places in your city that have always intrigued you. Can you portray them from a different point of view that hasn’t been done before? Can you think of a dream you had recently, or as a child? Go wild. After all, you’re the only person capable of capturing things that fascinate you from your unique perspective!

Feel like you need more inspiration? Sometimes all it takes is a little research to spark your next brilliant idea! Look into what your favorite photographers have been up to lately, check out popular photo sharing sites, browse photography projects on Kickstarter and so on. It may take some time for the idea to form, but once you have it, you’ll feel it in your gut. Don’t reject crazy ideas – what cannot be solved with budget, might lead you to a creative solution using Photoshop.

Last (but crucial) tip: don’t choose an idea for the wrong reasons: phrases like “It will rock Instagram!”, or “My clients will dig this” are unlikely to hit the passion spot.

Here’s an amazing example of how the simple things you like can turn into a great photography project: Marcos Alberti (a talented Wix user by the way) combined his passion for friends, wine and a good talk to make the “3 Glasses” series. He snapped a photo of close friends before and after 1, 2 and 3 glasses of wine. The result made everyone smile (and even went viral):

"3 Glasses" - Personal Project by Marcos Alberti

03. It’s a goal

Setting a goal is the first step towards actually making it happen. Having an idea you’re excited about is great, but you need to give it shape. Let’s say you decided to shoot a scene from a recent dream you had. Or 10 close-up portraits of people who were born on the same minute 31 years ago. Try to think about the final outcome of the project. Is it an online series of posts with a specific hashtag on your Instagram? Is it a large print you’d like to put on your living room wall? What is the title you’ll use to share it with others? If it’s a series of images, how do you see the overall style? Understanding your end result will help you find a clear path to it.

04. Commitment comes first

Excited about your goal? Awesome. The idea is here to stay, but the excitement might wane over time. Since there’s no one else but you in this project, you have to fully commit to it. Scheduling tasks and dates in your calendar is nice, but here’s one small tip that might actually make a difference: talk to a close friend and share the exciting news with them. Once said out loud, the project comes one step closer to reality, and so does your commitment to it.

Take your commitment one step further and share it with your friends on social media. A simple “So excited to start working on my new personal project!” should get the process started. No looking back once the whole world has heard about it! While you’re at it, if you need an extra pair of hands on set or a model, just ask for help: you will be surprised how many people would love to get involved.

05. Time for a timeline

What type of equipment or props will you need for the big day? Where is the best place to shoot? Who are the people you need for this project? When are they available? Write everything down, and put it in separate easy-to-do tasks with feasible deadlines. Whether it requires sending an email, setting up a meeting, or god forbid, making a phone call, all tasks should be documented and given a date.

Don’t be hard on yourself trying to achieve everything at once. On the other hand, don’t slack and set the deadlines too far – spreading the excitement over a long period of time may inevitably result in a lack of excitement. One thing is certain: it all needs to be visible on a piece of paper, or even better – in a task management app. Marking a task as “Done” has never been more satisfying, now that you’re working on a project for you.

Last (but crucial) tip: the day of the photoshoot should not be the last item on your timeline – make sure you assign dates for post-production tasks as well.

06. Shoot, don’t talk

The big day has finally arrived. If the timeline part was planned carefully and carried out skillfully, all that’s left to do is to shoot and have fun! Things might not always go as planned, but that’s part of the job. Remember, you are a photographer – improvise! Sometimes unexpected changes during the shoot produce the most interesting images. One thing is for sure – don’t forget to pack a sandwich.

07. Finalize

It’s not over until the photoshopped lady sings, or in other words – it’s time for post-production. From copying all the materials you shot to sending the final images to print (if that was your goal, of course – Captain Obvious never left the building), it all happens here. Every step that needs to be taken from the moment the photo shoot wraps up, to the moment your goal is reached should be laid out on the timeline you prepared.

Remember, things will never be “perfect”. If you feel like you have only about 80% of the project under control – go for it! It is better to have done something than be too worried it’s not “perfect ” enough. You will do great!

Young woman downloading images from camera to pc

08. Sharing is caring

Congratulations, you just created something that did not exist in the world before you made it!

While “to share or not to share” the final result is completely up to you, you need to take the benefits of showcasing your work online into account:

  • You will get noticed by a much wider circle of people than just your close friends – including new clients.

  • You’ll receive feedback which might inspire you to continue doing stuff you’re passionate about.

  • Did we say branding? Your photos are the marketing materials of your brand as a photographer.

  • Make a shortlist of popular photography blogs and websites that might be interested in your project. A good blog post (from the right people) can go a long way – make sure they link back to your website.

Sure, sharing your work online might run you the risk of copycat artists catching wind of your genius, but there are ways to safeguard your work. If you take the necessary measures (like adding a watermark and protecting from right-click download) to your images, sharing your project has a lot of advantages to it.

Last (but crucial) tip: No need to worry about negative responses, if people are commenting it means you hit a nerve. Isn’t that what art is all about?

09. Update your stunning website

Now that your online portfolio will become even more stunning thanks to your beautiful new work, give your site viewers a deeper insight into who you are. Add a “Personal” section (you can call it whatever you want, as long as the separation with your professional works is clear) on your website, and prepare to inspire your visitors and future clients.

If you have a blog, be sure to document the whole process “from thought to shot”, and share it with your readers! People are interested in your journey as much as they are in the final result. Additionally, depending on the type of project you shoot you might want to offer people the chance to buy digital copies or prints of the images with Wix Art Store.

Got an exciting idea for a personal project? Or an amazing project you already shot? We’ll be more than happy to hear – tell us about it in the comments!

*Featured image: An inspiring photo by Wix user Dan Marker-Moore.

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