15 Creative Photography Project Ideas to Get You Shooting

Ideas for a photo essay project

Winged Rock – Jim Harmer

You have all undoubtedly heard of the 365 project.  The project encourages photographers to get out and take one picture every single day, and then to post that photo online.  It is a fantastic way to improve your shooting skills; HOWEVER, I have seen so many 365 projects lately that I am beginning to wonder whether so many photographers are doing it because they want to improve their skills, or whether they are all doing it simply because they haven’t discovered the unlimited number of creative photo projects that can be done.

I created this compilation of photography projects to help inspire you to get shooting.

Photography Project #1: Highlights of your life. Re-create significant moments from your life and shoot them in a series: that time Jimmy Johnso next door gave you a black eye, hiking to a lighthouse with your father, going off to college, getting baptized, etc.  Even cooler if you have your kids step in as the actors.

Photography Project #2: One landscape. Find one location where you enjoy shooting landscapes, and then visit the location about 10 times over the course of a month.  Photograph the same location in different weather conditions, different light, and using your new creative ideas each time you go.

Photography Project #3: Homelessness. Thomas Hawk is a photographer who does a $2 homeless photo project.  Whenever a poor person asks him for money, he pays them $2 to pose for a photo.  Then the person will have earned the money by working for a few minutes while the photographer shoots, and he gets great photos of interesting people.  I really hate business cliches, so I’m not sure if I should call this a win-win, or synergy.  Either way, it’s a fantastic project.

Photography Project #4: Fairy tales. Take classic stories such as Little Red Riding Hood or other folk tales and take photos to illustrate the story.

Photography Project #5: Geophoto. Do a project to shoot the geocaching locations around your city.  I guarantee you’ll find fantastic new locations.  If you’re new to this idea, check out this post where I explained how it works.

Photography Project #6: Self Portraits. Take one self-portrait each day that shows your emotions and happenings of that day.  If you do this one, please keep yourself fully clothed.  There are quite a few well-known female photographers on Flickr who seem to think we want to see you naked or half naked.

Photography Project #7: Your city’s architecture. Go shoot the beautiful buildings around your city at all different times of the day.  I bet you’ll find some interesting buildings that you’d never noticed before.

Photography Project #8: Your meals. Take a picture of one meal a day for a month.  Not only is this a convenient way to count calories, you can really learn lighting by learning food photography.

Photography Project #9: Food fight. No, I don’t mean throwing food.  I mean to let your imagination run a little wild.  Imagine little stories with the food in your refrigerator and shoot photos to illustrate the tales.

Photography Project #10: Downtown fashions.  Do street photography of the most interestingly dressed people in the downtown area of your city.  No matter where you live, you’ll find more interesting people than you might expect.  Spend several nights downtown and you’re guaranteed to get some fantastic shots.

Photography Project #11: A day in the life. Find someone you find interesting and shoot their whole day.  Alternatively, you could do a day in the life of a group of people.  For example, you could do A Day in the Life of Brigham Young University students.  If you were doing this project, you could take pictures all over campus at different hours of one day and show all the interesting things that happen there.

Photography Project #12: Photojournalism. I loved working for a short time as a photojournalist.  Where will you find the news?  If you live in the United States, you can download a free app for your smartphone that gives you access to the police radio channels.  That will help to find interesting things!  Just make sure you do it legally…

Photography Project #13: Social Issues. Find a social issue that is important to you and take photos to highlight the struggle.  For example, you could do a photo project about teen obesity, the elderly, immigrant farm workers, etc.

Photography Essay Idea #14:  Working hard. Think of a few interesting professions around your home and take an environmental portrait of many people while at work.  You might recall my photo shoot of a cab driver last month as an example.

Photo Essay Idea  # 15:  The middle of the day.  I see too many photographers using “I can’t shoot because it’s the middle of the day” as an excuse.  You can make terrific photos during the day if you learn to do it right.  Go shoot during your noon lunch hour for a month and you’ll learn how to do it.  I did this last summer every day on my lunch break and I captured a some beautiful shots.

Want to push your photography to the next level?  Consider taking an online photography class with me!


  1. Dave

    Cool post with plenty of great ideas to inspire. Something to print out and keep for continued inspiration.
    I’m just embarking on a project to create a “coffee table” book of images from Berlin, mainly strong graphic lines of the diverse architecture (I really want to explore negative space) but also to include occasional shots with interesting characters from the city, shot at all times of day and night. I’m yet to shot a frame as I’m still bashing around location ideas…this weekend it starts with a plan to shoot 5 images per week.

  2. R. Weaver

    Currently I am joining in a Project 52, with an assigned theme for each week. It’s a great mind-stretcher, and a wonderful opportunity to make time for those ‘just for fun’ shots. At the end of the year I’ll make a book with the year’s best shots. Here is one that was featured in our project group: http://www.flickr.com/photos/trebecca84/5491817205/in/set-72157626331116175
    The $2 homeless project sounds great! I’ve thought of doing the 100 strangers project when I get brave enough…

    Next year, I’m going to follow a project of my own invention, taking pictures to illustrate a book – story, poem, song, or passage of Scripture yet to be chosen. Looking forward to it!

  3. Tom

    I’m doing a “Photo A Day” project. It was to learn more about my camera, setting up photos, learning the settings, lighting, learn new styles, etc etc.
    I don’t have a limit on it, but I’m currently up to day 71 :)
    I printed the first 40 days in to a book because a few of those around me were interested in printed copies!

  4. Kathy

    I’m doing the 365 challenge photo after seeing an album on Flickr about it. I post my photos on Instagram, an iPhone app. After I’m finished with the 365 project, I’m interested in starting a project where you continually take a photo of 1 thing over the course of awhile and see how it’s changed (then find something new to photograph per month), the self portrait project, or the one-subject challenge (choosing to capture only doors, chairs, windows, toys, etc.).

  5. Ian

    I have been lacking artistic inspiration lately so finally i just decided to do something simple… i am going to take self portraits in things that show reflection… i.e. mirror, metalic things, ect… kind of corny but im bored and need something to do on my days off. =)

  6. Mariah

    I loved seeing the Fairy Tales pop up on here. That was my absolute favorite shoot ever! Lots of detail, but so gorgeous to see completed.

  7. Abby Pimentel

    I would love to see a newsletter on how to take self-portraits…I’ve tried putting my camera on a tripod and setting the timer, but the photos are blurry! If you’re using a timer, how do you focus the camera on yourself, if you’re behind the camera?? Probably a simple explanation that’s so simple I’m missing it entirely!

  8. Finn-b

    Great post. It’s always difficult to be creative and find new projects. Right now I’m in the middle of a 50/50 project. For 50 days I’m shooting my life through a 50 mm prime lens. http://www.finn-b.com

  9. Harper

    On project #6, you say “If you do this one, please keep yourself fully clothed. There are quite a few well-known female photographers on Flickr who seem to think we want to see you naked or half naked.” I think this is a very closed-minded and rude thing to say. The human body is part of art and a large part of photography. If you’re not comfortable with being nude, that’s fine, but I think it’s a bit much to warn others against doing it. You shouldn’t be afraid of or uncomfortable with a naked human form, you have one just like everybody else. If others want to show theirs, it’s not your place to judge them.

  10. Princess

    hey. i have a project to make a picture story. something creative. can you give me ideas? it has to be a story with a beginning middle and an end. a proper organized story. could you give me topics for it so i can choose from them? thankyou.

  11. Stephanie Bowens

    OMG I am loving all the projects that everyone is doing… I going to have to try a lot of these… I am just beginning my photography journey… I am just starting to learn a lot of things. I am taking class for self improvement and to learn more. I am currently on the photography ministry at my church and being mentor by some wonderful gentleman… So any advise, article, class, you tube videos, or whatever you can offer me I am open to feedback and ideas…

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