At Home Photography Ideas
Even though in many parts of the world the virus is retreating, for now, it’s still very much advisable to stay home.
For photographers who like to get their inspiration from traveling the world, roaming the streets in your hometown, or venturing out in nature this can be particularly challenging.
I’ve experienced the power of photography many times in my life. I would even go so far as to say that photography has healing powers. If only because of the mindful nature of doing something creative.
When you’re totally wrapped up in creating the perfect composition or waiting for the decisive moment there’s nothing else going on in your mind. You’re completely in the moment. And we all know how stress-reducing that can be.
The sad thing is it’s less likely you can go out to photograph now and your creative outlet has gone on mute.
But hang on!
It is time to unmute your creative outlet and get those creative juices flowing again.
The Art of Seeing
I’ve compiled a list of 7 at home photography ideas designed to honor the mindful nature of the photographic process.
All photo projects have one ingredient in common. They revolve around the art of seeing and will, therefore, develop your observation skills.
Examining your outside and inside world allows you to get into that much-desired mindful state. It will make you a more intentional photographer. As a result, your photography skills will improve as well. It’s win-win all the way.
And on top of that, I assure by performing these photography projects you’ll have a lot of fun.
#1 The One Object Project
Some things in life and photography may appear simple but can be a huge eye-opener. The 1 object project is one of those things. Trust me, if you’ve never done anything like it you’ll be amazed by what you can achieve with this project.
There are 3 approaches to this photography idea each with their own challenges and benefits.
Make as many photos as you can
The first is to choose a simple object, let’s say a stool, a table, or a chair.
Make sure you can actually walk around it. Now go grab your camera and make as many different photos as you can.
To do that you need to walk around your subject, get on your knees, or stand on something to get a different point of view. You cannot change the object, the only thing you can do is change your point of view and your composition. Check out this post about the principles of composition to get inspired.
Don’t stop until you’ve run out of ideas and you start to repeat yourself.
Make only one photo
The second approach is the total opposite.
Make sure you chose a different object now. It can be anything, big or small, doesn’t matter.
But now you can make only one photo! And I mean actually one photo.
To be clear, it doesn’t mean you can take 20 pictures and pick out one.
No no, no, you can press the shutter one time and one time only. So you better make it count.
And that’s the entire idea behind this project. We are so used to shoot without thinking and then when we’re done we pick out the best.
With this project, you’re reversing that habit. Take a good look at your subject and observe it from all sides and angles. Describe it for yourself.
Let’s take a flower as an example.
Start by describing the outer characteristics like color, petals, leaves, stem.
Then describe the context of the flower. Is it in a vase, in the garden?
And last but not least determine the significance of the flower to you.
Do you see what you’re doing? You’re creating a connection with your subject by specifying both outer and inner aspects. The next step is to figure out how you want to photograph that.
Think about it, then take your one precious shot.
9 photos/1 object
The third approach is a great way to get out of a creative funk.
It’s the 9 photos/1 object project. It might seem similar to the first one but it’s not. I’ve described the entire process of this creative photography project in a previous article but I’ll give you a quick recap.
The idea is to create 9 completely different photos of the same object. The difference with the first project is that this one is not so much about your point of view although that can be a starting point. Instead, it’s more about doing completely new things with it.
That’s why it’s important you choose an object you can alter in some shape or form like unpack, cut open, or even cook or break.
It can be something that’s logical or fitting with the object. But to be honest the fun starts when you start to think out of the box which is exactly the point of this project. Don’t stop until you have at least 9 completely different photos.
About halfway you’re probably thinking: “Okay that’s it….my box of ideas is empty.” That’s the moment you need to stick with it.
Go with whatever crazy impulse pops up in your head. It’s important to go with your creative flow without second-guessing or judging it. We can be our own harshest critics but tell her to shush it and go with it. You will surprise yourself.
#2 The Visual Concept Project
This is one of those at home photography ideas that are a lot of fun and will sharpen your observation skills.
The idea is you set small assignments for yourself to photograph a specific concept.
To give you an idea, you decide in the morning to only photograph the color yellow. You photograph anything yellow you encounter during your day. If you wanna take this one step further you can only photograph yellow.
What happens is that you will start to see yellow all over the place. And that is how it trains your observation skills. I find it so interesting to experience how this works.
A friend of mine once called it the white Volkswagen effect. He was considering buying a white Volkswagen. All of a sudden he saw white Volkswagens everywhere. It’s not that the world was suddenly overflowing with more Volkswagens.
The only thing that changed was that he had a white Volkswagen on his mind and that’s what he saw in the world.
You can do this at home but when you’re on your way to do groceries for instance don’t stop paying attention to your surroundings. And don’t forget that your phone is great for shooting impromptu encounters on the road.
Let me give you a few examples but don’t let that hold you back to come up with your own concepts.
#3 The Alphabet Project
Once you start to think about this project you can’t stop yourself. You make 26 pictures of things and ideas starting with the letters of the alphabet. For most letters it’s easy to come up with ideas but some are a little more challenging. Like the q or the z.
There are 2 levels in this project. You can choose tangible things for the different letters like Apple.
But you can also decide to capture less tangible things like feelings, emotions, and ideas. You’re only limited by your imagination.
Let’s look at the letter C for instance.
You can go for the word Candle with is a tangible thing.
But you can also go for the word Connection which is less tangible. Translating the concept of connection into something we can see is taking it one step further.
If you want to challenge yourself you decide on one of the 2 levels beforehand and take that all the way to Z. But you can also mix and match of course.
#4 The Photo a Day Project
This is a well-known project and its goal is to simply get you photographing. There are a lot of ways to approach this.
Most important is to actually commit to a time period. If you don’t you’ll lose momentum. Whether it’s for a week, 21 days, a month or an entire year decide, commit, and then stick to it.
The challenge is of course not only sticking to it but to make every photo count.
Because it’s not very difficult to take a picture every day. I’m sure most of us already do that without even thinking about it. That’s not the point of this project.
Before you press the shutter think about what it is you’re capturing.
Why do you want to photograph it?
What does it mean to you? What are you trying to convey?
Think of this project as your visual diary and be thoughtful of what to put in it. Creating a sketchbook of your day to day life is very valuable. Especially in challenging times like we are experiencing right now.
#5 The Science Project
This is a project that’s very close to my heart. To be honest, they all are but this one is extra special. Because I love to photograph movement in a motionless object.
But let me start by explaining what this photography idea is all about. Over a period of time, you’re gonna photograph the downfall of food or flowers.
Sounds depressing? It’s the opposite actually. Because it opens you up for the beauty of the process.
When you’re hovering over a pear with your camera in hand and photograph the day to day deterioration you start to develop warm feelings for it.
You start to see how beautiful her journey from young, fresh pear to being all shriveled up is. Remind you of something?
So buy a pear or anything else that’s perishable, cut it open, put it on a platter, and watch it for a few weeks. Your commitment is to follow the process and make photos every day.
The key is to keep the circumstances the same. When every photo has the same light source, props, and framing the journey becomes more visible.
#6 The Self-Portrait Project
Oh no, no, no, I’m not talking about a selfie here. Self-portraiture has a longstanding tradition in the arts. So try to get a bit more into that flow and use your self-portraiture time for some introspection.
First make sure you’re alone. It’s you and your camera. Commit to not holding anything back. To make it easier you have my permission to never ever show your self-portrait to anyone if you don’t want to.
Again you can take several approaches for this at home photography idea.
You can go all-in if you have the equipment to do so and mount your camera on a tripod and set up some lighting. It’s what I did for the self-portrait I recently made. You can read all about it in 7 steps to a powerful self-portrait and a confidence boost.
You can take a more documentary approach and document an aspect of your day to day life. Using mirrors or other reflecting surfaces is a great way to play with this approach.
You can stage scenes to tell stories about your life, your emotions, or whatever else is occupying your mind. This is the moment to unleash your inner actress. Someone who took this to an entirely new level is Cindy Sherman. If you’re attracted to this approach you should check her out. She’s awesome.
#7 The Precious Mess Project
Otherwise known as the Day in the Life project.
But I prefer to call the precious mess project. Because it sets you up from the start to not iron out the messy bits and pieces in your day.
You know what, it’s those messy moments that you look back to 10 years from now that put a smile to your face. Trust me!
Because life gets a little messy from time to time. Your kid is gonna throw a tantrum. Your living room will be flooded with laundry. The dining room table will be covered with piles of work stuff. Your kitchen will be full of leftover dishes. And the bathroom is sure to be a warzone after bathtime.
Document it because it is the life you’ll have forgotten about years from now. And at the same time, it is what we cherish the most right now.
It’s not the picture in front of the Christmas tree taken by your uncle. Or the family portrait all in the same clothes at the beach using a self-timer and a tripod. It just isn’t.
This is probably the most challenging of all the at home photography ideas. Not in the least because it puts you in a different role.
Whatever the circumstances of your life are you need to get out of it and into an observing state.
You need to let go and let life unfold in front of your lens. Unless unsafe things are happening you cannot interfere.
This might be a few steps out of your comfort zone but when you stick to it it’s gonna be so rewarding. Once you’ve done this for a day you’re gonna want to do this on a regular basis.
All of a sudden you notice you have your camera ready and close by for the tiniest of precious moments!
For loads of more information about this photo project, check out my tutorial for photographing children documentary style and my article full of candid photography tips.
Wanna immerse yourself in the mindful nature of photography? Check out See Fresh | Mindful Photography Course!
Did that get your creative juices flowing or what? Let us know in the comments which project you’re gonna take on first!
Did you try one of the projects? Share your photos on Instagram and mention @photography-playground!
I think simply choosing an awkward focal length and only taking photos at that focal length can be a good challenge. Or maybe you could choose a very slow shutter speed that throws up challenges. Taking you out of your comfort zone is a quick way to learning. Necessity is the mother of invention.