Do a project or shoot by creating random restrictions to your shooting. Some of these limits can include using only a prime lens, shooting images with negative space, ensuring there are no people or structures in the frame, using only manual mode, shooting only b/w, over or underexposing your images, spot meter only etc. You can make these rules up. Once you start shooting with a restriction, you will realise how it is not the easiest task. However, it will force you to think creatively and improve your photography.
Shoot with a film camera
Go back to the roots and grab a film camera and shoot a roll of film. When you start shooting with a film camera, you will realise that unlike the DSLR, you cannot simply fire the camera and click endless shots. The film camera will have a limit of images, so you will be forced to carefully analyse your shots before shooting. You will have to think of composition, camera settings, light etc. This exercise is definitely a great way to get you to think before shooting. Once you get the film processed, you will get the actual prints of your photos, and you can accordingly critique the shots.
Shoot 10 images of a small subject
Select one specific subject and then give yourself a number, it could be 5, 10 or 15, and shoot these many images of that same subject. This exercise will make you think about the various different ways that you could capture the same subject. Make you think of composition, angles, lighting etc. However, make sure that the small subject does not mean your whole city!
Shoot elements in same location
Think of different photographic elements like shape, form, pattern, texture, light, shadow, depth etc, and then go to a specific location and try to capture images that would feature these images. This little exercise will increase your observational skill, and make you think of different creative ways of shooting.
Capture the alphabets
This exercise is a tricky one, and there are two ways that you could do it. Go out and shoot the 26 letters from A-Z. While you can either go shoot images of things that would appear like the alphabet (for example a round manhole for the letter ‘O’, or else you can go and shoot objects or actions that start with that alphabet. If you are doing the first task, then do not shoot actual letters out there, and if you’re doing the second task, make sure you shoot images which clearly depict the action.
This would probably be an easy project, but nevertheless can be very creatively fulfilling. Give yourself a single theme or a topic. This can be anything, from colourful window panes or vintage cars to street cats or babies. You are free to choose any theme you like and then you can go out and find these subjects and shoot them in an interesting way possible. You will start relating to the subject and discover much more about it.
A day in the life
One of our favourite photography projects to undertake is this one. Find an interesting subject; this can be a policemen, your local tea-seller, the gardener, or simply your grandmother, and then accompany them around the entire day shoot them the entire day. Your images should capture the essence of the person’s day, and give the viewer a humanistic in-depth look into the person and their daily-life.
Middle of the day
One of most common excuses photographers give to not go out and shoot is “it’s the middle of the day, there’s bad lighting”. With this exercise you will be forced to step out in the middle of the day in “bad lighting” and shoot images. For a week or a month, everyday, go out in the afternoon, and shoot. At the end of this exercise you will realise that you have actually learned how to click images in such lighting conditions.
Same subject, different times of the day
Another very creatively fulfilling exercise, shooting the same subject at different times of the day is a great exercise in lighting. The easiest way to do this is to select landmarks, or historical buildings in your city, and then shoot them at different times of the day. You can then compare the different images, and you will see how light affects subjects, and how you can tackle it using different settings.
While today selfies are very common, these are not necessarily self-portraits. Shooting a self-portrait will involve a lot of thought and planning. While you can simply put the camera on a tripod on a timer and capture yourself, that would be too easy to do. Plan a self-portrait that tells a story. A self-portrait that speaks about who you are, gives an essence of your personality.