Photo tip - Have a project

15th December 2008
When you go out and about with your camera you need to have a purpose if you want to be efficient with your time. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a country walk and snapping anything that takes your fancy, but that’s not how a professional landscape photographer works. Similarly anyone looking to improve their portrait or wildlife photography needs to be more focused with their approach. Whatever project or theme you choose, knowing that you have an objective encourages you to research your subject, take your time over the shots and produce a body of work where the sum is even greater than the parts. A portfolio like this makes the photos much more useful to a magazine editor who can shape an article around them (or better yet write the article yourself – that’s what I do).

This is one of the articles I've written for my local lifestyle magazine - Nene Valley Living:

Take a look at the others here:

They can also be used in a calendar and any photo that helps tell a story is more likely to do well in a stock library.
You will also find that having a project is more fulfilling than taking snaps, as it requires more thought and it develops into something very personal. You will also discover that you become more accomplished in that particular area of photography. If you are frequenting the same places again and again then you will notice where the light falls at different times of the day and at different times of the year – invaluable information for a landscape or wildlife photographer. Building your knowledge in a particular geographic area will put you at an advantage over anyone else, as no-one else will know the best places and the best times.

To be profitable a professional landscape or wildlife photographer needs to be as efficient with their time as possible. A project is a great way to focus your mind, creativity and your time. The possibilities are endless, but here are some examples:

- The changing seasons of your home town.
- Photographing every road in your village
– a good way to get published in your local lifestyle magazine!
- Focus on one animal in your local area and try to capture as much of its behaviour as possible.
- The ethnicities of your home town.
- The most attractive buildings of your home town
- The underworld of your home town – including dark back streets, abandoned buildings and rundown tower blocks
- Perhaps even abstract close ups of body parts!

I have been researching the best places for wildlife photography over the past six months (take a look here: ) and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. By researching the best places I am now using many of these locations for my own photography. Over the years I will build up an encyclopaedic knowledge of what to photograph, when to photograph it and where. A fantastic time saving tool and competitive advantage for a specialist wildlife photographer –or at least it would be if I wasn’t sharing my database with the rest of the world! Too helpful for my own good…

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