Ideas for Photography Projects

# 1. Travel & Places

Most of us love to travel. Have you ever paused and kept your camera aside, to feel the characteristics of that place making it distinct, including the mood, environment, people around or your reason for being there? If not, this time when you head out to a new place, take a pause, feel the vibes of that place with an open mind, without any rush to instantly click a photo and share on social media. Ask yourself, does this place have any perceptible effect on your mind, senses and emotions. Be a minute observer. Notice the subtle elements that gives character to that place. Do not hurry. It is only when you think it has evoked certain emotions in you or when you have started seeing more than what you saw in your first cursory look, pick your camera. And when you pick your camera, only shoot what this place whispers to your mind, nothing more, nothing less. Create photographs that express your unique individual experience with that place.

Norman Lewis. City Night. 1949.

1st Image: Eugène Atget. Cour, 7 rue de Valence. 1922 from here – 2nd Image: Edward Hopper. House by the Railroad. 1925. © MoMA, N.Y. – 3rd Image: Henri Cartier-Bresson. 1972 © Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos

To illustrate this idea better, I have hand-picked some of the classic artwork and photographs that can help you get started. While these artists had the liberty to begin their work with a blank canvas and add elements from their own imagination, I understand, a photographer may be restricted by what the view presents. Nonetheless, if you believe in presenting your photography work more as a fiction, than a fact (i.e., not in literal or representational form) I am sure, you will find ways to reflect your inner creative self, playing with the shutter speed, depth of field, composition and intentional camera movements. You can read more about these artwork at the links below.

Norman Lewis. City Night. 1949.
Edward Hopper. House by the Railroad. 1925.
Zarina. Home is a foreign Place. 1999.
Eugène Atget (1857 – 1927)
Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004)

# 2. Buildings & Architecture

In this project, try to draw attention to non-functional or overlooked buildings, architectural sites, and spaces in around you. Consider grouping your photographs by building type in orderly grids to reveal subtle differences within each architectural category. You can also consider taking photographs of the areas in and around your neighbourhood that have changed since you have lived there and the parts that have remained the same. This could be a dilapidated industrial site or ruins of old buildings made more than several decades back.

Key Takeaway: Do not always create or look at your images in isolation, but also as a body of work, creating a series, sometimes organising them in thoughtful manner to emphasize subtle differences between each individual piece of work.


Bernd Becher and Hilla Becher. Winding Towers, United Kingdom. 1966-1997. Image from here
Bernd Becher and Hilla Becher. Water Towers. 1988. © 2016 Hilla Becher

One classic example of such photography project can be the works of Bernd Becher and Hilla Becher who created series of photographs of industrial buildings and structures and often organised them in grids, to bring out their distinctive qualities and nuances. They shot only on overcast days, so as to avoid shadows, and early in the morning during the seasons of spring and fall. Another key element of their work is, you would hardy find any human element in their photographs, as if these structures were bereft of life. Know more

# 3. Appropriation

Appropriation is an intentional borrowing, copying, and alteration of pre-existing images, objects, and ideas in your artwork, as an artistic strategy. This strategy found new significance in the mid-20th century with the rise of consumerism and the proliferation of images through mass media outlets from magazines to television.
Source: Museum of Modern Art.

This strategy can also be adopted in photography, where you can use similar images (with appreciable differences) to create a series, or alter a pre-existing work to give it a new meaning and context. You can also consider mixing the photography medium with other medium of art to create a mixed media work.

Robert Rauschenberg (Bed, 1955) – Image from here


Andy Warhol Campbell’s Soup Cans’. 1962. © 2017 Andy Warhol Foundation

For your better understanding, I have given some illustrative examples here and listed the relevant artists below whose work may inspire you to think on these lines.

17 Artists Blurring the Line Between Painting and Photography
Intimacy – Edward Munch’s Expressionism Inspired Photography

Andy Warhol. Campbell’s Soup Cans’. 1962
Roy Lichtenstein. Drowning Girl. 1963 Know more about his work here, here and here
Rineke Dijkstra. Almerisa series. 1994–2008
On Kawara. I Got Up…. 1977
Ellen Gallagher. DeLuxe. 2004–05
Tom Wesselmann. Still Life #30. 1963
Robert Rauschenberg. Bed. 1955
Richard Pettibone (Born 1938)
Carrie Mae Weems (Born 1953)

# 4. Abstraction & Surrealism

Try renouncing naturalistic representation of your subject sometimes and focus on the fictional, surreal and imaginative aspects so as to introduce your individuality in the photography work that you create. Start with a representational theme and include imaginative and surreal aspects in your photography work to present your work more as a fiction than a fact. You may also read about symbolism and add certain elements in the frame to give more depth and meaning to your photography.

“The emotion of beauty is always obscured by the appearance of the object. Therefore, the object must be eliminated from the picture,”

– Piet Mondrian (Broadway Boogie Woogie, 1942–43)
Van Gogh. The Starry Night. 1889 – Image from here

Salvador Dalí. The Persistence of Memory. 1931
Van Gogh. The Starry Night. 1889
Piet Mondrian. Broadway Boogie Woogie. 1942–43
Man Ray. Dust Breeding. 1920, Anatomies, 1929, Rayograph
Raoul Ubac. The Secret Gathering, 1938
Hans Bellmer. The Doll, 1936
Maurice Tabard. Composition. 1929
André Kertész. Distortion #40, 1933 / 1970s


Salvador Dalí. The Persistence of Memory. 1931 – Image from here

The above photographs are few examples of abstraction and surrealistic photography work that I have tried to create in the past. These may not be the best examples, but can definitely serve as a starting point.


Published by Vivek Kumar Verma

Investment Banking Lawyer | Photographer & Blogger | Connoisseur of Food | Poet

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