COVID-19 has completely taken over the world. The impact it has had on global industries, including the photo industry, is catastrophic. People are doing all they can to keep going, keep sane, and keep happy. For a photographer, being stuck at home (if you’re in quarantine) is terrible – especially if you do most of your work outdoors. But it’s important not to let the gloom take over, and we all have to push ourselves to be creative. If you’re scratching your head as to what you can do at home creatively, don’t worry. Here are some photo projects you can work on while stuck in quarantine.
Whether you’re a portrait photographer or not, now is a great time to turn the camera on yourself. Creating self-portraits has several benefits. Firstly, it puts you in the shoes of a subject and helps you understand the feelings and thoughts they may have when you photograph them. Learning how to relax in front of the camera, in turn, helps you understand how you can help others relax in the future.
Secondly, and this isn’t a reach, self-portraits can help you love and appreciate yourself more. Photographers are so used to looking at others that we sometimes forget to look at ourselves. If you create a portrait of yourself that you like, it gives you a nice confidence boost – both creatively and emotionally.
Finally, it’s a lot of fun. You will come away with some good images and some bad images, and gain some experience in dealing with the challenges that come with getting the exposure right, the focus accurate, and the composition tight. It’s a challenge, but a good one.
You’re likely to have a whole lot of food stocked up right now. We have no idea how long this quarantine will last, so it’s important to have everything you need. Everyone snaps their food in restaurants: well, now it’s time to photograph the food you make in your kitchen! Even if you don’t fancy yourself as a good cook or someone who cares overly about food presentation, now’s the time to push yourself.
If you haven’t shot food photography before, this process will certainly make you appreciate the difficulties of doing so. Think carefully about how you shoot your homemade dish. If you’ve gone for the gourmet burger, identify which elements of it you would like to emphasize. For example, it’s what’s inside the bread that matters. So, set your camera to an angle that best displays the core ingredients between the bread! But remember, every star needs some supporting acts. Add some rustic potatoes and greens to the frame to give the image more depth and substance.
If you have some lighting equipment at home, that’s great! Be sure to use a diffuser. Intense shadows tend not to compliment food photography. If you don’t have external lighting, set up near a window. You can either close the curtain (if it’s thin) or put some paper over the window to soften the light.
If food isn’t your thing, then product photography is your next option. Put your favorite material possessions together and start photographing them. See if you can identify trends or evolution in your purchasing choices. You can learn something about yourself while being creative — that’s one of the cool things about photo projects!
If you really want to get creative with your photo projects, multiple exposures are your best option! Many new cameras have the option of shooting in multiple exposure mode. However, older cameras may require the old school technique. That being, setting your dial to “Bulb” mode and using a shutter release remote. The process is as follows.
- Set up your scene.
- Open your shutter and capture the scene for 5-10 seconds.
- Cover your lens with a black piece of paper.
- Make adjustments to the scene.
- Take the paper away from your lens and capture the new scene for 5-10 seconds.
- Close your shutter.
It’s easier to use the old school technique when shooting with someone else. They can change the scene while you cover the lens. So this may be a good time for some family or friendly bonding. You’re all going to get bored, so you may as well get others to take part in your new creative process!
For portraits, encourage your subject to be expressive in their movements and animated in their facial expressions.
Edit Your Old Work
It’s time to get in touch with your back catalog. There’s no point having thousands of images sitting on a hard drive doing nothing, especially at a time like this. Open them up in your editing tool (we prefer using Capture One 20, but whatever works best for you is fine). And just spend some time with your old photographs and see if you can make them work. At the time of taking them, you may have felt nothing was appealing enough to warrant a full edit. Tastes change, so do our eyes; you may find something now that you can latch onto and pull out with your editing.
There’s a high chance you’re a better editor now also. All the skills you now possess can be put to use to help bring old photos to life. While we don’t think it’s always the best idea to delete old images, sometimes having a little cull can help. Only delete an image if you really believe it has no value – aesthetically or as a frame of reference/education. Doing a small cull helps free up space on your hard drive and cloud storage, saving you money as you won’t need to invest in a new storage option so quickly.
Time to take a bath! A milky one. Milk baths are cool for photography. (We’re not sure what other time someone would take a milk bath, but this is 2020: anything can happen.) Experiment with different textures. You can go for the option of only using milk. Or you can use warm water, milk, and milk powder for a thicker solution. Stay away from low-fat milk, it’s essentially water and you won’t get those dreamy, creamy whites you’re after.
Personally, we love using a juxtaposition in this type of scene. Add some green leaves to the milk so that you create a heavenly look. Or, have your subject wear dark, rich red make up to create interesting contrast. Baby and maternity shoots also work well in this situation.
Create a Content Web
If you want more ideas for photo projects, use the above examples as a foundation. Then take time to write down extensions of each idea that can form into a new creative idea and direction. Go into a quiet corner and do it: you will be surprised how creative your mind can be.
Aside from the above, we encourage you to stay safe during this time. It’s a strange time for everyone, and we need to come together as creatives – as a society – and show that, as humans, we can get through this.