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Cool Photography Art Project Ideas to Try This Weekend

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| By Jon Gregory | May 14, 2021

Put your smartphone camera or DSLR to the test with fun photography art project ideas – the perfect hobby for creative weekends.

Cool photography art project ideas to try this weekend include nature photography and portrait photography.

Whether you’re an experienced snapper with a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex camera) or simply looking to explore what you can do with your smartphone, there are plenty of photography art project ideas you can try. We’ve spoken to photographers, both professional and amateur, to get specific tips and expert advice on getting your creative juices flowing. Think of the following five photography projects as your starting point: a friendly nudge in a direction you may not have considered before. Who knows where you’ll go with them?

Go Macro

Cool nature photography project ideas include shooting with a macro lens.

The beauty of macro photography, where you shoot close-up images of small objects, is that it captures details not visible with the naked eye, creating crazy landscapes from the most mundane everyday objects. Try zooming into things you find on a shoreline stroll – the texture of a shell, the grain of driftwood or the green alien terrain of algae and seaweed.

Macro photography used to require lots of specialised kit but now most point-and-shoot cameras have a macro mode. Even most smartphones can tackle this kind of photography art project idea – or try an attachment which adds that capability to your phone, like the Black Eye G4 Macro Lens for Smartphones

What to Try

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Take a Birds’ Eye View

You can shoot interesting landscape photography project ideas with a drone.

Before drones were commercially available, the only option to capture aerial imagery was to hire a plane or helicopter but now all photographers can achieve stunning shots from a unique perspective, where the sky is literally the limit.

If this is your first time trying drone photography, remember that preparation is key. Make sure you test your gear in an open space away from people and any tall hazards, so that an emergency landing is always an option if needed. “Taking photos out over the ocean isn't the time to find out your drone can't handle the wind or doesn't have a return to home on low battery feature,” says graphic designer and drone enthusiast Nick Clark.

Make sure to set up your gear before you actually want to fly, something Nick learnt from experience: “There's nothing more frustrating than pulling out your drone for some sunset shots, to then spend 20 minutes updating firmware and missing the good light.”

Also, research the area well in advance (on Google Maps, Google Earth, PhotoPills, or even Instagram, so that you make the most of your flying time. “If you know what you're trying to shoot beforehand, you'll have much better luck getting some good shots than looking around once the drone is already in the air,” says Nick.

Hot Tip: Remember to follow the drone safety rules, including not to go within 5.5km of an airport, and if you're flying for any kind of commercial purpose, you need to register your drone.

What to Try

Seeing Double

For photography project ideas at home, try matching up two shots of the one subject using Photoshop editing software.

This is a fun photography art project idea which lets you get very creative. There’s also a chance for your child, partner or pet to get involved as the model. You will need a tripod to ensure the two images are identical (the slightest movement will make the next step impossible) and photo-editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop.

Set the camera up for your shot and get your model (or yourself!) to strike one pose on the left side of the frame and then again on the right side. Open the two images as layers in Photoshop (by choosing the ‘Load Files into Stack’ option), then simply rub out the bits of the top layer you don’t want so that the bottom layer is visible. This can be done with the eraser tool, or with a layer mask.

What to Try

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Window Light Portraits

Portrait photography works well with a play of light and shadow.

The way a photograph is lit can make or break the entire composition, and how light and shadows work with the subject can completely change the tone of the shot. Get your subject to face the window and then experiment with how much light you let through. Using a blind to create patterns can be very effective or diffusing through a light curtain can also work wonders in softening direct sunlight. But be warned: due to the high contrast between light and dark, you may need to rely on manual focus for this style of shot.

Professional photographer Amy Heycock says for this to work well, “the window needs to be the only source of light in the room. If there are other windows, close the curtains and turn off any lights.”

It might not look perfect on the first try but manipulate the set-up until you have the desired look. “If the shadow is too harsh, simply use white cardboard to bounce some light onto the subject's face, you'll have to play around with the angle to get it right,” says Amy.

What to Try

Mono-Colour

One of many photography art project ideas is to snap a series of images with a common colour theme.

So many artists fear the blank canvas, so sometimes setting restrictions or guidelines for yourself can be strangely freeing. Spend a day shooting only blue or red or yellow; you’ll find yourself capturing things you may never have given a second glance. Whether you pick your favourite colour or a seasonal shade for nature photography, these images, when collected together, can have a striking effect. Try working in tonal shades too: from pastel pink candyfloss to scarlet red post boxes; or the teal of a sports car’s retro paint job to the water of a beach-side lap pool.