I hope that after Part 1 and Part 2, you’ve got an idea and have started doing some personal work of your own. If not, that’s okay! Sometimes personal work can almost be stream of consciousness–you just shoot what moves you or makes you feel something or interests you–and figure out what it means later. But sometimes, you need structure. Often after I’ve stumbled upon my project, I’ll set up some guidelines to keep me on track. For example, I started photographing one roll of film of each of my boys to make sure one of my film cameras was working properly, and I was surprised to discover how much they’d changed in just a few weeks since I’d last photographed them. I was also feeling frustrated that I hadn’t been making portraits of my kids since I’d started making portraits of other people’s kids, so I started a project called One Kid, One Roll, Once a Month that had some specific guidelines. I would photograph each of my boys once a month. Each one got one roll of film dedicated to him. I would always shoot with Tri-X black and white film. And I would always shoot in my home studio with either one strobe or natural light. Setting up these guidelines gave me structure and limits, which forced me to work to be more creative each month when I made their portraits. It doesn’t matter what your guidelines are, should you choose to set some. Just make them meaningful and doable. Here are some ideas for guidelines in personal work.
- Limit the camera or lens that you’ll use
- Set a deadline or time limit
- Only shoot certain people or in certain locations
- Use natural light only or studio lights only
- Limit your aperture or shutter speed
- Require certain shots (e.g., a double exposure, a silhouette, or a reflection) each time
Are you excited to pick up your camera and start shooting? I hope so! I wish I could tell you exactly what your personal work should be, but only you can do that. It doesn’t have to be revolutionary; it just has to be meaningful to you. If you have some personal work you’ve been working on and would like a place to share it, this is it! We’d love to show off what you’re doing as a way to honor your personal project and as a way to inspire others!
Jen Golay is a Midwest mom of two boys–ages 14 and 10–who constantly amaze her with their creativity and cleverness. She is married to her best friend who willingly indulges her love of film photography and never rolls his eyes or complains when she brings another film camera into the house. Learning is Jen’s real passion, and she is always willing to share whatever knowledge she has collected. If she’s not hiding behind a camera, she’s probably hiding behind a book. You can find Jen’s photography on her blog Daily Life Photography and Instagram where she shares film images from her every day life and work. She loves comments and questions and promises to reply!
If you’re looking for a little guidance and encouragement to start your own personal project or want to take your film photography to the next level, Jen is excited to offer in-person and online mentoring sessions! She can help you with finding the right personal project for you, portfolio review, creative film techniques (e.g., double exposures, long exposures, Polaroid), strobes on film, or just getting started shooting film. Get in touch with Jen to find out more. firstname.lastname@example.org!