Planning a personal Photography project

Planning a personal Photography project

Planning a street photography project

This week’s blog post has a slightly different format. I have used the tool being explained to derive an actual project. I would like you readers to do the same. So reach for a piece of paper and pencil or open our shared spreadsheet and our handy document that contains everything you need when Planning a personal Photography project and lets head on in.

Planning a Personal Photography Project.

Make it personal

I’ve seen this header on a number of sites and never really tried to comprehend it. SO I begin at the beginning in trying to find out what is personal;

Who am I as defined by my actions

  • I have a daughter
  • I am an animator
  • I have worked in hospitality for 24yrs
  • I paint
  • I sculpt
  • I am an absent father
  • I lodge at a friends house
  • I enjoy red wine/burgers/smoking/coffee
  • I don’t drive although I can
  • I never listen to music
  • I’m single
  • I’m date-lexic ( this is a made up term which I use to excuse myself from never being able to remember birthdays, meetings and other anniversaries of time )

How am I defined by my thoughts

  • I despise politics
  • I rarely give to charity
  • I try to believe in God because everybody else doesn’t
  • I love geometry
  • I love the internet

Who am I defined by my family and friends

  • My parents live separately and quite solo
  • I have 3 brothers scattered across the globe
  • Most of my friends are hospitality workers

This is what I know because it is my day to day, it’s personal.Can any of these become a project? Is there an audience which might enjoy/not enjoy seeing images of any one aspect in your list? Is there anything in your list which you think is too close to the bone, something you don’t want people to see?

The reason I begin with myself is because it will halve the research I need to do for my first project.

Making it personal in any other circumstance will require you to really knuckle down on researching from each and every source before even touching your camera.

Define your project

Close in on what you would actually like the project to be about and write it out.

“An up close and personal documentation exploring the day to day post (night) service life of chefs/hospitality workers in Shrewsbury in colour which will result in a 30 image (at a ratio of 1:100 = 3000 Raw images) exhibition accompanied by a softback book.This will be shot over 3 months”

I think it is important to choose each aspect of your defintion, give the project a resolution and make it an absolute. No deviation from the elements.

Make sure you have this definition written out on a piece of paper and tuck it into your wallet, e-tag it as a screen saver on your phone /computer/tablet, write it on your toothbrush, have a mug made with it printed on. Have it visible in at least two places you’ll see each day.

Black and White or Colour

How will either manner of production help or hinder the project?

  • Black and white is gritty,erotic,classical,documentary
  • Colour is bright, gaudy, carnival, difficult to control, happy


Either what equipment do I have?

This will impact the style of photo you’re able to achieve – Fujifilm x20, Panasonic Lumix, Android Phone < don’t forget the ‘lesser’ cameras


What equipment do I need?

Do dream the dream because you never know – medium format digital with off camera flash


In the above scenario I have done about a third of my research by being part of it but there is so much more to do. Look through related books – this also may help you with formats, check out the internet, from commercial sites who may feature your project to blogs, really really go to your library, try and talk to some people already within your chosen project to find anecdotal evidence. Whereas a project which you are a part of has personal truth, when seeking to expand your repertoire and take on client projects it is to be able to present something which looks like you have lived within the project.

Go back to your heroes and study their content so you can begin assimilate an idea of images you must have in order to present your idea clearly.

“Bruce Gilden,Boogie,Saul Leiter,Richard Billingham – Both Gilden and Boogie have the visceral rawness I would hope to present,Billingham to remind me of the raw proximity needed to make the project ‘real’,and Leiter the blurred smeared colour.”

When you have an idea of these images you feel hinge the rest write them down on a list you can carry with you at all times and more importantly cross off when accomplished.

These images will help you plot out a plausible route from a-b of the project and maybe help you see more clearly the images you want between these key images. In terms of animation which is telling a story in moving images; Set the scene. Establish your characters. Ensure your characters have depth. Keep it simple.

Key Images

These images can be used throughout the project as markers or achievable aims. (This list came easily to me as I ‘know’ my subjects)

  • Chefs changing out of their whites
  • Chefs mopping last thing
  • The first cigarette and the debrief
  • More drinking
  • Drugs/Sex/Rock and Roll
  • The fight
  • Communal shot
  • Vomit
  • Asleep
  • Tattoos,
  • In your face aggression/swearing
  • Laughing
  • Environment
  • Posed ¾ portrait
  • Burns
  • Cuts

Already I have 16 of my 30 images needed.

By chasing these key images you may also trip up against more suitable substitutes.

Now chop that list of images down to one single image you believe will define your project. Describe it thoroughly and tell yourself why you think that image will define your project.

“A cut so deep the chef has to go to hospital to have stitches. The image will be a flash photograph of the wound all stitched up and the chef back in uniform.

The reason I believe this image will define my project is because the impression of hospitality is clean, crisp,neat, and without incident except for customers. I think by turning this on its head and showing the raw ‘nightmare’ ,my audience will in an instant realise this is not about award presentation food.”

Find out as much as possible without being in the trenches before you go into battle. Who,what,when,why,where?

  • Who are these people in my project- mainly chefs but also other hospitality workers, more often male
  • What do they do both on and off the project – They either work or sleep but some hobbies they have range from fishing to mountain biking, being in a band, shooting.
  • When do they gather for the project – Between shifts if on a split 3pm – 6pm or late at night mostly 11pm
  • Why do these people like what they do – Drink,smoke, sex,drugs, rock and roll.
  • Where do they do it geographically – Restaurants, Hotels, pubs, clubs, bars in Shrewsbury (be specific rather than at work or in a meeting hall)


Date and collect Raw files into one folder – Keep this folder on your desktop marked with your working title. I would also create the same or copy the folder into a shareable drive. Not only will this put you at peace about backup, if it is updated regularly then when the time comes sharing is easy.

How do I choose a working title?

You will already have an idea in your mind as to the overall project , synthesise this into a list of 25 descriptive words – choose one which gives meaning, and direction

Chefs Raw Hospitality Fine Dining Post shift uncooked underbelly fried roasted boiled exposed uncut slaughtered cooked Close brigade michelin tarts AA

Some of these terms are slang within hospitality.

Questions to answer

What is it about the subject I wish to present to the audience

“I’m certain I want to present the raw lifestyle of chefs post their shift. They work hard and play hard”

How can I use my camera and post production to match that?

“I can leave the images raw and untouched.

For this project I will only allow straight out of the camera images with cropping. No other post production is allowed”

Don’t process

In the initial stages personally I think it is good to just dump and run with your raw images. By all means have a look over them but all processing can be left to let the project and maybe yourself evolve.

Create a budget

I intend to choose three editors of my images and pay them a very nominal fee

  • Printing
  • Framing
  • Advertising
  • Book printing
  • Postage

Be Flexible

Although throughout the post, definition and adherence to that has been touted as the key to a successful project, flexibility or more the idea you have room to maneuver within your project guidelines is terribly important as images, events, ideas will spring forth

Sneak peek

I of course will break any rules I have set myself 🙂 Excited about beginning my project I shot 350 images on a night out with some colleagues. No one was injured during the creation of this image.

Planning a street photography project

Try and use a smaller version of this planning for when you step out on the street.

I truly hope you have been taking your time and worked through the headers with your own project and you are now ready. Be prepared to be exhilarated.

Downloadable Material

Please download our shared spreadsheet and our handy document that contains everything you need when Planning a personal Photography project and lets head on in.

A few links;


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