Digital Project / EC 831

Second Thoughts; Inspired Thoughts and Shots?

Over the past week or so, I have been wrestling with a go-to idea for my digital project.  I have been thinking about the possibilities of creating a “flipped unit” for Math class. This would be very practical and helpful, I am sure.  I know I could learn a lot, and it would be great for my kids, especially my really independent crew of kids.  But to be honest, I’m not really feeling it.  I want to do something I’m excited and passionate about, and while this is something I would like to do, I’m not inspired by it.  Today I feel like I may have come across something that has sparked some enthusiasm…

I love photography.  I bought my baseline Nikon SLR (D30, now referred to as the D3000) when I moved to Hong Kong in 2005.  I really enjoy capturing people and culture in my photos (oh, to shoot for National Geographic! Dream job, I say!).


Guwahati, India (2009).

I have spent some time learning about composition, but I have done little to take advantage of my SLR’s potential.  I have always wanted to learn more and grow as a photographer in this way, especially focusing on the technical aspects like light, aperture, etc.  So, this part one: taking the next step and learning about all the nitty gritty technicalities of taking a good photo.  This could take the form of a MOOC (though I can’t seem to track one down at the moment but there are many photo tutorial sites around), reading online, and being tutored/shadowing experts (I have a number of friends who are professional photographers).  I could document some of my progress on my blog.  This is fine and dandy, but it’s part two that makes me smile…

Mexico (2012).

Mexico (2012).

I was thinking about how Luis von Ahn has these innovative and beautiful ideas that, as Amanda commented, manage to kill two birds with one stone (while you learn a language, you simultaneously help translate the web).  I wonder if while I learn to be a better photographer, I could offer what I do know, with the skills I already have, to families who would like to have a family/baby/couple/whatever photo taken, but don’t have the finances to pay for a professional.  Especially as Christmas approaches, I bet I could find some people who haven’t had a family photo taken in a long time.  I’m wondering and smiling.  Because not only would I have the chance to capture something special and get to practice photography, I also get to meet new people and hear their stories.

And then part three (yes, this is a brainstorming session underway!)….if I can make some connections with families or couples, and I am able to set up some photo shoots, then if they needed help, maybe I could find a way to help them pay for the development of their prints, too.  This could potentially be a chance to bring in the social media element and online fundraising.  People could anonymously offer some help by giving online.

What do you think?! Do you foresee any potential pitfalls here? Or do you have any other ideas or resources that might be helpful?


11 thoughts on “Second Thoughts; Inspired Thoughts and Shots?

  1. A couple of years back I followed and (sometimes) participated in the Daily Shoot project – see the Twitter account at . Basically, everyday there was a photo prompt, and people around the world used the same hashtag to connect their version of each assignment. It was pretty cool, and perhaps there’s some inspiration there.

    There’s also a number of us (although I’ve been a bit of a dropout this year) who take a single photograph everyday and post it to this group. Basically, it’s a 365/2013 challenge. You could perhaps attempt something like this during the course and see where it goes.

    Just a couple of ideas. I’ve also tweeted this out, so perhaps you can find others.

    • Thanks, Alec! I completed a 365 project in 2011, and it was a great experience! Especially fun to look back on the photos and writing now. I checked out the dailyshoot and they have finished after 690 days…but I’m sure I could still use their ideas or find a similar project to inspire daily practice. I’ve been working on practicing gratitude by noting gifts in October, so I may be able to integrate photography there, as well. Thanks for the tweet-out!

  2. Looks like an interesting idea! Definitely smart to go with your passion!

    The free photoshoot (or discounted) is something that a lot of photography students do to pay their way. It’s standard practice for starting photographers to use this kind of work to build their portfolio. It’s also how a lot of couples afford wedding photography, hunting craigslist, or photography schools for new photogs who would give a discount or do it for the practice. Just wanted to make you aware that this practice is common in the field so you might want to find a way to put a twist on it that gives it meaning to you. Maybe donate as a prize or a gift to a charity event, or volunteer to do photography for charities that are meaningful to you. Not that doing photo shoots for people who could use a new family photo wouldn’t be awesome too, just be wary of their expectations. It can often become a lot more than you thought. The wedding planning community I work with has a lot of discussions about photographers and hiring friends or starting photographers and sometimes expectations don’t match and it gets difficult for all.

    As for developing prints, there are so many good services out there now that do really cheap photos that most people can get them way more affordably than ever before. I got my wedding photos printed by Shutterfly and they regularly do super huge and cheap deals. So as long as people can get access to the digital files, it’s significantly less onerous now to get photos printed than it used to be. Not that having more traditional prints isn’t awesome. But most of the cost for prints comes in if the photographer will not release digital files.

    In talking about giving back or contributing, making your photos Creative Commons is honestly a big thing. The more images that exist as Creative Commons, the better, because it means more options when hunting that perfect photo or image. 🙂 So maybe you could look at finding images that you wish existed and finding ways to create them.

    • Thanks, Kirsten! I appreciate your feedback! Right, I had some familiarity with beginning photographers offering discounted or free services (makes sense, though I kind of forgot, ha!)…I guess I am thinking more about creating something special for others that they may not otherwise have, and not so much about the development of my own portfolio. I am eager to learn new things as a photographer and would be open to doing family, baby, sports photos in the future, but I’m not really set on pursuing that professionally at this point.

      Good thoughts on print development..there are definitely cheap options to look into. I also like your mention of Creative Commmons. I’m all for the sharing!!

  3. Alec nudged me your way. I’ve been happily shooting daily photos since 2008. I get antsy if I don’t. The Daily Shoot was one of the best things because it gace a focus/target for each day, and I tried a number of things. The site is gone, but you can still find the archive — one idea would just to be pick up a past date and try them out for a period of time

    We adopted this concept in the open digital storytelling course, ds106, into something we call the Daily Create which includes a not only photography, but drawing, audio, video, and text challenges. I have been thinking of running an online photo class, and I would suggest using those sample prompts, but always interpret them in photos.

    There is a version of this class running now with no teachers, just people using the previous syllabi- you will find useful resources and activities, especially under the How to be a Better Photographer section

    or things to try in our participant generated Assignment bank

    I really reccomenf TEN: Ten Ways to Improve Your Craft. None of Them Involve Buying Gear a $5 ebook by David duChemin

    I believe that photography is one of those things you can get better at simply by regular practice, reflecting on it, and sharing it with others (like the daily photogroup alec suggested)– I have a talk in which I tray to make a connection between the functions of a camera (aperture, shutterspeed, ISO) and learning

    I hope you pursue this project; if it were my, I would aim for some interesting way to do photos besides poses; I almost refuse to take a photo when people pose, I prefer candid shots, and ones that capture someone’s essence when they are unaware of the camera.

    Feel free to contact me if I can help.

    • Wow, thank you very much, Alan! I took a quick peek at all of the links you have noted here, and each one will be of value as I pursue this project! Lots of great ideas and very neat communities to learn from and be a part of. I will definitely take more time to look through each one. I am with you on capturing genuine moments rather than poses. I will aim to do that as I work with people. Thanks for the advice and feedback, and yes, I may contact with you as things progress.

  4. Hi Harmony! I’m taking ECI with you right now. Firstly, I love that you are taking the learning project to do something you are passionate about and not something for ‘work’.

    And I really like your two ideas – you learn while giving others something too. You could even give your ‘subjects’ pointers so they can take better pictures too.

    I’m also throwing it out there that we have a new babes and would love to participate in some photos if you wanted.

    • Thanks, Shauna! I appreciate the encouragement! Yeah, while it would be great to tackle a project I could use in my classroom, it is also refreshing to try another avenue, too! I will definitely keep you posted with how this progresses; thanks for being willing to be involved!! (And congrats on the new baby!! I love taking pictures of little ones!!)

  5. Pingback: The Ever-Evolving Digital Project | Digital Pathways

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