The Importance and Benefits of Starting a Project

Whether it's a personal project, long-term project, doing spec work, or on assignment, projects are a great way to expand your photographic abilities.

It helps you continue to progress and find your own voice or visual style. Something that editors, art buyers, and companies continually reference as an important factor when hiring a new photographer. This is also something that most photographers struggle to understand early on and develop throughout their careers.

Coming to you from the talented documentary photographer, Daniel Milnor, is a look at why photographers should be taking advantage of projects and the skills working on a project can develop. Photography, in general, is about stories but we often get bogged down by an individual photo. Especially working photographers who are trying to build a strong portfolio to showcase to clients. We get caught up in the individual strength of images in our portfolio forgetting about the power of stories to sell ideas and possibly, are worth. 

Milnor talks about how working on a project helped him learn editing and design skills. Skills that are essential to doing editorial work but will also help you pitch to commercial clients, and understand your client's needs. Both making you a better candidate when competing against other photographers on a job. These skills will also help you when doing spec work or turning a passion into a profitable project. 

I learned a lot in my assisting days from a photographer I often cite as a mentor about the strength and importance of long-term projects. How they can both develop your skills but define you within the industry attracting the type of clients and assignments you want and can enjoy. Even more so, I learned the importance of those projects as they come together over the course of a career; something we don't often start thinking about till later in life. Often projects that we are passionate about are the ones that will survive us, inspire others, and become our legacy. 

Starting a project today may lead to your next paycheck, it might improve and build your skill set, but it could also be what you are remembered for as a photographer. 

Michael DeStefano's picture

Michael DeStefano is a commercial/editorial photographer focusing on Outdoor Lifestyle and Adventure. Based in Boston, MA he combines his passion for outdoor sports like climbing and surfing into his work. When not traveling or outdoors he is often found geeking out over new tech gadgets.

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Great Insight!

Hey Michael, I'm just one guy but was fortunate to have a lot of other folks help me along the way, and like you, assisting was HUGE. I had a fresh photojournalism degree but no idea how to be a photographer. Those other folks were the reason I made it. Also, my main site is for anyone who is bored or trapped in an elevator.