The Value of Personal Photography Projects

Let me kick off this post by saying that if you’re on Instagram, you need to be following the creative Christopher Cline and his larger than life goldendoodle Juji. (Go now. You’ll thank me later.)

Anyway, it was Wednesday and as Hunter and I were hunkered down inside amidst the -5° temperature and -25° wind chills, I stumbled across Chris’s edit of Juji and him inside a giant ice cube with a caption that read “Actual photo of me letting Juji out to pee!” I thought how fun and clever–and totally relatable! At the moment, Pittsburgh can best be described with the words “arctic blast” and
“polar vortex.” If you haven’t experienced either, consider yourself lucky; these words are ever bit as miserably chilling as they sound.

I thought to myself, You know, I’ve got some time. Why not do my own Chris Cline-inspired image? I did, after all, need to create something for this week’s Pet Photography 52 Weeks Project blog circle that I participate in on Facebook. If you’re not familiar with this group, it was created specifically for professional pet photographers who want to participate in a weekly photo challenge via their blogs as a way to improve photography skills as well as SEO. Essentially, a new theme is posted within the group every Wednesday and members are encouraged to capture a pet-related image connected to that week’s particular theme, share it on their blogs each Friday, and then link to another member’s blog at the bottom of each post, thus forming what’s known as a “blog circle.”

If you ask anyone who has ever completed (or at the very least, attempted) a 365 daily photo project or a weekly project 52, they’ll likely echo the value of personal photography projects. For the past six years, I’ve focused on my own daily photo project and can attest that, from challenging myself to grow as a photographer from a technical perspective to documenting my daily activities and keeping the joy of photography strong outside of the client expectations that go hand in hand with being a professional photographer, it is a wonderfully ambitious adventure! Some of my very favorite images are those taken for daily photo prompts, many of which I would never have created had it not been for my commitment to this type of project.

While there are countless perks to beginning a personal photography project, the most common benefits reported include

  • improving creativity and flexibility,
  • encouraging you to look at your world from a fresh perspective,
  • teaching the value of commitment and focus,
  • challenging you to experiment and push past your limiting beliefs around photography, and
  • documenting your daily activities and seemingly small moments to produce a visual legacy.

I believe in innovation over imitation so when it came time to create my image for this week, I headed over to Pixabay to hunt down some type of ice-related stock image that I could composite Hunter into and that’s where I found this frozen bubble. With its frosted look, I knew I’d be able to blend in Hunter easily without it looking unnatural…not that a 60-pound dog encapsulated in an ice bubble is natural, but who’s judging! I’ll just chalk up this craziness to that polar vortex.

Siberian retriever in ice bubble for personal photography project

Remember that blog circle I mentioned? Well, this week’s theme is red so to incorporate that, I used Photoshop to change Hunter’s sweater from its original orange hue to a vibrant red that popped against the cool, muted tones of this wintry scene. (I know, I know…I am really stretching the theme this week, but that’s part of the freedom of a personal photography project. I mean, all participants had to do was make sure our images had something red in them.)

Have you ever tackled a personal photography project? If so, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments!


This post is a part of the Pet Photography 52 Weeks project blog circle. To see what the next pawesome photographer is sharing for the weekly theme, “Red,” check out Pet Love Photography, serving Greater Cincinnati, the San Francisco Bay Area, and destinations nationwide. Continue to click the link at the end of each post in the blog circle until you eventually find your way back here.

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14 thoughts on “The Value of Personal Photography Projects

    1. Thanks, Angela! We’re still suffering through one final day of arctic temperatures, but then it’s going to rain and be about 40 degrees warmer, so…typical Pittsburgh weather!

  1. I love how you have incorporated so much into this image… and Hunter looks very dashing in red. I completed a 365 photo challenge last year. I loved it and feel that I learned a lot… but must admit that I was happy to be done on Dec. 31 🙂 . I am finding the 52 week challenge much more enjoyable as I am able to give more thought and time to each presentation.

    1. That’s awesome, congratulations! It definitely isn’t a project for everyone; I agree that there are always some days when I’m thinking, What the heck am I going to photograph today?! and that can surely add a bit of unnecessary stress. I think the key point is that you have to enjoy photography, whether that be daily, weekly, or less.

  2. Looks like you were a week ahead with this image! 🙂 Can’t wait to see this week’s. I think we had the same weather last week. Nicely done.

    1. I was ahead, totally not planned, however! Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll make it in for this week’s; life has been busy with Rainbow Sessions.

  3. Well done on a great image. 8m going to find and follow Christopher cline and see what you’re talking about🙂. Hunter looks lovely in his red sweater. I hope it warms up for you soon.

    1. Lynda, I promise you won’t be disappointed by his work! I just learned he’s also in Nicole’s HOTD Facebook group and saw some cool things he did for the Stanko edit as well.

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