Photo Projects

The Ultimate Party Photographer

photoboothfeature.jpgNo, we’re not talking about Nikola Tamindzic [careful, some images NSFW], this is about the digital reinvention of the photo booth.

Party photos are tough to take, especially if you’re the host and your guests are camera-shy. A surefire method to great snaps? Power to the people!

Yes, friends, the photo booth is back. And it’s not just for drug stores and shopping malls any more — several enterprising photographers have reimagined the humble automatic photographic machine as the life of the party.

Here’s a couple of our favorites along with instructions for rolling your own:

Mark Van S’s Futuristic Digital Photobooth [via A VC]
It’s been to parties at the Whitney, celebrity bashes, even bar mitzvahs. But Mark’s booth follows a deceptively simple formula: beautiful, flattering lighting, instant feedback (every photo is projected onto a wall as soon as it’s taken, and cycles with other photos for the rest of the night), and a printout to go. As a bonus, all the photos are available online the very next day.

The Shine Flickr Photobooth
Brian Walsh’s Flickr Photo Booth at the Shine bar in San Francisco looks just like a traditional photo booth. It even sets your photos in the traditional 4-to-a-strip format. And then it uploads them straight to Flickr. We hear on some nights, the booth is more popular than the dance floor.

The Do it Yourself Digital Photobooth
Grab a couple friends and hunker down with this tutorial and you’ll combine a computer, camera, and printer to build your own modern-day photo booth. (For extra help, check out this DIY photo booth forum.)

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Need ideas? Our favorite point and shoot, the Canon SD800 IS is only $369 at Amazon. Also a good bet: its little brother, the Canon SD600, for an amazing $219! Or check out Amazon’s Camera and Photo Store!

Get Out and Shoot! — 3 Great Ideas for Shooting Outside in Your Town or City

There’s one sure-fire way to improve all of your shots: practice. Sure, you think, easy enough to say.

We can relate… Sometimes having a mission and some snap-happy friends can be just the motivation you need to get off your tuchus and start shooting.

With that in mind, we’ve compiled a few fun ideas to get you out having fun with your camera with friends or fellow photo enthusiasts. Read on to learn how you can make your town or city your photo playground.


Project 365: How to Take a Photo a Day and See Your Life in a Whole New Way

Project 365People will often say that their whole lives flashed before their eyes after they experienced a traumatic event. Perhaps it’s a bit morbid, but we think that sounds pretty incredible.

When Taylor McKnight started taking a photo a day on January 1st, 2004, he never imagined the project would not only serve as a way to remember a year, but also help him understand what was important to him in his life.

Whether it was his relationships, his career, or his fashion sense, recording a photo a day for a whole year left him with a rich visual history of his life. And it made him a better photographer to boot!

Now that he’s in the middle of doing it for a second time, we asked Taylor to write about it for us. Read on for our tutorial on how and why to create your own daily photographic history.


Think Small for a New Photographic Perspective

Small Examples

Photography isn’t just about capturing a moment, it’s also about seeing the ordinary in a new light.

A wise photo teach of ours once told us that no matter where you are, no matter how ordinary your surroundings may appear, there are always great photographs to be made. You just need to figure out where and how to look.

Here’s a fun exercise for gaining new perspective on the ordinary: examine how your world might appear to someone much, much smaller than you. Whether your star is an old G.I. Joe, a Barbie, or a mini Steve Jobs, this exercise is sure to give you fresh eyes.

Here are a few examples to get you started:

Slinkachu’s Little People
Hand-painted figurines traipsing all over London. Some shots depict typical tourist scenes, while others portray acts of violence and gore.

Karin Stack’s Believe You Me
Sets and models of figurines among imagined landscapes in the Romantic Landscape tradition.

Ernie Button’s Cereal Landscapes
Ordinary breakfast cereal becomes quirky landscapes of pyramids and mountains.

How to Prank Your Pals Using Your Digital Camera — Long Awkward Pose

Long Awkward Pose - Easy Cheesy Digital Camera PrankLast week we told you that the video mode on your digital camera was a fine way to make yourself a flipbook. It is.

But wanna know the real reason your camera records video?

It’s so you can enjoy a good laugh while making friends and loved ones look silly.

You see, when you hold up a camera, people expect you to take a photograph, not a video. So flip your camera into video mode and pretend like you’re taking a photo. Feign technical difficulties while your bud tries patiently to hold his smile and you’re virtually guaranteed an amusing minute or so of strained footage.

Don’t believe us? Check out comedian Katie Dippold’s collection at Long Awkward Pose. (Some favorites: Anthony, Deniz, Jack Jack — what a sport!)

Life is too short and too serious not to play the occasional practical joke. And trust us, you’ll both laugh about it afterward.

Long Awkward Pose

We’re looking for an awesome intern with a love for photography, DIY projects, and writing:

Photo Project: Tell a Story With Your Photos

A story in five photosWhen you were small, you got to read books full of big, beautiful pictures.

But as you grew bigger, the pictures grew smaller. Eventually, words replaced them altogether.

If the rise of the graphic novel is any indication, we still like our stories better with pictures.

Here’s a fun project that marries our love of words and photography: Go through your photos and find an event with lots of shots (your friends hanging out, a party, a vacation, whatever.) Now pick five photos, give or take, that tell a story when put in sequence. Ideally, it should make sense without any words.

Your story may be true or made up, silly or serious. The point is to look at your photos as narrative building blocks. To put a new spin on it, next time you’re out with your camera, consider how the photos you’re shooting would look in sequence. Or start with a plot and take the photos necessary to illustrate it.

For inspiration, check out Isuru’s Moon Day Massacre or this story of Homeland Security told using stormtroopers and care bears.

Flickr Visual Storytelling Group

The Simple Secret to Guaranteed (Real!) Smiles in Your Vacation Photos

couple-jumping.jpgWe’ve seen your vacation albums.

You and your brother/mother/significant other, squinting in the sun and staring glumly at the camera, pleading for it to go off.

What if we told you that there’s a magic word that will make any posed photograph leap off the page? Four magic letters that will bring a smile to the most tightly pursed lips?


Yes, jump. Don’t believe us? Check out the Jump Project for proof: gleaming mid-air grins from Vegas to New Zealand, Moscow to the Moab.

The project’s curator puts it simply, “It’s been a long time since any of us jumped for anything… jumping makes people smile.”

Jump Project Gallery
[via reader Adam Varga]

How to Shoot Impromptu Street Portraits

youngnastreetportraits.jpgThis weekend, spend some time outdoors, explore a new neighborhood, hone your portrait-taking skills, make strangers smile, and walk away with some amazing photographs.

Sound good? Then we’ve got the perfect photo project for you!

Armed with a camera and a few simple tools, you too can conquer the art of the impromptu street portrait. Find out how in this simple tutorial by our friend Youngna.

How to Shoot Impromptu Street Portraits


A Family Portrait Project You Can Start Today

Diego's Family PortraitsIf we could turn back time, we’d find a way to make our parents follow the annual ritual that Diego Golberg has been practicing since June 17th, 1976.

His aim is simple: to take a single portrait of every family member, every year. The results are jarringly beautiful and thought-provoking.

25 years collapse in an instant.

You can breeze through this in a second, if you want. But do yourself a favor and spend a few minutes really looking at these faces.

We think it’s never too late to start this photo ritual.

(BTW: Our friend Ely notes, and we agree, that Nicolas has clearly become a player by 1998.)

Diego Golberg’s Family Portrait Ritual

Photo Projects from Miranda July: When homework feels like love

Hair, sky, and sunEver feel like you need a boost of artistic inspiration? Something to jolt you out of a creative rut? We’ve got just the thing.

Miranda July, the woman who wrote and directed the delightful “Me and You and Everyone We Know”, publishes quirky “artistic assignments” that get you thinking outside of your norms and acting creatively.

Remember art class in elementary school? Finger painting and collages and pottery wheels? This is like that, but ten times more fun.

You’ll be surprised at how good it’ll make you feel.

Here are some of our faves:

Assignment #11: Photograph a scar and write about it

Assignment #27: Take a picture of the sun

Assignment #30: Take a picture of strangers holding hands

Assignment #39: Take a picture of your parents kissing

Assignment #50: Take a flash photo under your bed

Set aside some me time and dig into a few. There are no due dates, and you’re guaranteed an A+ in feeling good.

Miranda July’s Learning to Love You More