The Ingredients of a Successful Photography Project

Posted by on Aug 18, 2015 in Classes & Workshops | No Comments


Taking a few great pictures here and there might get you started as a photographer, but is that really a sustainable way to keep making work? At a certain point, you’ll realize that to unlock your full potential both artistically and technically you’ll need to put together a cohesive long-term project. Easier said than done, right?

In-depth projects can be hard enough to start, let alone see through to their completion. An endless amount of problems and distractions can pop-up and steer you away from your path. Good ideas and inspiration are essential, but you need the structure and technical backbone to back them up too.

Which leads us to the nuts and bolts of the issue. What are the main ingredients of a successful photography project? Let me show you a diagram that I came up with the other day.


We’ll start with technical know-how. It may not be the most exciting part of being a photographer for most, but getting well-acquainted with what comes after the shot is just as important as the moment you release the shutter. From post production and editing to perfecting a final print, your proficiency here can determine how well your photography is received.

Next comes visual language. In other words, how well can you translate your awesome ideas into a visual format? A great idea isn’t worth much unless you’re able to accurately carry it out in your imagery and content.

Last but certainly not least is personal expression. Even the most straightforward work has to have life in it, a touch of emotion or investment that makes it accessible to the viewer and fulfilling for the photographer. Finding a project that truly drives you is essential. If you don’t genuinely care about the work that you’re making, who else will?


A surprising amount of people think that once you’ve hashed out the technical aspects of photography you’ve learned all there is to know. They couldn’t be more wrong! A good project needs to be as layered as an onion. One of these layers is certainly the level of craft. But if you peel that away, there needs to be even more underneath to reward the mind as well as the eye. As Ansel Adams famously said, “there is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.”


Figuring out what it takes is only half the battle, as in the case of these three concepts, the sum is truly greater than the parts. How will you be able to tell where your strengths and weaknesses lie without an idea of what you should be aiming for? This diagram can help you pinpoint where you need help and how you can work on the synthesis of the three components. Once you’ve figured out where to improve, how you set yourself up for it makes a huge difference.

Placing yourself in an environment where you can trust that the people around you will give you honest feedback is really helpful for accelerating your improvement. It’s nice to be showered with compliments, but they probably won’t make you any better. Constructive feedback from peers, mentors, and instructors provides you with a steady stream of fresh perspectives and help with problem solving, not to mention a friendly pull when you get stuck in a creative rut.


At Project Basho, we’ve been thinking quite a lot about how to effectively translate all these ideas into an approachable program that will greatly benefit photographers from all walks of life, and we think we’ve come up with a great solution!

Our 9-month course offers photographers the guidance and structure they need to effectively navigate the conception and completion of a body of work while integrating essential technical instruction.

Sound like just what you need? Head over to the class page for more details!

Learn More about Our Long Term Class »


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