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15 photography projects to help you stay sane while you’re stuck at home

What can you do when you’re stuck at home and there’s only so much Netflix you can handle? Engaging in creative hobbies like photography can help make sure you don’t sacrifice your mental health for your physical health. What do you photograph when you can’t venture beyond your own four walls or backyard, though?

Here are 15 photography projects you can do from home to keep your creative energy flowing.

1. Document your days stuck at home

It can be fun — and funny — to document your personal life when working from home or homeschooling your kids (and trying to stay sane). Plus, you’ll have a record of this time that you and your family can look back on. Photograph that toilet paper stash, the pajama parties, the family game nights, the sixth mac and cheese dinner in a row, or whatever life looks like for you right now. For inspiration, browse through Nashville photographer Tausha Dickinson’s viral portraits of families in her neighborhood (shot with a long lens to keep her distance and give everyone their space, of course).

2. Practice portraits on your family members

When was the last time you took a good photo of every member of your immediate family? Practice shooting portraits with the family members that you’re stuck in the house with. Play around with different poses and different lighting to help hone your skills.

Live alone? Grab that tripod and practice self-portraits. At the very least, you can get a new LinkedIn headshot out of it.

3. Start a daily photography challenge

New Year’s Day isn’t the only time to start a daily photography challenge. The challenge can be technical, like close-up or shallow depth of field, or more thematic. Check out this list of photo challenges for inspiration.

Charley Pangus/Unsplash

4. Learn what the heck TikTok is

Use your extra time to find new platforms to share your work — like the video platform TikTok. As the fourth most popular app on the Apple App Store, it’s not just for music videos anymore. See if joining TikTok makes sense for your job, or if it’s simply a good way to have fun and pass the time.

5. Explore your backyard or remote locations

Even if you have a good reason to stay away from crowds, remember that the outdoors is not canceled. When certain businesses are closed or gatherings are canceled, there are often exceptions for outdoor activities like walking or bike riding. If needed, go somewhere that doesn’t get a lot of visitors so it’s easy to keep your distance. That makes many hiking trails and nature parks fair game — just double-check that where you’re headed is currently open.

Or, stick closer to home by taking pictures in your own backyard. Hang a bird feeder to attract some feathered friends to practice your wildlife photography or toss a ball to your dog and try to capture her in that perfect midair moment.

6. Grab a macro lens and take abstract photos of household objects

A good macro lens can make anything look interesting. Gather some random household objects (like that coveted toilet paper) and challenge yourself to take a close-up photo that’s abstract. Play with patterns, angles, and colors. Then, entertain your friends long distance by sharing the photos on social media and seeing who can guess what that object is.

7. Start a photography podcast

If you’ve ever dreamed of sharing your photography insight with the world, now might be the time. Start with this guide on how to start a podcast.

8. Take an online photography class

Online photography classes can be a great way to kill several hours while becoming more photo savvy. If staying home is also zapping your budget, there are a number of classes you can take for free. The Professional Photographers of America association has temporarily opened up more than a thousand classes for free, while several other platforms, like Skillshare, are expanding free trials. 

9. Read a photography book

Not an online learner? Pick up a photography how-to book. My personal favorites are Lindsey Adler’s The Photographer’s Guide to Posing and Scott Kelby’s The Flash Book. Alternatively, browse through a book of photographs for inspiration. Even when bookstores are closed, e-books are not.

10. Edit old photos

Browse through your collection of old photos — there are likely a few gems that you missed originally. Edit some never-before-edited photos, re-edit a photo with a new perspective, or try some advanced editing techniques (you’ve got plenty of time to learn them).

11. Organize your archives

How easily can you find an old photo? Maybe organizing your photo archives should be on your to-do list. Create an organizational system that works for you, and spend some time in Lightroom or your favorite digital asset manager implementing that new system.

Brigitta Schneiter

12. Print your photos

Be honest, how many of your favorite photos still only exist in digital? “I don’t have the time” is no longer an excuse not to order those prints or create an album of your best shots. Here are some of our favorite print labs — just pay attention to fulfillment times so you can get your prints when you want them.

13. Create or update your photography portfolio

Share your photography with the world, because the rest of us need something to look at! If you don’t have a portfolio, now is a good time to start one. Beyond Instagram, you can find other great free options in our article about the best photography portfolio websites.

14. Take stock photos

Stock photography isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme, but it can be a worthwhile challenge that can eventually create another income stream. Perhaps start by photographing what everyone is searching for — for example, when everyone is stuck inside, that could include photos related to loneliness, remote work, or a toilet paper shortage.

Brian McGowan/Unsplash

15. Create elegant portraits of the most mundane objects

Everyday items sometimes become high-value, hard-to-find items. Give that toilet paper and bottled water the star treatment. You’ll get to practice things like lighting and composition, and you’ll probably get a laugh when you share a photo showing just how important those objects have become.

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