9 Fun Photography Projects to Keep You Sane While You’re Stuck Indoors

Apr 1, 2020 · 7 min read

Do you miss exploring the great outdoors with your camera? Being stuck at home on quarantine doesn’t mean you have to stop making photos.

By Jim Fisher

We’ve all got a responsibility to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19. For digital camera and photography enthusiasts, that means a lot less opportunity to get out and explore the world. That doesn’t mean you can’t keep making images or posting to your Instagram, though.

You’re free to snap shots in the comfort of your home, though depending on where you live, the square footage you’re working with might be very different. Apartment dwellers aren’t likely to have much space or a dedicated studio, but there’s plenty you can do without one.

We’ve got a few ideas for you to try at home to keep your creative spirit alive.

Make Some Macro Images

A macro lens is a useful tool for viewing the world in a different way. Most focus close enough to capture images at full life-size, so you can fill the frame with something as small as 24-by-36mm when using a full-frame camera.

If you have a window box herb garden, fresh cut flowers, or the like, a macro can pull out small details. But don’t limit yourself — everyday objects look a lot different when magnified.

For more abstract work, think about adding some water or ice to the mix, or put some light modifiers between your subject and lens. We love the Lensbaby Omni Creative Filter system for macro shots.

Set Up a Bird Feeder

Depending on your anxiety level — and location — you might feel perfectly safe heading out to the trail or park for some bird photography. But even a hike in the woods has gone from something spurious to an activity that you have to approach with caution and care, taking a lot of the fun out of capturing the natural world.

You can bring the birds to you, though. Setting up a feeder on your window (many attach with suction cups and are transparent) will allow you to make photos and videos.

If you have one, you can even put a GoPro in there to get an up-close and personal perspective with creatures normally viewed through a 600mm lens.

At-Home Portraits

If you’re a parent or a pet owner, you have like plenty of opportunities to shoot some portraits indoors. You can reach for a bright lens, find some window light, and net beautiful results. But if you want to step it up and give yourself a fun project, think about an at-home photo booth.

It doesn’t have to be fancy. A wood frame to hold a backdrop, LED lights or flashes, depending on what you use, and some modifiers for diffusion will get you started. If you go with a green backdrop you can play with some chroma-key effects too.

If you don’t already have a portrait lens, it’s tough to go wrong with any affordable 50 or 85mm f/1.8 lens. If you want a more unique look, consider picking up something with a vintage feel, like the Lomography New Petzval MkII. I also like the Lensbaby Composer Pro II for portraits — it lets you play with bokeh in ways you can’t with standard lenses.

Take an Online Class

No matter how good a photographer you think you are, there’s always room to hone your craft. Thankfully, you don’t have to go to a classroom to take a class in 2020. Many photographers and influencers offer video classes and tutorials. Some are free, some are for pay.

If you don’t mind paying, and prefer the structure of a traditional class, MasterClass offers up a set of instructions from celebrity portrait specialist Annie Leibovitz and there are less-famous instructors available in classes from Lynda and Udemy.

If you’re more free-form, or simply not a fan of Leibovitz’s style, I recommend identifying which aspect of the craft you’d like to improve, and finding a photographer who you think does what you’re trying to do quite well. YouTube is a great jumping off point, with folks like Ted Forbes dishing out good advice on gear and technique, and Manny Ortiz offering up insight for portraiture.

With seemingly endless hours of content, there’s some noise out there too. Find some photographers you like and follow them.

Brush up on Editing

Pressing the shutter button is just one aspect of making an image. If you’re working with Raw format files you have loads of room to fine-tune colors, contrast, and exposure. If you’ve not yet explored the editing tools available, or find yourself fumbling a bit when editing, it’s a good idea to set aside some time to better learn your editing suite.

You can try new tools too. If you’re already an expert-level user in Capture One, it might be worth it to try Adobe Lightroom instead, or vice versa. We also like the Nik Collection for artistic effects, including superlative black-and-white conversion, and RNI Films for analog looks in Lightroom.

Make a Vlog or Photo Journal

Vlogging and journaling during a crisis serves multiple masters. For you, it’s a good way to focus energy, create some content, and practice or learn about capturing video and audio (if you go the vlog route), or adding some context to words (if you’re more of a photographer).

For sociologists and historians, it’s a primary source. While your particular journal may not enter into textbooks, the records of what we’re going through collectively, but enduring separately, can be a value resource for future kids and grandkids to look back on when they study recent history. Samuel Pepys’ account of London during the Plague of 1665 and the Fire of 1666 is still textbook material today, after all.

Snapshot Your Dinner

You’re not going out to restaurants, upping the chances that you’re using time at home to cook or bake — we’ve still got to eat, after all. Instagramming your latest dinner creation or fanciful dessert not only shows off your photo skills, but your culinary ones as well.

The idea can be extended to other kitchen projects. It’s as good a time as any to start canning your own homemade jellies, jams, and pickles. If you’ve got kids, it can be a fun time to start teaching them the basics of baking and cake decoration — and capture all the memories with your camera.

Makes Some New Prints

If you’re getting tired of looking at the pictures hanging on the wall in your home, there’s no time like the present to swap some old favorites out. You can go your own route and print at home (if you don’t already own a photo printer, we have some suggestions), but I’d only recommend going that way if it’s something you’ll use regularly.

For one-off orders and prints, an online printing service will get your images made and shipped right to your home. We’ve reviewed several of the popular online printing services, and have some favorites to recommend.

Digitize Your Archives

Have you been using a camera long enough to have a bunch of folders of slides and negatives hidden away in a closet? There’s no time like the present to work on bringing them into the digital era.

Looking at past work is certain to elicit some nostalgia too, and you may find some images from the past that you’ve forgotten about. For more, read our guide on digitizing negatives.

Originally published at https://www.pcmag.com.

PC Magazine

PC Magazine: redefining technology news and reviews since…

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store