A year of creativity: The 52-week photography project perfect for beginners

A year of creativity: The 52-week photography project perfect for beginners

First published:
September 11, 2023
Updated:
January 30, 2024

A 52-week photography project encourages beginners to build on their skills. Committing to taking just one image each week, it provides a manageable pace for developing an understanding of camera technique

If you've recently taken your first steps into photography, you may be looking for ideas and inspiration for what you want to take pictures of.

A great place to start is a concept you may have already encountered: the "52-week” photo taking project.

This article explores what a 52-week project is, why it's a fantastic idea for beginner photographers, and how it can help you build and develop your skills behind the lens and grow as a photographer.

So let’s get started…

What is a 52-week photography project?

Simply put, a 52-week project, also known as a "Photo-a-Week" or "Project 52," is a creative photo-taking project that spans an entire year. The core idea is straightforward: take one photograph weekly for 52 weeks.

The very nature of this year-long commitment is that it challenges photographers to capture and share one photograph each week and provides an opportunity for creativity, growth, and the development of a coherent body of work throughout the span of a year.

Simply put, a 52-week photography project is where you commit to capturing one image per week for a year. But that's not set in stone–start when you like and finish when you want. Photo by Leeloo Thefirst

Do I need to start a 52-week project at the beginning of the year?

Not at all!

While some photographers do choose to begin at the start of a new year to set a clear timeframe, you can start a 52-week project at any time you like.

You should start your project to coincide with a personal milestone or date during the year that is personal to you (for example, an anniversary or your birthday). Depending on your location, you could start your project during a particular season to capture specific themes or subjects that are more prevalent at that time.

Starting mid-year can also reduce the pressure of committing to a full year, making it more accessible for those who might feel overwhelmed by a year-long project—also, creative inspiration strikes when it strikes. If you feel motivated to start a project in the middle of the year, there's no reason to delay!

The key to a successful 52-week project is commitment and consistency, regardless of when you start. So, choose a starting point that aligns with your goals and creative interests, and embark on your project whenever it feels right.

Why is it a good idea for beginners in particular?

Consistency helps with improvement

Engaging in regular practice with your camera is an excellent way for any beginner to improve their photography skills over time. The beauty of a 52-week project is that it encourages you to pick up your camera at regular intervals, and this frequent practice will help you refine your technical skills, where you’ll notice an improvement over time.

Structured learning

Photography is a vast area with countless genres and techniques that you can delve into. For beginners, this can feel overwhelming. However, the 52-week project provides a structured learning path. If you want, you can explore a different theme, genre, or technique each week, experimenting as much as you like while broadening your general understanding of photography.

Embarking on a 52-week project is a particularly good idea for beginners as it provides a platform for structured and regular learning. Photo by Dương Nhân

Lots of feedback and support over a sustained period

Sharing your work within a dedicated community or with friends and family (see our tip below) can provide a wealth of feedback and support. By embarking on a 52-week project, you can receive regular constructive critiques, inspiration from fellow photographers, and the motivation to keep going and improving.

Helps build a portfolio

As a beginner, building a portfolio can seem like a distant goal. However, by doing a 52-week project, and seeing it out to the end, you'll have 52 photographs by the end of the year. These images can form the basis of a diverse and impressive portfolio and showcase your growth as a photographer.

How to get started with your 52-week photography project

Choose a theme or subject

While not mandatory, selecting a theme for your project can provide guidance and cohesion to your work. Your theme can be as specific as "photographing a different seascape every week" or as broad as "documenting my everyday routine".

Documenting a routine, for example, your commute is an ideal way to incorporate a 52-week project project into your schedule. Photo by Josh Withers

Plan

Consider creating a loose schedule or a list of ideas for each week. Having a plan can help you stay on track and prevent last-minute rushes or uninspired moments. Also, spending time to come up with ideas is a great way to think creatively, too.

Keep it enjoyable

Remember that photography is something that you should enjoy; it shouldn't become a chore.

If you miss a week or find yourself lacking inspiration, don't worry. It's all part of the learning process. The key is to keep going and to push yourself during those times!

A 52-week project should be enjoyable to you, keep pushing if you find you're lacking in inspiration from time-to-time. Photo by Marcelo Chagas

Embrace experimentation

Use this project as a platform to experiment with your photography. Try new techniques, use different kits, and explore the myriad of editing techniques. You'll discover what areas of photography resonate with you through experimentation, and you'll find subjects you may want to learn more about or those you are more interested in.

Constructive critique and feedback

Share your weekly photographs with friends and family or a like-minded photography community. Constructive criticism can be an invaluable tool for learning and growth.

You should also take this opportunity to learn how to self-critique your photos, which is an invaluable part of the learning journey as a photographer. We have a guide on how to self-critique your photos, which we highly recommend reading.

How (& why) you should promote your 52-week project:

Social media:

Absolutely share your weekly images across your social media channels!

Consider doing a weekly post on a set day and time of the week. A weekly post of your photography is a great way to engage your followers and keep your posts regular. For each post, recount the story behind each image with an engaging caption, and share your inspiration behind each shot. Sharing information this way also adds a personal touch to your project and will help viewers to connect.

Sharing your 52-week project on social media will help you grow a community of followers, and also makes you accountable. Photo by Jeremy Levin

Album in your Picfair Store:

Consider creating a dedicated album for your 52-week project in your Picfair Store.

An album of our images allows you to showcase your entire project in one place, and you can monetise the series, too. Read our Albums for Picfair Stores guide for more inspiration and advice.

By actively sharing your 52-week project across your network, you'll build an audience and nurture a community of followers who love your work. It'll also make you accountable for your project and encourage you to continue it!

Final thoughts

A 52-week photography project can be brilliant for beginners who wish to delve deeper into their photography. It offers a structured method to enhance your skills, build up a strong portfolio of images, and a way to be as creative as you like. Now you've reached the end of this guide, we hope you've got everything you need to get started and, most importantly, feel inspired to do so!

So, pick up your camera, embark on this year-long adventure, and watch your photography develop never before. Enjoy!

See also: The 365-day photography project

If you're enjoying the 52-week project and want to ramp it up some more, consider embarking on a 365-day photography project. This is the same setup as a 52-week project, but committing to taking a picture daily over the course of the year rather than weekly.

We also have a dedicated guide to a 365 project; read all about it to see whether it's for you!
Ready to start your own photography store? Get 50% off Picfair Plus with the code UPGRADE-50
Click to Redeem