Ten cool photography projects for 2012

There is nothing better than looking back on the photos that you've taken over the years to bring back memories and feelings that have since been stored in the back of your mind. The start of the New Year is the perfect opportunity to embark on a unique photography project to make sure 2012 is a year that you'll never forget and always be able to remember by looking back on photos.

Are you stuck for ideas for how you can make the most of a new beginning? Here's ten clever plans to get you started...

selfie.jpg1. 365 photos: Take a photo a day and compile them in an online album, noting where you took each photo and at what time. At the end of the year, you'll have beautiful montage of your memories. The pictures will highlight where you were on each particular day and will give you some insight into how you were feeling on that day.

Photo (cc) by Daniel Zedda

2. Monthly page challenge: Make sure you bring your camera with you throughout the month to special events and various outings. At the end of the month, pick the best pictures and arrange them on a scrapbook page. Headline the page with the month name and include a brief summary of what the highlights were.

3. Improve your technique: Techniques are what can help make anyone a great photographer. Challenge yourself each month to learn a new photography technique to improve your photography skills. Whether you focus on black and white, macro, high key or experiment in motionblur, there is a lot to learn. Spend the rest of the month trying to polish these skills.

4. Camera experimentation: Digital cameras have taken over the market, but there are many great cameras from the past that are great fun to experiment with. Spend some time finding an old camera and playing with it, to find out what it's like in use. Who knows, perhaps some of these techniques and the lessons learned can be used in your everyday photoraphy!

train.jpg5. Go on a photographic journey: Plan a weekend vacation, or even a day trip, around where you can go take great photographs. A pasture filled with cows? Excellent. A hiking trip up a mountain, with beautiful city views? Even better. An old-school diner with handmade milkshakes? Spectacular.

Photo (cc) by Thomas Leuthard

6. Pick a color of the month: Pick a color to focus on for the month and have that be what you focus your photography efforts on. For instance, if you choose blue, then focus on photographing blue items. Use blue as the accent color in all of your photographs.

7. Volunteer with an organization: Most nonprofit organizations are looking for photographers to help out at their events or with internal projects. Work with an organization to fine-tune your skills. For instance, animal shelters are often seeking photographers to help take pictures of animals that are up for adoption. It is a great opportunity to improve your skill at shooting animals and moving objects.

8. Hold a photo shoot: What better way to test your skills than with a photo shoot! Find a friend or family member interested in getting their photo taken and offer to do it for them. This is a great project to show off your skill or talent, and help someone out. Even if you are a photographer just starting out, it is helpful to hold a photo shoot to see what you need to work on. Plus, once you get more experience, it's fun to look back on and see how you've grown.

9. Get online: The web is the best place to learn and grow as a photographer. Start a Flickr account to share your photos with the world. A great photography project for the year is to create a profile on Flickr, and maintain it throughout the year.

10. Keep a photography journal: You don't need to write in your journal every day and it doesn't have to be filled with long prose entries about how much you love photography. Keep a journal of your photography adventures and include details such as time of day, what you shot, what technique you focused on and what you plan to do with the pictures. It will be a good record to see how much you've accomplished over the year. You get bonus points if you combine #9 and #10, by the way: Keeping your journal online means it's easy to search, and perhaps your friends learn something too!