Personal Projects to push creativity and learning

In Master Photography Roundtable by Brent Bergherm4 Comments

Brent, Jeff, and Connor talk about some personal projects that keep them going and help them continue to master their photography



Welcome to the Master Photography Roundtable part of the Master Photography Podcast Network!  You are joined by thousands of photographers listening to this show who are all on the same journey to master their photography.  I am Brent Bergherm, the host for this episode, and I am joined by Connor Hibbs and Jeff Harmon. Hey fellas…

In this episode we are going to talk about personal projects. And by that I mean projects we do just for us. Either it’s purely for fun or to learn something new, or maybe you can call it a passion project of some sort or another, but the idea is that we are looking to simply inspire folks to maybe do their own type of project.

Main Topic

Brent: I’ll start out by describing a project I did several years ago. As most may recall I don’t really do a whole lot of studio shooting. Not as my normal work anyway. But I do actually enjoy getting into the studio. So I’ve got a few things to talk about here that were totally fun to do and put together.

The first one is called Protea Chop. You can look at the images here:

I’ll post a few in the show notes as well, but the whole process is broken down into the steps it took to build this scene.

(talk about the building of the scene)

And then I also did a similar project that I called “Painting Flowers” where I set up the little figurines on a ladder and they look like painters and they are applying color to a flower.

And finally, Shooting things. I did a project I call “Oblivion.”

The idea was to shoot things with a pellet gun in the studio. I invited my principles of photography students to “Go Crazy” with ideas for their final project. In this project a student was looking to shoot things with his pellet gun. I decided I couldn’t let him do it by himself, so I volunteered to do it with him. He shot the gun, and I fired off two cameras. We started out at setting the cameras to about ¼ second. We used a hot light in the studio and I just counted down and timed my shutter release to his firing. It was trial and error since we were both pressing our respective “triggers” on a voice cue, but it worked out pretty well. These first images were of an egg. Then we also did water-filled christmas ornaments and then we also did some stroboscopic flash images where we shot a block of ice and got the chunks of ice flying through the air in one exposure, but with multiple flash firings. For this we used a Canon hot shoe flash. It was tons of fun, and we made quite the mess!

Connor, how about you?
I have 2 types of personal work I enjoy doing and have done a bit of for the past couple years.
IN the world of portrait photography I really love to shoot things with the intent of getting a painterly look and feel to the images. Last year I did a handful of composited images using palaces and locations I shot in Sweden, and my recent trip to ireland has reinvigorated the idea of doing more work of that type with.
I love doing composite work because it really allows you to play with lighting, doing a bit of borderline landscape-y photography as well as giving a lot of freedom and fun in working in photoshop. I look at most of my personal work as an excuse to practice new things and challenge myself

The second type of personal work is product/ particularly related to bottles of whiskey

Midroll: We are going to talk about Jeff’s project right after we thank our sponsors for this episode.

Jeff, how about you?

Mine has to be my Game Day photos I do for the High School.  I have talked about them a few times on the podcast a little.  You can take a look at them at:

I decided to do these to challenge myself to get better at compositing.  Learning how to setup the portraits of the athletes with the lighting and everything setup to make extracting the athlete from the scene as easily as possible.  

Before we get to doodads, I want to come up with a few ideas for “personal projects” that people can maybe do this fall or winter.

Connor:  Shooting in studio, because it got cold, was drawn to the studio.

Use tracing paper over a window to make it a nice big softbox.

Brent: Use a sprinkler to create ice sculptures in the yard. Covering the grass, trees etc.

Shoot fall color abstracts

Rent a piece of gear for a weekend and go crazy with that new gear

Jeff: Learn something more in PS. Just dive in and do it.


Brent: iPhone 8 Plus. I finally upgraded from my iPhone 5c and I’m liking it so far. The camera is LOADS better but it’s so huge. I’m getting used to that 🙂

Jeff: Fotodiox F60 Quick-Collapse Flash Softbox ($70).  Repeat recommendation, which I think is fine because we have a lot of new listeners and it is a chance for me to say I can still recommend this softbox.  Now I have to say that the handle of this thing is not as sturdy as I would like. I actually had it snap off on the one I have been using for the past 3 years.  For the price and versatility though it is a great way to help you get into a good flash modifier at a great price. I bought another one this past week because I can’t do my portraits without it.
Connor: WD 8TB My Cloud EX2 Ultra


Thanks so much for listening and we’ll see you in another 7 days.


  1. I am really enjoying your podcasts. Thanks for sharing your projects. Something I found helpful when shooting sports is to use your favorite photo website to see what others have done to get good shots for the same sport. It gives me ideas that I would not discover otherwise.

    I also use flickr when visiting a city or location that I have never visited before to see what others take pictures of as well. Works even in my home town to discover things that I never would have thought of.

    Great podcast. Thanks again

  2. Just wanted to jump in here and say that I really dug the topic idea for this episode. So cool to hear about how you guys experimented to do something new and fun. Loved following along with the images in the show notes. I just found the whole thing inspiring. Please consider doing this again, or other similar topics that talk about personal workflow and problem solving!

    1. @Mike, thank you for letting us know. We want to do all kinds of episodes to reach out to the broad audience. Glad to hear you liked this one, we will work on creating more like it!

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