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DIY Photography Journal

Updated on March 4, 2014
Some rights reserved. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Some rights reserved. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. | Source

Many people regularly keep a journal in which they write about everything that happens in their daily lives.

Others simply keep them in order to write down ideas or thoughts about things that matter to them. I keep one with me at all times in case I see something that may spark an idea for a photography project.

I must tell you that this method is one of the best tools that I have come upon and that often rewards me with interesting topics upon which I can conduct a photography project and or write an article about.

Your journal does not have to be in any specific format or be written in any special paper. It can be as simple as a notepad. However, you should always have some empty space somewhere near your annotations where you can either draw a sketch of your planned photos or paste a small image that will serve to aid you in your photographic endeavors.

Words help but having a photo next to them makes the intent that much clearer. I have found that I often write down notes but later tend to forget some details, especially if I wrote them while doing something else like driving and having the sketch helps me come to terms with what it was that I had in mind when I first put my thoughts down on paper.

The notes do not have to be long or very detailed but they do have to have enough information to jog your memory and keep you from forgetting exactly what it was that made you take the time to write your inspiration.

A good tip is to include the time and place where you first thought about the idea as well as some particulars about any subject that, at the time, made you think that it would be a good subject to feature.

Addresses, any any other factors such as the weather, and dominant colors may also come in handy, specially if your idea deals with setting a mood or seeking out a feeling.

My journal is a leather bound notepad and features fine writing paper and I only use one type of pen or ink. But this is because I had it laying around for over 5 years before I took another look and decided to use it as such and I like things to be neat.

I always write on the front part of each page, make as many notes as I can, put down as many details as I can, even write down how I am planning on doing the shoot, the lenses, the models, any software and more including a time frame to start and finish the project.

But again, this is me. Yours needs to be "made" for you. Whatever fits your style is good enough. I also draw a sketch on the back of each page that more or less fits the mental picture of how I want to do the shoot. Sometimes if I can I even paste a small copy of a sample project photograph.

Always good is to refresh your memory as soon as you are able to and make more in-depth annotations.

Take this time to be as clear as you can as to what it is that you want to accomplish, write possible locations, will you need any special equipment or props that you may need, how or what you would prefer to be the central subject, if or not you will need to digitally manipulate the photographs who will you submit the photos to, or the intended use that you want for your work.

Keep in mind that just because you had a great idea for a photographic project, it may take some time before you actually begin and the longer it takes the more the chances that the idea begins to fade from your memory.

You may even find out that when you actually do the project, it looks nothing like what you first intended it to be. This is common and not an issue to be very concerned about. But it is quite interesting to sit later and read what you first wrote down and compare it to what you actually did.

You may buy a professionally done photographic journal if you wish, but I believe that making your own is part of the process that help one grow in the art and take more pride in what one does.

However, if you should still wish to buy a journal done by a professional there are many out there and they are not expensive. A good one made by a San Francisco artists named Lisa Congdon sells for about $7.00 and features various hand painted drawings by the artist.

If you wish to make the journal a bit more personal, then adding your own hand made painting to the cover may give it that personal touch that truly makes this journal your own.

Whatever method you end up choosing just make sure that it's not a cumbersome document or hard to carry and store. It should not be a labor to get the journal, open it and struggle to write upon it.

Make it small enough to fit in your briefcase or purse and always keep a handy writing utensil next to it or inside of it, like I do.

I have spend many happy hours sifting through the pages of my journal as it is now 3 years old and continue to surprise myself with how my way of thinking and my methods as well as techniques have changed through the years.

This is part of my professional growing experiences in photography and I can truly say that without the aid of my trusty, beaten, old photography journal , many of the projects would probably have remained in the back alleys of my mind had I not taken the time to write my inspirations down at the time.


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    • trusouldj profile image

      trusouldj 5 years ago from Indiana

      Very interesting idea. Thanks for the tips.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      AMFredenburg: Thank you

    • AMFredenburg profile image

      Aldene Fredenburg 5 years ago from Southwestern New Hampshire

      This is a great idea; I bet this approach inspires ideas that might not come up with a journal that consists only of writing.