Personal projects can be incredibly beneficial to your growth as a photographer. Whether it be a 365 or a series of self-portraits, it will stretch you beyond your safety zone. And what could be more fun than seeing what personal projects the CMpros are up to? In this new series, we’ll feature a different CMpro and follow along as they show off some of their images and share about their unique project. To start us off, we have Carol Swaitkewich here to talk about her heart project that she did in February!
hearts | a personal project from carol swaitkewich
What is/was your personal project and what inspired you to start it?
For me this turned into a project within a project :)
In January I committed to a 365 project with a few photography friends. Honestly, I was scared. I tried one before with my dog Ruby Tuesday and I made it to day 135.
While I didn’t succeed with that challenge I am so grateful for those images, so it really wasn’t a failure. That challenge and those images are what inspired me to try again.
This time I thought I would try with a broader subject matter…anything goes…surely that had to be easier, right?
Are there any challenges or ruts you faced during your project and how did you overcome them and keep a creative eye?
I quickly learned that “anything goes” doesn’t work so well for me. I needed more direction and rules so to speak. By week 2, I came up with a schedule of what I would try to shoot. Macro on Monday, Ruby on Tuesday, Wide angle on Wednesday…and so on.
That helped because I really love the process of envisioning an image and setting it up and executing it, so I took it one step further and thought how about a theme? February, the month of love, was right around the corner and I love trying to find hearts in everyday things/scenes. So my Daily Heart for February was born…my project within a project. Every image I shot for the month of February had to have a heart in it.
I brainstormed a list of heart items I could incorporate and I got my children on board to help. They were so excited by this idea. Getting them in front of my camera for this was so easy and they loved every minute. When I was stumped or uninspired I asked them and they helped me come up with something.
What have you learned through your process with your personal project?
While my heart project may be over I am still in the middle of the 365 and I know I have a long way to go and so much more to learn. But the number one thing I have learned from it is that it’s for ME. It’s okay to miss a day. It’s okay to take two images on one day and use them for two. It’s okay if it is not THE BEST IMAGE EVER every single day. It doesn’t matter, just keep on going…because it’s for me.
The hearts were hard, it was a challenge! I longed to just snap a picture of my day instead of try to set something up. But it taught me to plan, and think ahead. I started carrying my camera everywhere in case I saw a heart in something.
It taught me to think about my vision and how I was going to execute it. It taught me how to take an idea I saw from another image and make it mine.
And I learned that I really love unusual crops.
Is there anything additional about your project that readers may find interesting?
Two things :)
This image was my Valentine’s day present. My husband rarely lets me take a picture of him. This is all I wanted, him with our girls.
At the halfway mark in my Daily Heart, I asked my fellow 365 friends if I should keep going for the rest of the month or stop at Valentine’s Day. Would it be anti-climactic to keep going past Valentine’s day? I got a resounding, “KEEP GOING!”
They helped me think of ways to display my images once I was done. And one of them created a heart collage for me to put all of the images into. I was so excited to have something tangible to show for my work. It inspired me to keep going. And this is the result…
Carol Swaitkewich, Winnipeg
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Carol lives just outside of Winnipeg, MB, Canada with her husband of 14 years and their 3 gorgeous girls – 4 if you count their free spirited (read:crazy) dog Ruby. With a love of babies and photography that goes back decades – her mom used to call her Anne Geddes as a teenager – it is fitting that her favourite subjects are newborns. A lover of coffee and earl grey tea lattes, chocolate and wine…well anything unhealthy actually…she often indulges while her nose is stuck in the latest fiction top seller. Carol’s simple equipment line up includes her Canon 5d mark II, the nifty fifty and the 24-70mmL.