Creative Photography Projects You Should Work on This Summer 55

Creative Photography Projects You Should Work on This Summer

The following article is a guest post.

The clear, bright skies of summer provide a big, bold canvas for photography. There’s an abundance of subjects that you may not find in any other time of the year, whether you’re in the middle of a bustling city or out in the countryside for a vacation.

Check out these ideas for your next photography project this season.

1. ABC Art Book.

An ABC art book is a great project for parents of small kids who want to make their children more engaged with their work.

Now that your child knows the ABCs, why don’t you take photos that each correspond to a letter of the alphabet? You don’t even have to limit yourself to basics à la “A is for apple.” You can choose to go for bigger, more abstract words, say “S for solitude.”

Once you’ve compiled your set of photos, load your trusted printer with cheap printer ink and produce copies of the photos for an exclusive art book or portfolio.

If you want, you can also print each photo and create unique post cards with a message that tells the story behind each photograph.

2. Sounds of Summer.

Capturing emotion in a photograph can be challenging, what more when you’re taking a photo of sound?

Taken in the right moments, photos can be evocative of sound. The buzzing of bees, the crashing of waves on the shore, the laughter of children playing at a summer fair.

Most of the photography you’ll take for this series will most probably have your subjects in motion, which just ups the challenge for you and your camera.

3. Faces of Summer.

Whether you’re taking pictures of your loved ones or strangers on the street, you can tell a story even with just one close-up photo. But don’t just take front-view portraits; vary your shots and angles for more drama and texture.

You can also compile these portraits and print them out for a photo book series (see above recommendation for an art book). If you’ve taken photos of your family and friends, you may want to have their pictures framed as a unique, personal gift, too.

4. A Day in the Life.

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Pick one subject—your mom, your dog, or an elderly lady in your neighborhood—and take a series of photos, telling a story of their summer day. You can even extend the photo series and make it about the story of their entire summer.

Some thought starters: combine candid and staged photos, and experiment with black-and-white or sepia tones to show the passage of time.

5. The Five Senses.

While photographs are visual, you can still communicate the rest of the five senses through pictures, as demonstrated in “Sounds of Summer.”

A baby touching her mother’s face, a vast field of lavender, perhaps a cup of melting ice cream or someone splashing water on their face to cool down after a jog.

You can also go on a summer adventure with this project. Visit different locations, and try to capture the five senses in different environments. You may even fold this in with “A Day in the Life” and tell the story of how one person experiences a summer day through his or her senses.

6. 100 Days (or Nights) of Summer.

Take one photo each day all through the summer months. You can thread each one into a story or just simply take photographs of something that caught your attention on that day.

At the end of the season, review your photos and try to remember why you took a particular interest in that subject.

You can even go back and take the photo of the same location or subject, and see how your technique has improved after the season has turned. This is also a good experiment to see what truly interests you as a photographer.

7. Summer Sunshine.

Try to capture how the summer sun shines on different subjects, on different locations, on different times of the entire day.

For example, take a photo of your garden in the morning, noon, and at sunset and discover the transformation of beauty it undergoes in just one summer day.

Another take on this project is to pick just one time of day – say, 7:00 o’clock in the morning – and take photos of various locations and subjects under this light.

These are only a few ideas you might want to explore this summer to expand your portfolio, practice your eye, and improve your photography skills.

Are you ready to go on a photo adventure? Click away!

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The Five Elements of Flawless Customer Experience 6

The Five Elements of Flawless Customer Experience

Providing a flawless customer experience is the ultimate goal for any business.

There’s a lot that goes into creating a customer experience that keeps your clients coming back for more. In fact, there’s so much involved that it can almost seem overwhelming.

However, providing a flawless customer experience becomes much easier when you approach the task through these five distinct elements:

Time
Understanding
Ownership of Emotions
The Unexpected
Follow-Through

Time

When it comes to your customers’ satisfaction, time is essential. Think of how a great experience at a new restaurant quickly sours if you’re left waiting for your food to arrive. Think of how your excitement over a great department store sale turns into frustration as you stand in line for what seems like hours.

Time is your most valuable resource and it is up to you to make sure you’re using your customers’ time wisely.

This is why restaurants have comfortable waiting areas with drinks and appetizers, or why airports have lounges with restaurants, shops, and even bars.

If your customers are being forced to wait for a service, make them feel as if their time spent is not wasted. The more positive drivers you offer customers, the less likely they are to grow dissatisfied with their experience.

Think of how you can implement this in your own business. Are there places where you can help fill customers’ time? Are there places where technology can be used to cut down on the time it takes to complete a task? Remember, it’s the customers’ time that should be valued, not your own.

Understanding

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You must understand what your customers want, when they want it, and how.

While this may seem daunting, getting a better understanding of your customers doesn’t take millions of dollars, complex data analytics, and a degree in psychology. Instead, all it takes is a simple look. Watch their process, engage with them, ask them questions, and listen to them.  

How are customers interacting with your product? What’s the first thing they do when they enter your store? What’s the last thing they do before they leave? How long are they spending in each department? Do you notice anything that hampers their experience?

Take a look at your competitors. How are your potential customers interacting with them? What does this business offer that you don’t or vice versa? What is your, as Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen says, “job to be done?” What are your customers hiring your product or service to accomplish? Understand why your users are turning to your products.

Ownership of Emotions

Many companies have already taken hold of their customers’ emotions, though cynically. Subliminal advertising is a key example. However, the ownership of emotions does not have to be cynical. When used correctly, it can be the “holy grail” for companies.

Owning emotions begins with the aforementioned ability to understand. When you truly understand a customer’s choices and then act to make the experience better, you’re building a relationship of trust. That trust is the foundation of emotional ownership.

One way to build this trust is to reduce the “emotional” noise that surrounds your customers. Let them know that, even on their worst day, your business or product is there for them and that it will be a constant in their lives.

Think of restaurants and the long wait times you have to endure when they’re busy. Think of how angry—or “hangry”—you feel as you stand around, waiting for your table, and listening to your stomach growl. However, think of how some restaurants are able to reduce that emotional noise by serving you finger foods and drinks as you wait.

Also, seek to understand what emotionally motivates your customers.

Why should they be motivated to visit your store or use your product? To feel confident? Free? Unique? Secure? Successful? Research shows that all human beings are motivated by one of those factors.

The Unexpected

Experiences become stronger and more memorable when they’re accompanied by an element of surprise. Surprise can be addictive, which will only keep your customers coming back for more.

Think about mailing your customers or clients small packages with gifts and swag. Everyone loves to get mail and everyone loves free stuff, especially when it’s least expected.

A surprise doesn’t have to be a huge flash mob (though it could be!). Hand out snacks at your store. Is it a cold day? Give your customers hot chocolate or warm punch. Is it a client’s birthday? Send a card! Even a small note of thanks for a customer’s business is a nice little surprise.

The most important thing to remember: simply be sincere and don’t become predictable. Chocolates on hotel pillows were once a great surprise for guests. However, now that their wow-factor has faded, hotels are continuously trying to get back to the “unexpected.”

Follow-Through

You’ve made promises and established goals. The only thing that’s left is to follow through on them. This starts with creating your mission statement, one that you, your employees, and your customers can commit to it. This will define your customer experience.

Your mission statement must promise to impact yourself/your business, the community, or the world. It may commit to impacting one, or all three. However, whatever it promises, you must follow through on. Your customers’ trust, and thus their experience, depends on it.

More about these five elements can be discovered in Unforgettable: Designing Customer Experiences that Stick, to be published in 2018.

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Kyle H. David has made a career in technology and entrepreneurship for nearly 20 years. In 2001, he formed The Kyle David Group, now KDG. Over the past 16 years, KDG has grown at a rapid pace, attracting clients ranging from the United States Senate to major financial institutions, international nonprofits, and Division I universities.