A few years ago I picked up a copy of the new (at that time) National Geographic Photography Field Guide by Peter Burian and Robert Caputo. In the book there are chapters focused on some of their photographers and on the different aspects of photography field work. One of the chapter was about Sam Abell, who wrote an essay about his life with National Geographic and his tips to photographers.
While he focused his advice on photojournalists in this article and in other articles, he has advised part-time photographers to not only learn the aspects of the photography they have a passion for, but focus their work on a few, meaning 3 or less, lifetime projects. Projects that consume your photography interests to learn the subject and express it with your photography. It doesn't have to be something near or frequent, but it helps; it can be elsewhere from near home, but you have the passion to be there over the years to see and photograph it in all its aspects.
Well, since I started in 1969, I've had tons of opportunities to create and work on some personal photography projects, but until about ten years ago I haven't done much in that effort. But all of that was before I really thought about it, and reading Sam's article, it made me rethink my photography work to have some projects. My first I decided was Mt. Rainier National Park. And while I won't be on par with some of the best, like Pat O'Hara and others, I will enjoy the effort and results.
My other projects don't necessarily fit the model of a project, but I enjoy them. One is learning large format photography, and simply going out to locations on the list of places to photography, to learn the work and capture the image. I don't know where this will go, but it's fun just seeing and doing. And I'm producing some good photographs.
My second new one is working on street, people and event photography. I mostly use my new Canon EOS-5D digital system with 5 lenses and a recently added Canon EOS-1N film camera for the same lenses. I've been doing street and event photography for a few years now, but working in digital changes the workflow.
My last isn't so much a project. It's simply getting my computer system for my photography work and work toward starting my photography as a small personal business. This will take a few years, partly because it does take time, but mostly because I'm slower at it than most people and take my time. I don't have a business plan yet, and barely producing some marketable images.
Part of reason I'm slower than most is because I suffer from lifelong Dysthymia. There's a long story behind this (genetic lifelong) of Dysthymia and my life with it, but over the years it overwhelms me to stop my photography work and sometimes much of my life.
It's my reality, and I've discovered, exercising, writing and photography are far better than any drug or therapy could ever do to help me survive and sometimes prosper with it.