The Power of Passion Projects


It was just meant to be a passion project. Somehow it ended up being much more for me.

In June, my daughter's 5th grade class officially moved on to middle school. Maybe it was because I have known most of these kids since Kindergarten (and some since preschool), or perhaps I was feeling emotional at the thought of no longer have a child in elementary school (sappy mom), that I felt the need to do this project. 

But there was another compelling reason I knew I wanted to make this project happen. 

As a parent of tweenagers, I have been fascinated with this stage of childhood. Watching my own kids go through this phase of development - one in which they want more independence, yet are still very much reliant on me in so many ways - is quite an interesting journey. It's like they are on a teeter totter of transition that is constantly filled with ups and downs and gentle battles between childhood and young adulthood.

Tweens are trying to find their place in this world and make sense of who they are and who they will become. With a greater self-awareness, I wanted to give each student in 5th grade the opportunity to shine during their own five-minute photo shoot. I also wanted to incorporate my love for city life and create a more urban vibe with these images, and so the Urban Tween Photo Session idea was born. 

image_urban tween_lori fuller photography

What I loved most about this project was how relaxed and at ease most of the kids looked and felt. That five minutes of connection with each of them was important to me in being able to capture the most authentic expression possible. There was also no expectation of a "perfect" expression. The kids were encouraged to smile only if they wanted to. The ones who did smile displayed just as authentic of an expression as the ones who did not, and I absolutely loved that! 

As a photographer, having the freedom to create something where there was no expectation or rules to follow was liberating and exciting. My entire vision for this project came together better than I could have imagined. Watching the student's reactions when they saw their photos on display at the Promotion ceremony was one of the highlights of the entire project. 

I am thankful to the parents who signed their child up and made the effort to get them to an urban street corner for a five minute photo session. I am grateful for the tweens for showing up, being themselves and trusting me to make them look cool/cute/hip/stylish like the tweens that they are.

Passion projects are important for everyone because they help fuel your creativity. They can help inspire new ideas and they encourage "flow," that feeling of effortless momentum towards an ultimate goal or creation. According to Mica Gonzalez, "A passion project is something we create to enrich our lives. It keeps us creative, motivated - happy even. They're more than projects. They're an investment in ourselves."

The great news is anyone can engage in a passion project! I encourage you to think of something you enjoy doing and make the time each day to see it come to fruition. Need some ideas? Visit for passion project ideas and see which ones spark your creative side.  Share in the comments which ideas you may want to try - I'd love to hear!