Eventually, almost every photographer encounters it… “photography challenges”. Photographers challenge themselves, or others, to take a series of photos. Sometimes 365 pictures: one picture for every day of the year. Or 52 black and white pictures: one picture each week. These “challenges” are little projects done for multiple reasons. In December 2014 Teresa challenged me: Five black and white pictures, no strict rules. I decided to take five photos from a different point of view than my regular PoV. In this blog I share my photos, along with ten reasons why these challenges benefit you as a photographer.
The goal of a photography project or challenge, is to take a predefined amount of photos, with a predefined regularity, for a certian period. Some people do a 365 project, lasting a year. Personally, I prefer shorter challenges, it matches my character and personal life better. I limit my projects to five or ten weeks and shoot one or two photos per week.
It’s important to find a rhythm that fits your life style. I work over 40 hours per week and want to spend some time with my girlfriend, family, and friends too, so my projects are short and limited.
The rules are made by the challenger of the project, and should not be a bureaucracy of rules. Choose maximum three rules, so you don’t limit creativity. Or go for none at all (you little rebel)!
There are benefits of having rules, e.g.: I sometimes challenge myself for a project with the rules: only shoot patterns for the next five weeks, two pictures per week. Having this rule helps me to focus on one of the important aspects of a powerful photo: repetitive structures. The rule of my challenge by Teresa was only to take photos from an alternative point of view, trying to be less conventional.
If you go for a long project, not having rules is easier: you don’t have to chase one subject for a long time, but you are free to photograph whatever you want, not ruling out any ideas you have.
Rules, or no rules, a daily challenge is difficult! Eventually you’ll hit the photographers block, your creativity organ is exhausted. One tip to overcome this is to be prepared. I have a list on my phone, and whenever I have an idea for a photo (or blog for that matter), I add it to the list. If on a day, you have more than one idea for a photo, you take one photo and add the other(s) to the list of “pictures to take”, and save it for when it’s most needed. Alternatively, you could just deal with the block, and take a “not so good photo”. Not every photo will be a good one, don’t mind. Professional photographers don’t use every photo they take either.
Being prepared also means to plan ahead. If you know where you are going to be tomorrow, try to think of photos you can take at that place. Don’t hold on too tightly though, when another opportunity arises, don’t deny it because you already had other ideas.
And finally, it’s okay to use your phone’s camera. These projects are about training your creativity, not so much about picture quality.
Ten reasons to start a project
1. It is fun!
2. You’ll enjoy life more since you look at beauty more.
3. To grow confidence with your camera. The attention of carrying a camera might be uncomfortable for shy people, but after a while you’ll grow accustom to being recognized as “that photographer”. Plus, sometimes you want to capture a scene that includes strangers. Eventually, you’ll have the courage to take the photo of the strangers and become less shy.
4. You will learn how to see, rather than just to look.
5. At the end you’ll find out you have developed your own style.
6. You stretch creativity.
7. You train your perseverance.
8. If you use your DSLR you’ll get to know your camera better.
9. You learn how to quickly take a photo.
10. You will learn how to recognize an opportunity.
If you are looking for inspiration, you might take a look at these websites:
Some fun subjects for projects are:
- Repetitive patterns
- Self portraits
- A specific colour
- Sunsets or weather
Another fun project, is to make five different photos of one object, how many point of views can you find for a simple item you have in your house?
I hope you enjoyed the read! Did you do any challenges? Feel free to share the link in a comment and let us enjoy your work!