When you first start learning photography you feel invincible, you’re learning cool new techniques and taking your camera everywhere. It’s like a love affair, you just want to be taking photos and editing photos and talking about photos. You’re proud of the images you create and want to create more.
Then the honeymoon period ends. You start to get fed up with taking the same photos in the same places. You become more critical of your photos and compare yourself to other photographers. You’ve had enough of carrying your heavy camera and you start to leave it at home.
You’re stuck in a photography rut!
It happens to us all after the shiny new honeymoon period. As you grow and change as a photographer there will be seasons where you just don’t want to take photos. Sometimes it’s good to take some time off and get some perspective, but when you’re done, you need a fresh new project to get your mojo back.
That’s where photography challenges come in.
A challenge can give you new motivation and help you look at things from a different perspective. Here are some challenge ideas to get you back in the saddle.
Themed photo challenges
These challenges give you a theme for your photos, so they’re great if you need a little inspiration or structure. Some challenges give you a different theme everyday such as The Idea Room’s monthly photo a day challenge, whilst others give themes over a longer period, such as Clickin Mom’s annual summer scavenger hunt.
A project 10 is a great challenge as it only takes a day to do, so great if you’re not one for following through over a longer period. With a project 10, you take 10 photos over the day, one per hour. This is a great project to encourage you to get out of your comfort zone, as it challenges you to use location and lighting you may otherwise avoid. Going to the store? Take your camera. Bright, midday sun? Take a photo. If you’re doing this challenge during a school day, you may struggle to take photos when the children are in school, but this is a great opportunity to try new things, such as still life or self portraits.
Are you up for a challenge? A project 365 is a big commitment, but if you need a big goal to get your inspiration going, this may be for you. In a project 365, you take a photo a day, every day for a year. Of course, you can take more than one, but you must take at least one a day. Project 365s are a great way to motivate you. Some people think you need motivation to take action, but often action leads to motivation. You’ll be encouraged to take photos when you wouldn’t normally, such as regular days at home doing chores and dark, winter days. A project 365 is a big commitment, so get a group together so you can support each other.
If a project 265 seems like too big a commitment, a project 52 may be perfect. With a project 52, you take one photo a week every week for a year. Like a project 365, it encourages you to keep shooting throughout the year, but since you only have to produce one photo a week, it’s a lot easier to stick to.
Spend 26 days taking a photo of something that starts with each letter of the alphabet. You’d better get your child a xylophone for this one!
Restrictive challenges limit you to what you can photograph, helping to push you out of your comfort zone. Here are some ideas for restrictions you can set. Try each challenge for a week at a time.
- Focal Length – Choose a focal length and stick to it for the week. Choose one you don’t normally use.
- Faceless – avoid faces in all your photos, this encourages you to change your perspective and try different genres of photography.
- Film photography – Treat your camera like a film camera for a day. To do this, set your ISO and don’t change it. Turn off the image on the back of your camera, you can’t look at your images after you’ve taken them. Take 36 photos and then stop as if your film had run out. Then, wait 2 days before looking at your photos. This challenges you to get your exposure correct in camera, without chimping, and encourages you to be more deliberate when taking photos, since you only have a few exposures to work with.
- SOOC – No editing allowed! Share your images as they look straight out of camera (SOOC). This is great for editing junkies who often find themselves sat behind a computer for hours on end (guilty as charged!), and encourages you to get it right in camera.
- Monochrome – Shoot with the intention of converting all your images to black and white.
- Edit swap – Swap your images with a photo buddy and edit each others photos. This is a fun project to see how others work with your photos.
Creative Projects – Find a fun photography technique that you haven’t tried before and spend some time mastering it. Here are a few ideas.
- Light trails
- Double exposures
Are you in a photography rut? Which challenge are you going to try to get out of it?