While you are learning about photography do you find yourself thinking, I love my camera, I love my subject, and photography is so exciting, but, right now I feel totally stuck and have no idea what to take pictures of.
Well, I have a suggestion, one that is working for me. Join a photo challenge.
What is a Photo Challenge?
A photo challenge event happens when either a website or a ‘phone app provides prompts and inspiration to kickstart your photographic imagination and visual creativity.
These challenges can help shift your mindset by giving you and your camera a single idea to focus on and work with. If you do a simple search for ‘photo challenges’ you will find a lot of opportunities. Some focus on a single subject, others select a theme.
Remember, you are not the person who has to spend time inventing the challenge theme. Your individual challenge is to take a photograph on the specified theme. You get to have a lot of fun then submit your image to the challenge.
As well as being fun activities for a photography club or individual, challenges can be undertaken on a DSLR, compact camera or smartphone.
How to Photo Challenges Work?
This depends on the organiser of a challenge but they work in similar ways. There are daily, weekly or even monthly photography assignments. So you can enjoy taking part without feeling pressurised. The focus is on your growth as a photographer.
I see the challenge concept as something that is very individual. The length and demands of a challenge depends on how much time you have, your device and your temperament.
This list will give you an idea of what I mean:
- Daily Challenges – This means there is constant pressure to deliver a single image every day for a specified period of time. Sometimes found by using a specific #hashtag on Instagram.
- Weekly Challenges – These give you breathing space and an opportunity to find a location or subject that fits with the challenge theme.
- Monthly Challenges – a real chance to focus on a specific skill or technique.
If you look at photography exercises to a way of growing your skills, not as a competition then they can be inspiring and a lot of fun.
One thing you will need to find out from your photographs is the EXIF data. This is the information attached to each photo you take (see definition). Each camera is slightly different but a right-click on an image often gets you the information you need.
EXIF data – is a standard that specifies the formats for images, sound, and ancillary tags used by digital cameras (including smartphones), scanners and other systems handling image and sound files recorded by digital cameras. Examples: JPEG, TIFF, .WAVWikipedia
How do I find a Creative Photography Challenge?
You can look online and find lots and your hardest job is finding one that is a good fit for yourself and works with your lifestyle. You may prefer one type of challenge if you use a DSLR/Compact camera and another for a smartphone.
Mobiography is an online magazine that keeps users abreast of the best in smartphone photography and has a regular challenge. The magazine looks good and I aim to keep an eye on its progress.
There is a photography challenge app called Gurushots (iPhone and Android) which appears regularly in online searches. I checked it out and the app presents itself as a game or contest. I was not happy with the heavy commitment of time (and money) outside of taking photographs but I add a link to a review in the Resources below. You can then make up your own mind.
Will a Photo Challenge Improve My Shots?
You need to take photos in different locations, experience different shooting conditions (seascape, cityscape, fireworks, light trails, etc.), and use different shooting techniques. Only then can you greatly improve your photography skills.PetaPixel
I found this great quote by photo site Petapixel that nails why online photography challenges can boost your skills.
- You can cover photography basics with our beginner’s page.
You need to take photos in different places, under different conditions using different techniques. I am beginning to realise that my skills as a cat photographer will not develop unless I think differently and take pictures outside my comfort zone.
My Photography Challenge 2020
I have looked at a lot of photography challenges to see if there was one that seemed a good fit. As I m not willing to put myself under the pressure of a daily photo commitment I decided a weekly theme is something I can manage.
I found a challenge I like called 52Frames.com.
There is a weekly challenge without pressure. For January themes include:
- Leading lines
- Wabi Sabe (still looking that one up, give me a moment!) and
- Fill the Frame
Joining is free, but they do have a Petreon presence for those wishing to contribute. When you join, the application asks what type of camera you have, (mobile is acceptable), and what your aspirations are.
You need to commit to just one photo to the weekly theme – taken that week, and you have the option to have the image critiqued. This is not obligatory but I think it would be helpful if you want to submit an image to a contest at some point in the year. There is a chance you may be features if you inspire the judges!
This is my first submission, on this week’s theme Fill The Frame.
I will keep you updated on my weekly image and add it to either the Pet Parade or Thursday post with Brian’s hop.
OK anyone here know what they mean by Wabi-Sabi?
- A daily calendar from Expert Photography can be found here. [Pop up easily removed]
- Mobiography, smartphone photography site, hosts a regular challenge for smartphone users.
- Gurushots – a good review by Expert Photography. [One pop up easily removed.]
- EXIF data – is a standard that specifies the formats for images, sound, and ancillary tags used by digital cameras (including smartphones), scanners and other systems handling image and sound files recorded by digital cameras. – Wikipedia