Stuck for inspiration? Photo challenges can be a useful way to boost creativity, gain a different perspective or try something new.
Last week I found myself in Nedlands with about 40 minutes to kill while Susie attended a hospital appointment. Yes, I could have taken up residence at a local coffee shop to satisfy my caffeine addiction, but I chose to challenge myself (and not just by surviving without a coffee) – a photo challenge. These days, a reasonable proportion of my photography involves static subjects, where the shoot is planned, camera and lens selected, lighting tweaked (whether by flash, reflectors or a combination) and then post-processed in various imaging software. All of this takes time, with single images easily taking 30 minutes or more to get the desired shot.
Heading for Kings Park, I randomly chose a road and selected the car park with the least number of cars there – just one other car. I figured I had about 30 minutes before I needed to head back to the pick-up point so set myself a challenge: 30 minutes to take 12 different images – less than 3 minutes to choose and shoot each image. Three minutes is far quicker than I usually take photographs and, to be honest, it has been a while since I just took photographs for the sake of it.
No camera with me meant resorting to the mobile – an iPhone 6s with a battery level that depletes as rapidly as my morning coffee. Well actually the 30 minute challenge became a 20 minute challenge due to the appearance of the 5% battery warning light after the 11th photo. Adding another hurdle was the refinement that I chose to use the default viewpoint offered by the camera – no zooming in or out – and no post-processing outside the phone camera app.
Will all the images be perfect in this type of challenge? Almost certainly not. Will you like all the photos? Also probably not – but the limited time frame forces you to think and compose quickly and adopt a different perspective. A couple of minutes to find the next photo insists you look around, become aware of your surroundings, hear the birds singing and maybe the trickle of running water, see the shadows formed by the bright sun, feel the heat and smell the last of the Banksia blooms.
Personally, I have found that having photography as a leisure activity is enjoyable and getting back to shooting for yourself is good. Challenges such as this and our ED photo wall competitions encourage us not only to pick up a camera – or phone – but can also force us to consider other areas of photography, expanding our horizons and perspective.
Photography challenges have been around for years with various photography sites often organising challenges for their members – Instagram’s #365project is one.
I found that combining shiftwork, family life and a photo-a-day monthly challenge may be easy on rostered days off, but finding the enthusiasm to take a photo after an 13 hour shift when you are hungry and tired can be hard – unless you want 20 images of a cup of coffee!
I would love to see the results of any photo challenges you do – feel free to post them here, letting us know the challenge, the camera and the location.
The theme of this month’s ED photo wall competition is ‘wings’ – a challenge with many possibilities. Are you going to submit images of wildlife? There are numerous species with wings, such as birds, bats, and insects. Alternatively, does the image of wings suggest another sort of flight? Do you think of aeroplanes and travel; a dish of buffalo wings with lashings of spicy sauce; or the spirituality of angels, guardian angels and good vs evil? Either way, remember to submit your images by the end of January ($5 entry) so we can all enjoy them.