Happy new year! (though it’s quite a late one)
When the year turns a new leaf, people tend to make a resolution to better themselves. Some decide to improve their wellbeing by going to the gym, some might try to learn a new language. And the same thing goes for those who dabble in photography. There are new things that you could try to put spices in your photo journey. If you need some ideas to jumpstart your creative juices in the new year, feel free to read on this list.
Perhaps one of the most famous photo challenges, the photo-a-day challenge is just like the name suggests, you take a photo every day in continuity. The goal is either to train your photography perception or just to light some new sparks in your photo routine. On the paper, this looks really fun to do, but in reality, it is also the hardest one to consistently execute because let’s face it not every one of us is made out of sheer determination.
To aid this challenge, a lot of people have chimed in with more creative ideas to make it easier to do in a timely manner. Nikon South Africa shared a list of daily themes to tackle back in 2013 which is still relevant today. Some people might go even further and beyond by treating each day of the year as a trigger-happy day. I personally like to treat it akin to your own personal diary, but instead of writing it with pen daily, you write with pressing that shutter button.
Have you ever wandered around in a place, eager to take some shots with your brand new camera body or lens, yet came back with almost no result? That might be the result of a lack of focus. No, I’m not talking about the literal camera focus, I’m talking about what should have occurred before you decided to leave your home and take pictures. You should have something resembling a theme.
At the very least, this is as simple as just listing down ideas and tackle one idea out of the rest. These ideas could be broad or could be very narrow. Here are some of my favorite ones:
- Black and white, no colors
- Must include at least a person inside each of the photos
- All wide-angle shots
- Night shots in the city
The duration also matters. If you only want it to be a one-off event to break from your usual photography style, so be it. But if you decide to keep it longer who knows you might develop an exciting new series, the ones you could look back and smile in pride for years.
Limit Your Gear!
If’ ‘one theme’ challenge is more into the limitation of abstract ideas, this one is physical. Some of us always think to carry more gears than we actually need. Some are worried about the focal length to cover so they bring an ultra-wide-angle lens, a 24-70mm and a telephoto lens, plus some prime lenses for bokeh. If you are not going to cover a wedding or chasing those superhuman athletes’ movements at a sports event, then why bother to carry all those extra weights?
Do you really think that covering all possibilities will yield better photos? On the contrary, the effect might be the opposite. Bringing fewer gears will slow you down when taking shots as you won’t be distracted by ‘what ifs’ and push your creativity. Consider this, you see an interesting object over yonder which you can snipe with your telephoto lens. One-touch of the shutter button and you will bag that shot from the distance. Will it be a good photo? Who knows. But if you only have a mid-focal 50mm instead you would have to think more to take the same shot. Or give up altogether and move on to another object.
Use Your Phone
This might be similar to the above ‘limit your gear’, but this one cuts the existence of a dedicated camera body entirely and instead relies on the camera inside your smartphone. Yes, being away from a ‘real’ camera could be beneficial at times — and for a good reason. Because nowadays the camera embedded into phones is nothing short of amazing, there is no doubt that your most useful camera is already in your pockets all the time.
So go outside and snap some pictures while you’re having fun at events or walks with your family. You would be pressed to be more creative because although you can always zoom digitally, by default all phone cameras are wide-angle, meaning that if you don’t frame it right more distractions will be visible in your shot.
There you go, I have listed four photography challenges that fit the new year mood. I think most of the photographers (including me!) will find a lot of benefits out of them. I just want to repeat that the key here is not your skill or your gears, but consistency. Trust in yourself and just keep going.
Happy shooting and I’ll see you next time on another article!