Sometimes, I get in a photography practice rut. Does this ever happen to you? Your kids are tired of looking at your camera, you’ve photographed every last square inch of your home, and just don’t know where to aim your camera next.
And at the same time, I feel a need to practice and play with my camera.
For me, it helps to follow some of the countless daily/monthly photo projects on the internet. They inspire me, teach me, and illustrate what other followers do with the same prompt. Followers participate in most of them via social media – you post your submissions on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or Flickr.
- My favorite prompt right now is Clickin Moms’ Glimpse. You don’t need to be a member of Clickin Moms to play along – just check out their shot list and post your plays on Instagram. You can view this week’s prompts here. There is one for each day of the week.
- ProjectLife365 is run by the folks at Design Aglow, which is a great source of design resources for professional photographers. It’s a daily prompt as well.
- Clickin Moms has another prompt called Artist Study. This is one that I hope to participate in this year. You do need to be a member of CM to participate in it, because it takes place inside the forum. A CM Pro will present a work of art created by one of the “masters.” The January artist image was a painting by Vermeer, for example. The moderator of this prompt leads you on a guided study of the art, and then you create a photograph based on your study. Your photograph isn’t a copy of the studied image – instead, you use themes or techniques that you discover in the image and traslate them into your own work.
- I Heart Faces has a couple of different challenges (prompts) each month. Their ABC challenge assigns a certain letter of the alphabet, and you submit photos representing that letter to any of their social media outlets. I Heart Faces sponsors a monthly judged contest as well – February’s’ theme will be “love.” You can read about both challenges here.
- I also have run across Capture Your 365, which releases a series of prompts for each day of the month at the beginning of each month. This isn’t one that I follow currently, but I just might add it to the list. There’s nothing wrong with having lots of options on any given day, right?
- Finally, for those of you who are more technically minded, Digital Photography School organizes assignments a couple of times a month. These assignments prompt you to create specific photographic effects. For instance, the topic for Jan. 16-31 is creating images with color contrast. The assignment links to an article explaining the method behind the assignment. You do need to be a member of DPS to submit your entry, but you can read the assignment without registering. Registration is free, however, and it’s a great source of information, so you might as well sign up!
Here are some tips I’ve learned after following these prompts for a while.
- Look over the various prompts you’ve collected at the beginning of each week so that you can stew on them. You can save them to your iPhone using screen shots, or even put them on a post it note on your desk. If you’re going the mobile phone route, definitely save those screen shots just in case you’re not connected to the internet when you have a few extra minutes to use your camera.
- I usually only post photos that I take on the day of the prompt, but I don’t think this is required. If you have a great photo from another time that meets the parameters, you just might get some good feedback on it.
- I usually use my iPhone for the daily prompts, and my big camera for things like the Clickin Moms artist study. Again, I don’t think any of the projects require a mobile camera over a “real” one, or vice versa.
- Each of these memes has hashtags to go along with it. Hashtags identify to the world which project you are participating in. When posting to Instagram or Twitter, the hashtags allow users to search for every entry submitted under that day’s assignment. For instance, if the CM Glimpse prompt were purple, you would type #cmglimpse #purple. These hashtags are searchable by you, by other users, and by the organizer of the project so that they can choose images to feature.
- I let myself go a bit crazy with my Instagram processing. If I take photos on my phone, they are much less likely to have clean edits – I really get creative with these guys.
What do you do when you need to practice your photography and don’t have anything to practice on?