Finding your photography challenge
Coming up with a photography Challenge. I mentioned on Facebook that I follow an Instagram Page called Inspired by Colour– it’s a great page for photography inspiration and I highly suggest you check it out! Inspired by Colour announce a new theme each week such as “pink”, “connection”, “siblings” and so on. Use the hashtag #inspiredbycolour or #inspired_by_colour to tag their photos for a chance to be featured on this Instagram page.
The photos here are amazing and many of the big name photographers are featured here each week. I decided sometime last year that I wanted to get featured and I took each theme and made it into a photography challenge. If the theme were “red” I would take a red photo that week and attempt to get my image featured. Starting in April with the theme “mint” and continuing for a few months finally I did get an image onto their page in August! That image won Image of the week and went on to win Image of the year for the end of 2019!
Force yourself to create
A couple of my images made it onto their page and it was really cool. Winning image of the year is a huge accomplishment for me. The most rewarding part of this exercise though, is the act of forcing myself to create each week. I’m a part-time photographer who comes from years of being a hobby photographer so I’ve taken too many photos to count, but one thing that seems to happen when people take their art and turn it into a business is that the passion can fade or even disappear. It happened to me when I was doing a ton of weddings. My love for all things weddings eventually turned to utter disillusion.
Shoot what you love
That was my greatest reason for not pursuing photography as a business years ago when I have always loved it and been happiest doing it. I didn’t want to end up hating photography. I reflected on what made my love for photography turn sour before and I realized it was simply that I wasn’t photographing what I loved. I love the portraits. I love the before wedding and couples portraits and the other opportunities to do portraiture during the wedding. Knowing this has helped me choose photography sessions that I love and to not take on sessions that don’t fill me with passion.
Take time to shoot for yourself
Shooting what you love is important but arguably more important than being choosy about the jobs you take is taking out time to do photography for free and for yourself. Shooting for clients comes with the responsibility to ensure an agreed upon set of images are created but when you shoot for yourself there is no pressure to get a specific shot. Shooting for yourself you just shoot whatever you like and maybe the entire session is an hour of shooting one thing or maybe it’s 10 minutes but you just shoot things that you enjoy. This is an essential part of holding on to your passion for the art you create. I also believe it’s where you really grow as an artist and develop your own style.
Don’t overthink it
So why the inspired by colour photography challenge? Each week a theme is announced and you have 7 days to photograph and edit that image to enter. That means you can’t think too much about it or get hung up on whether it’s a good idea or a totally crap one. Sometimes I think about the theme for a couple days but usually I just look in my closet and see what I have that I can use. Most of my ideas are executed in a half our or less and my sessions are usually about 20 minutes long. This forces you to not think too hard about it.
Shoot for fun
The weekly photography challenge also forces you to use your camera for something non work related each week. From a strictly psychological view this is valuable in forming positive associations. Think about Pavlov’s dog. We all know the famous experiment where he would ring a bell when he presented food and the dog would salivate. Other experiments would present a stimulus and then follow with pain. Eventually the “bell” would either make the dog excited or anxious. If you want your camera not to be only associated with work then you have to regularly use it for play.
Finally, the weekly challenge gets you using your gear, experimenting and trying out new ways to create. This can only help you grow and evolve as a photographer. You will try things that don’t work and you will learn from them. And you will stumble upon things that you didn’t even think of and find yourself on a new path.
You don’t need to do the Inspired by Colour weekly photography challenge or project 365 or any similar trend. But if you love photography and you want to grow as a photographer then you do have to make the time to shoot for yourself.
Read my blog about one of the inspired by colour photography challenges: Blue theme
How do you make time to shoot for yourself? What surprising outcomes have you found when you shoot for yourself? Leave a comment below!