It happens to the best of us — we get in the habit of photographing the same places and the same subjects in the same style. But if you’re looking to break your same-old same-old routine and reinvigorate your photography, a challenge might be exactly what you need.
Use the five exercises below to push your photography in new, interesting, and different directions. Good luck!
Exercise #1: Experiment with long exposures
The challenge — Master a new technique
We all want to be able to take incredible images of light trails, speeding cars, and glowing cities. But for those intimidated by the shutter speed priority mode on their camera, this one’s for you. Read-up on long exposure photography, pick a location with a great cityscape view or an abundance of cars, street lights, and neon signage, and teach yourself all there is to know about that “S” mode on your camera.
Exercise #2: Try your hand at street photography
The challenge — Frame real life, everyday moments
Street photography, which involves training your camera on the world around you and capturing “candid” moments, can be difficult for even professional photographers. There are a lot of challenging elements that make up street photography — moving objects, fleeting moments, uncontrollable lighting, and so on. For our purposes, that’s exactly the point. Choose an area of your city and head out on the town. Keep an eye out for relatable, everyday moments, and experiment with your camera settings to create interesting images. Try to capture what brings your chosen place to life. And, if you need some additional pointers, check out our guide to shooting street photography.
Exercise #3: Recreate some of your favorite shots
The challenge — Put a new, personal twist on old classics
Now that Instagram has added the ability to “bookmark” images, it’s easier than ever to save those that you’re particularly inspired by. So, use that photographic envy as creative fuel. Bookmark a bunch of photos, select a few favorites, and go out and try to recreate them. Having a specific goal for an image might inspire your creativity in ways you could never imagine. For another version of this exercise, grab a few photos from your parents’ old family albums to copy or hold up against the modern landscape to compare.
Exercise #4: Hit the nearest national or state park
The challenge — Capture the atmosphere of an outdoor environment
Getting out of your element can be refreshing in more ways than one. Being out in nature will likely encourage you to put the camera down and immerse yourself in the environment, which will, in turn, make you notice things you wouldn’t have otherwise. Head to a nearby national or state park and lose yourself in the woods, desert, or mountains. Try to capture what makes that park tick and what makes the environment particularly special.
Exercise #5: Find willing subjects for portraits
The challenge — Get up-close and personal
Some photographers shy away from intimate shots of other humans. But capturing people through portraits can be invigorating — for both the photographer and the model. For this exercise, refresh yourself on the components of good portraiture, and then decide on a subject. Maybe you have a friend or a family member who is willing to be your model for an hour or two. Maybe you want to pick a public space and challenge yourself to photograph complete strangers. Or, maybe you want to photograph members of a specific group, or capture individuals surrounded by the things that matter to them. Whatever you choose, remember to say cheese!