Novelist William Faulkner wrote that we should not try “to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself”. Self-improvement is the ultimate goal of life, and as such it follows that it’s true of photography too.

What am I talking about? Why, it’s the second part of our series of photo challenges that will make you a better photographer. If you missed the first four exercises, you can read them here, otherwise here’s this month’s exercises to follow. As ever, if you’ve tried any of these we’d love to see your work on our Facebook page, in the comments below or on the forum.

Not quite a selfie

Here is another fun one, you have to be in all of these images, you don’t have to be the subject, but you can be if you so desire. Make use of a tripod, reflective surfaces, your cellphone in camera mode or whatever you can come up with. This is not a “seflie” exercise, so no “duck faces”, but the more you experiment the more interesting ideas you will come up with. Once again the idea behind this is to push you to see new and different ways of making images work.

The selfie challenge in action.
The selfie challenge in action.

Lucky Draw

Write down a whole bunch of single words on scraps of paper, drop these scraps into a bag and then head out to your local park. Now stick your hand into the bag and pull out one scrap and shoot 5 images that depict the word on the paper. Continue to do this until you have run out of words.

You can make this exercise a little harder if you combine it with exercise 1 to really push your creativity.

Just in case you are in a real creative slump here are a few suggestions:

  • Shallow depth of field
  • Reflections
  • Happy
  • Negative space
  • Shadow
  • Running
  • Blue
  • Circle
  • Panning
  • Soft focus
  • Action
  • Sound
  • Blur
  • 7
  • Signs
  • Weather
  • The Letter “N”

The Elements

Once again, pick a place, anywhere will do. Now photography the following elements while you are at the location, combining this with the first exercise from last week is also a great way to push yourself.

  • Color
  • Shape
  • Shadow
  • Light
  • Line
  • Form
  • Texture
  • Size
  • Depth

Counting steps

Go somewhere new, somewhere that you have not photographed before. Pick a number, it can be any number, now go for a walk and shoot a single image once you have reached the amount of steps that equal the number you pick. Don’t spend ages looking for the image, you need to spot something fairly quickly, shoot it and move one. You will find that you start looking ahead for images that are about to happen, or that you are approaching.

The world changes very quickly and as a photographer you need to be ready to capture those moments, this will help you to watch what is happening around you. These are just a few ideas to help you get those creative juices flowing, you can look at the above exercises and perhaps seven combines three or four of them into one whole day of shooting. Another idea is to get together with a group of friends and take on these and other challenges as a group, this is a great way to learn from other photographers. You will all see something different, and that is exactly what photography is about.

The most important lesson you can learn from this is that photography should never feel like a chore, you should always enjoy having you camera in your hands.

[Main image – CC The Prelser Project]