Why I Participate in Photo Challenges

water balloon fight

I’ve fancied myself a pretty good amateur photographer for a couple of years. I have the gear I need and I love taking photos. Sometimes I have plenty of reasons to do so, but then other times I go for long stretches without an excuse to feed my inner shutterbug.

Photo challenges are a great way to force myself to get out and take new photos. I look at other photographers’ work to be inspired to make better photos. The bonus is by participating in a couple of Facebook groups, I also  see a glimpse of people’s lives from around the world.

Heron at Delta Ponds
365 (+1) Days in Nature Weekly Theme: Greenery

365 (+1) Days in Nature (Facebook) is exactly what you might expect. Nature photos. In fact, the group rules say that your photos should have few (if any) man made elements. There’s a weekly theme, photos are generally very high quality and the participants are from all over the world.

playing in smoke bomb smoke
Photo 365 Prompt: Never a Dull Moment

365 Photo (Facebook) is probably my favorite group. Like many photo challenges, there’s a new list published each month with a prompt a day. The quality of photos varies from very amateur or professional. The moderators choose a set of “top shots” for each prompt, which is a nice recognition for a good photo.

FMS Photo a Day (Facebook & Instagram) is the first photo challenge I participated in on Instagram. I found Instagram to feel less like a community than the Facebook group, but both lists use the same list. Photos vary widely with the top picks for each day’s theme typically very high quality. But  scroll through the feed and you’ll find plenty of snapshots in the mix, too.

ClickinMoms (Instagram) is pretty kid-focused, but even if you’re not a mom, you may have young siblings or spend time with kids in your life. I love the photos the feed features; I get so many great ideas for photo composition and editing with my own kids. There’s a monthly prompt/theme list.

It’s My Week (Instagram) is a new one to me, but I love the way the moderators showcase the theme and the photos. Each week has a new theme and the featured photos are lifestyle/editorial in style (not obviously staged or posed).

FMS Photo a Day Prompt: Blue
FMS Photo a Day Prompt: Blue

Or, if you don’t want to be bound by someone else’s theme, you can try a photo challenge that gives you a little more flexibility. Two that I’ve seen on Instagram are:  #100HappyDays and the #365Project.

What do you think? How do you keep your creative muscles active?

 

Getting Smart with Your Smart Phone

Creating great content takes a tremendous amount of time, energy and effort. Every post, update, status or other online missive requires a good visual. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need expensive equipment or lots of training. Most of us are carrying a pretty good camera with us around in our pocket.

For my social media management workshop that I teach to incoming freshmen student athletes, we spent a day talking about smart phone photography. Here are my best tips:

Note: all photos in this slide deck are mine. Don’t use without permission.

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