Are Photography Challenges Worth Your Time?

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  By Jonathan Ma
Are Photography Challenges Worth Your Time?

30-day photo challenge! 52-week photo challenge! Have you ever seen these challenges on social media or online on your favorite photography website? Photography challenges have been very prevalent in this digital age. Why? Simply put, the only requirement to fulfilling a photography challenge is having a camera – whether it’s your phone camera, your point-and-shoot, or an SLR. Let’s consider the different types of challenges you may encounter, the benefits of signing up for a photography challenge, and a tip on how to successfully carry through on your commitment to a photography challenge.


A unique challenge that many photography challenges features is to take a photo of patterns. The peacock’s feathers feature a very prominent pattern, easily completing the challenge. This challenge helps the photographer see the world from a different perspective. The photographer will start looking for symmetry and repetition in the world around them. Sometimes looking for patterns in the world around them requires the photographer to go out of their way (train tracks, a brick wall, etc.). Patterns are unique and appeal to the viewer’s eye. This makes patterns great in the foreground and makes subtle patterns also amazing as backdrops.

Here is a very simple photo from a unique perspective. By shooting parallel to the hardwood floor, the photographer highlights the patterns on the wood floor. It is also possible to have a subject in the foreground, like a pet – maybe a dog wagging that its tail, or a cat snoozing away.


Another photography challenge could be taking a landscape photo in a certain place, or featuring a specific environment (i.e. mountains, a beach, a lake, etc.). Challenges like these force the photographer to explore their surroundings, travel to see new sights and learn more about the landscape around the area they live. A photographer that has a knowledge of the area around them has more options when it comes to backdrops for portraits. Another benefit of landscape challenges is learning how to take great landscape photos. “Practice makes perfect” – this is no less true when it comes to photography.

Some photography challenges require a photo on the beach. Depending on where you live, this challenge may require significant traveling. Fear not though, because beach photography is one of the most relaxing challenges available! Every photographer should have the privilege of taking photos on the beach sooner or later in their hobby/career. A great way to take beach photos is to find a cove, like in the photo above. The composition is much easier when there is a cove to frame the photo.


Although this photo challenge may seem cliché, it really can live up to its name of being a photo “challenge”. During sunset, the natural lighting changes rapidly, which helps the photographer to quickly adjust to different lighting situations. This is a great skill for any photographer to have in their arsenal. For example, many photographers like to shoot during the “golden hour” – the hour after sunrise and before sunset where natural light is warm and soft. Although providing great light, the amount of light changes quickly during this time. This requires a photographer to adapt to make sure the lighting is consistent as the photo session goes on.


Macro photo challenges are also very common. When participating in these type of challenges, a photographer learns to view the world in a different perspective. They learn to notice the small details around them. Again, an experienced photographer is always aware of their surroundings. This includes small details because it can provide great context to a photo session.


At times, a photo challenge may ask you to take a casual, candid photo on the street, or in a restaurant/bar. Although seemingly normal pictures in an everyday setting may not seem like a “challenge”, it definitely is! Composition and lighting are just as important for candid photos of people as they are for any other photo. Street photography is great at increasing a photographer’s skill in identifying interesting perspectives and subjects to photograph.

Tip #1: Join a Photography Challenge with a Friend

Photography challenges are a great way to stay motivated to take photos. Any photographers who are new to the hobby or feel like they have stagnated in their development of skill should consider taking a photography challenge. To keep things interesting and to keep yourself motivated to finish, invite your friends (or make new photographer friends) to take the challenge with you!

Happy shooting!

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Jonathan Ma

Jonathan Ma is a freelance writer and professional photographer. He grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest of the United States. The natural beauty that surrounds this area has helped him to learn to appreciate art and photography. Jonathan's favorite styles of photography are nature and sports photography. He enjoys learning and teaching others what he knows.

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