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Learn Photography

Photo Tips > Challenges

Here are a bunch of challenges.

Don't wait around for a trip to exercise your camera.

Stay in shape.

Do a challenge.

Three Websites

1 - Photo Friday

From their website:

[Photo Friday - The Weekly Photo Challenge is] about challenging our participants to be original and creative within the constraints of the week's theme.

It's not a competition.

Anyone with a camera and a place on the internet to post pictures can participate.

2 -

From their website:

Photography is often a battle against motivation.

Much like writers block can slow down the best authors, photographers can often get lazy without something specific to shoot.

This site presents photographers with a challenge - take a new photograph specifically for the word of the day, and post it for the rest of us to see.

The only description and caption you get to include with your image is the word of the day (which the site does for you).

3 -

Go to the above website and find a quote you like.

Use 300 Master Photographers and Google to find more photographs and information about the photographer.

Take a photograph related to the quote.

Turn Off That Critical Inner Voice

Judging your work as you go along can be beneficial, and can be detrimental.

If you find that your critical inner voice has become too negative, turn it off with the following methods.

You can use the serendipity of randomness and chance to fuel your creativity.

You don't have to be judging all of the time to be creative.

Cover the LCD Screen

Don't view the photographs on the LCD screen on your camera.

Go to the camera menu, and deselect this option, or cover the screen.


Take a photograph after every ten steps, or at every intersection.

Set a Quantity Goal

Instead of having the goal, "I want to take a great picture," set a number goal.

Take x number of photographs in x amount of time.

Random Walks

Mike Natale arranges "random walk" photography excursions.

I flipped a coin before I went out my door today.

It was heads, I headed right.

I got to the corner and flipped again, it was heads again, I went right again.

I kept this up for a couple of hours and took photos along the way.

This brought me up and down streets in my neighborhood that I don't often travel, and of course some that I am on all the time.

You can go out on your own walk, and use chance to power your photography.

Blind Walk

Photograph while wearing a blindfold.

Use a partner as a guide.

Select a location that is amenable to the challenge and your safety.

Use your other senses, besides sight, to respond to the environment.

This challenge was borrowed from Catherine Wagner, a professor at Mills College in Oakland, CA.

Don't Look Through Your Viewfinder

If you're not looking through your camera, the only thing decisions you have to make are where to point the camera and to hold it level.


Nicholas Nixon has been photographing his wife, and her sisters, annually, for over thirty years:

Brown Sisters

These two families have been documenting themselves for many years:


Diego (19/07/73) - Eli (06/01/76) - Martín (16/4/82)

You can start an annual photography project.

The subject can be family, or something else, such as:

The Manhattan Solstice

The crosstown streets of NYC, above 14th St. are not aligned perpendicular to due north.

Instead, they run from the northeast to the southwest (30 degrees east of north).

Therefore, the sun does not set, even with the streets, on the vernal and autumnal equinoxes (March 21 and September 21).

Instead, the sun sets at the end of cross streets on May 28 and July 12.

Take pictures when this occurs.

The light is great

Here's a NASA photo.


Duane Michaels photographed his garden each season, and hand colored the B&W prints.


The Four Seasons of Our Garden

Duane Michaels

Build an Installation, Photograph It

See the work of Sandy Skoglund (1 2) and Nam June Paik (1 2).

Photograph the Same Product

For Two Different Clients

Learn more about lighting and the other ingredients of good photographs by photographing the same product for two different clients.

This is sort of writing a compare-and-contrast essay.

For example, go to a dollar store and purchase a toy car.

Photograph #1: Photograph the car for the manufacturer.

Photograph #2: Photograph the car for the Sierra Club.

Buy Something Once a Month

For example:

Month 1: Buy a Polarizing filter.

Month 2: Buy a Lensbaby.

Month 3: Buy a cheap light for still life or close-up photography.

Month 4: Buy a diffuser for the pop-up flash on your camera.

Month 5: Rent a fish-eye lens or a 500 or 600mm telephoto (and a tripod) for a weekend.

Photograph from a Conveyance

• Work from a bus, especially from upper level of a tourist bus.

• Hire a pedicab, such as one from Manhattan Rickshaw.

• Try out aerial photography with kites, balloons, and rockets.

Copy, Borrow, Pay Homage

You've seen painters in museums copying a painting.

This was how art was taught for 100s of years, and is still taught by some art schools.

• Take photographs in the style of Francis Bacon or ?

• Photograph in the style of a favorite director or cinematographer.

• Appropriate the work of other photographers.

The website below describes the work of Sherrie Levine, who appropriated the work of well-known photographers such as Walker Evans.

Deciding the Fate of Sherrie Levine (PDF)


Take pictures of something that has been photographed before.

That is, do before and after photographs.

Go to these websites:

Chicago Then & Now


Third View: Rephotography Project

Atget Rephotographic Project

Atlanta Time Machine

Vertigo: Then and Now

Use Google to find an earlier photograph of a building or landscape that you want to rephotograph.


Play Exquisite Corpse or Renga

In this game, created by surrealist writers, a group of people create a collective artwork.

The first person covers a portion of the field with his or her work.

The next person can only see a small portion of the first person's work. He or she adds work to their portion of the filed, and so on.

See these websites:

Le Cadavre/Exquise/Boira/Le Vin/Nouveau

Exquisite Corpse - Wikipedia

Renga is another, much earlier, Japanese collaborative method.

One difference between renga and the Exquisite Corpse game and renga, is that in renga the writer/photographer can see the previous contributions.

Renga at Lightstalkers entry about renga


From Fluxus - Wikipedia:

Fluxus - Wikipedia

Fluxus (from "to flow") is an art movement noted for the blending of different artistic disciplines, primarily visual art but also music and literature.

Fluxus was founded in 1962 by George Maciunas (1931-78), an American artist who had moved to Germany to escape his creditors.

Besides America and Europe, Fluxus also took root in Japan.

Among its members were Joseph Beuys, John Cage, and Yves Klein, who explored media ranging from performance art to poetry to experimental music.

They took the stance of opposition to the ideas of tradition and professionalism in the arts of their time, the Fluxus group shifted the emphasis from what an artist makes to the artist's personality, actions, and opinions.

Throughout the 1960s and 70s (their most active period) they staged "action" events, engaged in politics and public speaking, and produced sculptural works featuring unconventional materials.

Their radically untraditional works included, for example, the video art of Nam June Paik and the performance art of Beuys.

The often playful style of Fluxus artists led to them being considered by some little more than a group of pranksters in their early years.

Fluxus has also been compared to Dada and is seen as the starting point of mail art.

Fluxus - Wikipedia

Visit the Fluxus Portal to inspire a Fluxus-type self-assignment.


Open a book―close your eyes―and place your finger on the page.

Your challenge is the word or sentence upon which your finger fell.

It's okay to cheat.

If you don't like the results of the first attempt, try it again.

This is how the above art movement got its name.

Go to these websites to learn more:


Dadaism - Wikipedia.