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Time to Get the Camera Out for Some Self-Assignments

Time to Get the Camera Out for Some Self-Assignments

Are you stuck in a rut with your photography? One effective way to break out is to set yourself some self-assigments.

Those small assignments are a very good way to get the camera out, try something new, think outside the box, and create images that would otherwise never see the light. They can be as long or as short as you wish and have time for. You can neatly keep some ideas in a note book on your desk, scribble a few on a napkin, make a list on your smart phone…

You get the idea: the trick is to have a list to draw from, be inspired and get the creative flow going. If this is your first self-assignment or challenge, starting with a simple concept will be easier, then move on more to abstract concepts. Here are some ideas to get started:

Simple subject:

  • morning light: get up early and catch the break of day and the early light when all is quiet
  • clouds: those can be ominous, beautiful or plain funny. See what you can get!
  • dogs: yours, your neighbour's, dogs running in the park…
  • best friend: a good reason to practice portrait in natural light
  • favourite colour: look for that special colour and be creative when you find it.

Learning to see:

  • lines and shapes: look a what's around you with you eyes to see them
  • patterns and geometry: there's lot of those in the city, but what about in Nature?
  • abstract: maybe it is time to use that macro lens again, or maybe a zoom lens for a change
  • symmetry: we are surrounded by symmetry, look at things in a new way by seeing the symmetry  
  • colours: roses are red, violets are blue… what colour will you find near you?

Emotions:

  • friendship: capture the special relationship between two close friends
  • gratitude: in the eyes, in a hand shake…
  • happiness: from a big smile to the 'happy danse'
  • loneliness: in the park, in the street, at the hospital… 
  • surprise: be ready for that one, it does not last long

Camera use:

  • aperture priority: time to work on the depth of field and the exposure compensation
  • shutter speed priority: what about freezing some water drops?
  • white balance: experiment indoors and outdoors and tweak your preferences
  • focusing modes: check the camera manual if necessary, and practice
  • exposure compensation: take control of the camera and tweak your exposures for better images

Effects:

  • panning moving subjects: capture your dog running, or kids on skateboards, unless you prefer bikers…
  • create intentional blur: not all images need to be sharp. What happens if you move up and down while clicking?
  • start burst effect at night: use that F16 and above and you'll be the star of the night!
  • long exposures: get that tripod out and photography what the eyes can't see
  • back light and silhouettes: who said we can't take photos facing the sun? (just don't look at the sun!!!)

Choosing one photo challenge to work on really focuses the attention and helps becoming aware of creative opportunities. It sharpens the eye and the mind. Photography is not a spectator sport. Practice, roll up your sleeves, evaluate, try again… and don't hesitate to ask questions and share results with us!

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About the Author

Sophie Pasquet

Sophie Pasquet

Sophie has been a photographer, educator and traveller for most of her adult life. She founded Better Paris Photos in 2008 (which became Better Travel Photos in 2014) to deliver exceptional photography experiences to travellers.