If you want to make your photography outings more productive, there’s no better way than to have a predetermined reason for taking photos. If you go out to take pictures just for the sake of taking pictures, you may end up getting a few keepers out of the random collection you’ve gathered. Not only that, but if I go shooting without a specific purpose, I feel kind of empty when I get done — like I didn’t really accomplish anything.

I’m talking about having a specific theme or idea to center your photo shoot around. Maybe things like: red objects, circles, signs, minimalism, blue, people, water, squares, birds, orange, cars, dogs, macro, zig-zags, yellow, neon, reflections, windows, parking meters, green, trash cans, curves, shoes, chaos, wind, sun, happy, sad, angry, statues, weathered objects, food, stickers, graffiti, patterns, yada yada yada — the list goes on and on.

You’ll find that if you have something specific to look for, you’ll start seeing photos in places you would have never otherwise noticed. It’s not to say you should limit yourself from shooting whatever comes your way, but don’t rely on “whatever” to get you a great collection of images. I bring this up because my recent Experiment with Minimalism really drove this idea home for me.

Also, my buddy Trevor Carpenter is taking this concept to a higher level, and he’s called it the “October Challenge“. Trevor is going to focus on black & white photos for the entire month of October as a means to improve his photography skills. The idea is that “limiting yourself can actually unlock creativity that you’ve never had before“, and I think he’s probably right. Anybody else going to join in? Be sure to read up on these black and white photography tips. If you do, remember to tag your Flickr and Zooomr photos with “OctoberChallenge” so we can all keep up on each other’s progress. I’ve signed up for minimalism — so we’ll see how this goes.

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Hey, that’s me!

Thanks Brian. I appreciate the kind words, it’s an encouragement.

Also thanks for spreading the word.

Anyone else going to join in?

September 27, 2007 12:51 am

Well most of the time my film cameras are loaded with B/W film anyway as I’m still trying to find a specific one I like, so I guess I’m halfway there!

I haven’t thought about going out with specifics such as certain colours etc, though I usually have certain locations in mind before I leave.

As for the “October Challenge” I’ll be using it as an excuse to develop my B/W skills also…

September 27, 2007 5:03 am

a great tips here, thanks.

September 27, 2007 5:47 am

I could not agree more with Brian’s suggestion. This is probably the one area, besides taking a specific workshop that will help to improve both your photographic and also compositional skills.

Giving your self a topic or theme is a start but I find it is always better to have someone else decide a this will from time to time take you out of your comfort zone and really start to explore and learn.

There are several ways to achieve this goal.
You can join several of the online weekly or monthly competitions like Fred Miranda at http://www.fredmiranda.com/ or Dpchallenge at http://www.dpchallenge.com/. DP I really like at they have for some competitions what they call basic editing only which for the most part means no Photoshop editing except for global contrast and Saturation. This really tests your skills.

Another method is to join you local camera club. It wasn’t until I joined the Camera Club of Ottawa, (oldest club in North America -1894) that my skills started to really improve. During the competition nights a judge provides critiques on all entries. Just a bit of thick skin is needed for this.

I have a new found brother in Denmark who is also into photography and I set up a website where we each take turns deciding on a monthly themes and we try and submit 5 photos each. http://www.nielsp.ca/gallery2/main.php

As you can see there are many ways to break out of any ruts you might be in and even a Walk About (my next topic) in a certain area of town or landscape can help you see in a new way.

Niels Henriksen

http://www.niels-henriksen.blogspot.com/

September 27, 2007 9:19 am


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