Creating a “Self-Assignment”

Ways to challenge yourself to become a better photographer

Over the years, I have been involved with several different groups and organizations with a shared interest in photography. Many of those years were with the Sioux Falls Camera Club, where judged competitions helped us strive for better techniques and encouraged us to try new things.

Multnomah Falls

As an off-shoot of those days, I found a personal technique to help when I occasionally found myself in a photographic “rut.” I’m referring to a self-assignment, where I focus my efforts on a specific subject or technique for a period of time. During that time, I experiment with different settings, angles, techniques, or utilize different accessories to expand my shooting abilities.

After the Storm

In the past, I have tackled long-exposure water shots, night and star photography, painting with light, back-lighting, macro photography, and even with black and white captures…a throw-back to the good old days. These have each caused me to look differently at subjects I’ve photographed for years, and to hone new skills for capturing images with new life.

Bars and Shadows

For a good place to start, I would suggest trying something totally different from where your interests currently lie. If you are a nature or landscape photographer, spend some time shooting portraits with a friend or family member. Kids are great to photograph, especially when they’re not aware of it!

Flamingo Nap 2

If you want to excel in wildlife photography, especially with birds of prey, try spending some time at a sporting event or race track. Shooting a different type and pace of action may be helpful in honing your skills at tracking an eagle in flight.

Peek-a-Boo II

If you aspire to be a portrait photographer, spending some time shooting macro and close-up subjects might give you a better understanding of critical depth of field. The world of macro is also full of great abstracts of color, patterns and textures, all of which might inspire a fine art photographer into being.

Bison & Bugs

If you want to really challenge yourself, try photographing a scene or subject differently once each day for a month. The catch is – you only get one shot!

Chicory Snack

The idea is to expand your photographic horizons. In much the same way that our Harold’s Photo classes encourage you to move away from the automatic “Green Box” on your control dial, you can force yourself to explore new ways of looking at the world through your viewfinder. It will help keep you fresh and inspired. And who knows, it may just end up opening a door to a new career path!

By Guest Blogger Marty DeWitt

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