Photo challenges – what’s stopping me?

In 2011 I decided to jump on in and take on the ‘Project 365‘ – take a photo and post it every day. It doesn’t matter what it’s of, it doesn’t matter how you take it, just do it. I thought I was going to be leaving Canada at that point and I could document some travels and getting back to Australia (but obviously that’s not how things panned out!)  – in the end it was a pretty random assortment of stuff. Some days it felt like a chore, other days I’d forget and have to come up with something (usually not great due to it being last-minute). But I did it, and missed less than 2 weeks out of the entire year (you can see the set here, as the place I originally hosted it has shut down).

A year is a pretty long commitment for a project like that (and I think if I did it again I’d like to come up with a theme or concept instead of it being so random). Over the past year or so I’ve seen folks in my social media timelines taking part in shorter, month-long photo challenges. In particular, the Fat Mum Slim one pops up a lot and uses a prompt for each day to inspire people to create and share content (primarily on Instagram). My friend Laura’s been taking part in those and posting a weekly round-up of her terrific photos. I like the idea of the weekly round-up for the ease of it – I can take my time and not worry about posting on the day. But I also like the ease of perhaps sharing on Instagram daily (which crossposts to various places) to get feedback on each piece, and to be part of the challenge as it moves along.

But it’s not even how/when or even the theme of what I’m posting that’s stopping me. I lose momentum so easily. I was actually going to take part in the FMS September challenge and maybe post them here in blocks. I got three days in and that was it. Even without the pressure to share every day that got me down during the 365 Project, it was hard. And while the daily suggestions are fine, I felt like I couldn’t find what I needed to inspire me to hit the mark. It could be that life isn’t super interesting right now as I’m at home most days, and just trying to look for work. I would like a photo challenge to kick me in the butt to find inspiration even on those kinda days, though.

Perhaps I’ll try to drop back in to the FMS challenge and finish up the month posting daily on Instagram to see how it works out, and then come October I might be on a roll – or I might even set myself a challenge for October.

For those of you who take part in photo challenges, or thematic shoots over short/long periods, how do you stay inspired? Do you go out on photowalks? Do you get frustrated when you’re actively looking for something to shoot and can’t make it work? Do you just wait for things to find you, or go on a mission? I’d love a little cheerleading – I miss photography, even casually, as a creative output.

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8 responses to “Photo challenges – what’s stopping me?”

  1. Laura Thompson says :

    Aw, thanks for sharing my blog! I find that some days are harder than others. Sometimes I have too much inspiration, like with “yellow” so I take lots of photos that day and pick the one I like the most. Other days, it’s difficult, like “the best”. or “lines” where I had something in mind but couldn’t find the right thing to photograph on THAT day. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a few off days during the challenge though. What’s inspiring for one person won’t be inspiring to another, but I really do prefer the prompts rather than just taking any photo that day.

    • nicolehoye says :

      Yeah, I think I was super hard on myself for missing days in the year-long one! But a handful of days where I can not worry about a prompt that is a struggle could be a good way to do the month-long one. I should try and leap in for this month’s.

  2. MeShell says :

    Consider me a cheerleader.

    I’ve noticed when taking part in challenges I beat myself up too much if I miss a day, & I’m tempted to just give up altogether. The secret… do it anyway. 🙂 Miss a day? Miss a few? Start up again.

    You should totally just leap into the challenge, and not put too much pressure on yourself to keep up with it. I find it’s just easier to do it, when I’m not building it up so much that reality can’t measure up to my expectations.

    That or I can schedule tweets to harass you about taking pictures everyday? It’s totally up to you, hee hee hee.

    • nicolehoye says :

      Yeah, I think just taking part at all would be a good start, and go from there. If I assume I’ll fail at the most perfect version, I am setting myself up to fail at any version.

      I think if you schedule tweets I will have to read them in a booming omnipresent creature voice. “NIIICOOOOLLLE. TAKE THE PHOOOTOOOOO.”

  3. quavehead says :

    I did a 365 project in 2010. I even made a little book with the collection of photos. And you’re right. Some days it’s a chore, some other days you seem to wake up with a do-able idea and get it done. I thought it was gonna be easier than what it was mainly because I had found myself posting a picture a day anyway before the project, although I wasn’t taking them on that day.
    I don’t know, I think themes could be dangerously restrictive in the long run, but it depends on how much access and flexibility there is.
    I’d be keen to find something to get me going again. I sort of did one in 2012, but not as good or complete.
    So yeh… I don’t have a straight answer… I’m helpful like that. 🙂

    • nicolehoye says :

      Well, it’s nice to hear it’s not a breeze for other people too! It’s cool that you made a book. Going back over my year’s worth of pics was kinda nice, like flipping back through memories of that year (the first I was together with the guy!)

      • quavehead says :

        The thing I was sort of disappointed about was that I expected it to be a pretty straight learning experience, as in, trying new techniques, subjects, equipment… and you know, getting some critique back. But sometimes it just became just a quick diary of what had happened that day. So, I reckon it’d be nice if there were a little bit of balance between those two.
        It IS great to look back at the photos. 🙂

      • nicolehoye says :

        Yeah, I feel like I want more learning as far as composition goes especially. I gotta try and keep that in mind too.. I fell into the diary trap a lot.

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