In August and September I completed my first ever photo challenge. One of my goals for 2015 has been to improve my photography and it's something that I'm really enjoying. I'm also a big fan of Siobhan's blog - Bless the Weather - and when she posted about her '30 Days of Film' photo challenge I knew I had to join in along with Nancy at And While We Were Here, Liz Mosley, Jennifer Emalie, Rhianne at For The Easily Distracted and Anna from By Her Mirror.
Over the summer, I'd spent quite a lot of time shooting with my Canon EOS-M, mainly going for lunch time walks with my photo buddy Jen (check out our Facebook page) and the photo challenge seemed a good opportunity to get into the habit of taking regular photos and using my instax mini 8 for a change. Initially, I wanted to use my old Zenit 11, but in the end, it was far easier to go for polaroid shots, after all, who doesn't love waiting for those fun little photos to develop!
I'm really pleased I took part in the challenge and whilst it took me probably double the time to get a decent shot for each of the prompts I'm so glad that I persevered and achieved what I set out to do. Now we're in the colder months, it's so much harder to take photos in natural light and I'm really missing the time I spent on '30 Days of Film.' It's inspired me to keep photographing, progressing and learning.
So, here's my top tips for getting the most out of a photo challenge:
- Make photography a daily habit. Whilst I do have a couple of really good photography books, ultimately the best way to learn is to take regular photos. It sounds so obvious doesn't it? To ensure I do this next year, I'm thinking of following Anna's example and starting my own 365 project, committing to one photo a day.
- Learn from others. Photographing with my friend Jen really helped for the '30 Days of Film' as she's a far better photographer than me and she can often think up unusual ways to capture an image. It's definitely a good idea to 'buddy up' when you're learning photography and next year I'm thinking of joining Lancaster Photographic Society to take this a step further.
- Ensure your camera is easily accessible. I have a drawer full of old cameras and accessories which I really need to use, sell or give-away. If I commit to doing a 365 project in the new year, it will give me the perfect opportunity to put these friends back into action! I'm going to put my point-and-shoot Samsung WB500 by my bed so that it's the first thing I reach for when I wake-up. Perfect for those #morningslikethese Instagram photos!
- Regularly download your photos from your camera. Uploading photos is sometimes the biggest chore and as my photo buddy friend Jen can confirm, it sometimes takes me weeks to upload my images to our shared Facebook page and I constantly have a backlog of files on my laptop to sort through. Going forwards, I'm going to make sure my camera has the correct date settings and spend time every month going through my photo files. I will also need to revise my filing system (no laughing Jen!) and back-up regularly on my portable hard-drive.
- Get quicker at editing. I'm going to add this to my learning for 2016. Currently, I edit each photo in Photoshop (sorry Lightroom lovers) and it can be really time intensive. Siobhan gives some useful insights to her process on her FAQ page.
- Keep sharing your photos for others to see. I've recently become much more efficient in how I prepare my photos for social media or my little blog. I found Fearless and Framed through Pinterest and they have some really informative and helpful articles on all things photography. Their post 'Tips to Master Your 365 Day Photo Project' suggests using Blog Stomp for collages and blog-ready images. I'm going to download the trial version to try!
- Be inspired by others, but don't compare. As a newbie blogger and amateur photographer, I can sometimes be disappointed by my photographs in comparison to some of the beautiful images you see online every day. This is a reminder to me (and all other creatives plagued by self-doubt) to keep at it. Everyone's on their own journey with things.
If you're thinking of doing a 365 project next year let me know. It would be great to compare notes!
Till next time, xox