Learning To See: A Weekly Challenge

Are you out of ideas for photographs?

Even if you’re not, check in here on Monday mornings for a weekly 7-day photography challenge to get your vision roaming!

Each week this challenge requires that you take 36 images during the following 7 days. Your deadline is always next Monday morning for the current week’s challenge. The challenges might be thought provoking, might be silly, and could even be tedious. Work through whatever frustrations come up for you each week – we are often given assignments by clients, ones that we work on to put food on the table, not necessarily because they are exciting. 


The purpose of taking a full 36-images – equivalent to one roll of film in the analog days – rather than just one or two images, is that thirty-six forces you sit with the project, rework it, rethink it, and conceptualize it during the week. Your first or second image might be good, but when you create all thirty-six images of one challenge/assignment, you’ll begin to see little things that might make you want to move in another direction or give you an idea for another series altogether.

Anyone can take one or two images and they might be good. But was there thought behind the shot? Did the photographer really see what they were shooting? Being able to commit to the challenge develops the discipline of a professional rather than a hobbiest who just plays with photography. Taking one or two images for the weekly assignment may complete it, but thinking about the project for seven days and taking thirty-six images will allow you to deeply explore it.

What kind of camera do I need to use?

Use whatever kind of camera you have available to you – I’m working solely with an iPhone X right now. Make do with what you have.

Use your camera as the cropping tool.

Don’t waste your pixels! Another point of the challenge is to get down and tight with taking images, using your camera as a cropping tool, rather than cropping images after taking them, during processing. As a matter of fact, none of the 36-images turned in for the challenge should be cropped!

What kind of subjects are we talking about?

None of the weekly subjects will have broad sweeping images as a response … Think of it this way, it’s not so much to have a window or a door or an arch *in* the photograph as it is to have the photographs be *of* the subject of the challenge. You can be as literal or as abstract as you feel you need to be to complete the challenge. 

Finding inspiration:

Look to the painters and photographers of the past, and present, for inspiration. Study their compositions, use of colors, and cropping. If I know of an artist and photographer whose work might mesh well with the challenge, I will mention them, but don’t let my ideas limit you in your search.

Then what?

Once you’ve taken the images, load all 36-images into a gallery on your own blog, the Shutterbugs forum over on ARTIST-AT-LARGE, or a site that you can link from, and come back to that challenge’s post and post the link to your gallery post in the comments below by the following Monday!

What about editing?

This project is not about being adept at using PhotoShop. Basic manipulation of the images is ok – auto levels, curves, contrast, color correction when needed – but these projects are more about mental focus, creating discipline, getting control of composition, meeting deadlines, and learning to use your camera as the canvas and the cropping tool.

This project is really time consuming!

Do you want to be more than a point and shoot photographer or not? Being a good, or even great, photographer takes time, study, research, and most of all, focus and practice. 

When can I start the challenges?

You can begin the challenges whenever you wish. You can start from the beginning or start in the middle. Just remember to post a link to your 36-images in the relevant post’s comments and  don’t be discouraged by a challenge that you might find tedious. 

Except … the first challenge. The first challenge is one that everyone should do first, even if they come into the project six months from now or next year.

* * * * *

Each week a challenge will be posted. Refer back to this post for the how to and the why.


Note: I use these challenges myself when I’m out of ideas for shooting stock images.


Kimberly Kradel

Artist, Writer, Photographer. Publisher of ARTIST-AT-LARGE.

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