A photography challenge increases skill and technique

A photography challenge increases skill and technique Making Pictures with John Enman

John Enman says his personal goal for this year is to photograph a different bridge every month.  This is the Pritchard Bridge that crosses the Thompson River

John Enman says his personal goal for this year is to photograph a different bridge every month. This is the Pritchard Bridge that crosses the Thompson River

Since the New Year I have been perusing online photography forums and various Facebook pages of other photographers, and one thing I have noticed is the popularity of starting a 52-week photography challenge.

For example, on Canadian-digital.com forum,  member Sambr posted the following, “Okay folks, we are starting a 52-week challenge on this forum, make it suit your schedule.  I hope we get lots of participation from the membership at large. This will be solely for personal development and growth of your photographic skills and technique.  All submissions must be shot during the submission week and can be of anything you want; animals, people, and landscape, whatever you decide. Members can comment on your photos – it will be up to you if you want to take their comments or advice.”

I think this is a great idea. Anything to get us out there making photographs is good.  Some have even suggested a 365-day challenge. I suppose that’s good also, however, I expect many will just rely on a point and shoot response towards anything to fulfill the obligation to post a picture daily.

I would prefer that those taking up the challenge do so to help their photography grow in some way and select a subject with some thought as to creating some interest to the viewer.  One photograph a day, or one photograph a week, might not always fit one’s personal lifestyle either. Especially if the photographer’s intention is to show something he, or she, thinks might be interesting.

Anything that gets us out with a camera in our hand is good. If anyone agrees with that then the challenge could even be photographing a subject a month for a 12-month challenge. I have written before that my wife and I (for years now) each produce a picture for our monthly calendar. I suppose that would be more like a six month challenge since we alternate months; January was my month, then February my wife’s, and March mine, and so on.

I must admit that I am really late with a picture this month. I have been trying to get together with two other photographers to photograph some large river otters that seem to be hanging out in the Thompson River east of Kamloops Lake. We tried this week without success, and, instead, turned from the river to the foothills and made some pretty good images of the bighorn sheep. I will be satisfied with a photograph of the sheep for this month to fill the empty space in our home that should have a calendar hanging in it.

Personally, I know I could fill the weekly challenge with miscellaneous images, but I favour those that have challenged themselves with a theme. I read one who will be choosing “shadows”. I like that because I think it will force that photographer to be creative in approach, selection, and final production.

My personal goal for this year is to photograph a different bridge every month. Those that read my last article know that I began (late, I know) with the Pritchard Bridge that crosses the Thompson River not far from my home. The project shouldn’t be hard for me to get going because there are lots of bridges only short drives away.

My wife doesn’t think too much of my project. She thinks it could be boring.

Okay, I must aspire to produce photographs of the bridges that go beyond just documenting a structure spanning a body of water, and I will be forced, like the “shadow” photographer, to be creative in my approach, selection, and final production. For her part, my wife has committed to producing a fine photograph of a “tree” each month.

My first photograph of the challenge is the Pritchard Bridge, which I made with a wide-angle lens while standing in the sand at one end just left of where the pillars arise from the sand.  I like the image, but if this is to be a real challenge my next bridge needs to be photographed from a different angle and I need a less leisurely execution.

Those taking up the daily, weekly, or monthly photography challenge should do this, as Sambr says, “… for personal development and growth of your photographic skills and technique.”

Choosing a theme or subject increases the challenge.  It is also fine to just photograph any subject because you really like it.  I know we are already well into March, but who cares, there aren’t any rules.

These are my thoughts this week. Contact me at  www.enmanscamera.com or  email: emcam@telus.net. Stop by Enman’s Camera at 423 Tranquille Road in Kamloops. And if you want an experienced photographer please call me at 250-371-3069. I also sell an interesting selection of used photographic equipment.