6 Challenges to Improve Your Top Photography Dream Skills

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Raindrops Falling Formering Circular Shapes by Images Monsoon

Last weeks post, Use a Back to School Mindset to Kickstart Your Dreams, had some suggestions on how to take that new “fresh start” mindset and translate it into support going after your dreams.

I spent the week going over my own goal sheet, and came up with ways to challenge myself as we get ready for the last 4 months of the year.  I’ll encourage you to take the challenges on with me, and write about your progress here in the comments.

6 Challenges to Improve Your Photography Dream Skills

Challenge #1 – Don’t stand in one place

Remember to move around or even lay down on the ground.  Take the view finder or screen away from your face, and see the full view with your eyes.

If you are tall, go small.  If you are short, find higher ground.  One subject shot from different points of view can create incredible impact…and different perspectives can only happen if you keep moving and don’t settle for the obvious.

Improve Your Photography Skills by not staying in one place

Challenge #2 – Same subject, different lens

Every lens in the bag serves a purpose for the kind of image you want to capture. Not sure how it makes a difference? Take a shot of something simple like a flower in your yard.  Use a standard lens, then change to a zoom of any length.  When you look at the images side by side, you’ll notice that the back grounds, foregrounds, detail and color will all be different.

So now, as we say in the business consulting world, “reverse engineer that”.  Start with the end in mind – what do you want your image to look and feel like, and then choose your lens on purpose to get that particular shot.  (Practice this one a lot.)

Challenge #3 – Know the rules and (sometimes) break them

Photography has many of creative and technical rules.  Its important to know them and its also important to know that sometimes those rules are just there – and by breaking them you could create some pretty powerful images.

I can say this only because a few of my own favorite photos were technical ‘mistakes’ – maybe I used the wrong f-stop or white balance choice – but artistically, they worked and I kept them.  Here is a cool link to Gizmodo, and “71 Failed Photographs” – You’ll love it.

Challenge #4 – Know your own “photographer persona”

What artists do you like?  Do you know why you like their work?  One of my favorites is Joe McNally, NY based photographer who has been around for 30 years in the business.  He’s done photography stints at Life Magazine and National Geographic and now travels the world doing specialty workshops on lighting and composition.

I know enough about him to know he is passionate, caring, driven but casual and a real smart ass at times, and those characteristics live within the images he takes.  There is just something about them – you’ll look at the photos and say “that looks like it must be one of Joe’s.”

I’ll be doing a special post on Joe’s 9-11 Project, “Faces of Ground Zero” next week, and you will see how a photographers’ personality is reflected in their work, and why that is important.

Challenge #5 – Anticipate the shot vs just waiting for it

I made up this concept myself after looking at images I took last year for my son’s high school sports program.  I found that if I was shooting a sport I knew enough about (baseball, rugby, volleyball) my photos looked better than the images I took of a sport I knew little about (water polo, lacrosse, wrestling).

For instance, I love rugby and I know how it’s played.  I instinctively know what they players will do, what that will look like and when to press the shutter.  I can anticipate the good shot and I’m ready.

improving photography skills with rugby

With water polo, I have no idea what is going on.  I’m very reactive, just shooting and following the action.  My images come out boring, sometimes blurry and have more often than not “just missed” the action.  My goal this year is to learn more about the sports I know little about so I can continue to anticipate, rather than wait for, the shot.

Challenge #6 – Take the Opposite Action

The best way to stretch and expand your photography growth will be to do things you normally wouldn’t do.  Trying new things heightens our awareness and ensures that we don’t fall asleep in our own talent.

For instance, if  you normally take portraits and you feel that is your best work, stop shooting portraits and for a week take shots of something else, like a city-scape.  If you like to shoot alone, go find a few others to tag along (photographers or not) just for a different experience.

photography skills cityscape

Okay top photographer dreamers, it’s time to get to work on your photography skills.

How do you think taking on these challenges will impact your own approach to taking photos?  

Take on a challenge and comment below.

Until next photo,


  • Love these photos!


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