Fun Photo Challenge Ideas To Try in 2023 (+ Websites)
Photo Challenges are a fun and exciting way to hone your photography skills, learn new techniques, and find inspiration. Here's how to get started.
Trying a fun photo challenge is a creative way to refresh your techniques, learn new skills, or challenge you to step out of your comfort zone.
As a professional photographer, I participate in photography challenges when I may have a creative block or want to try new skills with others.
It helps me start my season with new energy and fun ideas.
What is a Photo Challenge?
A photo challenge is presented as a collection of creative prompts to complete, released in various intervals, sometimes with a set deadline to complete each photography challenge.
It asks photographers to pick up their camera and push creativity into each idea presented.
The prompts can present challenges such as finding specific lighting, creating a self portrait, going out to capture the public in forms of street photography, or structural challenges like using negative space in a frame.
They sometimes even suggest using different camera types, alternate or modified lenses, or coming up with an eccentric idea for portraits.
I love a good photo challenge – to exercise your own portfolio and breath life into your photo routine, or connect and learn new techniques with others.
Participate and share your photo results with friends locally, or even in a challenge within an active community of photographers anywhere in the world.
How Does a Photo Challenge Work?
There are a lot of different takes on how a photo challenge can work.
The answer? There is no wrong way – being creative is the ultimate goal no matter what format the photo challenge is designed in.
All photo challenges start with… concepts.
These concepts are presented to the photographer to complete in their own creative way, within different suggested timeframes, with an end goal in mind (usually growth or inspiration).
For example, in a 30 day photo challenge, your photography skills are summoned every day for a month by a new interesting concept to complete. Other challenge intervals follow similar patterns.
Once completed, posting the photo results to others (especially others participating) is a great way to get feedback. I also find a lot of inspiration from viewing others’ results.
And even if you prefer not to post your photo challenge results anywhere, taking pictures and participating for yourself is always an option and can be a fun solo experience.
Types of Photo Challenges
Photo challenge lists include everything from using specific light sources to taking self portraits – the main difference are the various intervals in the lists:
- 365 daily photo challenge – a challenge assigned on each day to complete
- 30 day photo challenge – 30 ideas are posted to complete, one each day of one month
- 5 day challenge – a short photo series of ideas posted for 5 days in a row during the week
- single challenge – a single proposal of a challenge to complete (a great way to get acquainted with the process as it doesn’t require a long term commitment)
- photography challenge lists – these types of photography challenges are not released in a set interval with others, but a list of challenge ideas to work at your own pace.
- seasonal photo challenge – lists of photography ideas that are applicable to the activities (and weather) that come with the season
Why Participate in a Photo Challenge?
It’s important to continue experimenting and learning in your journey, whether you’re just learning photography or decades into your career.
All these artists (new or experienced) need a jumpstart of inspiration every once in a while – but they don’t know where to find it.
When I have the equivalent to what writers would call a “block”, I can look to challenges to help open and discover perspectives that I would not have otherwise found using old habits.
While mentoring new photographers I have observed them discover new techniques by creating challenges for them as well.
Participating is meant to inspire photographers to procure new and different images then we normally produce.
The creators of the challenges also design them to broaden skillsets and bring photographers together in a fun activity.
3 Free Photography Challenge Sites
If you search the web, you’ll find a ton of challenge ideas and lists. These might be overwhelming to surf through.
Lucky for you, I’ve done some research and found just a few of the best free resources to get you started. Whether you want to become a better photographer or start thinking outside the box, these will get you started.
Kev MRC Travel
This list is meant for one purpose, and that claim is to make you a better photographer overall while using the provided challenge.
The author of this article gets straight to the point of fundamental skills and more basic daily photo challenges for 52 weeks without any fluff.
Challenges include basic parameters involving exposure, focus, taking a technically correct picture, creating useful images, and getting more comfortable taking all kinds of photos overall.
Anthony Epes Photography
If you prefer a more unique direction, this site is full of eccentric and suggestive language to foster creativity and new ideas.
The challenges listed here are more abstract, and great if you don’t want to feel like you are taking a photography course.
This challenge author has hope that you will have more original photos after completing.
In that website you will find suggestions on seeking light in alternate ways, experimenting in your settings like using a slow shutter speed, and using your camera as a medium of art.
This resource has a well rounded mix of challenge types listed, and covers most bases if you aren’t sure what kind of challenge you want to participate in.
5 Photography Challenges You Can Get Started on Right Away
Challenge 1: Create a 5 photo series showing a change in a variable over a length of time
Photography is telling a story. If you break down the aspects of a story, you have variables that change from beginning to end.
This challenge is meant to help you recognize a variable and show how it changes, in imagery. There is no particular limit to the amount of time passing or which variable to capture in the frame.
Challenge 2: Capture an organic interaction between subjects
Another important skill used often, but forgotten just as often while holding a camera, is observation.
This challenge idea asks the artist to passively watch a subject while it/they interact with another subject, and capture the organic interaction without interfering.
I find that letting go of control and letting the scene tell the story helps me to sit back and relax. This in turn shows me new perspectives in my work.
Challenge 3: Use part of the environment to frame a subject
One of the tips I teach other photographers is to use the environment you’re working in to your advantage.
As an event photographer, most everything I’ve created has come from using the environment (or empty space of the environment) around me to frame my subject matter.
Use this challenge to pay attention to where you are and what your subject has around it, and include it in the frame in a creative and purposeful way.
Only including your main subject in your composures can get boring over time.
Challenge 4: Show motion with a fast moving subject
This photography challenge leaves room for artistic interpretation, but adds a challenge of conveying the idea of motion to viewers.
Subject can be people and animals, or objects, as long as you can tell the subject is moving in the image in any way.
Challenge 5: Fill the entire frame with the subject
Forcing myself to get creative with framing is one of my favorite ways to break myself out of my mundane workflow.
While doing event photography, I notice I may use the same photo framing throughout every photo in the series.
You can challenge yourself to get creative and break away from a boring frame by consciously trying new framing outlooks.
Try to photograph a subject, but instead of balancing your frame, fill the whole frame with only your subject and see what you come up with.
How Do You Create a Photo Challenge at Home?
Not every photo you take needs to be a day excursion. You can create a photography challenge at home too.
You have all of the elements of a photograph right there in your living quarters, or a short walk around the outside of your home.
There are subjects, environments, variant light, activity (whether things, people, or pets) and hopefully a camera.
Look around you while you try to think of useful photography skills and how you usually prepare for taking photos.
Then pair one of those ideas with a photo op you see around your home and experiment with light, focus, shutter speed, or movement.
Use the pictures you take to inspire a list of challenges around your home.
Post the list to share with friends, use them for daily Instagram posts, or to share tips to your photography community and get feedback on your photos.
We all started this journey because we love photography and taking photos, or at least that’s why I did.
If you are in the beginning of your photography experience, learning can feel overwhelming. I find that practicing and discovering without pressure can help overcome that feeling.
Sometimes we can feel stuck in our learning rut, burnt out after a long season, or things get boring. This happens to everyone, and it’s temporary and fixable by adding a little excitement with new variables.
Sometimes I just need a new perspective. Try a photography challenge to do just that. Jump on the 30 day photo challenge above and just get out there and take pictures.
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My name is Kay, and I’ve been documenting other people’s lives professionally for over 12 years. I love a challenge, so most times you’ll find me in the middle of a wedding or event if I’m not chasing around someone’s pet or coordinating some other form of chaos. I’m self taught, but I owe my practical knowledge to studying with my dad who was an engineer (Air Force and Ford Motor) first, and hobbyist photographer second. He taught me everything I know about photography from a technical standpoint, and I adapted it to other genre applications.
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