We all need inspiration for our photography. Creating a 365 photo challenge is one of the best photography ideas to help kick you in the proverbial butt.
Not only will it help you look for things to photograph daily, but it will also help to change the way you see things.
And it will have people checking out your social media again and again.
What Is a 365 Photo Challenge?
There are 365 days in a year, and they are all there for the seizing. A 365 day challenge means that you capture an image a day based on specific topics, fields, genres or ideas.
Many photographers go for the really simple idea of photographing themselves, in the same way, every day. Over the year, we see changes in their face, as hair gets longer and the face ages.
Then, the images are turned into a video, flicking past each day. This is a great way to show the growth of a newborn or a child too.
This 365 photo challenge isn’t looking at different ideas each day but keeping the images within a certain theme.
There are many ways to do this, so you could repeat this challenge indefinitely.
Things to Consider
When it comes to these photography ideas, there are a few things you’ll need to consider.
These photo challenges are a great project to show on social media. It lets others know what you are up to, prompting likes and comments across the board.
Instagram is almost made for this idea as its platform is quick and easy to use.
If you own and run a photography business, this is a great way to bring people to your Facebook page or blog. These people will return day after day to see your progress.
If social media isn’t your thing, then consider creating a photo book at the end of your project. It makes for a great present with a personal touch.
Choose a Topic You’re Familiar With
If you’re not a landscape photographer or hate traveling, then perhaps a different-landscape-a-day project isn’t going to work for you.
Not only will it be impossible physically, but you might also lose confidence and give up entirely.
Start small and think about your day-to-day activities. If you like to walk to work, then a project connected to the street makes sense. You can capture your images to and from work easily.
If you work from home, then use your windows as a frame. This allows you to capture the same scene each day, focusing on the different interactions or weather conditions.
Don’t Expect It To Be Perfect
Capturing an image a day will take its toll. You could run out of ideas, or see the same things on repeat. The idea of this project isn’t only to have an image but to help your photography skills improve.
Some days you will be happier with your images than others. It is important to see the project as a whole, where the strength comes from its entirety rather than the single image.
Don’t give up if you feel your image isn’t perfect.
Don’t Skip a Day
It will seem like inconsequential to skip a day, and it is surprisingly easy to skip one. But don’t do it or make up excuses not to get that shot. One day can easily turn into two days and then the project is set back.
This is again why it is important to choose a good topic. If the topic is difficult, you may lose interest. It is a challenge, and you’ll need to push yourself.
It is a good idea to have a few extra images on your smartphone or computer just in case of sick days or trips out of the city.
Explore and Exit Your Comfort Zone
It is a challenge, as the title suggests. It isn’t supposed to be something you can do without thinking. The idea is to help you see the world around you from different perspectives and improve your photography skills.
It is a great idea to chose a topic that you aren’t fully immersed in. If it is too easy, you won’t learn anything and you won’t grow.
Your followers will see through it and may lose interest. Break out of the box.
Keep Your Camera With You
Forget about having the best camera and software. Your best camera is the one you carry with you.
Don’t get sidelined by feeling like you don’t have the best equipment. If you can take an image and share it, you’re ready to go.
Having and using a DSLR is great for the features it has, but it might hinder you in your project. If you have the time, by all means, use it.
Most of us work full time and don’t have more than an hour a day to capture, tweak and share the images.
The important thing here is the image – capturing and/or sharing it daily. The amount of megapixels isn’t.
If you are sharing your images as you capture them, you may run into some technical issues.
If you want to shoot film, you are going to hit a lot of obstacles. How are you going to capture an image, process the film, scan it and share it all in one day?
A digital camera offers the speed you need for this project. But you will need to upload the images, tweak them (if you wish), add keywords and then share with the appropriate information.
If you are using your smartphone, you are in the best position. If you have internet, you can capture, tweak, and share across many platforms in a few minutes.
10 Themes You Can Follow for Your 365 Photo Challenge
Compositions help to create more interest in our images. Every subject needs a composition of some kind, and there are many you can choose from.
Some of the most popular include leading lines, the rule of thirds, juxtaposition and natural framing. You can get all these by simply changing your or your camera’s perspective.
There are a few ways you can go about composition for your 365 photography challenge.
One way would be to focus on one chosen composition for a week or a month. Each image needs to follow that same composition, no matter what the subject or object is.
This will force you to look at scenes and situations in different ways while you try and search for that shot.
Another way would be to alternate between compositions. For example Minimal Monday, Rule-of-Thirds Tuesday and Reflected Wednesday.
The benefit here is followers are less likely to be bored with your feed.
It will keep you on your toes and will work in any location.
2. Take Challenges From Others
One great idea is to take yourself out of the topic selection. If you allow others to suggest a topic or idea you need to photograph, it could turn into something very interesting.
As the ideas are out of your hands, you may need to search for your shot. This will really help your skills to improve. You have no idea of what is coming. Monday might be a red object, Tuesday might give you a composition, and Wednesday might mean a portrait.
One of the best outcomes for this idea is the social interaction. Those who give you the challenges will return to see how you handle them.
3. Photo Journal
One of the easiest ideas is to create a visual photography journal of your day-to-day activities and locations. It is easy to capture the places you visit, the people you see and everything in-between.
The challenge is to capture these scenes and scenarios in an interesting way. The visual aspect here is the most important. The images need to show, or at least suggest that story element of your day.
The most interesting thing here is that you will need to confront areas you’ll see all the time. Seeing these locations differently is a task and a half to complete.
4. Mirror Portraits
If your photography ideas become more specialized, they become more challenging. It is important not to make them too specialized. That would limit your possibilities, forcing you to travel farther. This might not always be possible.
One of my favorite things to look for are reflections of people. In an urban setting, this is relatively easy to find due to the number of shiny surfaces, such as glass, windows, puddles, etc.
You can look for storefront windows, mirrors on cars, wet surfaces – anything that reflects the view. The challenge is to make sure you aren’t photographing the same thing over and over again.
Although you are focusing on people, you will also capture the surrounding environment. It is a great way to tell a story through your images.
5. Treasure Hunting
Who doesn’t like treasure hunting? This idea comes from searching extensively throughout your local area, or anywhere you might be.
This is perfect for photographers who are interested in travel or street photography.
Treasures exist everywhere. It might be a differently painted fire hydrant, a beautifully tiled floor, some urban graffiti. Walk around your neighborhood and keep your eyes open.
You’ll find colorful objects just sitting there, waiting to be captured. The only thing holding you back is your imagination. Personally, I love capturing objects that look like they have faces.
With a little practice, you’ll find interesting shapes in the most mundane objects.
Colors are probably one of the easiest photography ideas to incorporate in your 365 photo challenge. If you are tasked with looking for the color ‘red’, your eyes will find these objects in any scenario.
What might prove challenging is where you’ll find these colors. One day it might be a brightly painted house. Another it could be someone’s brightly colored jacket.
This is a great way to get your creative juices flowing, as the items could be anything. It will force you to think outside the box for your daily image.
You might work on the same color throughout an entire week, or change the color each day.
There are seven colors in the rainbow, and seven days in a week. Coincidence? I think not.
Hello Orange Tuesday, Green Thursday and Indigo Saturday.
Shapes are one of the best photography ideas for your 365 photo challenge project. Everything in our sight is made up of shapes, you just need to change your perspective to see them.
Looking up at a stairwell provides you will see squares, rectangles, and, if you’re lucky, circles. Windows can be squares or rectangles, mountains and hills are triangles.
Use this idea to look at the natural locations you come across, but also the manmade structures found in the city. There is no end to this photography concept. You can incorporate compositions, colours and even juxtaposition.
Get out there and see what you can find. Don’t be a square!
8. Same Location
Have you seen the movie ‘Smoke’ with Harvey Keitel? His character captures an image from the front of his store, every morning at the same time. Without fail.
He then prints the images and stores them in huge photo albums.
Another character flips through these images to see all the different scenarios. The people who walk in front of his store change. So do the weather and the amount of light.
This is an easy photography idea to complete since you’re using a simple setup. It might be a challenge to find somewhere accessible to you at the same time every day. The great thing about this concept is that it can be of absolutely anything.
The only prerequisite is that the areas need to change somewhat from day to day. One photographer captured the same bench outside his apartment, focusing on the different people who visited it.
9. Interesting Backdrops + Selfies
Selfie-syndrome is a real thing, but it shouldn’t stop you. If you think about the location of your image, you can create some interesting photographs.
Street photographers love capturing themselves in windows and reflections. It is a statement about them out in the world, a way to document themselves. You also get to see the surrounding location.
Look at Vivian Maier’s selection of images. She uses objects and her environment to capture self-portraits on the street.
The selfie can change from image to image, as you place yourself any way you want. It could be a part of your face or a full-body shot.
Make sure you take a tripod and a remote shutter so you can do this easily.
One of my favorite photography ideas is to change the idea or meaning of an object. This can be completed in many different ways.
If I see an advert, I like to get in really close and focus on the shapes or colors rather than the entire image.
You can capture anything to turn it into something more abstract.
Get close, get farther away, find repetition or fill the frame. Shoot from above or below. Think about how objects are usually viewed and approach them in a different way. Let your imagination run free.
There you go. 10 great ideas to keep you busy. Choose one that suits your photography and lifestyle the best and get started!
And don’t forget to share your results in the comments.
Check out our great downloadable 365 photo calendar here!