Tuesday, February 24, 2009

2009 PhotoChallenge - The First Month (or so)

I decided to participate in the 2009 Photochallenge , albeit a bit late. I tried to catch up, but I still haven't hit several of the first days. This years challenge is a bit different than Trevor and Jeremy have done in the past, requiring that one shoots everyday. Every day is a different theme, and we've already done some interesting stuff only a month into the project. Everything from Entropy (which was a challenge theme last year) to water, to texture. We've had weekly themes, including black and white, beverages, and colors. Not only is it rewarding to challenge yourself to come up with something new and innovative, but it's amazing to see everyone else's take on the same subject.

I decided to participate after reviewing my photography goals for this year. One of them was to shoot more, and this project has definitely got me shooting more. I've been shooting almost everyday, though recently I missed a couple days. Even though I've shot every day, I haven't necessarily posted every day, so I think I need to do a better job with that as the year goes on. The most interesting part of this project is the limited time frame in which to get your shot. I've tried very hard to shoot the day's theme on that day and it's certainly stretched the limits at times. Some of the topics are harder than others for me, and I'm sure each challenge is different for each person based on thier strengths and weaknesses as a photographer.

As an example, one of the toughest shoots for me was day 18 - Clouds. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, and I spent most of the day trying to figure out how to do this. I thought about cotton balls, and other items that I could put together to represent clouds. Then I remembered a local store painted with a cloud pattern and the old car that sat outside. I never would have taken this photo had it not been for the challenge, and yet I think its one of my better ones.

So what has this challenge done for me? Simply: A Lot. It has me thinking out of the box most of the time. To me, if the challenge is something as mundane as, say "Flag". Why should I go out and take a picture of a flag on a flagpole? There's plenty of flags around where I work (Civic Center Plaza in SF), so that's a gimme. It's incredibly rewarding to come up with something different. In the case of flag, I decided to do some selective coloring, to do something different with the shot.

What's interesting is that about a month later, the challenge was "selective coloring". So now I had to find a different shot for the same process I had done earlier. I ended up with the following:

I've found that I'm leveraging things I've learned from previous challenges in the current ones. One of the earlier challenges was "Low Point of View". I've used that theme in a few of my shots for the challenge and more so for shots I'm not shooting for the challenge. I'm trying new things with the location and angle of the camera to make a shot more unique. I'm noticing things everyday and making a mental note of challenges they may be useful for in the future. I'm using my right brain a lot more on a daily basis, which is good since my profession requires 95% usage of the left brain. Overall, I've been trying my best to get my shots on time and posted. I've been using flash and impromptu studio setups for some shots. All of which is stuff I never would do, if I weren't shooting for the challenge. I'm eager to see how this translates over the course of 3 months, 6 months and a full year into my regular shooting.

I've got a set of all my Photochallenge images over on flickr, so please stop by to check them out. There's also the group photostream, which I linked to earlier to see everyone's submissions for the challenge.