Projects and Limitations
I was recently invited to participate in a 30-day photo challenge wherein the participants were asked to photograph and upload one photo a day based on a prompt. In the past, I’ve done similar projects and it’s a great idea for the rare times we photographers have “nothing” to photograph.
I made the project a little more challenging for myself by shooting everything in manual mode, using jpeg instead of RAW format, limiting myself to one camera and one lens and absolutely no post-processing or cropping; basically a straight out of camera image with all its flaws. On occasion I did use in-camera art filters.
This is not a big deal for some, but many photographers use a DSLR (in my case, mirrorless) camera because we don’t like limitations when it comes to our photography. We know the benefits of using a variety of lenses and focal lengths so when faced with the reality of using one camera and lens, it can be frustrating. Like I said, it was a self-imposed rule because I like being frustrated. It also forced me to do a lot of things I would not have done had I used other equipment.
I was “forced” to get as much right in camera as opposed to fixing it later in post-processing. I was forced to find subjects that complemented the lens I was using; I was forced to move and shoot around my subject for better composition; I was forced to use accessories that allowed me to focus on my subject.
I also learned a few things. I learned to use features on my camera that I probably never would have used before; I learned to take my time and not point and shoot my camera at subjects; I learned to identify subjects that would be better suited for the lens I was using; I learned that full manual mode is not complicated, but liberating once it became a habit.
I enjoyed the challenge, but when the project was over it felt great to use my other cameras and lenses. I like variety, but once in a while there’s nothing wrong with limitations. My biggest “problem” was turning the camera on and it not being “ready” to take a photo, but overall it was a learning experience even if at times I was frustrated. I would do it again, but probably not for an entire month.
So if you find yourself out of photo ideas, try a photo challenge whether it be to photograph a single color a day, a 30-day challenge, a 52 week challenge or even a 365 day challenge to jump start your creativity. No doubt you’ll discover by limiting your options you’ll increase the possibilities.
All images were shot with an Olympus OM-D EM-5 camera and Olympus 45 f1.8 lens.