Why Photo Challenges Are Great and Why I'm Not Doing One In 2015
I think photo challenges are great. If you are looking to explore a variety of genres of photography, that "nudge" to pick up the camera, or just a little fun a photo challenge can be just what you need.
I took part in weekly photo challenges for the past two years. In 2013, the weekly themes were broad and typically subject based (nature, kitchen, toys) or technique based (flash, rule of thirds, bokeh). In 2014, I took part in a dual themed challenge, each weekly theme wrapped in a monthly theme. They were fun. I learned quite a bit. I took photos I otherwise wouldn't have taken.
So... I'm not doing a challenge in 2015. And there's reasons.
First, I know what I want to shoot. I've always gravitated towards landscape photography and two years of photo challenges solidified that for me. I enjoy viewing all sorts of photos - street, urbex, portrait, sports - but my shooting passion is landscapes. Photo challenges reaffirmed my passion in photography is landscapes.
Second, I don't need an "external force" to nudge me to pick up the camera. I'm self motivated now, shooting regularly. Week in and week out I'm making new images. Heck... for landscapes, you've got to be self motivated to drag your bones out of bed at 3am, drive a couple of hours, and setup to shoot the sunrise. :)
Third is time. There's a finite amount of time I can spend on photography. I want to dedicate that time to landscape work. That's what I love doing. That's what drives me to pick up the camera and make photos.
There's a quote from famed portrait photographer Greg Heisler that really resonates with me: "Shoot what you can't help but shoot." That's exactly what I'm going to do.
If you are doing a photo challenge in 2015, that's awesome. Explore. Learn. Grow. Have fun. And who knows... in 2016, I might join you. The path of photography has many twists and turns.