There are lots of ways to get better at photography, and one of them is to practice, practice, practice. That’s why any kind of photography challenge is great, as it forces you to take shots that you might not normally go for and get lots of new experience.
A 52-week challenge sounds daunting – after all, it’s a whole year! But it can be really rewarding, and if you stick with it, it gets easier as time goes on. Here’s how to do your first 52-week challenge – and get into the habit of improving your craft on a regular basis.
Find your 52-week challenge
The challenge is not just to take a photograph every week – you could do that, but it’s the easy version and definitely not as challenging as the real thing. No, for a real 52-week challenge, you need a list of prompts.
The prompts give you 52 different things to photograph, one for each week of the year. Some of them may be tied to seasonal inspirations, while others can be more general. The point is that each of these challenges will push you to try something new and achieve something really exciting.
So, where do you find your challenge prompts? As the idea of the challenge has grown, lots of different sites and influencers have put together their own lists. All you have to do is search for the name of the challenge and you will find lots of examples, especially under image search. Take a look through the options that come up, and find one that you think sounds the most appealing.
Remember – the idea is not to pick one that sounds the easiest to complete, but rather one that will push you to grow in new ways. Find one that sounds exciting and maybe even difficult – that’s the best way to develop your skills and find new elements of your photography that you had never considered before!
Need help with a list of prompts?
No worries! We created one to get you started. You could totally go off this list or you could pick and choose a few to create your own. Make sure you share your images in our Facebook group, Summerana Photography Society!
2. A Box
10. Self Portrait
17. Looking Up
29. Close Up
32. Looking Down
34. Long Exposure
39. Sun Flare
48. Negative Space
Prepare yourself mentally
The important thing to remember with a year-long challenge is that you need to stick with it for the long run. At first, it will be exciting and easy to do. You’ll be fired up to get the challenges done. Then the novelty will wear off, and you might find yourself feeling like you can no longer be bothered, or that it feels more like a chore.
The key is to be prepared. First of all, know that this point will come and that it will be hard to push through – but also that it will come and go in waves, and if you carry on, you will become excited and enthused about it again. You don’t want to miss out on that by giving up now!
You should also make sure that you have set time aside for each of the challenges. If you have a diary or a planner, or even just an online calendar, set a certain day of the week as your challenge day and remember to set aside time for it that day. You can even use your customer booking system if you have one: create “52-week challenge” as a new customer and book them in a recurring appointment.
Now you’ve done this, you can do one final step of preparation. Look ahead at all of the prompts and try to determine if you will need anything special for any of them. Is there some kind of prop you need, or a certain type of model? Can you think of an idea that will require costumes and makeup? Try to get everything prepared ahead of time so that you won’t be delayed by logistic concerns.
Give yourself a break
If you do happen to miss a week, perhaps through circumstances outside of your own control, then you should give yourself a break. It’s all too tempting to say that you’ve missed one week, so you might as well give up – but this is the wrong attitude to take.
Instead, get yourself back on track with the next week. If you have enough time, at some point later you can go back and complete the week that you missed.
If you know that you’ve got a busy time coming up ahead – for example, if you’re going on vacation – then you can prepare by doing some of the prompts early. This will keep you on track and won’t leave you scrambling to catch up once you’re back. In fact, you can deliberately try to get ahead if you want to save up some prompts for unforeseen circumstances which might delay you – and you can just post them at the relevant time.
One thing you should definitely do is to share your results on social media. Why? Firstly, because it can be a way to draw in new followers and grow your audience, which is great for booking in clients. Secondly, because it holds you accountable to all your followers, who may start asking you why you are late if you miss one!
Finally, it’s also a way to get encouragement and feedback. If you start to get positive comments and lots of likes on your posts, you are sure to feel like you are getting somewhere and doing something good. This will encourage you to keep going even during the phases of the year when it seems hard. Once you get to the end and you can look back on the results, you will feel as though you’ve made a real journey. It’s all worth it, and having that encouragement along the way could make a big difference between finishing the challenge or falling by the wayside.
Once you’ve completed your 52-week challenge, why not take it further? You could create a graphic which showcases all of your images as thumbnails, or break it down into smaller groupings for social media posts detailing your journey through the year. You could even make a slideshow video set to music to show off your achievement!
So, that’s all there is to it! Are you planning to start a photography challenge this year? Share in the comments below!