#PinkPhotoChallenge for cancer awareness

Coffee shops are just one of many locations that are going pink. Use this month's challenge to showcase pink and join the fight against cancer.

From my coffee shop to the uniforms on my favorite NFL team, it seems everything is adorned in pink these days. 

Pink has become the ubiquitous color for cancer awareness in October, and I’m thinking a perfect opportunity for a challenge -- both photography and awareness.

During the rest of October, our photo challenge is pink. Whenever you are out with your camera, keep an eye open for the color pink. It shouldn’t be too hard to spot. When you find something pink, try to create your own art or photo story. 

Post your images with the hashtag #pinkphotochallenge. As part of your caption, include something like “I’m participating in the pink photo challenge this month to help raise awareness and make a difference in the fight against cancer. Learn more about how you can get involved and make a donation at www.cancer.org.”

That wording is just a suggestion, of course. Feel free to personalize the message and make it your own. Encourage support in any way that feels comfortable for you. I’m going to do my own with these t-shirts.

The American Cancer Society tells us that one million people in the United States get cancer every year. Maybe our photos can help in their fight to raise awareness and work for a cure.

Share your photos

Once you have a great photo, post it in the comments or in our Google + Photo Projects 2013 community, or liink them in the comments.

Join the Photo Projects 2013 community.

Telling great photo stories in your back yard

Tips for photo storytelling and a challenge to shoot wherever you are

I was jealous for a moment as I watched TED talks on photography. These were perspectives and photos by fascinating storytellers. They shared experiences in war zones, at the top of the Himalayas, or from news events that changed our times.

It almost seemed that I had to go somewhere exotic or dangerous to create an interesting or memorable story with my camera. That made me jealous. Why do they get to travel to faraway lands to take their pictures, and I am forced to create from mundane situations in my own back yard?

In my envy, I ignored a couple basic facts. Everywhere is someone's backyard, and every location or situation has the potential to be interesting. Sometimes it takes patience. Sometimes it just means you need to keep looking. Sometimes it requires better focus.

I find interesting stories around Washington, DC with my 100 Strangers projectFor instance, in the last few months I've met more than 30 interesting people, I might not have ever encountered without my camera. I'm working on a photo project called 100 Strangers. It's an interesting mix of art and life. Meet people you don't know. Find out a little about them. Take their photos. Tell their stories.

Suddenly, people I would normally just walk by became interesting. I had long, engaging conversations I couldn't even begin to capture in a short blog post. There were interesting people or situations, and they were not covered in ashes from Ground Zero or nursing dying orphans in Rwanda. They were interesting with their own stories. 

Interesting doesn't need to be in strangers. You can find it in the familiar. On Monday, someone is likely to ask you, "what did you do last weekend?" You will think for a moment and maybe relay a story of an encounter. It will be a story that you think is interesting enough to share, and it will have happened to you. Guess what, it will be interesting to others, too.

What will you do this weekend? Tomorrow? Today? How will you retell the story? Can you do it in pictures?

You don't have to go somewhere exotic to find your interesting story. If you decide to look, you can find it in your own 'back yard.'


Here's your challenge

Tell a story in photos from wherever you happen to be this weekend. You can tell it from between one to five images. It can be a person, place or thing, but keep these storytelling elements in mind.

Characters -- What or who is the story about? Remember the hero? Whether you photograph flowers, architecture, or people, make the story about something or someone.

Setting -- Where is it happening? Can you establish the location, time or mood?

Action -- What's the verb you will use when you describe the situation? The best stories are about something or someone doing something. Find the action.

Viewpoint -- Whose story is it? Will it be from your point of view or your subject's? What's the best placement to create that perspective?

Storytelling -- How will the story unfold? Will you tell it in chronological order? Reverse chronological? Geographic? Thematic?

Apply these elements and you can begin to make situations in your own back yard just as interesting as those exotic photojournalists.

Now tell your own photo story -- from wherever you happen to be. When you finish your story, post a link in the comments. I'd love to see it. I'll be working on my own version as well.


Photo Challenge - Take a self portrait or selfie

Selfie portraits taken with my iPhone.

It’s time for a selfie portrait. For many of us, being the photographer meant we were never in any pictures from events with our family and friends. There were tons of pictures, but you couldn’t really tell you were there.

We almost have the opposite with the rise of the selfie. Front facing cameras on our mobile phones have made it easy for the photographer to take a self portrait. Now, almost anywhere you go, you see the selfie at work.


The selfie is a common site these days.Take the challenge

Our photo challenge this week -- take a self portrait or selfie. Self portraits with your DSLR can be fun with reflections. Of course, the selfie can be anywhere.


Share your photos

Once you have a great photo, post it in the comments or in our Google + Photo Projects 2013 community, or liink them in the comments.

Join the Photo Projects 2013 community.


Photo Challenge - Break the rules

Are you a rule breaker? We spend an awful amount of time discussing photo composition rules. While they are pretty reliable tools for helping you create a great photo, they aren’t commandments. You can break them. So let’s do that. Every now and then, breaking a rule might yield the better photograph. 

When would that be? There’s no rule on when to break the rules, but there is the caution that you need to understand rules before you break them. You should have a pretty good reason why breaking a rule is the best option. Sometimes, you just go with your instinct.

Instinct guided me to break the tried and true Rule of Thirds rule when I was taking these shots at an Arlington National Cemetery burial ceremony. You remember that the Rule of Thirds says the least interesting place for you to place your subject is the center of the frame. I remembered, too, and then that is exactly where I put my subject.


I can’t point to an exact reason why I centered this shot, except the symmetry worked for me. The flag is my focal point, and with a low angle, I stuck it square in the middle of the frame. I think the row of soldiers on each side of the flag begs for that kind of precision. I could easily have stood on either side of the soldiers, but for me, it wouldn’t have the same effect.


Normally when you photograph a person, you stand at a 45 degree angle to great a sense of depth. You would also have the person facing into the frame to create nose room and movement into the frame. I broke both rules for this photo of a ceremonial honor guard. For me, it just had more impact.


Take the challenge

What about you? What rule can you break? Take a photograph where you break a long-established rule of composition. If you need a reminder, pick any of our 21-Week Composition Challenges. Tell us which rule you broke and why.


Share your photos

Once you have a great photo, post it in the comments or in our Google + Photo Projects 2013 community, or liink them in the comments.

Join the Photo Projects 2013 community.

Photo Challenge - Try 360 degrees around your subject and find a creative angle

After photographing 360 degrees around the FDR Memorial, I settled on this overvhead view.

Mathematicians tell us a full rotation around any subject is considered 360 degrees. You can use that approach with almost anything. Some companies use 360 degrees to evaluate employees by their peers, customers, and bosses.

In photography, your view of a subject also is not complete until you have seen it from the full 360 degrees.

In this photo challenge, we will take the same approach. Many times, we shoot in such a rush that we don't take the time to see all the possibilities. We take the first two or three photos and move on to the next subject.

I find that if I force myself to try different angles beyond the obvious, I end up with unexpected and more creative alternatives.

360 degrees around the bread line, and I settled at the back of the line.

A lower angle.

Photo Challenge

Take photos from 360 degrees of any subject. At a minimum, you are trying to capture each of the four corners, a high angle and a low angle. Ideally, you are experimenting with more intervals and perspectives all the way around.


 Share your images with us

Once you have a great photo, post it in the comments or in our Google + Photo Projects 2013 community.

Join the Photo Projects 2013 community.

When you are finished, choose a few of your more creative shots and share them with us.


See the 360 degree views below.

Photo challenge - Patriotism

Flickr photo by ejbSF.

Breathes there the man with soul so dead 
Who never to himself hath said, 
This is my own, my native land! 

~Sir Walter Scott

The words of Sir Walter Scott speak to me as I think of an appropriate challenge for this week. In America, especially in Washington, DC, we are going through one of the exercises in our democracy, the presidential inauguration.


The Challenge

Let's take a step back from the events of Inauguration Day and focus on the broader theme, Patriotism. How would you illustrate the concept? 

Remember, these photo challenges are broad to give you wide latitude to be creative. I plan to go find something in Washington, D.C., on Monday that speaks to me, and I will post it then. Those of you in other countries, I'm looking forward to seeing how you share your own, your native land.

Patriotism. Post early and often.


Share your images with us

Once you have a great photo, post it in the comments or in our Google + Photo Projects 2013 community.

Join the Photo Projects 2013 community.