Here are 12 ideas for photography practice in and around your house. Choose one subject per day and try to complete all twelve to complete the challenge. Each topic or idea presented includes some suggestions for how to complete the task and some tips or recommended gear.
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1. Changing Seasons
The season or change doesn’t have to be large, full size landscape photos. Think about all the little and tiny things that show us these changes. Small acorns, budding leaves, even dead or dying weeds make great subjects. Of course full-size trees and landscapes will also work.
If you head out into the woods or out into the weather regularly you’ll want to buy weather sealed cameras and lenses. Camera covers are also a good way to protect your gear, especially in the rain.
Pick your favorite color and create a composition with it using any subject from toys to tools, or create a series of images on a single color theme! Try lots of objects or items with different shades of the color, or select one item and fill the frame with it.
My favorite color is purple! Did you know that colors have a subconscious effect on us? Learn about the meanings of colors and how to use them with our Color Theory training cards on Etsy.
3. Light & Shadow
The only way we know a photo represents the 3D world is because of light and shadow. If you reduce the highlights and shadows of a photo in editing you will get a lower contrast, more matte look. Photograph all sides of an object to see how light and shadows change from different perspectives. Always look for the best light!
Light is the main element of photography that needs to be understood, after all light is what creates an image’s exposure. Therefore light is fundamental to both composition and proper exposure.
Try a minimalist style. Minimalism works well with black and white, but can also be accomplished with a simple color scheme and limited subject matter. The key is to keep a simple and not distracting background and surroundings. The example image for Light and Shadow (#3) is also Simple.
Simple can also mean just keeping it simple for yourself. Take a picture of something easy and accessible and use auto mode if you want! Do you know how many pictures of coffee cups there are on Instagram? Lots!
If you have a teen or child interested in photography, s/he might benefit from a simple camera like a point-n-shoot.
5. Worm’s Eye View
Change your perspective! Find something you would not see unless you go low! Get down on ground level and look underneath. You can also get down low and aim up. For example you can get under a flower and shoot up at the sky or take a photo of your pet looking down at you.
Small subjects like ladybugs and tiny mushrooms require smaller gear and sometimes additional lighting. I like to use pocket LED lights and mini tripods.
Reflections are hard to avoid. Instead of avoiding them, embrace them! Look for reflections and you will see they are everywhere – windows, mirrors, car paint, puddles, store glass, and more.
One popular way to photograph reflections is with a Lensball. These round crystal balls invert the landscape and create a miniature version of the scene in its own little “world.”
Either show it or freeze it. Shutter speed is the key! To freeze motion you will need a fast shutter speed. To show motion blur you will need a slower shutter speed. Both are fun to try. Take a photo both ways. For example, take a photo of a waterfall with a slow shutter and you get the soft, white water look. Then take it with a fast shutter and freeze the water droplets in mid-air.
Shutter speed is one of the three components of proper exposure. We created this free lesson to help our students learn about Shutter Priority Mode.
8. Games and Toys
Take photos of family or pets playing with games & toys or just the toys alone. Get creative! It can be fun to pose toys to make them look like they are doing the things people do. You can also play with aperture for shallow depth of field. The games and toys don’t have to be childhood games. There are adult games and sports that are fun to photograph also!
If you’d like to try a photography game, try our free Scavenger Hunt. There are three versions so even children can play. It can help you improve your composition skills too!
Everything has texture (rough, smooth, silky) so explore your home or neighborhood and look at everything with new eyes. Look for textures of fabrics and household items. Find textures on leaves and trees. Texture requires the right lighting in order for the texture to be seen properly by the viewer so try different angles and intensity of light.
Try to think outside the box. Everything has a texture, you just have to find one that is interesting!
Food is an easy photography at home subject, especially if you cook! But even if you don’t cook you have to be eating something, so take some photos of it before you munch. Focus on interesting color combinations and angles. Take photos from the side and from the top down. Photos of food preparation and ingredients can also make fun subjects.
Food photography is related to product photography. When I do small product photography I like to use a small table top tent and light kit. In post-production editing you can make your food photos pop with some free presets and overlays.
Your house, neighborhood, or town may seem boring, but it's not like anyone else's. Figure out why. What makes your area different? Then go and photograph that! Perhaps you have windmills or lighthouses, or maybe you have barns and silos, or perhaps skyscrapers and towers. These all have interest to those who don’t get to see or experience them regularly like you do.
When I do cityscapes or landscapes (including structures) I prefer to use a full-sized tripod, but you can shoot handheld. Handheld can possibly allow some different or creative angles where a tripod would not fit.
While this Hindu temple is not in my current neighborhood, it is in the town where I used to live in Lilburn, Georgia. You don't have to take exotic trips to find cool places!
Notice the inset photo in the example below. It is just a pond. There is no story to this image, nothing of interest. Then compare it to the main photo of the parent and child standing by the same pond. Even though you can’t see exactly what they are doing you know there is an activity taking place and therefore there is a story to the image. Analyze your images as you are taking them and think about why are you taking the photo. What is the story you are trying to tell? Then decide if there is anything you can do to help make the story more obvious for the viewer.
One mistake we often make is stopping the action and asking participants to smile at us. These arranged photos and smiles are great, but when we do this we interrupt the story. The next time you are tempted to stop the action, don’t. Instead take photos of the story.
When looking for the "story" in a scene think about providing a humorous element, capturing the interaction between persons (or animals), showing a specific point of view, or presenting something mysterious or dramatic/surprising.
So there you have it, twelve photography prompts to provide you with some photography inspiration from in and around you house. If you complete these twelve tasks and finish the challenge, we’d love to see your photos so tag us on Twitter @focusedcamera.
If you enjoyed these photography prompts and would like more inspiration, you might like our Fun Subjects cards or our whole year of inspiration calendar on Etsy.
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