I’m sure you’ve seen them around on social media — the daily, weekly and monthly photography challenges that are out there. These challenges can be a great way to help you improve your photography. How?

Focus on one subject

By concentrating your efforts on a theme, you’ll spend your time thinking about and working on how to create the best image you can. You won’t have the distraction of trying to photograph all the things around you. Focusing on one subject can also push you to try new techniques, different post-processing methods and think about more than the standard way to shoot whatever it is you are photographing.

Romance

Focus on one technique

Choosing a theme or project using just one technique is a great way to learn all the ins and out of that technique.

I know of a themed group on Facebook (also shared on other platforms) that is The Black & White project. You receive a word, concept or photography technique every two weeks to shoot in black and white. By exploring these different ideas only in black and white, you learn to see the shapes, light and shadows more than if you were taking these images in color.

Film Noir

Focus on your creativity

Another challenge site out there is 52Frames. From their site: “52Frames is a (free!) community of photography enthusiasts from around the world, working together to improve their photography skills. Join us to receive weekly guided photo challenges, share your work, and get tons of feedback from a supportive community!”

They give you a theme along with a little bit of information on that theme and seven days to shoot for that theme. Being part of a group like this is a great way to push yourself and try new things and be inspired by others working on the same project.

Focus on a community of creatives

I may be a bit partial to this one but it’s well worth mentioning. The Photography Scavenger Hunt is a quarterly photo challenge. Each quarter the members receive 10 words and eight weeks to create an image to submit for each word.

The amazing thing about this group is that they’ve been together for eight years. I can personally vouch for the amount of growth that has occurred for individuals because they’ve participated in this. The community is helpful, caring, supportive and more than happy to help each other out with just about anything. Round 28 is just finishing up and you can see the album reveals here. It’s amazing to see what more than 200 people come up with different ideas for the same word.

Focus on finding your muse

One of the great benefits of photographing for a theme is that it usually helps kick start your motivation. We all go through periods of time where we don’t pick up our cameras at all. By joining in with theme it allows us to not have to decide what to shoot. We don’t have to think about the subject matter and it gently forces us to grab the camera and play.

Not only that — the other photographers in these groups are more often than not, quite supportive and inspirational.

Perception

Focus on your own theme

If you don’t have the time to participate in the groups on social media or in communities online, create your own challenges. Pick a word, photography technique or subject matter to explore. Give yourself a timeline to work with and create images strictly for that.

Any of these ideas will help you to improve your photography in ways you never thought they could and ways I’ve likely forgotten to mention. So, pick a theme, search hashtags on Instagram or Twitter, find a Facebook group and join in!

P.S. All of the images in this article were words or themes for projects. Personally, I strive to think as far out of the box as I can so that my images might stand out from the group. (If you hover over the images you’ll see the word.)