The Self Edit Mini-Challenge (Sorta)

27 Jul

One of the hardest things for any photographer to do is be objective about their work.  It’s not surprising – photography is an emotional art.  You aren’t just sharing an image.  You’re sharing your vision of the world, and your feelings about the moment as you press the shutter.  Photographers pour their heart into their work, and sometimes, it’s difficult to separate the emotional attachment you have for an image from the compositional and connective realities of what lies within the frame.

So David Pasillas and I are issuing a two-part mini-challenge.  First, push the limits of your creativity.  Second, embrace your objectivity.

Step 1: Grab your camera, any camera. Creativity isn’t limited by the tool, it lies within the artist.

Step 2: Pick a subject and take 100 different photos of it.

AGGGGHHHHHH!!  100 photos!!!???!!  We know, it’s a very intimidating number, but before you run for the hills, read the rest! 

100 photos isn’t that much, don’t let the number scare you.  For most people, especially those who shoot digital, that’s only about a ½ hour of work.  Consider it a 30-minute challenge rather than a 100 photo challenge.  And we fully encourage you to use those 30 minutes to rock the heck out of the photo world.  Use those 30-ish minutes to explore new angles, try different settings camera settings, manipulate the light subject.  If it’s something you’re interested in shooting – a flower, a tree, grandma, a car, whatever… – you’ll reach 100 images before you can say “Cheese”!

Step 3: BE RUTHLESS!  Choose your best 5-10 images, thinking about things like emotional impact, composition, exposure, artistic effect (etc) and edit them.  Of THOSE images, submit only the 2 strongest images to

This awesome challenge is going to allow for growth as a photographer in a couple of areas. First, it will put you in a position where you’re forced to push your creativity when shooting. Most likely, you’ll run out of ideas and end up crawling around on the ground to get a different perspective. If you don’t get to that point after 100 shots, shoot another 100….seriously. The more you shoot, the more you will get out of this exercise.

Second, you will gain some experience as an editor, because truly, being able to distance yourself emotionally to see an image for what it is…well, it’s an invaluable skill.  Self-editing is part of the foundation upon which your reputation will be built.  Not every photo taken is five-star material, but the strongest photographers know the importance of putting only the best images into a portfolio.  In this case, appearance is everything.  You want your name to be associated with powerful images, and the first step in that process is learning to recognize the weak ones.

Note, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t love your art…just know that your emotional connection to an image doesn’t necessarily equate it to a marketable image.

In this case, imagine that you’re the editor of National Geographic, Life, or Sunset magazine. You get hundreds, nay, thousands of images coming across your desk each month. You have to choose the best of the best for the cover photo. You should have the same approach with your images. Choose the ones that you think should be in a magazine. Learn to pick out your best shots, understand why they work, and understand why the others don’t. Improve your skills as an editor and you’ll see the quality of your photos improve.

Here are a few helpful hints from David:

The first time I did this challenge, I was told to take 500 pictures of a single flower. I got to choose the flower and was free to do whatever I wanted. I feel like 500 might be a little intimidating for most of you at this point, so let’s start with 100.

Some things I tried or was told to try:
I used different lenses
shot both, wide angle and zoomed in
different aperture settings
many different angles and compositions
shot through things
shoot at different times of the day
set to manual focus and take some photos out of focus to achieve a painterly look
spray water on the flower
tear off the petals and make something with them

If you’re using an iPhone, try shooting with different camera apps. Get creative. Get weird.

This challenge will run through two weekends, from July 28 (Saturday) until August 5 (Sunday) at midnight.  So…ready to get your creative on???!!??

14 Responses to “The Self Edit Mini-Challenge (Sorta)”

  1. Jeremy July 27, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    wow, that’s gonna be a challenge! But I’m game! I can see how this will help me out 🙂

  2. Jeremy July 27, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

    Reblogged this on 365 Photos by Jeremy and commented:
    Here is the next photo challenge, co-hosted by Check it out and join in!!

  3. David Pasillas July 27, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

    Reblogged this on iPhone Photographer and commented:
    Shannon and I have talked about collaborating for quite a while now. We finally made it happen with this challenge and we’re hoping you guys benefit from it. Don’t let the number scare you off. Its easy to hit 100 shots.

    If you’re really serious about wanting to improve as a photographer, go beyond the 100 shots. Shoot 200 or 300. The more you shoot, the more you’ll get out of this one. I promise.

  4. OST Photographic Services July 27, 2012 at 7:32 pm #

    Hmmmmm…I’m thinking it over. Great idea!

    • seeingspotsphoto July 28, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

      We’d love to have you! These challenges are about improving your own photo skills, but also building a supportive network of other creatives. The more the merrier!

  5. 8teen39 July 28, 2012 at 2:54 am #

    100 shots? It does sound intimidating. I’d say I’m in but don’t have a very good track record with submitting any of my photos to any of your challenges. Still, I’m learning just by reading.

    • seeingspotsphoto July 28, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

      haha I know, it does sound intimidating. Although honestly, when I account for bracketing, and playing with camera settings, I do find 100 shots go by quickly. =)

      Either way, I’m glad you’re still getting something out of reading the challenges! And if you can submit anything (I think you still have until tomorrow for the silhouettes), we’d love it!

  6. Ania A. August 6, 2012 at 2:25 am #

    I love this challenge. I’m sending out my 2 pics right now.


  1. The Mini Challenge « iPhone Photographer - July 29, 2012

    […] you know, Shannon and I have a mini challenge going on right now. I came across my first subject yesterday when I found a praying mantis hanging […]

  2. Self Edit Mini Challenge Reminder « iPhone Photographer - August 3, 2012

    […] you haven’t heard about the challenge or forgot what its about, here is Shannon’s original […]

  3. It’s On Like Donkey Kong! « - August 4, 2012

    […] you know, the Self-Edit Challenge ends tomorrow!  In order to show you how ATTAINBLE 100 photos are, I wanted to give you a little […]

  4. Participating: Self Edit Mini-Challenge « I'monnet Photo - August 5, 2012

    […] The Self Edit Mini-Challenge hosted by Shannon and David is very simple and can be explained in 3 steps: 1) Grab a camera; 2) Pick a subject and take 100 different photos of it; 3) Choose your best 5-10 images, edit them and submit only the 2 strongest images. […]

  5. And the Beach Theme Continues… « - August 10, 2012

    […] image also happens to be one of my two submitted images for the “Self-Edit Challenge” I co-hosted with friend and fellow photog David Pasillas. The gallery for that will be […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: