Photo challenge for fun and learning

Posted by on May 25, 2016 in Adventures | 1 comment

Photo challenge for fun and learning

Recently my 10 year old son and I had a couple of hours to kill in the city whilst the rest of the family was off seeing a show. I was keen for my son to learn some photography skills and for me to flex my creative mind a bit further as well. The idea of just going to the city with cameras in hand and hoping for the best didn’t resonate with me and would most likely lead to boredom for the younger member of the party.

We decided to undertake a “Hunt and Shoot” photo challenge instead, the rules being fairly simple;

  • 9 given subjects (as supplied by my lovely wife)
  • Timelimit – the length of the show that other family members were seeing
  • Distance limit – how far we could walk
  • Son and I needed to capture an image that portrayed our interpretation of the subject
  • Competition would be judged the next day at family dinner as a blind judging i.e. the judges would not know who took which image.
  • Winner would be the person with the highest number of votes across all of the images

Subject: Something in the Sky by Ken Dickson


Subject: Something in the sky by Mr 10 year old

The 9 chosen subjects were aimed to provide a range of opportunities/interpretations and included – Blue, Things with tails, Things in the sky, Three, street sign, What is that?, Things that are sticky, Triangle and metal.

The first surprising outcome for me from this photo challenge was its success and ease as a learning tool. My son really took to the idea of the challenge, he was keenly spying out opportunities and working out how to massage them into the target subject listings. This lead to some wonderful discussions around interpretation of a theme, and I was consistently surprised to see how we differed on our ideas but how each of them could meet the given subject. The initial spotting of the opportunity would then lead into a teaching experience on how to capture the desired photo, we talked about the camera settings that might be used or how to compose the photo for viewer impact. Overall this was a wonderful teaching tool to use with my young son, he did not even think of the afternoon as a class or lesson. It was just shooting fun.


Subject: Street Sign by Ken Dickson


Subject: Street sign by Mr 10 year old

The second surprising outcome from the afternoon was a personal take away. Quite often our photography grows into a form of rigid structure that ends up binding our creativity, in my case I have been doing a lot of international competitions recently with some good successes. It dawned on me during this photo challenge that I have become a photography snob, basically I had stopped taking a lot of photos because I was now looking for only perfect creations so that I could later enter it into a competition. Whilst it is admirable to strive for the perfect photo, we often just have to get out there and shoot making the best of the available opportunities. It was like the Photo Challenge gave me permission to shoot pictures that might be a bit less than perfect and that was OK, in fact, it was required in order to meet the challenge conditions.

In the end it was a fantastic afternoon, and I would strongly recommend trying to do something similar within your own family or with a group of friends. It is a great way to stimulate discussion on photography whilst learning from each other, not just technical items but also seeing different ways people interpret a subject. Undertaking a photo challenge is also a fantastic way to exercise your creative mind, the challenge of not just looking for a good photo but also something that interprets the subject in a unique manner.


Subject: Things with a tail by Ken Dickson


Subject: Things with a tail by Mr 10 year old

For those keeping track at home, I was ultimately victorious in our photo challenge but only by the narrowest of margins (2 votes) although there rumours of a protest lodged by my son, so I guess we will need to initiate another challenge and make it the best of three!!

Ken Dickson is an Australian based photographer with nearly 30 years experience. A regular contributor to international competitions, Ken holds honour levels both within Australia and Internationally. He started in photography when travelling the world with the Navy using both film and slide film. Moving to digital in 2004, Ken has embraced the available technologies to continue his artistry. With a love for sharing his knowledge and experience Ken helped to launch Ozlight Photo Adventures ( providing courses and practical workshops in all aspects of photography.

1 Comment

  1. Like your photos especially the first set of something in the sky. Ox

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