52-week Creativity Challenge

Can you learn to be creative? Or, more introspectively, can I learn to be more creative in my landscape photography?

Photography is a synthesis of technical capability and artistic sensibility. To make pleasing images, you need to be technically capable of using your equipment and adept at post-processing but you also need to have an understanding of and feeling for what is aesthetically pleasing to the eye—and, we hope, the heart and soul—of the viewer.

The technical aspects can be learned but so can the more creative, artistic side of photography. The best way to learn both is practice, practice, practice.

On the creative side, however, practice alone is not enough. You need to push yourself out of your comfort zone or, putting it less dramatically, challenge yourself to think about making images in different ways. To facilitate this I have created a year-long project to shoot at least one image for each of 52 different themes, tools, emotions, ideas, techniques. Why 52? Maybe it was the convenience of 52 weeks but, serendipitously, there are also 52 cards in a pack of playing cards (jokers aside), which provides an interesting way to randomise the challenge, thereby forcing me to concentrate on one thing each shoot rather than retrospectively trying to categorise shots I take. So, I decided to assign a card to each of 52 themes, tools, emotions, ideas, techniques that I will use as inspiration for landscape photography this year. I am randomising the selection of key words to force myself to take on the more uncomfortable and challenging themes rather then just choosing the ones for which I already have ideas.

The challenge is to make at least one image inspired by each word or concept, ideally, and symmetrically, one per week but, because it may be difficult logistically to dedicate time to shoot each week, the ‘rule’ is that I cannot move onto another challenge until the previous one is completed.

I'll create a separate blog post for each where I will discuss the concept, technique or idea and describe how I went about shooting the resulting image/s.

Stretching the metaphor, I am using the suits to denote different themes. You will notice that I have deliberately not used specific subjects, locations or environments as key words. This would be one approach but it would be too easy to fall into old habits shooting even new subjects using familiar and well-practised techniques. I want this exercise to inspire creativity. Furthermore, I am not necessarily intending to deliberately shoot an image of the concept but to use each concept as inspiration for creating an image.

The images so far:

Even if you are not as obsessively structured as I am, I encourage you to have a go at finding ways to find and enhance your creativity or just use my ideas to inspire your photography.


I look forward to drawing the first card from the pack on 1 January.

So, here are the themes:

♥ Hearts (Feelings and Emotions)  

 ♥ A   Joy  
 ♥ 2   Power
 ♥ 3   Anger
 ♥ 4   Loss
 ♥ 5   Curiosity
 ♥ 6   Drama
 ♥ 7   Solitude
 ♥ 8   Wonder
 ♥ 9   Peace
 ♥ 10  Recovery
 ♥ J   Warmth
 ♥ Q  Cold
 ♥ K   Serendipity

♠ Spades (Tools and Techniques)  

 ♠ A   Black and White
 ♠ 2   Square Format
 ♠ 3   Panorama
 ♠ 4   Slow Shutter Speed
 ♠ 5   Intentional Camera Movement
 ♠ 6   Freezing the Action
 ♠ 7   HDR
 ♠ 8   Macro
 ♠ 9   Depth of Field
 ♠ 10  Ultra-wide Angle
 ♠ J   Telephoto
 ♠ Q  Night photography
 ♠ K   Point of View

♦ Diamonds (Gems: Compositional Strategies)  

 ♦ A   Curves
 ♦ 2   Circles and Triangles
 ♦ 3   Diagonals
 ♦ 4   Abstract
 ♦ 5   Horizontals
 ♦ 6   Dominant Mass
 ♦ 7   Figure/Ground
 ♦ 8   Repetition
 ♦ 9   Point of Power
 ♦ 10  Depth
 ♦ J   Odds
 ♦ Q  Leading Lines
 ♦ K   Verticals

♣ Clubs (Associations and Ideas)  

 ♣ A   Windows
 ♣ 2   Friends
 ♣ 3   Simplicity
 ♣ 4   Rhythm
 ♣ 5   Far Horizons
 ♣ 6   Colour
 ♣ 7   Texture
 ♣ 8   Odd one out
 ♣ 9   Old
 ♣ 10  Symmetry
 ♣ J   Minimalism
 ♣ Q  Reflection
 ♣ K   Movement