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How to Start a 365 Photography Challenge

If you are looking for the Navy Seals equivalent of a photo workout then you need to take up a 365 Photography Challenge! Starting up a photography challenge like this requires a big commitment and drive to see it through to the end.

This is why we’ve put together a fantastic guide to creating your own 365 day challenge that you can start whenever you’re ready.

365 Photography Challenge Guide by iPhotography.com

What is a 365 Photography Challenge?

Take one photo every day, 365 days in a row.

It’s that simple – a photography challenge like this may seem simple on paper but in practice, it’s something else. You don’t have to start an adventure like this on the 1st January, you can start it whenever you’re ready – as long as you commit to reaching that magic number of 365.

Taking 365 photos doesn’t seem like much of a challenge as you may take that many photos on a single day when out with your camera. But being dedicated to taking at least one photo every day is a different prospect.

You’ll need to have great motivation and dedication to the challenge to make it successful as many who start don’t get past day 20. Skimping on a 365 challenge isn’t allowed either. Picking up your phone and taking a photo for a photo’s sake just to tick the list isn’t going to teach you anything.

Think of a 365 photography challenge as a fitness workout – there’s going to be a great outcome to show for it but only if you really want it.

Is a 365 Day Photo Challenge Worth it?

We could easily say yes, but you’ll only be able to agree on the last day.

A 365 day challenge is a cumulative experience as a photographer. You don’t see improvements straight away, but you will week after week. Only after the whole event will you see the magnificence in what you’ve achieved.

Photographers start up a 365 photography challenge for a number of reasons;

To get themselves out of a creative rut.
● To make photography a habit.
● To move up the learning curve quicker.
● Learn more about what their camera can do.
● Because photography makes them feel good (and they want more of that).
● To gain more exposure, followers and engagement on social media.
● And to simply fill their spare time.

Whatever your reason for starting a photography challenge you can’t start up without a plan. Wandering around aimlessly with your camera taking pictures of anything you see isn’t educational. Instead, you need a plan to make sure your challenge gives you the chance to grow, experiment and an opportunity to express yourself creatively.

365 Photography Challenge Guide by iPhotography.com

3 Steps to Write a 365 Challenge

1. Each of the 365 photos you need to take to complete this challenge needs to be something of interest to you. When you look back on your final shots you’ll be able to relate and enjoy the subjects more.

2. Not everything needs to be a theme. It’s good to include photography techniques (regardless of the subject matter). You can repeat these again further down the line to see if you’ve improved.

3. Adapt and study along the way. It’s also a good idea to read about photography tutorials you may never have tried before while doing your 365 challenge. No one’s saying you can’t change the themes as you go. Maybe one day you could task yourself with focusing more on editing a photo building your skills elsewhere.

How to Plan a 365 Photography Challenge

Firstly when writing a plan for a 365 day challenge you need to remember these 5 top tips for making your list possible to complete;

1. Add themes/words/locations that you can access. It’s no good writing ‘Bahamas’ and you live in Southern France. Make sure whatever you include isn’t out of reach or requires you to spend lots of money or time to get the shot. 365 challenges can be done for free if you plan it correctly.

2. Include themes you love. Maybe start by making a list of things you like to photograph anyway – flowers, shoes, cake, children. It’s going to be hard to think of 365 things to take photos of so feel free to be generic on some days. Those are the days you could apply editing or camera techniques instead.

3. If you have a busy work/family schedule then don’t stress yourself out by requiring yourself to shoot at night or early mornings. Make it more object-based in these instances.

4. It’s OK to repeat words/themes – in fact, it’s a good idea to do that. It means you’ll get opportunities to improve on what you’ve done. Make sure you put a few months in between these themes though.

5. Think ahead and factor in holidays, business trips and other events that may take up your time and when they’ll happen over the next 365 days.

365 Photography Challenge Guide by iPhotography.com

Make a Prop Photography Box

From experience we’ve found this to be a great tip for a 365 photography challenge – make a prop box! A crate filled with small items can be inspiring to your themes and photos. Maybe you’ll list all the items in your prop box on your challenge list individually. Think about combining those props in other days too (i.e. shoe, candy, shoes & candy, shoes, candy & phone etc).

The prop box only needs to be small and packed with objects from around the house. CDs, glitter, balloons, mirrors, silk flowers, cables for example.

To make it a little easier, download our free cheat sheet to give you a few ideas on what your prop box could include.

Design a FREE 365 Challenge Sheet

If the ideas are buzzing around in your head already then don’t hold back, get scribbling and filling that list.

We’ve included a free blank 365 photography challenge template to download so you can start straight away. Remember to bear in mind all the points we’ve made about what makes a great list and what to avoid including.

Print out the A4 template or import it to Photoshop and add in the themes there. This means you can keep a digital version of the list on your phone to refer to.

Download a FREE 365 Photography Challenge Cheat Sheet

Feel free to take our photography challenge cheat seat and use it to complete your own 365 task.

We’ve carefully thought out all the themes and techniques to make it possible for anyone, anywhere, using any type of camera to complete.

10 Alternative Photography Challenges

If the prospect of a 365 photography challenge sounds an interesting idea but you already know that you can’t commit to taking a photo every day – that’s fine, it’s good you know your limits.

We’ve got a list of 10 photography challenges each of which you can start and finish in a day.

10 Shots

Shoot 10 different photos of the same subject/object. Try to employ a unique angle with each shot. Think about high and low angles as well as tilting the camera. It will teach you how to look at future compositions more creatively.

On the Spot Challenge

Stand in one spot and take 10 photos that are completely different to each other. Try to not include any features from the previous image. Teach yourself to look up and down as well as close up.

Double Vision

Attempt a creative self-portrait by setting your camera on a self-timer and placing yourself in a scene to make people wonder – if you’re in the picture, who took it? If you’ve got WiFi on your camera, try some remote shooting.

30 Minutes Only

3 challenges to complete and only 30 minutes to do it.

  • 10 minutes x only shooting in manual mode
  • 10 minutes x shooting at 50mm (no cheating)
  • 10 minutes x shooting with no people in your photos


Old Skool Shooter

You’re going to need to pick up a 35mm camera for this challenge and a roll of film. Spend a day shooting 24/36 exposures and you’ll start to appreciate the luxury of digital photography.

Blind Bag Challenge

Write down a list of 10-20 words that spring to mind, cut them up and pop them in a bag. Close your eyes and pick out 1 word. This is the main feature in your next camera outing. Don’t use the same word twice.

Alphabet Game

The challenge is to start at ‘A’ and capture 26 photos that feature objects that correspond to the next letter in the alphabet. Sounds easy? Well, good luck finding a xylophone or a zebra nearby! Check out the hint card if you need help…

One Colour Game

This photography challenge is going to test your powers of perception and teach you how to fill a frame. Firstly pick a colour (we’ve all got a favourite) and set yourself a time limit. Then go on to shoot as many shots in that window featuring that one colour (and ONLY that colour). You’re not allowed any other colour in there, but tints and shades of your chosen colour are OK.

Finally, montage all the final shots into a collage and share the end result online! How did you get on? Tag us in your efforts @iphotographycourse on Instagram.

Retrace Your Steps Challenge

Plan out a walk that isn’t in a loop. Take some shots along the way. When you are ready to turn around and walk home take the same shots again on your route back but aim to make them more dynamic, stylised and totally different from your first attempt. It might make you think that it’s not all about the gear. 

The Half Moon Challenge

Use a semi-circular piece of black card and place it over half of your lens, restricting your view. Aim to create interesting compositions only using half your frame – you’ll never shoot aimlessly again!

10 Tips for a 365 Photo Challenge

Finally, let’s boil down this guide to give you 10 tips to make sure your 365 photography challenge is a mighty success!

1. Only commit if you will see it through. 80% of starters fail in the first 3 weeks. Let that be a goal to smash.

2. Tell your friends and family about it and get them to hold you accountable to make sure you stay on track.

3. Include themes you’d love to photograph anyway.

4. Avoid themes that are just going to be impossible or too expensive.

5. Build it around your work/family life. Don’t put pressure on your routine each day.

6. Factor in your holidays or business trips when writing your lists.

7. Repeat words/themes to show growth.

8. Add in some photography techniques to try out (long exposure etc).

9. Make a prop box to give you inspiration for combining themes.

10. Enjoy it – if you see this challenge as a chore you won’t make it to the end.


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