A life without challenges would be boring, and so would a journey in photography. I'm not saying you should be the ultra competitive type, but every now and then it's good to put your skills to the test. After all, how would we evolve without accepting any challenges?
Here are three ways that I really like to challenge your photography skills.
1. A 365 Project
Now I know some of you might think it's a cliché to do one of these, but I really think it's a killer creative exercise. There are a lot of cool advantages to this type of project. First of all, it's going to keep you busy. No more "oh, what should I photograph next?". Working on a project will also make you more disciplined and it will teach you to stay committed to one concept. Nobody's saying you shouldn't photograph anything else during the project, but the most important thing is to truly make it a 365. Shoot every day! Now when it comes to project ideas, things get a little tricky. This is up to the imagination of each photographer. You can do something fairly easy, like a creative selfie project, or you can challenge yourself with something more complex that involves going out and photographing strangers. Either way, this is a great way to test your skills, especially if you post your project online for feedback.
2. Enter A Photography Contest
Ok, this is a two sided sword. Competing against other photographers is definitely exciting, but it can have a tricky outcome. First of all, you should be honest about your skill level and the quality of your work and you should look for contests of similar value. I don't want to rain on anyone's parade here, but there's no point in submitting your photos to the Spider Awards if you've had your DSLR for one year and all your friends say you're talented. Enter contests made for your skill level; otherwise you're just setting yourself up for disappointment.
With that said, the feeling of winning a prize in a photography contest is incredible. It's a genuine reward for your hard work and persistence and it's one of the best motivations to keep going.
3. LightBox Photography Cards
These are a very cool invention that are somewhere between a personal project and a contest. There are 52 cards in a normal size deck, each with its own photography challenge . It can be something like "photograph machinery" or "patterns". The LightBox photography cards are a great way to challenge yourself and to get you out of the comfort zone.
It's a very successful project that's been backed up by photographers from over 25 countries and that says a lot about how effective they are. I highly recommend them to any photographer, regardless of skill level.