Sunday, February 9, 2014

Tip #69: Do a photo challenge

(Let me just warn you that there will be some shameless self promotion at the end of the post. I just want you to be aware of it from the beginning)
"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera."
                                                Dorothea Lange

When the first cell phones which took pictures came out I remember thinking that that was the stupidest idea I had heard. Who, in their right mind, would use a phone to take a picture? Well, I'm glad I don't work as a consultant for a phone company, for I was clearly completely wrong. Now, we use our phones to take pictures so often that many of us (me included) have forgotten when was the last time we actually used a real camera.

One great advantage of this is, of course, that we carry a camera in our pocket almost constantly. And people, particularly the younger generations, are taking advantage of it and snatching images at a frenetic pace. Not only many more people are taking more pictures, but we are sharing them publicly in social media sites built exclusively around these images, like Instagram or Snapchat. I, myself, am a devoted user of Instagram. I started like one does these things, just getting my little toes wet with a picture or two and following a couple of friends, but it then grew to a very nice group of friends, family and admired people and/or photographers. My Instagram feed has become a daily source of inspiration.

I noticed one day that people on Instagram were doing these challenges, which consisted of taking a picture a day for a period of time, following a specific prompt. You would also add a special hashtag (the # symbol) and when you would click on it, you could see all the other pictures which had been posted following that same prompt. When I decided to do one, I observed that strangers were liking my pictures, but actually these were other people who were doing the challenge and had also seen my picture when they clicked on their hashtags. I then followed their lead, and every time I posted a picture for a challenge, I would also "like" several other pictures from strangers that I enjoyed. I have tried doing at least three of those monthly challenges and although I never really finished the whole month, it was still fun to participate and be part of a community.

So, today, I'm suggesting here that you do a challenge too, because they just may make you happy. These are the reasons why I like them:

  • They make you look at things from a different perspective.
  • They force you to stop what you are doing, pause, and consider the beauty around you. 
  • They make you more appreciative of what's around you.
  • You feel connected to other people and to humanity in general.
  • At the end of the challenge, you have a very nice set of pictures to show of.
Here are some possible challenges for your consideration, included one a friend and I created:
  • #fmsphotoaday: The ones I participated in before, created by a designer in Australia, Chantelle. I like the prompts she suggests, because sometimes, they really make you think and look for beauty in simple things.
  • #100happydays: This one does not have prompts. Instead, you have to take a picture of something that makes you happy every day for 100 days. I like the premise of this one and I think I would do it if I was not already doing one. I learned about it from my friend Deanna.
  • #365project: As the name indicates, you take a picture every day for a year, to document your life.
  • #InstagramELE: This is the one my friend Adelaida, who also teaches Spanish, and I created for our students, or anyone who wants to practice Spanish, so they can practice by taking daily pictures after prompts and, if they want, also commenting and enjoying other pictures from others trying the same. (Here is the total shameless self promotion I mentioned at the beginning)
The truth is, even if you decide to do a challenge, you actually don't need to share your pictures with anyone. You can save them in a folder on your computer or your phone. I do like the added social aspect, but I know many of you are shy and that's fine. In any case, you will have those beautiful moments saved, which otherwise may have just disappeared.

Well, as always, I would love to hear your thoughts. 

Have a great week!