I Miss the Georgia Tech Photography Club

photo courtesy of gatech.edu.

photo courtesy of gatech.edu.

Back at Georgia Tech, I was a part of the Georgia Tech Photography Club.  We weren't exceptionally productive all the time, but we did have our moments of brilliance rooted in a common interest of photography.  We walked around the city, we photographed events—some of them were even paying gigs, we set up a photography studio to provide free portraits for students and staff, we photographed sports, we photographed products, and we shared photos that we’ve taken with each other and even held a photography exhibit and sold our prints. But more important than learning different skills and techniques with and from each other, we learned how to explore and experiment with photography. There was a sense of comfort of having others around you who can help you without judgment because they have either been there before or they are just as eager to explore something new.  Since I moved back to Portland, I haven't really put much effort into seeking out a similar group of people.  Architecture grad school occupied most of my time and it also did not have a lot of people.  However, now that I've graduated from school and am in the "real world", I miss having a community of photographers to just explore the craft with and improve my skills.

Despite this longing for seeking out a group of photogs, I am still hesitant.  Being an introvert, I am naturally hesitant to meeting new people or being a part of a group of people.  It usually takes a long time for me to get to a point of being comfortable around them.  While at Georgia Tech, we had a common bond of difficult academic life of school to connect over in addition to our common interest in photography; it wasn't photography 100% of the time which was nice and made for easy conversation.  Another cause for my hesitation is the amount of time and commitment I would have to put in.  In college it was fairly convenient to go to the student center during lunch for a meeting or meet up to walk around the city.  However, the real world is far less convenient and it'll be hard to say how committed or consistent I can be with other priorities in life.  So I guess it's partly an introverted and mild social anxiety issue, partly it's a motivation issue, and partly it’s other life priorities issue. Case in point, I started writing this blog post back in 2015 and just got around to finishing it because I didn’t really know where to go with it until earlier in 2018.

The 52-week dogwood photography challenge

Instead of forcing myself to find a photography group, I will take one aspect of photography club that I've enjoyed and try to incorporate it into my routine: Weekly themes.  A different theme per week to focus my photography, forcing me to see things in certain ways.  I will provide camera/lens info and lighting setup if applicable.  Hopefully I'll be able to keep this up once a week.  I've attempted daily photography challenges before and have failed miserably.  So I’ll be participating in the 2019 52-Week Dogwood Photography Challenge, a list of topics created by photographer Dale Foshe that has attracted over tens of thousands of participants. 2019 will be its fourth year. I’ve casually followed along with this photography challenge but have never participated in it myself.

Each week, the weekly challenge will be in one of three categories:

  • Story Telling: Good photographers can take beautiful images of something. Great photographers can tell a story with an image. In this category you will take a prompt and turn it into a photographic story.

  • Compositional Eye: In past challenges we have explored the rules of composition. This year we push the rules even further by using them in specific ways to train your compositional eye.

  • Inspiration: In this wide-open category, we start with a simple inspiration. Use this inspiration as creatively as you can. There are no rules so feel free to think outside of the box.

If you want to follow along and take your own photos, I highly encourage it!  Personally, I’ll be posting these to my Instagram account (@niou.photo) as well as on this blog. I might create its own page for convenience, I haven’t decided yet. Either way, it will be somewhere on this website.

The Challenge List

Week 1 | Story Telling: Self-Portrait
Take a picture that tells us who you are, without actually showing your face.

Week 2 | Composition: Rule of Thirds Motion
You already know what the rule of thirds is, now is the time to use it. Use Rule of Thirds to show motion in your picture.

Week 3 | Inspiration: Black and White
Your inspiration this week is to simply take an amazing Black and White photograph of any subject you want.

Week 4 | Story Telling: Warmth
Tell a story that makes us feel warm inside.

Week 5 | Composition: Symmetry Landscape
Landscape is one of the most practiced type of photography. Use Symmetry in a Landscape to create a new viewpoint for this week's image.

Week 6 | Inspiration: #NoFilter
No limit on what you shoot this week, as long as the image is pure. No filters, presets or other edits. Basic exposure corrections only this week.

Week 7 | Story Telling: Love Story
Make us feel the love in this week's photo. Tell a love story in one image.

Week 8 | Composition: Leading Lines
It is easy to use Leading Lines to show depth in an image or guide the eye to a specific spot in the image. Instead, this week use leading lines to show the concept of infinity.

Week 9 | Inspiration: Mood
Your Artistic Inspiration this week is the mood you are feeling today. Take that mood and use it to create art.

Week 10 | Story Telling: Hometown
Tell us the story of your hometown. It could be a famous landmark, something the town is known for, or even just your favorite place to relax.

Week 11 | Composition: Fill the Frame
Using Fill the Frame is a great way to isolate your subject and create interest in your photo. Can you do it with only one color in the frame? Fill the Frame with one color.

Week 12 | Inspiration: Trash
Trash is your inspiration. Tell a story or create something beautiful.

Week 13 | Story Telling: New Beginnings
Our world is full of circular patterns; as some things end, others begin. Tell us a story of a New Beginning.

Week 14 | Composition: Center Frame Portrait
Center Framed composition is a great way to isolate your subject. Use this knowledge to create a portrait that exhibits loneliness.

Week 15 | Inspiration: Anonymous
This week's inspiration is Anonymous. Interpret this how you wish.

Week 16 | Story Telling: Shadow
Tell a story. Make it compelling while only using shadow.

Week 17 | Composition: Balance
Balanced composition is pretty straightforward, unless you are trying to shoot in the "Accidental Renaissance" style. So shoot a balanced image in the Accidental Renaissance style.

Week 18 | Inspiration: Weight or Mass
Heavy as a stone, light as a feather. Find inspiration and shoot an amazing photograph.

Week 19 | Story Telling: Aging
Love it or hate it, aging is something we all experience. So tell us the story of Aging in a single photograph.

Week 20 | Composition: Negative Space
Create a powerful landscape using Negative Space.

Week 21 | Inspiration: Serenity
What does Serenity mean to you?

Week 22 | Story Telling: Stranger
It is easy to tell the story of someone you know. So for this week's challenge I want you to tell the story of a stranger.

Week 23 | Composition: Leading Lines
You have already used leading lines to show Infinity. Now try to use strong leading lines in food photography.

Week 24 | Inspiration: Who inspires you
Inspiration comes from many places. Tell us about who inspires you.

Week 25 | Story Telling: Freedom
Freedom means many things to many people. Tell us a story about what Freedom means to you.

Week 26 | Composition: Geometry
We live in a world surrounded by geometry. Use Geometry in your photo this week.

Week 27 | Inspiration: Gratitude
What are you grateful for? Show us.

Week 28 | Story Telling: Your Culture
Photographers participating in the challenge come from nearly every country and culture. Tell us the story of your culture.

Week 29 | Composition: Depth of Field
Depth of Field is a great way to isolate your subject. Instead, for the challenge though I want you to use DoF to make a subject appear part of something larger.

Week 30 | Inspiration: Exit
"Every exit is an entry to somewhere else". Be inspired by the Exit this week.

Week 31 | Story Telling: Friends and Family
Telling the story of someone you know well is sometimes the hardest story to tell.

Week 32 | Composition: Frame within the Frame
Using only natural elements, frame your subject. No actual picture frames allowed.

Week 33 | Inspiration: Tell a Lie
It is said that the "Camera Never Lies". Prove it wrong.

Week 34 | Story Telling: Color without Color
Tell a colorful story, but do it in black and white.

Week 35 | Composition: Symmetry Portrait
Symmetry is a strong compositional technique most often used in landscapes and architecture. So break the mold by using Symmetry in a portrait.

Week 36 | Inspiration: Your Habits
Some habits are good, and some are bad. Your inspiration this week is either.

Week 37 | Story Telling: Seasons
The weather is changing! Find inspiration in the seasons. 

Week 38 | Composition: Rule of Odds
The rule of odds is easy enough to understand and employ. So use the rule of odds in an Urbanscape/Architecture photo.

Week 39 | Inspiration: The Elements
Earth, Fire, Wind, Rain, and Spirit. Find inspiration in the elements of our world.

Week 40 | Story Telling: Modern Convenience
What modern convenience of 2019 can not you live without? Create an image that looks like an advertisement for your favorite Modern Convenience.

Week 41 | Composition: Color Theory
Color Theory is a huge part of composition that most photographers don't explore. So it is time to explore it. Use Color Grading to create an image that looks like it is a still from a movie.

Week 42 | Inspiration: Work Work Work
Work, let it inspire you this week.

Week 43 | Story Telling: Film Noir
Film Noir is a dark and moody type of photography well suited to storytelling. So tell us a story using Film Noir.

Week 44 | Composition: Viewpoint
Changing your viewpoint creates a different perspective and is often used by photographers to create interest. Shoot this week from the viewpoint of another person.

Week 45 | Inspiration: Musical
Music is part of the soul, so let it inspire you this week.

Week 46 | Story Telling: 7 Deadly Sins
The 7 deadly sins are Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Anger, Greed and Sloth. Tell us a compelling story about one of the 7 deadly sins.

Week 47 | Composition: Rule of Thirds Emotion
The rules of thirds is so popular because it is so versatile. This week use the rule of thirds to show emotion.

Week 48 | Inspiration: Current Events
What is happening in the world today? Be inspired by current events.

Week 49 | Story Telling: Storms
Storms are a powerful force of nature. Show us weather at its best.

Week 50 | Composition: Patterns
Patterns/Repetition are another well known compositional rule, but have you ever tried to use it in Macro Photography? Well now you can!

Week 51 | Inspiration: Food
Be inspired by Food. Yes, it really is that easy this week. You made it this far you deserve the break. A sweet, delicious break.

Week 52 | Story Telling: Self-Portrait
In the first week you took a self portrait and told us who you think you are. To finish this off take a self portrait that shows us who others think you are.