We just started going through all of the entries from January’s Black & White Photo Challenge and we’re excited to see that so many of you participated! I hope you had fun (and got in some good practice with black-and-white conversions). We’ll announce the winners—and the lucky recipients of Matt’s book—in a couple of weeks.
In the meantime, we’re turning our focus for the February Photo Challenge to our most intimate space: our homes.
For many of us, our homes are an extension of ourselves. But with that familiarity, comes a form of blindness. Because we know our homes so well, we often don’t truly see what’s around us—including the everyday beauty of simple objects and treasured spaces.
For the month of February, train a photographer’s eye on the space you know best. Try to see it as a stranger might, including the textures, colors, and patterns. Or see if you can create an image that evokes the feelings of warmth and safety that your home gives you. If the place where you sleep isn’t where you consider home, feel free to relocate. After all, one man’s home is another man’s toolshed.
If you’re feeling stumped by this month’s theme, here are some ideas to get the wheels of inspiration turning:
Take a photo of the spot where you feel most at home. Is it at the stove with a warm pot of soup cooking? A favorite reading chair with a cup of tea? Wherever it is, think of your shot as a portrait. That means you’ll want to pay attention to your lighting, framing, and anything that distracts from your subject.
Take a photo of your home from outside. Give some thought to the time of day when your house looks most interesting. Is it the morning light? In the evening when the lights are on? Should you see the whole thing or just an interesting detail?
Capture your life at home. What is it like to be a member of your family? Are there kids jumping on the bed? A cat asleep in the bookcase? A favorite board game?
This month’s challenge is ultimately about rediscovering the mystery in the objects most familiar to you—whether that’s an old boot, your child’s toys, or the castle at the bottom of your fish tank. Although this seems like a simple task, it’s one of the hardest things a photographer does. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you’re framing your shot:
- When in doubt, get up close. Then get even closer.
- Clear away the clutter. Before you snap the shutter, look for anything that shouldn’t be there—an empty coffee mug, a cat’s tail, a crumpled newspaper. Make sure we know what it is you want us to see.
- Think about your light. Good light can make even ordinary objects look interesting. And when it comes to good lighting, overhead lights are usually your enemy. Look for diffused natural light (such as a window) or a nearby outlet to plug in a lamp.
Most importantly, enjoy the process!
Any subscriber can participate in the monthly P.E.T. Photo Challenge. In addition to photographs, you can also submit collages or other images you’ve created in Photoshop Elements. Submissions must follow a few simple guidelines:
- You must take the photo within the challenge month (after all, there’s not much challenge in digging through your library to find an old photo).
- You must own the rights to any image you submit. (If you use third-party frames or embellishments, please make sure this usage is allowed under the sale terms.)
- You are encouraged to interpret the theme creatively, but keep in mind that photos that seem entirely unrelated may get overlooked.
You can submit your entries to either the P.E.T. Gallery or Elements Village Gallery. When uploading your image to the Elements Village Gallery, please enter the phrase “Photo-Challenge” exactly as shown (without the quotes) in the Keywords field. For the P.E.T. Gallery, please enter “Photo-Challenge” in the Caption field when uploading the photo.
When the month is over, we’ll showcase our favorite entries on the website. A few entries may also be featured in the magazine. (You can see the top picks for all of our past photo challenges.)