It’s officially fall, which means it’s now time for…(drumroll please) The October Photography Challenge! 

Every month here on the blog and on Instagram, I host a pet photography challenge. Sometimes it will be about finding new creative expressions, sometimes it’s tackling your editing skills & sometimes we hone in on an exciting technique. 

And other times it’s just a cute theme… 🙂

But this month I’ve decided to create a series of weekly mini-challenges, to really blow away the cobwebs and start the new season feeling energised, fresh and motivated. 

I love fall (or autumn, for the rest of us.) I mean the colours, the smells and all that pumpkin spice – what’s not to love! But sometimes I struggle to move forward into this season with gusto. I feel sludgy, heavy and stuck. Maybe it’s the after-effect of a long summer of outdoor activities, or maybe it’s the nights drawing in and waking up to those frostier mornings.  

This can totally bleed into my work mindset too. And I thought, maybe I’m not the only one feeling stuck creatively? 

So to help us refresh, in this month’s dog photography challenge we’re going to start by looking at two energising concepts that always help me reconnect to my creative flair. 

Week 1: It’s All In The Detail

Did you know October is actually Pet Wellness Month in the USA? And since this month is about our dogs, our first challenge is all in the details. 

We’re going to be honing in on what makes our subjects special, and using focused perspective to challenge ourselves creatively. 

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Take a photo that shows one of the favourite things about your subject, whether it’s your own dog, or a client’s. Get up close and personal! Really isolate the detail you want to show.
    • Maybe it’s their cute ears
    • Curled tail
    • Interesting eyes
    • Sideways tongue…anything that interests you – get creative!

Top Tips For This Challenge:

  • Don’t forget about the fundamentals here, and feel free to brush up on how to use light, keep your composition in mind and still produce an appealing photo. This is often more challenging than it sounds…! 
  • Play around with angles to find interesting ways to capture detail. Shoot from above, eye-level, below. This way you can tell the story of your chosen detail in unconventional or surprising ways. 
  • Keep an eye on your aperture and focus here. Getting up close and personal can mean you need to pay extra attention to the sharpness of your image. You can read my guide to finding your focus here. 

To help out, I’ll share some examples below that could begin to spark your creative energy!

Week 2: Opening Out

So after closing in on detail, for this second dog photography mini-challenge we’re going to take it a bit wider and have a look at our subject in his or her environment.

We’re going to add some depth, some drama and really open ourselves and our creative work to a new season – and new possibilities! 

But don’t worry – you don’t need a wide-angle lens for this challenge. The idea is for you to capture or create a scene where it feels like the dog is alone in his environment. We are working from the perspective that you are an unseen observer. 

The big challenge here is to go wider than you are usually comfortable with. Really let the dog be a smaller part of the environment around them, rather than having them taking up 1/3 of the frame like we might usually be inclined to compose. 

Continue to keep in mind:

  • Your use of lighting
  • Interesting or unusual composition
  • Keeping the photo appealing (Yep! It’s hard!)

But this time you’ll also want to specifically pay attention to:

  • Pose and gazing direction – you could try a “faceless portrait” here if you fancy! How does the story change when the dog is facing away from the camera?
  • How the dog is situated in the environment (what is “natural”?) 
  • Choosing a location that isn’t going to be overwhelmingly busy or distract too much from your subject (tricky, I know!)

To help out, here are some more examples to get your ideas flowing. 

Despite what my Instagram might tell you, I actually take quite a few of these photos when I’m out with my two boys. But since they aren’t necessarily my particular niche & style, I don’t tend to get around to editing them.

(Yet they really do help to free me up if I’m feeling stuck or samey.) 

What Next?

If you’ve had a go at these two challenges and you want to share with our community simply follow the steps below:

  • Share your photos with other likeminded photographers in the Inspawration Connect Community
  • If you upload your photos to your Instagram feed and/or story don’t forget to use use the hashtag #inspawrationchallenge and tag me (@inspawrationphotography) in the actual image so I can see your amazing shots

P.S – You Don’t Have To Share!

Hey – sometimes things don’t go how we planned, or we just don’t feel like we need to share our endeavours. As always, you don’t have to participate in this challenge, feel free to play with it in whatever way works for you. You can, if you want, just use it as inspiration, an exciting task to try out, or something to keep in mind on shoots. Detail photos can often be used as great  “album fillers”!

But if you see any shots you love from other fellow creatives below or on Instagram, let them know! It’s great to support each other’s work and encourage experiments. 

I hope these two dog photography challenges give you something to mull over & experiment with. I know I’ll certainly be doing that on my next walk with the boys. 

Stay tuned for weeks 3 and 4 – they are really going to workout those photography muscles! 

And remember, if you ever want to brush up your skills, breathe life into your creative practice or simply join a supportive community of like-minded pet photographers – my online pet photography courses are a great place to be! 

I’d love to see you there 🙂

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