Every month here on the blog, and on Instagram, I host a pet photography challenge. It could be an editing challenge, to help you practise different editing styles and techniques on photos of dogs that I’ve taken, OR, it could be a theme, to help you become more creative with your pet photography.

Once again the month has come to an end, and with it, the January “cosy” challenge. I was blown away by both the number of entries, and how well they met the “Cosy” (or “comfy”) theme. 

But in the end, there could only be one winner. Watch the video below, or scroll down to see my top 5. As there were so many entires, I didn’t do a lot of feedback on them this time. I just couldn’t. Even trying to make my decision took me an hour and something of a mental breakdown..  

Below that, you’ll find the February Challenge! 

January Results

Top 10

The winner! By @a_bordercollies_dream

February "Comfort Zone" Challenge

Despite nearly having a mental breakdown during the process of choosing a winner this month, I really love these challenges too much to give up on them now. And maybe it’s appropriate that choosing the top photos really forces me out of my comfort zone, because that’s what this challenge is all about.

Lately, after a year of Corona-times, being back in lockdown, when the trees are bare and ugly and the snow is pretty plain, I find myself feeling pretty bored about… well… everything. But photography too. My boys are the only dogs I can take photos of at the moment because of lockdown, and I find myself doing the same poses, with the same kinds of locations, and the same lighting. 

So I wanted a reminder to push myself out of my comfort zone, because I always end up participating in these challenges myself too. And, I’ve been SO inspired by the students in my Learning Community, who have come in enthusiastic and ready to learn, who are putting their cameras on manual for the first time, or making DIY studio setups, or diving into new editing techniques. All of them are trying new things, and some are really stepping out of their comfort zone.

So, I wanted to celebrate that.

The Rules (read carefully)

  • upload a maximum of two photos where you were outside your comfort zone.
    • Learning Community members may upload unlimited photos to our FB group’s Challenges album. 
    • tell me why the photo was outside your comfort zone in the caption.
    • it could be the first time using your camera on manual, editing a new way, using backlight, taking a photo of a black dog for the first time, or using a wide-angle lens or flash! Maybe it’s doing dogs in a landscape, when you normally do portraits! It doesn’t have to be the “first time” doing something, just something outside your comfort zone. Tell me about it!
    • Choose good quality photos, take your time. You have all month to enter. 
  • photos can be tagged from the beginning of February (don’t use the hashtag from photos posted in November, or December, or two years ago), until February 28th.
    • Photos to not need to be TAKEN in February.
  • you must use the #inspawrationchallenge hashtag so I can find the entry, or upload it as a comment to the Inspawration Photography Facebook page 
  • upload to your feed, but of course a share to the story about the challenge is also always appreciated 😊 (and I’ll usually shout you out back so, it’s win-win)

The Prize

Yes, as if I need to put more pressure on myself, there will be a prize!

If the winner is a LC Member they can choose from either the IG prizes, OR a portfolio review, OR a mini one-to-one coaching session (~30 mins) that will be recorded and uploaded for members, as they might find it useful.

If the winner is NOT in the LC, they can choose from: A critique/feedback of images on their feed (eg., my quick critiques but a couple of mins long) uploaded to IGTV, OR 25% off a one-to-one lesson with me.


Judging Criteria

I think this time I’ll make up a points scoring system, rather than relying on my gut feeling. Points will be awarded for:

  • Impactfulness of the photo. It should invoke some kind of reaction upon seeing it
  • Technical aspects (is it in focus, are parts of the dog cut off when they shouldn’t be, is the angle/perspective flattering, compositional elements and so on.
  • Lighting, use and control of lighting, how is it used in the image. Whether flash or natural lighting, both are fine
  • Creativity/concept/story. What is the purpose of the image? Is there a creative element to it? Does it tell a story? Does it have a concept?
  • Mood & Style. Closely linked to the above and below points. Is there a mood? Do the elements in the photo come together to support that mode, or is there an amount of disconnect between some parts (eg., totally serious wolfdog in sunny wildflower field). Is there a sense of “Style” (whether you feel you have one or not)
  • Aesthetic elements of the scene, eg., colours, lines, shapes, textures, etc. Are they intentionally used.
  • Editing elements. Which isn’t to say that the “best most fancy editing will win”, in fact, quite the opposite. Points are lost for unnecessary or overly strong vignette, for example, distracting fake sun flares, over saturated images, etc, but also things that should be easily edited but aren’t, or are incorrect: white balance, highlights, etc.

Some Examples

These photos were all out of my comfort zone in some way, and many of them are favourites of mine now!

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