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Take Better Photographs in 30 Days

Updated on October 9, 2014

In Just One Month You Can Improve Your Photography

Yes, in just 30 days you can improve your photography. one picture, once a day, will get you thinking about photography in a different way, composing better, and seeing a photo in just about anything. At the end of thirty days I guarantee you will take better photographs and learn more about yourself in the process.

The 30 Day Photo Challenge is very similar to the 365 Project, which is take a photo everyday for a year. I took the 365 Photo Project Challenge in 2010 and loved just about every day. My goal was to take better photos and start using my camera more. I also learned to blog, pushed my camera to the limit, started to blog for the first time and really started looking at my world differently.

Although there are "rules", rules are meant to be broken, or stretched, or adapted to your own goals and life. Best tip I can give you is carry your camera with you every day! No special camera is needed, you can use your iPhone, a point and shoot, or a Canon Rebel DSLR. So what are you waiting on, read on ahead and learn how to take better pictures and impress your friends and family.

Set a Goal, Give Yourself a Reward - Buy a new camera when you're finished

I had a goal for my 365 project, if I completed it I would buy myself a new camera. My goal was to start using my camera more, take more photos, and improve my photography. Sure I could of just gone out and bought a new camera, but personally I needed to justify my purchase with improving my photography and taking my hobby seriously.

When the professional photographer at work retired he sold all his pro equipment and bought a Panasonic Lumix. He loves it, and this is a guy who worked at a pro color lab for 20 years.

This is a good entry level camera between a point and shoot and a full DSLR camera with the changeable lenses. This camera still has all the manual settings of aperture priority, shutter priority and full manual settings.

Open Your Eyes to New Photographic Possibilities

30 Day Photography Challenge - Rules and Guidelines

Take a photo every day, that's it, simple. To make yourself more accountable tell a friend and post your photos online, doesn't matter where, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Google+, or your own blog. (You can follow mine here)

Use the below list either as a check list, inspiration, or a literal day by day guide. The rules are your own and whatever fits your lifestyle.

Buy this Poster on Amazon
Buy this Poster on Amazon

30 Tips For Better Photography

  1. Food: Food photography is all the rage, everyone likes to eat and the joy in eating is in the preparing. Think of a family recipe, document it, set up a plat of your favorite dessert or your grilling expertise
  2. Selfie: take a photo of yourself, set the timer get in front of the camera for a change
  3. Sunrise: Get up early, see the sunrise, you might enjoy it
  4. Fence:any fence, chain link, wooden fence, base ball field fence, construction fence, picket fence, there are a lot of fences and leading lines in fences
  5. Animal: take a photo of your pet, your neighbors pet, a wild animal, a bird, an animal at the zoo (DONE)
  6. Sunset:they might be overdone, but photographs of sunset are still impressive
  7. Water: "Water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink" think of all the water around us, how it functions and flows. Some ideas; bathwater, water in a glass, dripping water (try out various shutter speeds)
  8. Bathroom: think outside the box, look around your bathroom, your vanity, makeup, hairbrush, fog on the mirror, razors, get creative and get snapping.
  9. Backyard: take another look around your backyard, the landscaping, trees, deck, toys, a photograph is waiting around every corner.
  10. Kids: You don't have to be a portrait photographer to get good photographs of people. Kids are just little people, they just move faster. Do a photo shoot with your kids, the neighbors kids, or your grandkids
  11. Building:Commercial photographers look to the sky, think architecture, skyscrapers, your house, a part of the house, or a church can be inspiration for an architectural photo.
  12. Junk Drawer: Yup, take out the contents of your junk drawer, arrange, take a macro, place a pencil on a solid background, or a pile of paperclips, get creative!
  13. Get Close: set your camera on macro, get close to something, anything, look at the details
  14. Rule of Thirds: this is a technical rule where you divide your photo into thirds, place the horizon 1/3 of the space from the top or bottom, place your subject 1/3rd down and across, it's more pleasing to the eye
  15. Patterns: Any patterns, plaid, lines, railroad tracks, look for patterns in life
  16. Action: action shots, kids running, cars going down the interstate, your dog running in the backyard. Stop the action, or create an action blur.
  17. Flowers or nature: depending on the time of the year and place flowers may or not be blooming, so don't feel constrained by flowers in nature, take pictures of leaves, trees, anything in nature. (DONE)
  18. Landscape: drive out to the country, or take a landscape photo in your local park, landscape photography is my favorite subject, but I live in rural Nebraska and we have grand vistas which just call for it to be captured.
  19. Weather: there is always weather, sun, clouds, sky, rain, fog, pay attention to how the weather and the seasons changes the mood of your photo
  20. Night or Low Light: head out at night to the ball field, the streets, the playground, or just look at the full moon. Experiment with different ISO levels and shutter speeds. You may need a tripod, or set you camera timer for long exposures
  21. Street Photography: try lifestyle photography, people walking on the sidewalks, eating in outdoor cafes, or street musicians make great subjects for street or lifestyle photography.
  22. Something Red: Completely random, take a photo of something red. Easy.
  23. Something you Love: your favorite book, your favorite drink, or food, or family, what do you love?
  24. Your commute to work: I don't mean while you're driving, but stop, get out and take a picture. Could be at Starbucks, your favorite barn you drive by everyday (I have a favorite barn) or you might be on public transportation, such as a train, or bus. Look around your surroundings.(DONE)
  25. Your Car: Take a photo of your car, the trim, the wheel covers, something in your car, eating in your car, there is a whole industry of photographers who shoot at car shows. Or take a photo of any car you see on the street, in a parking lot, or at a car show.
  26. Something Green: Take a photo of something green, money, grass, trees, cactus, even if it's winter I challenge your photography skills to find something green
  27. Something that makes you happy: Take a photo of something that makes you happy. This is a free pass, it can be anything that makes you smile.
  28. Something printed: Take a literary photo, think of a different way of looking at a book, magazine, or newspaper, use a prop or two.
  29. Still Life: Take a still life photo, if people are too impatient for your creativity, head to still life photography. Objects don't complain on how many times you arrange them.
  30. Celebration: Congratulations you've made it to the end of the 30 Day Photography challenge, your last photo is one of celebration, choose anything you like, confetti, streamers, a party, a smile, or just a last photo that represents the end of the months journey and the start of something new.

Ideas to Inspire Your Photo Challenge - Part of my 365 Photo Project

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Macro photograph of pistachiosA red cardinal outside my windowEating a Friendlies ice cream sundae in my carSunset over the grain elevators in townSummer and farmers markets make me smile, I love food and I love being creative with food.A random goat, driving off the beaten path lets me look at things I normally wouldn't.Something green, kids, and action all together.Holiday Easter Peeps were my subject, almost every month has a holiday, find one and document the flavor.Champagne and fruit and a simple fluted glass documents the night of our wedding.Still life and something that makes me smile, Christmas. Note the lighting coming in from the window.
Macro photograph of pistachios
Macro photograph of pistachios
A red cardinal outside my window
A red cardinal outside my window
Eating a Friendlies ice cream sundae in my car
Eating a Friendlies ice cream sundae in my car
Sunset over the grain elevators in town
Sunset over the grain elevators in town
Summer and farmers markets make me smile, I love food and I love being creative with food.
Summer and farmers markets make me smile, I love food and I love being creative with food.
A random goat, driving off the beaten path lets me look at things I normally wouldn't.
A random goat, driving off the beaten path lets me look at things I normally wouldn't.
Something green, kids, and action all together.
Something green, kids, and action all together.
Holiday Easter Peeps were my subject, almost every month has a holiday, find one and document the flavor.
Holiday Easter Peeps were my subject, almost every month has a holiday, find one and document the flavor.
Champagne and fruit and a simple fluted glass documents the night of our wedding.
Champagne and fruit and a simple fluted glass documents the night of our wedding.
Still life and something that makes me smile, Christmas. Note the lighting coming in from the window.
Still life and something that makes me smile, Christmas. Note the lighting coming in from the window.

Publicly Commit, It Makes You Accountable

Part of a successful photography challenge is publicly posting your photos. You can post them on Facebook, Twitter, your own blog, Flickr, or Tumblr. The idea is if your audience is expecting a daily photo you will succeed and finish the challenge.

A Handy Tripod

Photography Gadgets To Make Life Easier - Photo tools to be creative and get better photos

Every hobby has it's gadgets and tools that make life easier. Here are just a few of my favorites to keep in your camera bag or camera kit.

For me a tripod is essential, my favorite subjects are landscapes and long exposures. The best way to get a sharp image is to have your camera on a tripod. Since I'm always on the go the smaller the better. The Gorilla pods can be easily put into a beach bag, or in a large purse.

I don't have an off camera flash but I also don't like "flash burning" people either so I use various flash diffusers or bounce lighting to soften the flash and add a little warmth to the image. Try it out, you will see it makes a lot of difference.

Think Before You Snap the Shutter - Compose Your Shot

What Type of Photographer are You?

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Great Photos Just Don't Happen

Great photographs were not just random happenings, they took thought as to the composure, the subject and the lighting. Photographers may seem they just click away and automatically get fantastic photos, but it's taken practice, years and years of practice and thousands of photos to get good. It doesn't happen overnight.

During your Photo Challenge think of composition and the complete picture. This one below would have been ruined if there were boats in the background. Not that I couldn't of removed them in Photoshop, but it's better to get it right straight out of camera.

Make Everyday Items Dramatic

Life is in the everyday things

Part of the 30 Day Photo Challenge is to train your eye to look at life differently, artistically, and appreciate the small things in life that tell a story. This makeup kit was just one of the pieces to my daughters prom day. She went with her best friend, they had their hair done, did their make up together and went as friends, stag. Who needs boys?

But think about the activities in your life you might want to document, is prom or a dance just about the posed photos standing in front of the car? Or is it the little things, shaving, finding the right tie, the shoes, the nerves or the nervous smile.

Wedding photographers have started taking this lifestyle of story telling approach during weddings. Documentary wedding photographers get the pictures getting ready with the bridesmaids, the rings sitting on the Bible, the shoes, the food, the decorations. Yes, getting the bride and groom shots are critical, but half of the memories are before and after the ceremony.

Have you done a photo challenge before?

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Food Photography - I'm always taking photos of food

Rumchata French Toast (Click for recipe)
Rumchata French Toast (Click for recipe) | Source

Food Photography

Rumchata French Toast (click photo for recipe)

Food photography is becoming very popular with bloggers who share recipes and I've certainly I've done my share of snapping pictures of my meals, desserts and the cooking in process. In fact I drive my husband a little crazy with my camera at the dinner table.

But life revolves around food. We need to eat, we entertain with food, we watch sporting events with food and we celebrate life with food. Some of our fondest memories of holidays are food, Christmas, Thanksgiving, picnics, barbecues, birthdays, all contain food memories. Think of new ways to showcase your food in your 30 Day Photo Challenge.

What Do You Think? - Chime in and share your experience

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    • ThreeQuarters2Day profile image

      Dawn Romine 3 years ago from Nebraska

      Thanks, glad you stopped back by, I've been neglectful of updating, but that's going to change in November.

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Great idea and article. Had to stop back to say how good it looks here. Pinning to share, and to remind myself of each day! BTW, I know another professional photographer who uses the Lumix for her point and shoot camera. Loved this!

    • DreyaB profile image

      DreyaB 3 years ago from France

      I so love the idea of this 30-day challenge and this page has really inspired me as I so want to improve my photography, especially as I'm not so great on the technical skills with the camera. I'm hoping I can have a go at this and can find a small camera to carry around with me. Thanks so much for the ideas, inspiration and sharing it all. :0)

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 3 years ago from Perth UK

      Great lens - full of inspiration. Thanks for the challenge.

    • profile image

      Donna Cook 3 years ago

      Terrific lens! Bookmarking. Learned about the thirds rule for composition. Going to Denver Zoo tomorrow to take pix for Zazzle and will put the rule to use.

    • profile image

      Ruthi 3 years ago

      The only camera I have is a cell phone, and it's not a smart phone (just like I'm not a smart photographer) but... I like your style, in that I don't need a fancy camera, I just need to utilize the one I have - better! Thank you! Once I get a current project or two off my list, I am going to take you up on this 30-day challenge. You'll be here to remind me, right?

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image

      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 4 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      No, I've never taken a photo challenge. I am thinking it is a great idea to get the creative juices flowing. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Alyssa DeBoer profile image

      Alyssa DeBoer 4 years ago

      I just love challenges, they really help inspire me. I'm looking forward to taking this one! Bookmarked it. :)

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 4 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      I am heading to Florida for a month. What a perfect place to take the 30 day challenge!

    • john-doornkamp profile image

      john-doornkamp 4 years ago

      Great idea - so here is a variation to make it harder. You are only allowed to take ONE photograph on any one of your 30 days. That way you have to think hard about just what that ONE will be,

      With digital cameos it is so easy to shoot off 100+ images and choose the best afterwards. With the ONE image per day added to the challenge we really have to think hard about our photography.

    • MrAusAdventure profile image

      Bill 4 years ago from Gold Coast, Australia

      I have not taken a photo challenge as yet, but I took a Lens making challenge in 2011 where I created 30 Lenses in 30 days, that was tough going! This photo challenge would have to be easier than that! Congrats on LOTD. :-)

    • Johanna Eisler profile image

      Johanna Eisler 4 years ago

      You make it sound like a lot of fun. I love photography, but often get so busy I forget to do it on a regular basis. I just might try this! :)

    • rainykua profile image

      rainykua 4 years ago

      I've never taken a photo challenge, but I love taking photos! I have an entire album dedicated to food. :)

    • profile image

      getmoreinfo 4 years ago

      These are great photography tips, thanks.

    • profile image

      DebMartin 4 years ago

      Oh now I want a new camera. ;-)

    • JohnCumbow profile image

      JohnCumbow 4 years ago

      Thanks! You've got me revved up about my photography again.

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 4 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      @ThreeQuarters2Day: I'm getting ready to begin my first-ever blog and want to post my 'snapshots' of life there, so I'll begin my 30-days of photos then. Thanks again. You've really encouraged me. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Terrific pix, Congratulations on getting LotD!

    • profile image

      angelatvs 4 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD - wonderful photos!

    • DawnRae64 profile image

      Dawn 4 years ago from Maryland, USA

      awesome lens!! love your photos. Especially the sky and silos scene. Lovely! I love how you set this lens up and ordered things.

    • Mommie-Moola profile image

      Mommie-Moola 4 years ago

      I need to practice food photography more!

    • bobnolley lm profile image

      bobnolley lm 4 years ago

      Congrats on your LOTD! This is a fine lens that really should inspire folks to get closer to the art.

    • profile image

      PhotoBuff 4 years ago

      I've never done a challenge but I carry my camera in my jacket pocket when I go out for my daily walks. I never know what things might capture my attention. I've been practicing with settings instead of just leaving it on auto. I'm finding that my pictures are getting better. Work with one setting at a time to really get to understand it.

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 4 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      I SO admire photographers who capture outstanding shots and have wished for years I could do the same. Others have told me that the best way to become a better photographer is just to take my camera with me everywhere and take lots and lots of pictures. But until I read this page, and your list of guidelines, it just didn't 'click' with me. Now it does and I am definitely going to try this 30 day photo challenge. In fact, I just walked outside with my camera and took a picture of my neighbor's sad, droopy leftover Halloween Jack-O-Lantern. The minute I spotted it I thought "Why not - 3QuartersToday said to 'think outside the box'. I've passed that pumpkin every day for a week and never thought about taking a picture of it until now. Thank you. I may YET learn how to become a better photographer! :)

    • ThreeQuarters2Day profile image

      Dawn Romine 4 years ago from Nebraska

      @Wednesday-Elf: Thank you for the kind comments, it's really the little things in life that if we think of them as a "snapshot" we learn to appreciate them more. Don't forget to put your link to where you will document your journey.

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 4 years ago from New York City

      A bright idea for moving ahead with photography or any other creative project. One of the great keys to success is doing it, getting out and practicing your craft. This is a nice way to get a great habit started.

    • Aladdins Cave profile image

      Aladdins Cave 4 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      Could not resize pages on tablet to be able to read anything. You should report as bug. Nealy to small to leave message. I will come back soon on PC. Cheers

    • profile image

      samsmom7 4 years ago

      No, and I don't think I am ready for that yet.

    • profile image

      tbonestakes 4 years ago

      Once again I don't consider myself to be much of a photographer. Your shots are visually stunning, thanks again!

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 4 years ago from Lakewood New York

      Congratulations on LOTD and thanks for the challenge...

    • profile image

      zamican 4 years ago

      @ecogranny: A bluish cast can be caused by fluorescent lighting, similarly an orange / yellow cast occurs when shooting under tungsten lighting. I don't have an iPhone but my Nokia C7 has a White Balance setting, which can be adjusted to the ambient light before shooting indoors and outdoors. If you can locate a similar setting on your iPhone you will be able to take photos with the most accurate "White Balanced" colours!

    • Margaret Schindel profile image

      Margaret Schindel 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Congratulations on your very well deserved LoTD! I've got too much on my plate to join the challenge right now, but I've bookmarked this lens and hope to be able to participate in the future. Beautifully done, fun, engaging and informative! :)

    • ThreeQuarters2Day profile image

      Dawn Romine 4 years ago from Nebraska

      @ecogranny: Thanks for the PIN, and the comment. You might have a white balance setting on your iPhone for the indoor lighting. I know I do on my Android phone, check it out, it would be worth looking. Either that or edit your photo on an iPhone photo app. Photoshop has a simple photo app to help with just that.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Since I got my first iPhone a few years back, I've snapped more pictures than I probably had taken all the rest of my life, and that's a lot of years. It is fun snapping quick shots, and I have learned a lot about picture composition. The most difficult thing for me with the iPhone is that it does not always get the lighting and colors right. It has a tendency, in my kitchen at least, to give otherwise colorful food a weird bluish-greenish cast. I struggle with that every time I do a recipe page. It sometimes does similar color-changes outdoors.

      You've given us some excellent tips and I love the subject-matter list. Even though I don't plan to do a 30-day challenge, I will keep your information in mind, and after the holidays, I just may consider getting myself one of the iPhone photography books you mentioned, so I'm pinning.

      Congratulations on LOTD. Well-deserved!

    • profile image

      DebW07 4 years ago

      Great tips! Congrats on LotD!

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 4 years ago

      I like the idea of the challenge. I probably won't do it in 30 days but take ideas from it. But I WILL upload my photos to a photo site, because I have used photos for free from it (Pixabay), so it's only fair to upload some of mine for others to use. :)

    • Joanna14 profile image

      Christine Hulme 4 years ago from SE Kent, England

      A great idea that I need to do, because I've been putting off improving my photography for some time, so thank you for the push to do so!

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 4 years ago

      Excellent idea. Congratulations on receiving the LOTD.

    • imagelist lm profile image

      imagelist lm 4 years ago

      A really helpful lens...

    • profile image

      subuh81 4 years ago

      Awesome lens n congrats for your LOTD :).I did snap some photo but i guess is jst look plain. Well,this gonna be my 2014 plans.Thanks for sharing the ideas ;)

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 4 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      Good idea for those wanting to improve as a youngster I would carry my camera everywhere and I got a lot of good shots. In fact a school friend who became a pro used to develop my shots and wanted me to go pro too as he said I got a higher percentage of good shots than him. I think it was the practice of shooting every day. Well done on the LOTD!

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 4 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Great idea! Thanks for the challenge and congrats on your LOTD

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 4 years ago

      I took the 365 Photo Challenge also and learned a great deal. I do carry my camera or keep it in the car and take daily photos. A well deserved LOTD.

    • profile image

      sybil watson 4 years ago

      What a fabulous idea! I'm definitely going to try it. Congratulations on your LOTD - I'm so happy for you!

    • HappyTom LM profile image

      Tom Christen 4 years ago from Switzerland/Ecuador

      Cool and very nice lens, thank you for sharing! Congrats to LOTD.

    • KandH profile image

      KandH 4 years ago

      Very inspiring - thanks!

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 4 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      This is a great idea and a wonderful lens! I'll be trying it.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Congratulations on your Lens of the Day!

    • Lyra Kua profile image

      Lyra Kua 4 years ago

      The 30-day photo challenge is a great idea! I think I want to try it. My sis is usually the one who likes taking photos, which I would usually borrow to use for my lenses. I would like to become better in photography so I can use my own photos for my writing.

    • Elaine Chen profile image

      Elaine Chen 4 years ago

      great information sharing and definitely worth to win LOTD :-)

    • chocochipchip profile image

      chocochipchip 4 years ago

      Thank you for the great tips. Very helpful lens!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 4 years ago from Colorado

      Congrats on LOTD! I love anything to do with photography. These kinds of challenges are perfect opportunities to get more in tune with your surroundings... to pause, to absorb, to see with new eyes. A very worthy enterprise. I'll try to join you on this journey. Cheers!

    • profile image

      tonyleather 4 years ago

      Excellent advice for any would-be photographer! Great Lens!

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 4 years ago from Concord VA

      Thanks for the tips, I can use them! Congratulations on a great LotD! :)

    • katiecolette profile image

      katiecolette 4 years ago

      The challenge sounds like a great way to improve photography skills. Love your checklist - so many great ideas! I will think about trying this out. Pinning this lens to my Photography Pinboard on Pinterest :)

    • Joebeducci profile image

      Joebeducci 4 years ago

      Very well deserved lens of the day, it looks fantastic! Greets, Joebeducci

    • profile image

      PriyabrataSingh 4 years ago

      Congrats on your purple star and lens of the day. Great pictures and these are really eye-catching.

    • profile image

      mina009 4 years ago

      Great photos!

    • MJ Martin profile image

      MJ Martin aka Ruby H Rose 4 years ago from Washington State

      Congrats on your purple star and lens of the day. Great photo tips, wow. What a great idea! I love your list, will be fun to give it a try.

    • profile image

      Phoebs78 4 years ago

      Great lens!

    • ACDuncan profile image

      ACDuncan 4 years ago

      Great lens I loved it....:)

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      My biggest challenge is learning better control of flash so I don't always end up with harsh shadows on my indoor photography