Over a decade ago, back when $300 compact cameras were still a thing, I used to post biweekly photo assignments on a small web forum. Amazingly its archives are still online, so given The All This that's going on, I thought this would be a good time to revisit them.

Not all of these are uniquely mine, including ones that I think might be – good ideas tend to float around and stick in odd places, so I can't claim full credit for anything but the bad ones. So with that said here's a selection of photographic assignments, old and new, that might be done just about anywhere and with limited resources. Enjoy them in whatever way you prefer.


Glass

Glass is a challenge when creating that perfect product photo, but also consider its more everyday and routine roles as well.

Produce

Fruits and vegetables are classic still life subjects, so give it a try with whatever is on hand. Imperfect specimens are welcome too.

Subjects with Shadows

Shadows can add drama or show depth. Create a composition where the shadow of your subject is a major element.

Eggs

Eggs are a classic photo assignment because they are such an expressive subject. A still life exploring form and light; interacting with their environment in surprising ways. Some might even show unusual colours.

Plants

Indoor, back yard, wallpaper patterns: we’re surrounded by plants. Start with simple images and then get more involved.

Paper

Texture, tone, shape – it’s amazing what a simple piece of paper can be when we look closely. Add some folds, or use a couple of sheets, and see what happens.

Silhouette

Photographs taken against the light can create powerful and simple forms, or they can be playful and whimsical. Try something new and see what you can create.

Text

Letter and words convey meaning and can also be powerful visual shapes. Look closely and create art out of text.

Cutlery

An exercise in controlling highlights and reflections – unless you choose plastic or wooden cutlery as your subject, which is fine too.

Monochrome

You could just shoot in black and white… or you could find a subject that has no colour at all.

Colour

Photograph colour for its own sake – simply colour as colour. Set a fixed white balance and find photographs that are entirely one colour.

Product

Create a glamorous product photo that makes an object into a hero. No more than half of your chosen subjects can be camera-related.

Reflections

Windows, water, mirrors and metal are abundant sources of reflections. Just watch out for the Pretty trap: it's easy to get caught up in the idea and forget to make a good photograph.

Two Colours

Photograph colour for its own sake – simply colour as colour. Use two different colours that make each other better.

Texture

Side light helps here, but isn’t mandatory: create photos where the texture of the subject jumps out at the viewer.

Imperfection

Let go of the perfect photo ideal and see what happens when you try to create 'bad' photos in some new way.

Dip or Trip

Create two or three photos designed to work together and strengthen each other – a diptych or triptych.

Light Source

Dial the exposure way down and create photos of the light sources in your home. LEDs, filaments, screens – just not the sun, please.

Three Colours

Photograph colour for its own sake – simply colour as colour. Use three colours to create more complex abstract art.

The Wrong Gear

Pick a subject and then choose the worst possible camera, lens, or setting for it. Make good photos of it anyway.

Artificial Light

"Available light is any damn light that’s available." Use some that aren’t the sun for drama and colour.

Support

Tripods and even improvised camera supports extend what our cameras and lenses can do. Create a photo that couldn’t be made hand-held.

High Sensitivity

Set your camera to the highest possible iso sensitivity – all the way to the top of its boost modes. Explore its limits in creating an image, both in colour and in black and white.

Double Exposure

Create double exposures. Use your camera settings to do this if possible, or create them in post-production from sequential photos if not.

Light Painting

Take advantage of what you have around you to explore manipulating light in darkness.

Least-Used Lens

Every camera bag has one: that lens that just never gets used. Now’s the time to take it out and appreciate what it can do for you.

Middle Settings

Photograph anything without using any extreme settings. Use your lens at its middle aperture at the middle of its zoom range. Do everything in moderation.

Hi Andy

Photograph a soup can.

Thirty Photos

Take thirty different photos of the same thing – and burst mode doesn’t count. Boring? Frustrating? Maybe, but it worked for Edward Weston.

Aerial

Make photos that have the subject completely unsupported. Things that fly work, but don't be content with the obvious. Bounce a ball. Drop a handful of change. Timing is everything.

Different Altitude

Choose an uncommon height for your camera, close to the floor or above your head, and take at least twenty photos from that point of view.

Common Objects

Pick something that’s so common, so mundane, that you would never photograph it. You can probably guess what to do next.

Camera Movement

Work handheld with with the longest shutter speed that will produce a usable exposure. Take eight photos that don’t look like each other.

Vertical Composition

Take at least a dozen different photos with your camera aimed straight up.

Same Subject, Different Day

Rephotograph something that you photographed last week, using a different technique that you used this past week.