Overcoming the Familiar: January 2015 Photo-a-Day Challenge

The New Year arrives soon…and with it, often a list of things we plan to do to improve our health, appearance, productivity, attitude, and more.  And, if you’re like me, you are still striving to improve your photography, paying attention the details that take ordinary photographs and make them something special.  Sometimes I lament that I don’t travel to exotic places where I could try my hand at perfect snowflake photos or capture the colorful beauty of an outdoor market in Asia.  And while travel remains on my to-do list, this month’s challenge is about seeing the familiar as though you were a stranger—seeing everything as new or at least with new eyes.

Anyone who follows my blog knows that I spend lots of time at the beach.  And sometimes it starts to look so familiar that I can’t even imagine finding something new to focus my lens on.  But just last week as I walked near the shore at high tide, I tried framing a shot of the empty lifeguard tower in some new ways.  And as I was shooting, I noticed that I could see surfers in the shot.  I tried some different ways of shooting and came up with this one with the surfer visible to the left of the tower.

surfer and tower

I found this locked box on another day.  And it took a few shots to figure out how to see the detail (notice the raised letters), but in my opinion, it is the seagull that I caught in the background that makes this shot interesting.

locked box and seagull

That same evening, we had stayed out for the sunset.  And I took a number of shots with the silhouette of the lifeguard tower in the background, or a palm tree, or another tree.  But this construction crane caught my attention and I loved the juxtaposition of it with the tree with the sunset in the background—the sunset not as exclusively nature’s beauty, but also a backdrop for construction equipment.

crane and tree

Sometimes my own front lawn turns from the ordinary grass into a fairy land.  These little mushrooms almost look like a couple in love as they snuggle in the grass. 

mushrooms in the grass

And if you keep your eyes open (or in this case, start searching for your missing cat), you might overcome the familiar.  This shot was actually taken by my husband with his iPhone…and I love the image of our cat, Phil, nestled among the Christmas presents.

Phil under the tree

Sometimes a walk is just the inspiration I need to look with fresh eyes.  I’m always trying to catch interesting photos of the train that runs through town…and I nearly always miss it.  This time, as I was out walking, I caught not only the train, but also this runner going in the opposite direction.

chasing the train

As i walked through our local botanical garden, I noticed this fig tree…with no leaves, but with figs in abundance.  I couldn’t resist this shot looking up into the blue sky.

figs on a bare tree

And even the succulents that are so prevalent around here can look interesting depending on the photograph.  For this one, I leaned in closely and played around with the rule of thirds.  I love the color in this unedited shot.


So your #sdawpphotovoices challenge for January 2015 is to overcome the familiar in your life to find great photos wherever you happen to be.  Here’s some prompt possibilities to help you vary your view:

1. inside

2. outside

3. home

4. neighborhood

5. work

6. pets

7. signs

8. transportation

9. light

10. people

11. plants

12. animals

13. place

14. buildings

15. kitchen

16. weather

17. night

18. day

19. hands

20. eyes

21. apparel

22. reflection

23. surprise

24. feet

25. fences

26. machine

27. technology

28. everyday

29. unexpected

30. interior

31. exterior

So start the new year by overcoming the familiar and challenge yourself to see your everyday life in new ways.  Post a photo each day with the hashtag #sdawpphotovoices to Twitter, Instagram, Flicker, Google+ and/or Facebook (the more the better!), so that we can all enjoy the posts. If you would like to expand your exploration, write the story that the photo tells, compose a blog post about a photo, a week’s worth of photos, write a photo essay, or make a video or slideshow. You are invited to create a pingback by linking to this url or post your blog address in the comment section. It’s fun for me to see what others are doing with the same prompts I am using!

The new year doesn’t have to be about lofty goals, you can start the year out right by simply vowing to see the world around you anew!  You can capture your view in a single photo or in a series. You can post every day, once a week, or even sporadically throughout the month…whatever works in your life. You can post your pictures in the order of the prompts or post the one you find on the day you find it. You get to make your own rules…after all, this is your opportunity to overcome the familiar!  Be sure to share and tag your photos with #sdawpphotovoices so we can find them!

So go out and start looking!  How will you overcome the familiar in your photographs? I’m looking forward to seeing the world in new ways through your lens!

3 thoughts on “Overcoming the Familiar: January 2015 Photo-a-Day Challenge

  1. Jeannie Richardson

    I teach a Bible lesson at our church, and I was wondering if I could have permission to use your photo of the fig tree. Jesus cursed a fig tree because there was no fruit on it. Many people do not know that fruit comes on a fig tree before the leaves. When Jesus looked through the leaves and did not find fruit, He cursed it. When he came back the next day…it was dead. The fig tree represented the Jewish nation at that time as they had the appearance of a “healthy tree”, but they did not bear the fruits of the spirit…love, joy, peace…etc. They appeared righteous. (You probably didn’t want all that info.) Just a request.

  2. Jeannie

    Thank you so much! The photo demonstrates why Jesus expects to find fruit on the fig tree, just as he should have found the fruits of the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace) in the Jewish nation. Yes, I will credit you on the PowerPoint slide.


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