Tag Archives: photo-a-day challenge

Looking Closely to Look Back: December’s Photo-a-Day Challenge

We’ve reached the twelfth month, the last of the calendar year.  Traditionally, it’s a time for reflection, of taking stock of the year in order to make progress in the new year.

So…what if we look to the world around us, paying careful attention to what is currently in front of us–and use those images and related thinking to look back, to reflect on the year?

Just last week I had the opportunity to watch some college students dance (many thanks to my niece, a dance major).  Their energy and passion were obvious–and contagious!  Looking at this image reminds me that we are not attached to the the ground…we are also in flight, ready to follow our imagination.

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We tell ourselves so many stories–including stories that fuel our frustration and impatience.  Sometimes we need to reframe a story, view it from a new perspective to change our feelings and perceptions. Traffic can be a pain…or an opportunity depending on how your look at it.

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And sometimes doors don’t look like doors.  They might just be spaces you haven’t noticed before.  I’m determined to ride the train to Los Angeles one day soon…and this image will remind me to include this on my to-do list.

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Those quiet moments of waiting and watching sometimes pay off in a beautiful photo, but always fill my heart with wonder and joy…even when the photo doesn’t happen.  I get just enough rewards like this one to remind me to stop, listen, watch, enjoy what is right in front of me.

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I see dozens and dozens and dozens of seagulls–at the beach, when I drive down the freeway, at school–and yet I never tire of them.  There is a certain elegance about taking flight, gliding on the currents, and over the currents (and waves) below.  Does anyone remember reading Jonathan Livingston Seagull back in the day?

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Going to different places means seeing things that are familiar…and well, ordinary.  I like to notice the new…the magnificent architecture, the iconic art…but sometimes find myself snapping a photo of the familiar, like this walk sign.  (Now I find myself wondering if walk signs are really the same all over, maybe I need to take some more photos of them!  This one is from Minneapolis.)

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And then there is light.  Sometimes it is sunlight, sometimes moonlight…and sometimes a wonderful art piece that is all about light.  Add dark to the light and the camera creates effects that are even more interesting, reminding me that we can’t always capture images as we see them…sometimes they create themselves right in our own hands in front of our eyes.

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To get you started, here are some prompts for the month:

  1. Spaces
  2. Places
  3. Movement
  4. Relationships
  5. Home
  6. Outdoors
  7. Family
  8. Story
  9. Favorite
  10. Gift
  11. Memory
  12. Dozen
  13. Night
  14. Nature
  15. Quiet
  16. Rhythm
  17. Sharp
  18. Warmth
  19. Flame
  20. Moment
  21. Light
  22. Sky
  23. Doors
  24. Ground
  25. Celebration
  26. Water
  27. Delicious
  28. Hands
  29. Reflect
  30. Dance
  31. New

As always, our challenge will allow us to learn from each other as we shoot our own photos and study the photos others shoot. The prompts are there to help you pay attention to your world and reflect on the year and your experiences. You can use them in order or pick and choose as you like–you are welcome to add a new prompt into the mix if you are so moved. You can post every day, once a week, or even sporadically throughout the month…whatever works in your life.

Be sure to share and tag your photos with #sdawpphotovoices so we can find them! You can share on Twitter (follow me @kd0602), on Instagram (@kd0602), in the CLMOOC community on G+, on Flickr, or even link back to my blog here.

Let’s look closely to look back and move forward as we bring 2015 to a close.  Enjoy the winter holidays, whatever version you celebrate, and let your camera help you find the joy and wonder of the season.

In Appreciation: November’s Photo-a-Day Challenge

It’s so easy to take the beauty, the generosity, and the wonder around us for granted–or let them go unnoticed and unappreciated.  Like the service that this car carrier ship provides.  I’ve never needed my car to be shipped via a car carrier, but as I visited Catalina Island (26 miles off the southern California coast), I wondered how they managed to get cars to the island (there is no car ferry).  I did learn that they depend on barges rather than car carriers–but I noticed this car carrier in the Long Beach harbor as I headed out toward Catalina. (Notice the seagull flying overhead!)

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Then there is the inexplicable connection that happens when people are playing.  This couple was in full costume for the Halloween festivities in Avalon.  They were just walking along until they saw me with my camera…and then they stopped and posed, making eye contact, so I could snap a photo of them in character!

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And there is so much to appreciate about the almost invisible efforts of those who take care of our public outdoor spaces.  I arrived at the beach last week to find this tractor driver hard at work scooping up sand and creating a berm to protect the beach behind it (and maybe preserve the sand too).  The added bonus was the beautiful sky and ocean in the background!

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I love this unexpected birthday “treat” from one of my students to her classmates to celebrate turning 8.  Instead of cupcakes or trinkets, she gave each of her classmates a milkweed “bomb” to plant to hopefully grow into a milkweed plant–the host for the monarch butterflies we have been learning about and working to help in our classroom.  What a delightful treat!

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Sometimes I have to work on my own patience and persistence, and appreciate the outcome when my fascination with this pelican resulted in the snap of my camera shutter just as it took flight!

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It takes a community to make sure our water is healthy and safe.  These often unappreciated signs on our storm drains are reminders that the water that runs down our roads and into our drains ends up in the ocean.  My students have been singing a song called Storm Drain (by the Earthworms), making me even more alert to the dangers we can impose on the ocean if we are not paying attention.

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And a visit to the local water treatment plant the week before made us all aware of the work that goes into the water infrastructure we often take for granted (you can read more about it here).  We learned all about how the water is cleaned and the bio wastes are trucked out to be used as fertilizer for non-food crops.

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So this month, let’s spend some time being thankful and appreciative by taking photos to document our appreciation.  And to get you started thinking, here’s some prompts to consider:

  1. Nature
  2. Gifts
  3. Energy
  4. Light
  5. Texture
  6. Sound
  7. Friendship
  8. Innovation
  9. Color
  10. Effort
  11. Service
  12. Ordinary
  13. People
  14. Connection
  15. Unexpected
  16. Music
  17. Growth
  18. Water
  19. Place
  20. Travel
  21. Wonder
  22. Home
  23. Health
  24. Kindness
  25. Warmth
  26. Family
  27. Relax
  28. Persistence
  29. Empathy
  30. Love

As always, our challenge will allow us to learn from each other as we shoot our own photos and study the photos others shoot. The prompts are there to help you pay attention to your world and think about all that you appreciate.  You can use them in order or pick and choose as you like–you are welcome to add a new prompt into the mix if you are so moved.  You can post every day, once a week, or even sporadically throughout the month…whatever works in your life.

Be sure to share and tag your photos with #sdawpphotovoices so we can find them! You can share on Twitter (follow me @kd0602), on Instagram (@kd0602), in the CLMOOC community on G+, on Flickr, or even link back to my blog here.

Let November be the month to document and share your appreciation through your photos!  I can’t wait to see all that you appreciate…and to share my thankfulness with you too.

Some of My Favorite Things: October’s Photo-a-Day Challenge

More than three years into participating in photo-a-day challenges, the taking and posting of daily photos has become a firmly ingrained habit (my husband often calls it an obsession!).  I create a new challenge each month to keep myself challenged and to invite others to play along with me.  Some months I notice that I mostly ignore the prompts (that I created) and post whatever strikes my fancy.

So I thought we’d try something a bit different this month.  Let’s just focus on our favorite things…images that reach out and grab your attention.  But…let’s challenge ourselves to use a variety of different approaches/techniques each week.

During each week, work through the following seven approaches…in any order.

  1. Black and white
  2. Use a filter
  3. Use the rule of thirds (or simply avoid the middle)–what happens when you frame your subject off center?
  4. Use a natural frame
  5. Experiment with light
  6. Use leading lines—frame your shot by letting the natural lines (fences, roads, walls…) direct the viewer’s eye
  7. Get close

So…to get you thinking, here are few of my most recent favorite things!

Here’s the super moon eclipse, using the rule of thirds and no filter.  It became nearly impossible to photograph as it got darker…but it was pretty right before the light faded away.

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I got up close to this little crab.  I love the brilliant colors…and playing with my new iPhone camera!

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The archway at the Griffith Observatory made a natural frame for the Hollywood sign in the distance.

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The soft light and shadow caught my eye as I spied this unusual flower growing along a fence on a walk to the beach.

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The reflection of the sun on the water creates a leading line that also highlights the lines of the waves and the clouds.  Straight lines and curves playing together.

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And because I love to break my own rules, here’s one that shows action.  It’s not on the list…but I love the play of the splash on the rocks–it doesn’t need a filter in my opinion!

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As always, our challenge will allow us to learn from each other as we shoot our own photos and study the photos others shoot. Remember, each week try a different technique each day…you can follow the seven above in order, mix them up, and/or invent your own like I did. You can post every day, once a week, or even sporadically throughout the month…whatever works in your life.

Be sure to share and tag your photos with #sdawpphotovoices so we can find them! You can share on Twitter (follow me @kd0602), on Instagram (@kd0602), in the CLMOOC community on G+, on Flickr, or even link back to my blog here.

I can’t wait to see some of your favorite things…and share lots more of my own!

Setting the Mood: September’s Photo-a-Day Challenge

Images can tell stories and set a mood by the way the subject is framed, by the quality of light, the angle of the shot…and more.

I’m guilty of taking many, many photos of my favorite places and subjects…sunsets and waves, seagulls and surfers, dandelions and bumblebees, lavender…and my cats! The beauty of taking multiple photos of similar subjects and places is that I have the opportunity to view them through from different perspectives…and notice the moods they evoke.

Sometimes my shot of a seabird is not just about the bird, but about the energy in the background.  This one sets a hurried mood for me as I see the still image but notice the speed of the bird and the force of the ocean.

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Other images feel tranquil, washing me with calm and cool with the lack of color and reflected light.

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There’s a mood of urgency set by this image of a military chopper hovering low over the shoreline…is there an emergency they are attending to?  (And I love the seagulls in the frame!)

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This image definitely feels upbeat and energetic with the musicians belting out their songs, bringing the audience to their feet, dancing and tapping their toes!

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Sometimes distance can give a sense of isolation…and even seriousness.  This photographer creates a mood of isolation…alone in the overcast with only distant surfers visible.

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And other times, the selected use of color and a pair of empty chairs creates a feeling of wistfulness, wishing for a sunset, waiting for a couple to fill the chairs…

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Perfect light on a sunny afternoon can create a reflective mood as the light creates distance and perspective…perfect for thinking and remembering.

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And there is the giddy mood of floating in the wide blue of the sky above and sea below, a bird’s eye view!

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So for September take another look at your favorite subjects and places and see what moods those images can set.  And to help you vary your shots and stimulate your thinking, here is a list of moods for each day of the month!

  1. lonely
  2. amazed
  3. amused
  4. frustrated
  5. hesitant
  6. energetic
  7. anxious
  8. shocked
  9. inquisitive
  10. powerful
  11. pensive
  12. satisfied
  13. indifferent
  14. confused
  15. courageous
  16. isolated
  17. eager
  18. serious
  19. overwhelmed
  20. jealous
  21. tranquil
  22. happy
  23. excited
  24. peaceful
  25. irritated
  26. distant
  27. apathetic
  28. fulfilled
  29. confident
  30. astonished

And as always, our challenge will allow us to learn from each other as we shoot our own photos and study the photos others shoot. Every day of the month includes a word prompt to inspire and challenge you as you work to set moods through your images. You are welcome to follow them in order, mix them up, or throw in a new word prompt for the rest of us to try. You can post every day, once a week, or even sporadically throughout the month…whatever works in your life.

Be sure to share and tag your photos with #sdawpphotovoices so we can find them! You can share on Twitter (follow me @kd0602), on Instagram (@kd0602), in the CLMOOC community on G+, on Flickr, or even link back to my blog here.

I’m looking forward to seeing how you set September’s moods through your lens!

Savoring Summer: August’s Photo-A-Day Challenge

It’s so easy to barrel through life, focused on all the tasks there are to do, checking things off on the mental to-do list, looking ahead and planning ahead…and missing what is right in front of you.  My camera helps a bit, when I am taking pictures I tend to slow down, look closely, consider angles and light…and I also seem to notice sounds and textures, smells and even tastes because I am paying attention.

I recently read something about a savoring walkit was part of a post about ways to practice gratitude, but I was immediately drawn to it as a way to pay attention and really experience the moments in front of me.  In their explanation, you should take a walk for 20 minutes each day and notice as many positive things as you can using any and all of your senses.  They encourage you to acknowledge each of these in your mind–truly savor them–don’t just let them slip away.

This struck me as an interesting way to consider taking photos.  How could a photo account for an experience I noticed with my sense of smell?  I could document that sweet candy smell that permeated the area when I walked into Dylan’s Candy Bar in Chicago by sharing my picture of the giant lollypops that hung overhead, and looking back at it would bring me back and help me remember and savor that experience.

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Walking through Millennium Park I noticed the flowers blooming, and when I moved closer I could hear the soft buzz of bees at work.  My husband is always reminding me to be careful, there’s bees there.  But I love to lean close and watch these fascinating creatures hum…they never seem to be still.  The macro lens is my friend when it comes to bees, helping me savor these buzzy moments!

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As I motored up the river on an architectural tour, the buildings were the main focus of attention.  And they deserve attention!  They come in all shapes and sizes–tall boxes, some with exoskeletons, some made up of triangles. These corn cob shaped ones are quite distinctive, with their layered rounded edges creating interesting and unique textures you can almost feel with your eyes.

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And as I attended to the buildings, I noticed all the window washers hanging off the sides of these metal and glass giants!  Even after my fear-conquering trip up Sears Tower, I’m sure I wouldn’t like hanging off the sides of tall buildings as my work! I wonder how many window washers are employed in Chicago?

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And sometimes savoring is all about standing back and taking the broad view.  I savored this moment looking across the Chicago Institute of Art and noticing my husband taking a photo of the Chicago skyline through the long lines of the Art Institute windows.

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A ferris wheel?  Yep, an iconic landmark…and a fun way to enjoy the view of the lake and the city.  And as we stood in line to buy a ticket, I noticed that I could see the cityscape framed in silhouette through the wheel…another moment worth savoring!

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Shoulder to shoulder with thousands and thousands of locals and tourists, I enjoyed an evening at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion watching the taping of the NPR show, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me with some NWP friends.  There was a sense of community and warm summer night relaxation in spite of the large crowd.  People were friendly, laughter flowed, and fun was had by all!

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And the festivities continued into the evening as the smell of wet concrete mixed with the glow of the blue moon and the lights of the city to create the perfect nightscape for summer play.  It was fun to watch these young people invent games to entertain themselves as they cooled off and enjoyed a warm July evening.

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So take some time to savor summer throughout the month of August, slow down and go beyond your eyes to use all your senses as you notice and appreciate your world.  Here’s some prompts to get your started.

1. Sweet

2. Whisper

3. Smooth

4. Salty

5. Textured

6. Up

7. Complex

8. Layers

9. Loud

10. Crinkly

11. Below

12. Constant

13. Sweaty

14. Rhythm

15. Slick

16. Rough

17. Fresh

18. Down

19. Squished

20. Sharp

21. Melodic

22. Savory

23. Wet

24. Blue

25. Distant

26. Crisscrossed

27. Soft

28. Rolling

29. Transparent

30. Spin

31. Refreshing

Our challenge will allow us to learn from each other as we shoot our own photos and study the photos others shoot. Every day of the month includes a word prompt to inspire and challenge you as you savor your experiences . You are welcome to follow them in order, mix them up, or throw in a new word prompt for the rest of us to try. You can post every day, once a week, or even sporadically throughout the month…whatever works in your life.

Be sure to share and tag your photos with #sdawpphotovoices so we can find them! You can share on Twitter (follow me @kd0602), on Instagram (@kd0602), in the CLMOOC community on G+, on Flickr, or even link back to my blog here.

I’m looking forward to seeing how you savor your summer experiences…through your lens!

Documenting Light: July’s Photo-a-Day Challenge

July is the heart of summer. Long days, warm nights, all filled with light. Morning light, light at dawn, midday and afternoon light, the dwindling light of sunset and twilight, and the glow of lights at night. July is a month to capture light.

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Nature is painting for us, day after day,, pictures of infinite beauty.

John Ruskin

And inspired by the work of Paccarik Orue, I find myself thinking about documentary photography—photography that celebrates place, people, culture, and customs that uncovers and illuminates beauty that others may miss or dismiss.

Never fear shadows. They simply mean there’s light shining somewhere nearby.

Ruth Renkel

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So let’s explore the light of July, in all its variety and glory and document the places and people we experience.

Light can be gentle, dangerous, dream-like, bare, living, dead, misty, clear, hot, dark, violet, springlike, falling, straight, sensual, limited, poisonous, calm and soft.

Sven Nykvist

The harsh man-made lights at the end of the pier,

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midday light illuminating a wave and its surfer,

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filtered light through the windows of your house for the cats to discover (that’s Jack!),

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and looking up into the clear blue sky at wild fair rides.

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Lingering seems most at home in the late afternoon. Other words belong to other times. But lingering (like dawdling and dallying) works best when the day is slipping away, and we don’t care.

Jim Richardson

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Here’s some prompts to get us started this month:

1. Home

2.  Shadow

3.  Outside

4.  Color

5.  Bright

6.  Undercover

7.  Discover

8.  Warm

9.  Night

10.  Dawdling

11.  Misty

12.  Clear

13.  Dangerous

14.  Bare

15.  Violet

16.  Dead

17.  Gentle

18.  Falling

19.  Dream-like

20.  Straight

21.  Hot

22.  Living

23.  Sensual

24.  Limited

25.  Poisonous

26.  Dallying

27.  Soft

28.  Calm

29.  Lingering

30.  Fear

31.  Care

So let’s explore the light of summer and document the people and places and things we encounter.  Our challenge will allow us to learn from each other as we shoot our own photos and study the photos others shoot. Every day of the month includes a word prompt to inspire and challenge you to document the spaces you inhabit as you explore the light. You are welcome to follow them in order, mix them up, or throw in a new word prompt for the rest of us to try. You can post every day, once a week, or even sporadically throughout the month…whatever works in your life. Be sure to share and tag your photos with #sdawpphotovoices so we can find them! You can share on Twitter (follow me @kd0602), on Instagram (@kd0602), in the CLMOOC community on G+, on Flickr, or even link back to my blog here.

Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.

Maori proverb

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And don’t forget to play around with nighttime light too!

Twilight drops her curtain down, and pins it with a star.

Lucy Maud Montgomery

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What light will you see and document through your lens?

ABCs of Summer: June’s Photo-a-Day Challenge

Unofficially summer has begun, and even though school is still in for many in this part of the world…summer is on the brain.  Ironically, the weather is cool and gloomy…it’s definitely not the atmosphere to inspire beach going or outdoor sports, so let’s hope that this month’s photo-a-day challenge will put you in the mood for summer!

Let’s let the alphabet guide us this month…with a word prompt for each letter (a few extra to add up to the 30 we need for June).

After you shoot, 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 are game for some more playfulness, compose a blog post about a photo, a week’s worth of photos, write a photo essay, make a video or slideshow or try a learning walk! (More about learning walks here and here) 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!

Here’s the list:

1.  awkward

2.  beach

I love the beach…in all seasons!  There is something about the interplay of the sky and water and sand that creates interesting images.

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3.  blue

4.  curious

5.  develop

I’m working to develop my photography skills.  Here is an attempt at night photography.  I like some things about this image even though it is blurry.  I need to do a lot more experimenting with shooting at night…you’ll likely see some of my trials this month!

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6.  explore

7.  friends

8.  green

You can go literal–like this green succulent–or perhaps more figurative like green with envy or environmentally aware!

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9.  hot

10.  honor

Love that this parking lot employs the honor system for charging for parking.  You slide your cash in a locked metal tube and depend on your own integrity to follow the intention.  (The Julian catholic church owns the lot and the proceeds supports people in need in the community.)

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11.  idle

12.  jump

13.  keep

14.  lost

15.  mmmmm

16.  nature

17.  observe

18.  pause

We paused to take a look at these electrical towers…and then found ourselves thinking about where towers like this are found.  Are there any in your neighborhood?

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19.  play

20.  quench

21.  relax

I love the aroma of lavender…and the beauty of the plant.  I wish I could get it to grow this beautifully in my yard!

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22.  savor

23.  travel

24.  time

25.  unexpected

26.  vary

27.  water

28.  excite

29.  yell

30.  zen

Our goal is to explore, share with each other, and learn from each other as we shoot our own photos and study the photos others shoot. Every day of the month includes a word prompt to inspire and challenge you to create beautiful photos. You are welcome to follow them in order, mix them up, or throw in a new word prompt for the rest of us to try. You can post every day, once a week, or even sporadically throughout the month…whatever works in your life. Be sure to share and tag your photos with #sdawpphotovoices so we can find them!

So let your photography get you in the summer frame of mind…and share those frames with us!