digital photography tips with Digital Photo Mentor Darlene Hildebrandt

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Photography Challenge – Showcase Your Best Images and Enter to Win

Welcome to the brand new feature on Digital Photo Mentor – the photography challenge!

You may have participated in photography challenges on other sites. The ones here are going to be a little bit different and challenge you in new ways. You will not have a theme or topic to go photograph and make nice photos. There are tons of challenges out there for that including the ones I post weekly over on Digital Photography School.

Photograph THINK OUT OF THE BOX by KAY_AD on 500px


Outside the box challenges

No, these challenges will push you to get outside of your normal comfort zone and stretch your boundaries a little bit. They may even push your buttons and cause you to feel anxious. That is the idea! Only by doing something new, and sometimes uncomfortable will you achieve real growth.

How does it work?

Challenges will come on a monthly basis and will be different each time. So you will have plenty of time to work on one challenge, before the next one starts. There may be prizes if applicable, and I will ask you to share your results with us and others doing the challenge in the comments.

This month's challenge – showcase your best images

Okay, before you start saying things like this:

  • But I'm not a professional I don't need to have an online portfolio or gallery
  • No one wants to see my photos
  • I'm not good enough
  • I can't afford it

Let me explain how this can help you move your photography to the next level, also how it can be quite affordable (even some free options)

#1 Sharing your work helps build confidence

When you start sharing your images with others you may find you start getting compliments and good feedback, perhaps you didn't expect. This helps build confidence when other people tell you they like something you've created. That is never a bad thing. You don't want to get a big ego and go crazy about getting praise but if you never show your work, how will you know you're on the right track?

#2 Track your own growth

By putting images online and creating a gallery of your favorite images from each year you will be able to look back and see how much progress you've made. Sometimes it can feel like you're just stuck and you'll never get any better, when in reality you already have gone leaps and bounds from where you started. Only by comparing to your own work from the past can you see your own improvement.

#3 Helps you be more selective and take better photos

This one is two-fold. Putting your work online helps you weed out the rubbish and get to the best of the best, the cream of the crop. You wouldn't want to share anything but your best work right? So having to pick only 20 images for your main portfolio will really make you think about which are truly your best shots. You may choose to get opinions of others to help you cull the pack as well, but it will force you look at your own work and critique it in an objective way.

This can lead to shooting more selectively as well. You'll start to think about whether each shot is portfolio worthy or not and you may even stop and think before shooting something where the answer is “no”. Being more intentional and having this mission in sight will help you seek out and take better photos.

#4 Get over fears of not being good enough

I can't tell you how many of my students have had this fear, even of sharing images in the classroom setting. I can't conquer this fear for you but I can tell you that most of the time the fears we have in our heads are way stronger, bigger, scarier and harder to overcome than they are in real life. Photographing a stranger is another example and I often challenge my travel photography students to do just that and many come back with stories of “that wasn't nearly so bad as I had imagined”. The demons in our head play tricks on us and we build it up until it's almost insurmountable. So sometimes just stepping out past that fear is the only thing that will move us forward and get past it. If this sounds like you – then what are you waiting for? Get working on this challenge!

The challenge – make a 20 image portfolio of your best work

I still have a portfolio (which I'm sorry to say, is in sad need of updating). You can see my portfolio of everything from travel photography to portraits on my Her View Photography site here.

darlene's portfolio

What to do

Part one – the first part of this challenge is to pick a platform. There are several free ones you can use including Flickr or 500px, as well as the one I use which is Zenfolio.

Part two – then select your TOP 20 images only – no more, no less – and create your first gallery.

Part three – share a link to your gallery in the comments below so the world can see it!

Take it up a level – the free sites mentioned above are great, but they do have some limitations. I highly recommend Zenfolio because you can do things like:

  • Have locked and pass worded galleries and you decide who gets inside. Share your images with everyone, or just select people – you choose.
  • Make a slideshow that you can share on your social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest or even by email.
  • Customize the look of your gallery with built-in themes.
  • You can even have your own blog and write stories or articles which is great for keeping friends and family updated on your journey if you are traveling.
  • Sell your images as fine art prints if you're so inclined.

Here's an example of a slideshow you can make with just a few clicks:

The contest – win a Zenfolio Premium membership worth $140

logoYou can choose any platform you want to make your portfolio. But the nice folks over at Zenfolio have given me a One Year Premium membership to give away for anyone that does a free trial with them for this challenge. So all you have to do is:

  1. Use this link to sign up and get a free trial with Zenfolio (14 days)
  2. Choose your best images and create at least one gallery of no more than 20 images. Remember – best of your best only!
  3. Share a link to your new online gallery in the comments below by October 26th at midnight EST
  4. From those who've done the free trials with Zenfolio one winner will be randomly selected (we'll put them all in a hat) and will receive the upgrade to a premium account for one year FREE

Full Disclosure: I get a small commission from Zenfolio for recommending them if you choose to purchase the upgraded plan. I am not rewarded for anyone that gets a free plan. I use Zenfolio myself and recommend it so highly simply because I think it's one of the best options available. So I want to share it with you.

If you wish to use another platform to create your portfolio and gallery go for it. Only those that use the Zenfolio free trial will be eligible for the contest but please share your gallery with us however you decide to create it.

If you do not win and you want to keep your gallery online after the trial, the basic membership starts at only $30 per year (less than a cup of coffee a day). You can't do the selling part with the basic plan but you can do most everything else. Start with baby steps and walk before you run.

Deadline to enter

The contest deadline is October 26th at midnight EST. Any sites posted after that will not be eligible to win.

Update: Winner Chosen. A winner was chosen and revealed on the next challenge here.

I can't wait to see your absolute best images!


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