Photo challenge
May 7, 2021 4:32 AM   Subscribe

Can you help me make a list of 20 quirky things to photograph while walking around a city?

I'm bored! Everything's closed! I would like a photo challenge. Can you help me make a list of things to photograph while walking around my city all day?

I'd like them to be slightly odd/offbeat but not difficult. One thing could be "lost object" (like a sock lying in a gutter).

It's a nice European city with parks and public transport and plenty of historical stuff. I just need focus! Thanks!
posted by Omnomnom to Grab Bag (27 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
how about "nature in unexpected places"? like a flower growing out of a crack in the wall, for example.
posted by alchemist at 4:35 AM on May 7, 2021 [4 favorites]

Interesting or different house numbers and building numbers
Found objects
Architectural details
posted by TORunner at 4:43 AM on May 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

A cat behind a window (be discreet, you don't want anyone to feel stalked)
A bicycle that has been painted or otherwise customized
A car that has more than one colour of paint
Something hanging in a tree
A sticker on a lamppost
A building feature that has a face
A lost car or bicycle part
A house number sign that matches your age
A bird on one leg
A spot on a building where the surface is loose/damaged and exposes what is underneath
posted by Too-Ticky at 4:49 AM on May 7, 2021 [4 favorites]

And a public book exchange.
posted by Too-Ticky at 4:52 AM on May 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

1. A cool sticker/flyer/handbill
2. A threshold or doorway
3. Plant gossip. Anthropomorphize some trees or flowers and find a conversation.
4. An interesting texture
5. Something worn or transformed from its usual shape
6. A quality of light (dappling/reflections/etc.)
7. A skyscape
8. Something crying out to be noticed
9. Something quiet and keeping to itself
10. Something symmetrical
11. A word on a sign/electric box/structure
12. An emergence
13. A wild animal
14. A domestic one (with permission)
15. A selfie
16. Water or other liquid - could be a river, puddle, dewdrop, abandoned to-go cup
17. Architecture: a close-up detail
18. Architecture: zoomed out
19. Many of the same kinds of things together
20. Something old and modern together
posted by prewar lemonade at 4:55 AM on May 7, 2021 [5 favorites]

You could bring a small sculpture/plush critter of some sort and try to find some perfect photo opportunities for its day visit to the city album.
posted by Glinn at 4:57 AM on May 7, 2021 [2 favorites]

Hyperart Thomassons! Similar to the building ghost idea, but more general.
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:00 AM on May 7, 2021 [8 favorites]

Cool-looking doors/windows
Art painted/added to buildings
Wildlife (extra points for unexpected wildlife)
Unusually-colored cars
Posters for events that happened a long time ago
Posters for events that are going to happen soon
Clothing left behind by someone (usually, that's a shoe, for some reason)
posted by xingcat at 5:04 AM on May 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

When I was studying photography at uni, we had an assignment which was to shoot objects in the shape of the letters of the alphabet starting from A. Example; a sandwich board viewed side on, that looked like a capital A and so on. Certainly kept me busy and helped to look at the world in a different way.
posted by Jubey at 5:09 AM on May 7, 2021 [7 favorites]

Odd shaped trashcans

Funny graffiti

Unexpected murals

Store pets/mascots

Funny/punny signs
posted by kschang at 5:35 AM on May 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

  • Ghost signs
  • A reflection in a puddle
  • A reflection in a window
  • A tree peering over a fence
  • An insect or a spider
  • A bird perching on a statue
  • A bespectacled statue
  • A duck with ducklings (or goose with goslings, or coot with... cootlings?)
  • Different styles of bridge
  • Different kinds of column, if any of the buildings have taken inspiration from the classical world
  • Different colours of brick
  • Graffiti that makes you smile
  • Depictions of pets (in adverts, in graffiti, in statues, on signs, etc.)
  • Attractive or imaginative street furniture: a public telephone, a postbox, a bus stop, a bench
  • What's at the end of the road? A building, a statue, a tree, a mountain, or anything else that you find the road is pointing directly at. (Careful of traffic.)
  • A building older than the 20th century (or pick an earlier date, if you're good with architectural styles)
  • A building still under construction.
  • All the colours of the rainbow, in order (as in - a red thing, then an orange thing, etc.)
  • Buildings counting up: a one-storey building, then a two-storey one, and so on
  • An alphabet: actual letters (from signs, or adverts, or clothing in windows, or...) in different styles
  • An alphabet: something beginning with A, something beginning with B, ...
  • A flower growing from the ground, a flower growing in a pot or a hanging basket, a flower growing on a bush, a flower growing on a tree.
Remember to look up:
  • An interesting chimney
  • A colourful roof
  • An unusual clock
  • A weathervane
  • A helicopter
  • A bird in flight
  • A kite
  • An escaped balloon.

posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 5:38 AM on May 7, 2021 [5 favorites]

A spot a couple just left
posted by DoubleLune at 5:51 AM on May 7, 2021 [2 favorites]

For an additional challenge -
As you photograph any of the subjects above, challenge yourself to do one of these simultaneously:
* Include a strong diagonal shape
* Make the edges of your photo the subject
* Place your subject off center
* Make one photo each for red, yellow, blue, orange, purple, green.
* Make one about stripes
* or spots
* or tumbling, falling
* or airiness, floating
* or jaggedness, harshness
* or calm, quiet
* down low looking up
* up high looking down
* close up
* far away
* shadows
posted by MelissaSimon at 6:09 AM on May 7, 2021 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Those are all so amazing!!!
posted by Omnomnom at 6:11 AM on May 7, 2021

Letters in signs that will spell your name when see together.
posted by Chairboy at 6:13 AM on May 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

You can play alphabetical I Spy with your camera, that would be fun.

I spy with my little eye... something that starts with A, etc.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:17 AM on May 7, 2021 [2 favorites]

Slanted Posts
posted by snusmumrik at 6:19 AM on May 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

A Rusted Lock
posted by Faintdreams at 6:21 AM on May 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

Seconding Thomassons. They're rare enough to be a challenge, but not so rare that you can't find one or two an hour in any reasonably sized city. (I've made a game of trying to find one in every city I visit. Haven't failed yet, though a few places have required a lot of exploring.)

Company imprints on fire-excapes and covers to underground spaces are another favorite of mine. Some of them are really intricate.

A fun game I've played with friends in the past is to do a photo-replication challenge. You both take five cool photos. (Or 20, I guess.) Then you try to re-create each other's photos, in camera, in your own location, without artificially adding anything.
posted by eotvos at 6:22 AM on May 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

The lowest and highest points in town.
posted by saladin at 6:34 AM on May 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

I don't know what your relationship is with photography or what interests you in taking pictures, but think about what might interest you to look at these pictures later on or what might interest others to look at these photos in the future. I find these sorts of list-of-object photo challenges to be good for not much other than figuring out how to work the buttons on your camera or to wear off some of your shoe rubber (and it does sound like one motivation is just to walk around the city).

MelissaSimon's suggestions are much better at getting one to work on the fundamentals of photography (composition, color, moment, light) that can be useful when taking pictures of anything. It's much harder to do than list-of-object photos, though.

For me, photography is fundamentally a means of communication, so I'm much more interested in finding ways of communicating emotions and ideas to the viewer (even if that's just yourself). Pick an emotion or mental state: anger, happiness, curiosity, anxiety, grumpiness, joy, etc., and figure out a way to represent that visually with whatever you can find to photograph.

I do often find myself having to find pictures to take in unfamiliar places; I mostly photograph people (maybe you don't have interest in that) and in those cases, I gravitate toward a few types of places in order to find people going about their business: ends of transit lines, places where transit lines connect (especially if there's a transition between modes of transit), pedestrian zones, markets, edge zones (transitions between industrial/residential/business areas), streets and alleys that are one block away from the main street, over- and under-passes, public stairs, urban parks especially ones with water.
posted by msbrauer at 6:43 AM on May 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

Different textures!
posted by london explorer girl at 7:13 AM on May 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

Manhole cover
posted by slidell at 7:32 AM on May 7, 2021 [3 favorites]

I for one find it fascinating the variety of aesthetics you can find among fire hydrants in different places, despite all of them using the exact same principles to fill the exact same function.
posted by solotoro at 9:11 AM on May 7, 2021

Make a tour guide in photos for a friend who lives far away and has never visited where you live. Do you have a regular walking route, and why? What makes this your place, and how is it different from where your friend lives? What makes the houses and building different? Where do you shop, and (hopefully soon again) eat out, meet up, etc. Not just tourist landmarks, but the 'flavor' of where you live. Restaurant signs? Bridges? Train lines? Parks? Old buildings, new buildings, odd buildings, long perspectives, and small details.
posted by winesong at 9:49 AM on May 7, 2021

A graffiti tag that has at least 2 colors

Something thrown away

the tallest tree on a block
posted by coberh at 9:29 PM on May 8, 2021

« Older On returning to the gym   |   The Varieties of Religious Experience: streaming... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.