December Challenge

Follow along with the participants at Zooomr and Flickr.

My October Challenge was so successful for me personally, and for the handful that participated, that I decided I want to continue growing and stretching my abilities. So I took some time this month to look at more areas of photography where I could use some work. I spent a good deal of energy flipping through pages of Zooomr, Flickr, and many photography blogs searching for genres of photography that interest me, but I lack the skill. Many ideas came to mind, but I continually kept coming back to portraits.

So, without further adieu…

For the month of December I will be shooting portraits. This time I won’t be committing to shooting only my topic all month. This challenge will be to shoot a portrait a day. One a day, each day, for the whole month of December.

Back at the beginning of October I was introduced to the photography of Bill Wadman. Bill is a New York based portrait photographer who completely rocks. During this whole year, 2007, he has been viciously attacking his own challenge to shoot a portrait a day, all year long! You can follow along, and see the year’s total so far, at

Next, I sent out a call to my photoblogging friends, in search of the best existing blog posts about creating portraits, and I’ve been reading up on their tips. Here’s a short list of some good articles I’ve read:

You might think that a whole month is a long time to shoot a portrait every day. I’d agree, on a different month. December, however, makes it quite easy to shoot more people. This is mainly because of the increased interaction we all face during the Christmas season; Christmas parties, family dinners, gathering a bit more even at church, all events and activities that get me out and interacting with people more.

Another element to this Challenge is to try and shoot people in their daily life. A staged portrait in a studio has its place, but I’m not looking for that refinement. Catching people in their place of work, or in a place or state that is very typical for them is what I’m looking to capture. Below are several examples of what I’m striving to achieve.

I think I’ll actually schedule some of the shoots. I see no reason why I can’t plan ahead to stay on top of this undertaking.

So, do you think you have what it takes to accept an challenge like this? Are you satisfied with your own portraiture? Do you need or want to grow in your own ability to be more creative and get great light when shooting portraits?

Then join me as I shoot a portrait-a-day!

When tagging your images on Flickr and/or Zooomr, use “DecemberChallenge” so that we can track our progress. Additionally, if you want to vary this a bit for yourself, you could choose to shoot a stranger each day. That’s not my focus, but you may do that if you wish.

Below are a few really good portraits…

Duuuddeeee Noone Knows About This But Us VanillaGirl02 Katie Belle craig bjerring aka old seed Happy School's Over 20071022-_MG_2944 The Beginning After the End Shellie

Emogothicalistic Emily This is Nathaniel

Oh yeah, Digg it!


  1. You’ve got your work cut out for you! I’m so introverted in real life, I don’t think I could do what you’re planning on doing. Portraiture, and people shots in general, have always interested me and they’ve always been something that I wish I could do better. I may work myself up to taking on your challenge, though. Maybe the upcoming photowalk will be a good place to test the waters.

  2. I’m excited to participate, Trevor. Thanks for using my self portrait as an example. I’m honored.

  3. Very interesting! I tracked your october challenge, and I look forward to being part of your challenge this time around. my twist: use only my fixed 50mm 1.8 (the only prime lens I have) no zooms I say! 🙂

  4. This will be a challenge for me am usually uncomfortable taking people shots. Think I will try to make at least 1 picture a week someone I have not met before.

  5. @Karen, Way to go. You won’t regret it. Oh, and I’m honored, to use your portrait.

    @Brian, I didn’t think you were that introverted. I think you can do it. Start with people you know. I’m going to start with a self portrait. Then, I’m sure throughout the month you’ll see my wife and kids sprinkled around. I won’t entirely be shooting strangers. On the Sunday’s I’ll probably shoot my pastor and friends from church, etc. Not as scary as it sounds.

    @Jeremy, why only look forward to our work? Why not join us? If daily is too much, try for 3 a week, and post on the weekend. No matter, every photographer can participate a least a bit.

    @Shivanand, thanks for following along! I’m glad to have you join us in this new adventure. Oh, and way to go, adding your own twist! I seem to drift to my own prime quite often.

    @Ken, thanks. Will you be joining us? No better time like the present to start something new and exciting!

  6. @David, Welcome! I’ll remind everyone here as December approaches. I’m not one for strict guidelines, I think for this it can limit our creativity. So, the structure is as stated in the article. Other than that, just start shooting on December 1st!

    @Gareth, see my comment to Brian above. I think if you just look around, you’ll find plenty of people to shoot, that you already know. Either way, I’m glad you’re joining us.

  7. This is so cool! Brian stumbled this, and that’s how I found it. Will blog about this today and get people to join. I’m not sure if I can commit to one portrait a day but it sounds like I’ll have fun trying.

  8. Hey Trevor,

    Thanks for including my picture in this post! I am very excited about this challenge. I’ve been shooting with nothing but film for the past 2 months. It’s going to be difficult to shoot digital again, but I’m going to try my best to be apart of this challenge. : )

  9. Trevor, I didn’t participate int he October Challenege but December sounds amazing. I really need to be able to make better portraits. I’m going to take that challenege and try to improve. What a great idea.

  10. Great idea and good luck with the challenge – I’ll be checking in from time to time. I think it would be a good idea to perhaps write a few posts during the month on what you are learning .. the good and bad 🙂


  11. I am a total newb to photography and am loving it! So, I have a question. 🙂

    Do you have anything like a release for permission to use the photos on the web, etc. Or, do you typically find that people are willing to let you take their picture and publish it to the web?

    I’m another one that people pictures are out of my comfort zone, but I’d really like to try this.

  12. @Temmy, I think most just shoot. If you’re only using your photos for “fine art” you’re pretty free to use. Even if you sold the print as a piece of artwork. However, if you use for stock photography or for other marketing, then you’ll need a release. I’m planning on getting a release for each of the people I shoot. That’s a good tip, I’ll make sure to include that in my reminder post, just before we begin.

  13. hey- new to your blog. .found it thru Beyond Megapixels. New to photography as well. Wondering if you could do a post on or perhaps direct me to some info on how to capture/create those twinkles in people’s eyes. . I think they are called catch lights. . my eyes look so flat when I take potrait pictures. I am goign to do your Dec challenge. However, am so new to all this that I do not have a blog or even know how to post to Flickr yet. But I am enjoying your blog. Thanks. Su

  14. @Su, welcome and thanks for joining us. I’m glad to be of any help I can. The first two places you should start are Epic Edits & the digital Photography School. Each is packed with great resources for you to take your photography to the next level.

    Oh, and no need to try Flickr. Go on over to and sign up there. No limits to your uploads, and the community is much better suited to growth, encouragement, and making friends.

  15. Hey, it’s me draconian57. I really hope that I can endure a portrait a day. I have a few good ideas in my head, one that I’ve been waiting a really long time to do. I am not sure that I could take one portrait EVERY DAY though. I am still in school so this is the hard part. Hmmmmm. Any suggestions?

  16. @drac: Well, I get the feeling that you’re over planning this. Just look at shooting normal people, without much over producing. You’ll see with my self-portrait. Simple. Shoot normal people.

  17. I’ve started…not sure how long I can keep it up! I’m a bit like Brian – a bit introverted, though I think this might be a good chance to break that while brushing up my skills…

    I got to thinking, with the growing interests in your Challenges, why not start a dedicated Flickr group? I realise this is only the second challenge, though judging by the number of comments as opposed to last time… well let’s just say that I think people are only going to keep increasing in number!

    If you had a Flickr group (or/and Zooomr group) we, the participants, would be able to gain inspiration for the next day’s portrait. If you set the limit at one a day then the flow wouldn’t get too overwhelming. For me personally, Brian’s group has been a massive driving force in my desire to improve, and a constant source of inspiration.

    In the event of the creation of a dedicated group, we could have a thread where people could suggest the next month’s challenge with the final decision made by you, though I’m not sure if this might take away from the original intention of yours to focus on areas you felt your skills were weak in?

    Hmm, this might have been better in email form. Oh well. I look forward to seeing the results of the December Challenge! Mine are on film so far, so no results for me for a couple of days…

  18. Portraits are my favorite type of photo. Photographs can be really expressive by capturing the right expressions in their models. Although my photography skills suck I am pretty good with photoshop to fix the photos afterwards.

  19. Trevor, I’m inspired. I’ve come to your site from Epic Edits, and have been following Brian and your portraits for this month. I’m going to set my own challenge which will be urban landscapes for the month of January. I’m an average photographer who doesn’t get to practice much, and I often struggle with finding a topic to shoot! Thanks for the inspiration!

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