50mm – Photography Poll Analysis

A couple days ago I posted the results of the 50mm Experiment Challenge Poll. After a few days of thinking about it, here’s my thoughts.

I would love to hear if you have a different analysis of the data, or any ideas that come up from the results.

Question 1: Are you interested in participating in the 50mm Experiment Challenges?

I was encouraged to see that over half of respondents were interested in participating in the challenges. That said, out of a total of 51 WordPress.com blog followers, I only had 11 responses on that question. Still, it shows enough interest for me to continue the challenges for now and see whether they will grow.

I thank everyone for their honesty, especially those who said they weren’t at all interested in challenges. It is possible that those people don’t see the potential benefits of the challenges. If that’s you, one of the responses below will directly deal with this.

Question 2: Why have you chosen NOT to participate in the 50mm Challenges

From the responses in this section, I found out that people felt that their lives were too busy to participate. Interestingly enough, no nearly as many people thought they needed more time. I’m inferring from this that this is a priority, NOT a time issue. If it were a time issue, more people would have checked the “two week isn’t long enough” option.

I’m not entirely sure what to do about how to deal with this, since it comes down to a commitment to challenge oneself. I’m planning on extending the next challenge to three weeks to see if it makes a difference, but I’m not sure it will. If it isn’t a priority in two weeks, will it be in three? I suppose that it comes down to motivation. I will be making a case for the benefits of taking part in the challenges further below.

The second largest response was that the respondent didn’t own a 50mm lens. Clearly I didn’t do a good enough job explaining how you can still participate even if you don’t have a specific 50mm lens. I set up a chart showing the 50mm equivalent of various camers and extended the range of acceptable entries. If you’re not sure you understand that post, please contact me in the comments, or directly at photography@koreweb.com because I would love to see you participate with whichever camera you have.

I’m going to lump the next four responses together a bit. They were “the quality of my photos”, “not really into challenges”, “don’t know where to start” and “not sure how it will help me become a better photographer.”

Ideally, I would love for someone who has participated and grown due to the challenges to step up and write a guest article on how it has helped them improve and what they get out of participating.

In lieu of that, here’s my take on responding to those concerns.

The quality of your photos/Don’t know where to start argument:

  • Photos are emailed to me directly (unless you’re submitting via flickr) meaning that if you’re not yet comfortable sharing your photos with others, you don’t have to
  • Only the winners are shown. If you happen to be the winner, then perhaps that means that the quality of your photos is better than you thought! Otherwise, if you email the photos as I mentioned above, no one will see them unless you blog the photo or share it in some way yourself.
  • In each challenge, I have given people feedback specific to their development and ways to improve. I do this either by commenting on your flickr submission or sending an email response with my thoughts.
  • If you don’t get out there and take photos, how can you expect to improve? ‘Nuff said.
  • Knowing where to start can be tough, trust me that I totally understand this. What I’ve found is that just starting will usually kick start the creative process. You might not be happy with your first results, but that’s because you’re starting to imagine in your head what you’re looking for. Great photos start with great ideas in your head. Then you work on and improve your technique to achieve those results.
  • Warming up – I recently reviewed the book “The Passionate Photographer” and one of Steve Simon’s interesting ideas was to “warm up” before any shoot by just starting to take photos. They might not be keepers, but they will help you get into that photographic mindset. The thing about musicians, athletes, actors, vocalists is that all of there people will warm up to assure optimal performance. Why not do the same for your photography?

The not sure how it will help me become a better photographer/not really into challenges argument; what are the benefits?

  • Creative Growth– Structuring the challenges with a specific aim force you to be creative. Many photographers start out by taking photos of “nice things”. I still do the same. However, just waiting for “nice things” puts photography out of your control. It is something that happens to you rather than something where you’re in the drivers seat. By working on developing your creativity  and developing ideas for a specific theme, you “nice things” photos will also improve.
  • Avoid Procrastination – How many things in your life will get finished “once you get to it”? By creating a by-when, I’m giving the project a specific end date. This means that after that day, you don’t have to worry about it anymore. It also means that you’re going to have to push yourself not to procrastinate and get things done. A valuable life lesson that can be applied to all aspects of life.
  • Get Shooting – You know the best way to get better at photography? Shoot. Lots. If you’re already shooting lots, then kudos to you. If not, then a challenge is a way of motivating yourself to get out there. How can you enter a challenge if you don’t take shots? How can you expect to win if you’re not forcing yourself to develop your craft? To me it is fairly obvious that if you commit to participating the the challenges you will see your photography improve because you’re actually practicing it. Just like I mentioned that great artists warm-up, they also practice.

Lastly, people didn’t seem to think that I didn’t give enough direction, hints or that the criteria needed to be more specific. At least I’m doing something right! 😉

What do you think of the results? How would you interpret them?





5 Comments on “50mm – Photography Poll Analysis”

  1. miltonjohns says:

    For me the challenges are all about learning new skills. I started my blog to show people my pictures taken over the years & also to learn from the feedback & experimenting by following the advice given. I am however, a bit lazy sometimes & find myself thinking that my picture is not good enough or I can’t think of anything to take a picture of.
    I had never entered a competition before so the 50mm challenge was a first.

    I think the amount of direction given is good. Its enough to make you go & think.
    Having a 50mm lens is not necessary. I used a 24-105 to start. Only recently having had fun in the challenges did I go out & buy a cheap & cheerful 50mm. I’m using it all the time now.

    Time is a tough one. I work away from home 4 days a week so I struggle to get pictures taken sometimes but I think you are right. Two weeks is long enough if you want to get involved. It makes it more of a challenge. Three weeks is too long & i think will possibly turn people away. Short & sharp would be my preference.

    The feedback is what I like. Its enough to make you think about your picture, to challenge you for next time. Take on the advice & learn. Its the bit I look forward too.

    I get out & about far more than I did, from following some of Matts advice. I practice, I experiment, I look at things a lot differently. Many pictures I take are rubbish, but I add them to the blog to get more feedback. Some, I am pleasantly surprised at what comes back. Others I am really pleased with & feel great about what people say.

    Looking forward to the next challenge. My camera is dried out now from the last one.

    Thanks Matt.

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