be Free. be Creative. be Opposite

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Capture Queen â„¢

I find myself surprised to see people expecting rules and structure when not explicitly there- are we that “trained” to act by rules and expect rule makers?


I am talking about the Daily Shoot, man. Frequent CDB readers will know I am an addict to the daily camer assignments- I’ve done 432 of ’em (hey, did you know you get your own gallery on THEIR site? cool!) I love the challenge, and have ventured that is a supreme model of informal learning, of learning by doing, of working the 10,000 hour gig.

But I hear whinging (maybe I have muttered it myself) when assignments are repeated, even people saying it has caused them to quit. For example water- it was featured in number 9, number 51, number 293, number 479.

Keep in mind that just because YOU did the assignment once, does not mean some new person has. Keep in mind that you can interpret the assignment in a radically different way. It is a challenge, right?

And instead of complaining, why not contribute new ideas to the suggestion box?

But look at the premise of the site:

The Daily Shoot is a simple daily routine to motivate and inspire you to practice your photography, and share your results! It’s not a contest and there are no prizes. It’s simply about encouraging you to pick up your camera and make photographs.

That’s it. There aren’t any other rules. You aren’t going to get demerits if you miss a few days, nor will you get gold stars for doing every assignment. We’re just here to help you with a little nudge every day. The rest is up to you!

So when I hear people complaining about the assignments, it comes off as fomenting the traditional student-teacher role, the expectation that they leaders are responsible for your learning.


Look at the FAQ:

What are the rules?

This is your creative work – there are no rules.

And so I see too many people taking the whole thing too literally. Like they HAVE to do exactly what the assignment said.

I have a new idea.

cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by squacco

I am playing the anti Daily Shoot game- not anti like against it, just going opposite to the assignment. So for yesterday’s assignment about water, I shot the water defying cactus, “We Don’t Need No Stinking Water”-

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

Today’s challenge was to go opposite to “Make a photograph of a beautiful simple shape, such as an egg, today. Utilize lighting and focus to make it sing.” – so I went for chaos and mess:

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

Does this mean I failed? Does it mean I am not working on my craft? No. I am still practicing my photography…. every day.

I don’t know how long I will roll opposite, but its a new twist on the challenge- want to play? Add antidailyshoot to your tags —

The DailyShooters addressed this issue of repeated assignments in a December 2010 blog post

Now, I know from my inbox that there a few folks that are unhappy about this. Somehow, the Daily Shoot has let them down by not meeting their expectations of what it was. To this, all I can offer is to repeat our mantra: we’re about getting you to pick up your camera and practice. Nothing more. Practice involves repetition. We’re going to have that from time to time.

I do not begrudge someone stopping or not shooting a while. It’s not about being obsessive about it (maybe, not… am I obsessive? no I cannot be obsessive…. I just think about it all the time… that is not obsessive, eh?) .

It’s not about the assignments, its about the creativity.

You dont like the assignments, interpret it originally. Or make up your own. Just make art, damnit!

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. Thanks for this advice Alan. I know that I was a bit annoyed when the assignments began to repeat, because like you said I came to this project for some structure.

    I found that I was only taking pictured of my daughters and so I wanted a place that would force me to see the rest of he world.

    But I did exactly what you advised and simply chose to rethink the repeat prompts. Now I need to wear away from the tasks as exact recipes adn start to see them as ideas and inspiration for my own creativity.

    The idea is to build a collection of unique and thoughtful photographs, not to come up with 365 pictures that “pass” the assignment.

    ps I find it so funny that you did an “anti” assignment about randomness and the next assignment is randomness. What will you do today? Back to the shape and the egg?

  2. There’s also that idea that because I did this once I have mastered it.

    I’m not a 365 type of guy. I’ve tried to adapt to that a few times but it’s not me. I tend to take pictures (and do most things) in binge cycles. I do usually read the daily shoot and I think about it and take a fair number of mental pictures that might work. In my game that counts.

    I do think you’re dead on regarding wanting to duplicate the teacher/student roles. I see that way too often but I guess it should be expected. You don’t do that to someone for 12 years and leave them unchanged. It would be interesting to look at people who don’t like that structure and figure out if they have things in common.

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