Creative Photography Exercise: Your Best Ten Photos From 2020

Creative Photography Exercise: Your Best Ten Photos From 2020

Editor's note: This month only – buy my new ebook 100 Composition Assignments for just $9! Click the link to learn more or buy. Thanks for reading, Andrew.

The start of a new year is the ideal time to look back on the photos you made the previous year. Every year I select my ten favorite photos from the year before. It’s a useful creative exercise that you can do too.

If you haven’t tried it before then you may find that selecting ten favorites is surprisingly difficult. But the benefit of the exercise is that it gives you a good insight into how the previous year went from a photographic point of view. It also helps you organize your year in 2021.

You can adapt this exercise to your own circumstances. If you’re a prolific photographer and your photography spans two different genres, such as landscapes and portraits, for example, then you can pick ten favorites for each. Or if you work in both black and white and color, you can pick ten favorite color photos and ten black and whites. Or five of each, to make ten. It’s up to you.

What you’ll get from the exercise

Before I show you my favorites, here are some more benefits of the exercise.

  • It helps you build a portfolio of your work. You need to be ruthless with picture selection and think about how your images work in sets. This exercise is good practice for that.
  • You can see how your photography has changed and evolved, especially if you do the exercise every year.
  • It helps you see emerging themes and projects. For example, what subjects were you drawn to most in 2020? How did the pandemic and restrictions on travel affect your photography? This can help you decide what to photograph in 2021.
  • You may rediscover old projects and ideas. For example, five years ago I started photographing craftspeople. I’ve stopped doing that, and it’s a project I’d like to restart once the pandemic is over.

Tip: Set up a Collection Set in Lightroom Classic to hold your top ten favorite photos from each year. This makes it easy to review your best photos in the future.

My favorite photos from 2020

Here are my favorite photos from 2020, starting with three photos of the natural world. I developed them in a similar way so they work as a set.

Landscape photo
Close-up photo
Close-up flower photo

Next are my favorite photos of my son Alex. Photographing him as he grows up is a major project. I converted the photos to black and white.

Black and white photo of boy running
Black and white portrait of  boy
Black and white portrait of  boy

Last is another set of photos that I’ve been making with Alex. It started when I realized that it’s interesting to take close-up photos of things that he picks up when he’s exploring. For this exercise I converted the photos to black and white to make a set.

Black and white close-up photo
Black and white close-up photo
Black and white close-up photo
Black and white close-up photo

Further reading

100 Composition Assignments

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About Andrew S. Gibson

Andrew S. Gibson is a writer with a camera. He started writing about photography while traveling in Bolivia, and has been published in many prestigious photography magazines including EOS magazine, where he worked as a Writer and Technical Editor for two years. He lives in south Devon in the UK and is inspired by meeting new people, seeing new places and having new experiences. Check out his photography ebooks here.

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