Readers Photo Challenge assignment: Out your backdoor

“There’s a giant doing cartwheels a statue wearin’ high heels
Look at all the happy creatures dancing on the lawn
A dinosaur Victrola list’ning to Buck Owens
Doo, doo, doo, lookin’ out my backdoor” – Out My Backdoor – John Fogerty

When I was a photo student way back in the stone-age, one of my assignments was called “out your backdoor.” Its purpose was to teach students to learn how to find creativity from their mundane surroundings. Its easy to find picturesque subjects when traveling to new and exotic places but, because we’re so familiar with the places and things we see everyday, we often ignore or dismiss their photo possibilities as uninteresting or boring. This is the inspiration for the next Readers Photo Challenge assignment is your backyard.

It sounds pretty easy to just walk out into your yard and take a picture, but it takes some thought, creativity and patience to come up with a great shot.

Your backyard (or elements thereof) can be the main subject of your photos or it can be the background for subjects such as portraits or still lifes.

The subjects found in your backyard can be many. From garden gnomes and pink flamingos, to our pets and children, to the flowers and veggies growing in the garden. If you can’t find inspiration in an overall picture of your backyard then look at the details. Close ups of flowers, leaves or even blades of grass can make for interesting photos in and of themselves.

Also, look for the quality of light. The warm colors of early morning and late afternoon tend to the best times.

For this assignment you’’ll be on the honor system. It has to be in your own yard, although I’ll accept front yards too, as long your photos are within or can be seen from your property line.

Once mastered, the techniques and abilities learned through the backyard assignment can be used to see creatively no matter where you go.


How to enter:

1. Email your entries to Type in “Backyard” in the subject line.

2. Photos have to be shot between Dec 1. and Dec. 15.

3. Entries are limited to no more than 12 photos from each photographer.

4. Include your name (first and last), hometown, and the kind of camera/lens you used and where it was taken (e.g.: “John Doe of Stockton. Location: Stockton. Camera: Canon Rebel T3 w/ 55-300mm lens”).

5. If there is a recognizable person in the photo, please identify them (name, age, hometown) and what they are doing in the photos (e.g.: Jimmy Doe, 8, of Stockton plays in a pile of leaves in my backyard in Stockton).

6. Please feel free to include any interesting anecdotes or stories on how you took the picture.

7. The deadline for submission is Thursday, Dec. 15. A photo gallery of all the pictures submitted will be run on Nov. 22 at

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