10 Shots, 10 Portraits, 1 Focal Length: Take this Photography Challenge

10 Shots, 10 Portraits, 1 Focal Length: Take this Photography Challenge


portrait-framing.jpgInspired by one of our readers I thought it might be fun to set another photography challenge for our readers (image to the right by darkmatter).

Our reader talked about a professor setting his class the assignment of shooting 4 rolls of 36 exposure film (144 frames) of 144 different people (one shot per person) all with a 50mm prime lens.

Obviously times have changed a little, not everyone has the time for 144 shots and not everyone has a 50mm lens – so I decided to adapt the challenge.

The Challenge:

Over the next few days set yourself this little challenge.

1. Choose a single focal length. If you have a prime lens use it – if you don’t choose a zoom lens and commit to only using it at one end of its range.

2. Photograph 10 people – with each person only take a single shot.

3. Share your shots with us. The easiest way is to share them in comments below – or you could share some of them in our Facebook Group here.

Why this challenge?

The power of this kind of challenge is that it forces you to think before you shoot.

  • Not having the liberty of using a zoom means you need to consider the impact of using the focal length you’ve chosen. It forces YOU to move around your subject rather than to let your lens do the work.
  • Having only 1 shot per person means you need to think about your shot – it’s composition, the light, your exposure, the framing etc.
  • Showing us your images helps us all to learn. I’d love to not only see your images but to hear a little about how you found the exercise. What did you learn? What would you do differently?

I hope you take the challenge – I’ll try to feature some of the results next week here on DPS.

PS: if you don’t have time for or access to 10 people do as many as you are able and then share your shots. If you want to do 20, 30 or 144 people – go for that too!

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

Some Older Comments

  • Syamim Maula November 16, 2009 02:20 pm

    I snaped this picture in my first wedding photography camp [img]http://c1.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/images02/1/l_d2dbafa117ce4d29b56d7c676acd3094.jpg[/img]

    I'm very newbie in photography things and of course, still learning day to day on how to take a better pictures.

  • Lucca July 21, 2009 12:32 pm

    Hey there guys,
    great idea!
    Here are my pics taken with a 75 Pentax KM with a 50mm lens.
    Not digital but I think that's ok right?


  • Scott Viney July 1, 2009 12:07 am

    Here are the portraits I took for the Digital Photo School 10 Shots-10 Portraits Challenge. They were taken over the long weekend just past. 25/06/09-29/06/09.

    All shot with a D70s with 50mm F1.4.

    These are some of the faces of Colombia.

    10 Shots-10 Portraits

  • Eric Mesa June 24, 2009 02:39 pm

    Did mine in Hawaii!


  • Jmontague June 24, 2009 12:40 am

    sorry. heres the shot info.

    f 2.4 1/250s ISO 200

    Nikon 50mm 1.8D, Nikon D70s

  • Jmontague June 24, 2009 12:38 am

    i was on holiday in france. i only got 1 shot. he was a little bit tipsy after enjoying his afternoon bottle of red. and very suprised i wanted to take his picture!


  • Uyen June 23, 2009 06:46 am

    can't wait to try this weekend.

  • Don Wright June 21, 2009 12:42 am

    Great challenge. I am working and living in Vietnam for a year, so this is the perfect opportunity to improve my photography.

    I have a 28-200 lens, which I kept on 50mm, and being a beginner it was difficult to not to be able to zoom in and out to find good composition. And the one shot rule really made me think about position and light. First attempt at getting away from the auto mode on my camera (Cannon 400D).

    Any comments and tips greatly appreciated.

  • Jono June 20, 2009 11:33 pm


    thats just some i took at my schools play night,
    i would love to know what everyone thinks.
    please drop me a line :)

  • faisal jassim June 20, 2009 07:15 am

    this is mine
    i hope u like it


  • Anthony June 19, 2009 01:32 pm

    I'm going to a wedding this weekend. What a great opportunity and challenge.

  • Cristyan June 19, 2009 05:05 am

    I started with a portrait I already have taken once and I set the 38mm from that one, so I make all the others with the same focal length, I still have three more to add and 2 more to make, hope enjoy this ones as I did...

  • Chan June 19, 2009 03:50 am

    Sorry, the name of the province is "Yunnan".

  • Chan June 19, 2009 03:49 am

    My compilation is retroactive, too, but I thought I can share with people anyway.

    The peoples of Yunan:


    These pictures were taken in Jan., 2009 when I was traveling with friends across Yunan province in China. 56 different ethnic groups inhabit this province. Beautiful place.

  • Sara June 19, 2009 12:03 am

    50mm, 10 shots, 10 people, 10 minutes.


  • Elli June 18, 2009 06:19 am

    I love the idea of this challenge. This is the first one I've done here at DPS, but it was fun. It took more thinking to take just one shot, but it went really fast because it was only one snap per person. (It also helps that we have 9 people in our family!) Here is the link to my set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/21480752@N07/sets/72157619797695037/

  • Adrian Hand June 17, 2009 08:53 pm

    The compilation is retroactive, but I wanted to share anyway :)

    All were taken @ 135 at la Boqueria in Barcelona.


  • Sean Oliver June 17, 2009 05:02 pm

    Just taken with my standard D40 lens. 4 shots in. Link here http://su.pr/7AW8KE

  • Sean Ilaguison June 17, 2009 04:53 pm

    Here is my entry for the "10 shot, 10 portraits, 1 focal length" challenge. All shots were taken during roughly 2 hours during a Cosplay convention over the weekend


  • Jan Tore Noreng June 17, 2009 07:56 am

    Did that link come out. Anyway:

  • Thomas Baake June 16, 2009 10:43 pm

    10 shots of people from the workplace. I have used my Lumix TZ 15.

  • GCUrsula June 16, 2009 07:53 pm

    On second thoughts, not everyone wants to join Snapfish just to look at some random person's pics.

    Here's a Flickr link (I joined just for you) :-)


  • Pawel Maczewski June 16, 2009 06:17 pm

    Some people shots taken with EOS 350D with 50mm 1.8 lens


  • Slim Letaief June 16, 2009 11:09 am

    12 people usuing a canon eos 450d with EF 100mm 2.8 macro usm

    Thank you :)

  • sergey June 16, 2009 08:52 am

    10 people, 50mm, Nikon D60 and D300, friends and family.

  • Fishnupe June 16, 2009 08:05 am

    Forgot to mention Canon 30d, 50mm f1.8 is my gear selection for these shots

  • Vitukas June 15, 2009 10:32 pm

    http://picasaweb.google.com/vitukass/DropBox?authkey=Gv1sRgCPen28-R4dnkRg# here is my work :) I have 50mm 1.8f canon 400D I allways warking with it so I had already have photos for this work :)

  • GCUrsula June 15, 2009 07:18 pm

    Thanks so much for this challenge, it gave me reason to get out and seize the moment.

    I can't believe how strangers are happy to say yes!

    I got 10 people, 10 shots, one focus distance (50mm).... 5 people are related to me, 5 were strangers, I took the photos in one two hour session.


  • YEAHmanh June 15, 2009 04:24 pm

    no password needed!

    comments appreciated.



  • YEAHmanh June 15, 2009 03:27 pm

    Here's another set that I shot with my 85mm 1.8. I love this lens... in fact, it's the only one I own. Obviously if I had the money right now, there'd be other lenses in my arsenal but I am not complaining. This lens is amazing.


    Keep in mind that these are NUDES so they are password protected. Partly because they're nude but mainly because I am not ready to share them with everyone yet. I'm still unsure as what to do with them. Comments would be greatly appreciated!!

    Password is cher.

  • visithra June 15, 2009 02:18 pm

    Oooh nice - can I post a previous shot album first? and then go and try this?


  • Fishnupe June 15, 2009 08:30 am


    Here is my first attempt at ever sharing photos. I have been a novice on the potential of my camera until I got the bug to dig deeper 3 months ago. I am trying to improve on my low light and night time photos.

  • orcaz June 15, 2009 04:13 am

    Here mine. Can't get 10. It was really fun and challenging.


  • Fred Shively June 14, 2009 10:54 pm

    Here ya go. A few more than 10, but on brief. By the way, the pic with my name is not me, it's my wife and we're still trying to figure out how this has happened!


  • Sally June 14, 2009 12:03 pm

    Well I did the first 10 portraits I did today with different subjects, not all of them people though. I guess dogs are my niche. http://www.flickr.com/photos/9258photo/sets/72157619706612764/

  • sime-eman June 13, 2009 02:40 pm

    great timing for this, 'coz im going for a vacation and see some friends.. i might be able to practice my portrait thing...

  • tim collier June 13, 2009 03:28 am

    A further addition to this breif is to photgraph people you have never met before. It's a great way to gain confidence and to work under a bit of pressure. You'll get some folk saying no but be amazed at how many people are willing. For this try using a short focal length lens as you have to communicate with your subject and break into their personal space. It's how many documentary photgraphers begin.

  • sean June 13, 2009 02:14 am

    how about a hundred+ portraits taken with a 35mm 1.4?

    I teach digital photography and photographed our senior graduation on tuesday, all the portraits were quick, close shots taken with the 35 at wide apertures

    I wanted to us a wide angle, which I know might not be the most flattering, to get close and get them off guard a little.


  • HB June 12, 2009 11:53 pm

    Great! I know what I'll be doing this weekend!!

  • ernesto c bernal June 12, 2009 11:42 pm

    i'm joining. time to use my 50mm and 85 mm lens.

  • Fred Shively June 12, 2009 11:32 pm

    Hi Darren - what's the drop-dead cut-off for this challenge?

  • Iris June 12, 2009 10:24 pm

    Oh, marvelous challenge!!!! I just purchased a 50mm prime lens and love it :)

  • Anoop Rohera June 12, 2009 08:00 pm

    Can I do this with my 18-55 or 70-300 zoom lens?

  • Nooz June 12, 2009 05:36 pm

    Hi Darren, I am wanting to buy a 50mm portrait len, Ihave an 18-125mm so I might just put it on the 50 and see how I go, thanks for this challenge

  • Lori June 12, 2009 01:38 pm

    This does sound like fun. We are having our Relay for Life this weekend, so there should be plenty of opportunity to take photos. Everyone will expect me to have a camera so should be able to get some great candids

  • JP Lumansoc June 12, 2009 11:22 am

    Haha, that is funny, I just did a bunch of head shots today. I spent a bunch of time this week and weekend actually just running around town with a 28, 50, and 85 mounted on my 50D just for fun but I'll just share the 85mm shots I've done.


  • Darren Rowse June 12, 2009 11:01 am

    Neil - yep I'm sure 'first shot only' would be fine :-)

  • jodyangel June 12, 2009 10:05 am

    Sorry but above photo was taken with a Canon 50mm 1.8 lens. I was about 8-10ft away. They were standing in the shade.

  • jodyangel June 12, 2009 10:04 am

    Well this challenge couldn't have come at a better time for me. I am now very interested in learning how to photograph people. Portraits and eventually do wedding work. But I'm finding the techniques for shooting people sooo differant than the work I usually do..landscape, still life, floral ect. And I'm frustrated. I don't know what my problem is. Am I not steady enough..am I too far away...too close. Why are my portraits "furry" or uncrisp. I see how other people's portrait work looks and I just can't get mine to where I'm happy.
    I shot some photo's tuesday at my son's wedding. Don't worry..there were no professional photogs..just us moms and dads. So they'll love anything. But I wanted mine to come out Top Notch. And I find there is that nasty chromatic abberation on some of them..(on hair that is next to white sky)..and the facial features aren't crisp; even tho I focused my camera On the faces. My photo's were taken on a cloudy almost rainy day in the shade. I still wonder what that had to do with my results.

    So this is perfect.

    Here is an example of my wedding photo's...

  • Ken K June 12, 2009 09:38 am

    @ Mike W, the technical trick to get 144 shots was using 4 rolls of 36, not 3. Wiley little guys they were in the olden days!
    The tutorial talked about a professor setting his class the assignment of shooting 4 rolls of 36 exposure film (144 frames)

  • snowmantle June 12, 2009 09:28 am

    @ mike woodhouse: 4 rolls, not 3....

    i might try this challenge at the weekend, might stop me heading for the flowers again!

  • Kevin June 12, 2009 08:47 am

    ooo.... 85mm here I come!

  • Robbie June 12, 2009 07:54 am

    yay i really like this assignment. i am gonna do it!
    this will be my first time posting my results to an assignment too.....so wish me luck, gotta figure this out!

  • Sally June 12, 2009 06:51 am

    Were having a Birthday Party this weekend for our animal rescue group and I was going to take pictures for that. I'm planning on (weather permitting) setting up a "studio" with a background. And I was going to take along goofy glasses, hats, boas etc for people to dress up in for their photo shoot. I'll publish the 1st picture I take of each of those.

  • Pedro Cedeño June 12, 2009 06:27 am

    I have a Konica Minolta DiMAGE 7, 28-200mm, i going to use in 150 mm. is good?

  • YEAHmanh June 12, 2009 03:31 am

    i used to think that having only one lens, the f1.8 85mm, was a crutch because i couldn't expand my photographic abilities in any particular shoot. i've had to find some creative ways to shoot with just this lens.


    that link has a set of photographs from a concert that i shot. the majority of those shots were with that lens. would love any feedback you guys have. i shot at super high iso and post processed in LR2. still gotta figure out how to reduce noise but for the most part, i am happy with the composition.

    i have another shoot this weekend and again, will only have this one lens to work with. will post follow up pictures once i get them.

    kick ass assignment!

  • Justin Hunt June 12, 2009 03:13 am

    Awesome. I've got a 50mm 1.8 coming in next week, so I'll be sure to do this!

  • Rebecca Timberlake June 12, 2009 02:57 am

    I just did this for a project at church the other day...it was a blast and the pics actually turned out great.

    Too bad I had it done before this was posted...is it okay if I post those pics????

  • Mare June 12, 2009 02:07 am

    I think I'll give this a go. :)

  • Mike Woodhouse June 12, 2009 01:46 am

    I'd love to know what technical tricks they used to get 144 shots out of three 36-shot films - without multiply exposing 36 frames I can't think of a way to get more than 108...


    Edited: from Darren: Thanks Mike - I've edited it, slip of the finger when publishing.

  • Maria June 12, 2009 01:35 am

    sounds like fun!

  • Connie Kurtew June 12, 2009 01:31 am

    will do so this weekend. Great idea!

  • Jordi Català June 12, 2009 01:04 am

    I have to finish some exams before but then I'll be in!

  • Karsten (Family-Madness) June 12, 2009 01:03 am

    Too bad I don't know 10 people who would allow me to publish their pictures.

    And I am too shy to run around and ask unkown people :(

  • Eric Mesa June 12, 2009 12:53 am

    Awesome - I'm in!

  • Neil Creek June 12, 2009 12:50 am

    Brilliant! I'll definitely try this one out :) I'll shoot with my Sigma 8mm fisheye, for several reasons: it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot portraits with, it can give very amusing and interesting results, and it's going to be very different from what most of the other participants will be doing.

    Regarding the "one shot only" thing, could "first shot only" substitute? I've got a couple of shoots coming up that I'd like to do this with, but I won't stop after just one shot. I will of course submit only the very first photo I take of each subject to stay in the spirit of the project.

  • Eugenio June 12, 2009 12:39 am

    I'll try with my 50mm. Maybe over the weekend...

  • mike June 12, 2009 12:28 am

    i will give it ago it will be fun

  • Harrison June 12, 2009 12:18 am

    Sounds fun, my 105mm f2.8 is coming in today. Shouldnt be too hard to find some time to play with it.