Field Guide

Practice 1

Love affair with tree

  • Find a tree.
  • Turn your phone on airplane mode.
  • Set your timer for 10 minutes.
  • Take 3 slow breaths and clear your mind.
  • Take a few shots of the whole tree.
  • Now get close and photograph the patterns textures, areas of bark, the roots, branches, leaves and markings. Keep moving around the tree and photographing it from different angles. Don’t stop shooting until your alarm goes off.

Practice 2

Your favorite color

  • Choose a color. 
  • Set your timer for 10 minutes or as long as you wish
  • Take 3 slow breaths to clear your mind of everything but this practice.
  • Photograph as many things of your color choice 
  • Get as close as possible to your subjects.
  • Let the subject of your color of choice fill your whole frame.
  • Photograph parts or the whole object. Spend all your time on one or two things, shooting them from many angles or look around and find several.
  • It doesn’t have to be entirely your color. Photograph the part of it that is.
  • Have fun

Practice 3

Get closer

  • Choose something (not a human) that interests you.
  • Take a photograph of your subject where you find it.
  • Then move closer and photograph it from many angles.Then get closer, and closer. Keep shooting. Try shooting both vertical and horizontal
  • Take a moment to be sure your photographs are in focus. If not you, are likely too close for your camera.
  • Try moving your subject  to where the light is better or more interesting.
  • Don’t forget to set your timer for 10 minutes and take three slow deep breaths as you begin.

Practice 4

What you don’t like

  • Put on your most negative lens and spend 10 minutes photographing one thing or several things you don’t like. It’s just as important to practice shooting what displeases you what you like
  • Before you begin, take 3 slow breaths to clear your mind of everything about but this practice. If your mind wanders, and it will, clear it with a few slow breaths.
  •  If something you don’t like doesn’t come to mind, just walk around  your home, school or office and look around. You’ll find a lot to shoot. You might feel a little nasty, but don’t worry. Photographing what you don’t like has a lot to teach you. Get in close, even at the must ugly bug, and your photo will be a more powerful statement. Fill the frame.

Practice 5

A pile of junk

  • Today’s practice illustrates you can find beauty wherever you look, even in a pile of garbage.
  • Find something really unattractive. It can be a junk pile, perhaps in an alley or a construction site. It can be a run-down building with broken windows and peeling paint, an ugly room, an old trashed car. Start by photographing the entire subject
  • Now come close and focus in on interesting colors, shapes, patterns and textures. Look for anything that pleases your eye. Zoom in with your lens on reflections, patterns, Don’t be put off by rust or peeling paint, even debris. You’ll be surprised at how differently we see things when we get close and fully focus.
  • Shoot verticals and horizontals, slant your camera to the left or right.  

Practice 6


  • Choose something you find beautiful. It can be something in nature, a beautiful place like a beach or park, flowers, plants, anything alive, other than a human being. You may prefer something man-made; a building, an artifact, furniture, clothing, a bicycle, fruits and vegetables, even a car.
  • Photograph your subject in its entirety and then photograph its parts.
  • If it’s movable, move it to a place with a different kind of light.
  • Try placing it on an attractive background. Something simple
  •  like a piece of colored or black cloth or a plain wall will make a big difference.
  • Don’t forget to take three slow deep breaths as you commit to staying fully focused.

Practice 7


  • Spend your ten minutes making candid pictures of people you know. Ask their permission or not. You can just start shooting if that’s comfortable. You’ll know if it is ok by their reaction. Get as close as you can. If you have a zoom lens, use it. 
  • Photograph people in conversation, concentrating on their work, or just having fun. Ask them to ignore you. 
  • Children are easier to shoot than adults. If you tell them you won’t’ photograph them if they smile at the camera, they will quickly stop. 
  • As with all practices, keep your phone on airplane mode. Don’t let your mind wander. Don’t wait for a great shot. Just keep shooting. You’ll be surprised at how many good ones you get.

Practice 8

Kitchen Fun

  • This is kind of a goofy practice. But it’s creative, fun and potentially a way to make beautiful images. Fill a bowl or pot with bubbly water, and photograph it from many different angles. Get closer and further away. Zoom in. Turn off the overhead light, and light it  with different kinds of light, a flashlight, or single bulb lamp, even the undercabinet fluorescents totally change your shot. Bring the bowl over to a window, and see how different your photos will be in window light. The more playful you are, the more interesting your shots will be.  Pour a little something colorful on top. 
  • You can do this assignment with anything you find in a kitchen, aluminum foil, a pile of cereal, fruit. The gorgeous shot on the left is an egg was taken with an egg poacher. 
  • Have fun.

Practice 9


  • Think of things, not people, you are grateful to have in your life.  Can be as simple as a cold beer waiting for you in your refrigerator at the end of a hot difficult day, a favorite chair, the soft tee shirt, the bakery on your way to work.
  • Shoot in your home, neighborhood, place of work, anywhere you’d like.
  • As you shoot, clear your head of everything else going on in your life.
  • Focus on the object you are shooting and what you like about it. If you think it is beautiful, say so, not out loud, but in your head.
  • While all practices can be done in 10 minutes, take as much time as you wish.
  • Get close and try to let your subjects fill the frame.
  • As you photograph each object,i t’s important to say thank you. You don’t have to say it out loud.
  • Take three slow deep breaths as you begin and commit to staying fully focused on things you appreciate having in your life.

Practice 10

 One important thing

  • Put your phone in airplane mode and set timer for 10 minutes
  • Choose one important thing not  person, and spend your entire session photographing it.
  • It can be something lighthearted or something deeply meaningful to you. It can be one of the things you photographed yesterday or something entirely different.
  • Photograph the whole object wherever you find it.
  • Shoot it from straight on and then from different angles
  • If it’s small enough to move around, move to a place with a better background and/or light. 
  • As you work think about why you feel grateful to have this in your 
  • Say, thank you

Practice 11

Something you treasure

  • Today, as you photograph something you treasure, try to work in a quiet place where you can be alone and fully focused.
  • As you shoot, think about why you treasure this object. It might be because of the person who gave it to you, or how it came to be yours. Remember the moment it was first in your possession.
  • Your subject can be a ‘thing,’ a pet, or something in nature. It should be something so meaningful to you that would be painful to lose or never see again.
  • Be thoughtful about the background. Keep it as simple as possible. If it’s something small, consider creating a ‘sweep’ as a background with a solid colored piece of fabric, a blanket, or sweater, anything without apparent seams or patterns.
  • Move close, closer and closer again.
  • If it is an animal, be patient. Take as many shots as you can, of the whole animal. Zero in on its facel Remember you can use the cropping tool on your camera when you are done. 
  • As always, take those three slow deep breaths as you commit to staying fully focused.

Practice 12

Your Favorite places

  • Go to a favorite place and photograph it.
  • Begin with 3 slow long breaths, airplane mode, and timer.
  • While there are likely to be distractions, commit ten minutes to be fully engaged as you zero in on why you like this place. Try not to talk to people while you are working.
  • It can be in a park, shore, your home, work, a place you hang out with your friends, even a house of prayer.
  • Take a few shots showing as much of the place you can get into your frame.
  • Don’t worry if you can’t get all of it. It’s very hard to do without a wide angle lens which most phones don’t have.
  • Make pictures from many different angles.
  • Get as far away as you can get for an overview. Then come closer and shoot sections.
  • Zoom into things you like about it, the furniture, the view, the way light comes through a window or if it is outside, through the trees.
  • Make shots of what you like most about it.
  • And as you work and when you are through, keep those words, thank you and the feeling of gratitude in your head

Practice 13

People you are grateful to know

  • Today, photograph people you are grateful to know.
  • These can be ‘smile for the camera’ shots or quick candids
  • Your subjects can be people you are close to, or just people you like. Choose colleagues at work, family members, neighbors, classmates or friends.  You don’t have to have a close relationship. It can be the friendly barista in the coffee shop or a neighbor you often pass.
  • It’s always a good idea to ask people you are not close to if you can take their picture. You will know when it is not necessary.
  • Get as close as you can get to the people you have chosen to photograph. Use your zoom lens if you have one.
  • Do not post or publish shots you have not asked permission to post.
  • Before and after you take someone’s picture, thank them. If you like a shot, show them.
  • When you complete the practice and look over your shots, allow yourself the feeling of gratitude for having people you like in your life, and also today, for your growing ability to capture what you like about them with your camera.

Practice 14


  • Today, shoot candid shots of one person or a few you are grateful to have in your life.
  • Ask your subjects for ten minutes. Ask them to ignore you and allow you to photograph them while they are going about what they would normally be doing.
  • Take as many pictures as your subject will allow. The human face changes so quickly, you think you are capturing the perfect expression and painfully often, you are not.  Shoot a lot. Digital images are free.
  • Your subjects are likely to be self- conscious at first, but as you shoot, they will relax.  The more comfortable you are, the more comfortable they will be.
  • When you photograph people, assure them you will send them the good shots and you will not post their picture unless you ask them first.
  • Don’t make yourself crazy trying to get the “perfect shot,” just relax and have a good time.
  • Be sure your phone is in airplane mode when you photograph people. You know why.
  • When you are finished shooting. Play with the different editing tools on your camera. There should be one that desaturates: converts the photograph from color to black and white, another that crops, and gets you closer.
  • Most importantly remember those silent thank yous and of course,  thank your subject as well.

Practice 15

Someone you treasure

  • Choose one important person in your life and shoot his or her portrait. What matters most how you feel about that person. If you focus on fully on the qualities you appreciate, your portrait will show .
  • A portrait is a photograph of a person comfortably looking at the camera or away from it. It can be extremely informal or not. Your subject can be laughing, smiling, serious or just looking at the camera.
  • Try to find a setting with good light and an interesting or simple background.
  • As you work, keep at the front of your mind the qualities you admire, love, or treasure, but don’t worry about making your photographs illustrate those qualities.
  • Move around your subject and ask them to look at you or look away.
  • Look down at your photos to be sure you are getting enough light on their faces and that you like the composition of the shot.   Keep in mind that you can crop your photos with the editing tool, but try to frame the shot the way you would like it to look.
  • Take three slow deep breaths as you commit to staying fully focused.
  • Remind yourself the time your subject spends with you is a gift. Say thank you.

Practice 16

 Your morning

  • When you get up, push that overwhelming list of what you have to do today into a ‘later’ file and commit to taking the next 10 minutes to enjoy photographing what you see when you wake up.
  • Go straight into your photographer mode. Give yourself 10 minutes or as long as you want to take.
  • Photograph your bed, the folds of the blankets and sheets, the hollowed-out place where you laid your head. Shoot your bedmates if it’s ok. Try not to wake them up.
  • Photograph what the light coming through the windows illuminate.
  • Walk into the bathroom and look in the mirror above the sink. Take a picture. Photograph what you keep on your counter and sink
  • When you dress, take pictures of the inside of your closet and drawers.
  • Take pictures of the steam rising as you brew and your morning cup, your breakfast, and the people and creatures you see. Look out the window and shoot the view. Shoot the way you get your morning news.
  • Before you leave, photograph the way you left the rooms in your home. If you carry a bag or purse to work, photograph the inside
  • Take three slow deep breaths as you commit to staying fully focused.

Practice 17

On Your Way

  • Even if it’s a busy day, dedicate 10 minutes to what grabs your attention as you leave to begin your day.
  • Open your eyes and put your phone into airplane mode and take three slow breaths in and out
  • Look up at the sky, down at the ground, all around you. Take pictures of everything you see. 
  • Keep moving. Keep Shooting. Don’t stop until the timer turns off. 
  •  Photograph what you see on your street, houses and buildings on it, maybe a neighbor stops to say hello, take their picture, you see kids going off to school.
  • Say thank you.

Practice 18

 A walk through town

  • Shoot any time of the day. If you like to start where you left off yesterday, going to work or school.
  • Look around you and photograph anything that catches your eye.
  • Photograph buildings, street views, buses, trains, doors, windows, flower boxes, signs.
  • Get in close and spend some time on things you never notice. Shoot street lights, sewer covers, painted surfaces, fences, rusty old locks, bikes, parts of cars, Everything and anything.
  • Photograph shapes, circles, squares, and patterns, colors too.
  • Anything you see is a possible subject. Trains, cars, bicycles and parts of each.  Get in close to things. Sometimes I can look down and spend ten minutes just on what I see on the ground around me.
  • Take three slow deep breaths as you commit to staying fully focused.
  • Have a good time.

Practice 19

Your lens

  • Today is the first of two practices designed to illustrate that we all have control over the way we see the world.
  • Choose a room in a public place you frequent often or in your home, work, or a friend’s.
  • Spend your ten minutes photographing anything in that room that displeases you.
  • Come in close to a messy tabletop, dishes left in the sink, furniture, objects or anything in disarray.
  • If you dislike the entire room, photograph as much of its entirety as you can fit into your frame, be sure to have prominent in your picture the worst of what is there.
  • Take three slow deep breaths as you commit to staying fully focused.


Practice 20

Rose colored glasses

  • Today, put on your most positive lens. Focus only on what you like.
  • If you dislike the room, zero in on only what you like. Zero in on a bouquet of flowers, a piece of furniture, anything that pleases your eye.
  • Take the liberty to clear trash, rearrange things on tables, even move furniture to get a shot of something or a section you like.
  • Work with the light. Open window shades to bring in more if that helps.
  • If you like the entire room, try to make the best photos you can of the whole room. Get as far away as possible to get the widest shot. Some people have a panorama feature on their phones. If you do, try it.
  • Take three slow deep breaths as you commit to staying fully focused.

Practice 21

Something happened

  • Today make photographs that illustrate that something is going to happen or that something already has
  • Perhaps a storm is brewing, Christmas decorations have begun to appear, a going out of business sign, a pregnant woman obviously ready to give birth. Make photos that tell what’s coming. A stoplight changing to yellow, flower buds appearing on the trees, children going back to school, a building being demolished. Go for a walk and look around you.
  • Take three slow deep breaths as you commit to staying fully focused.
  • Have a good time

Practice 22


  • Spend ten minutes today looking for curves and photographing them, curves found in nature and those man-made.
  • You can do this practices inside, but it more likely you will find more to photograph in a ten minute walk outside.  You will see curves everywhere you go.  Get as close as you can to your subjects and shoot from different angles.
  • There are curves everywhere. Cars are particularly interesting to shoot for this practice. Not only are they designed to be curvy and appealing, but they reflect everything around them which will give you countless opportunities to create beautiful images.
  • Think about your composition and lighting as you work. Look for pleasing colors and interesting textures.
  • Take three slow deep breaths as you commit to staying fully focused.

Practice 23

Seeing the light

  • Look for and photograph every kind of light you can find.
  • As you take your three breaths to quiet your constantly chattering mind, think about the gift of your sight and what life would be without it.
  • Look around you and make photos of the light sources you see and the way those lights illuminate what is around them
  • Think about the quality of the light, if it is soft or harsh, if it casts dark shadows or lights evenly.
  • Try turning off all the lights in a room and closing the shades.
  • Turn on one light source at a time, making photographs of the lights themselves and the area or objects they illuminate. Study the differences of those lights.
  • Take three slow deep breaths as you commit to staying fully focused.

Practice 24

Look for beautiful light

  • Look for beautiful light.
  • It can be natural, like fire, or man-made, like a LED light bulb in a flashlight.
  • See how the light hits the object and how different light can change its appearance. 
  • I used a vase, flash light and a few towels.
  • I moved the light around the vase in small increments. Each shot was different.  If it’s easier, keep your light in one place and move your object around the light.
  •   If it’s easier, keep your light in one place and move your object around the light.  
  • I am always reminded when I work with light, moving in and out of darkness, how grateful I am for the gift of sight.
  • Say thank you. 

Practice 25

Here comes the sun

  • Photograph the sunlight. Today make pictures that illustrate the way the sun lights the world.
  • It will be easiest and most productive for you to do this practice at the time of the day photographers call the golden hours, in the morning during the hours shortly after the sun rises or at the end of the day when the sun is about to set.
  • You may work inside, photographing the patterns of sunlight coming through your windows. As it illuminates things in your home or the place you choose to shoot. As you look around you, you will see the shape of the light patterns, and the way the rays of light flatter objects it illuminates throughout the room.
  • Take three slow deep breaths as you commit to staying fully focused.

Practice 26

A portrait by a window

  • Today, find a willing subject. Settle your subject as comfortably as possible standing, leaning or sitting next to a window, or on the windowsill itself. Make photos of your subject in that flattering window light.
  • The quality of your portrait will depend mostly on your ability to see and capture what you like about your subject. That requires you to be totally comfortable with your camera and, as importantly, yourself when you are shooting.
  • Before you begin this window portrait session, go to the window where you plan to shoot, turn on your camera, and frame a shot without your model in place. You’ll feel much more confident when you begin.
  • Bring your subject to the window and position them comfortably. Begin by taking a few test shots to see if you like the quality of the light.  As you work, ask your subjects to turn into or away from the light, even to face it directly. Note the way those subtle changes in light can enhance your photos.
  • Take as many photos as your subject will allow. You will be surprised how different your portraits are taken only microseconds apart.
  • Take three slow deep breaths as you commit to staying fully focused.

Practice 27


  • Today, expose for the light behind your subject instead of the subject itself. If you haven’t intentionally shot silhouettes before, start with something easy like trees or a friend with the bright sky in the background.  Instead of exposing for your subject as you would usually do, expose for the sky behind it. Play with the exposure tool that is on most cameras. Use that trick of putting your finger on the lightest part of the screen, the sky rather than the tree or person in the foreground. You will direct your camera’s light meter to expose for the light in the background. Your subject will be black or at the least quite dark and the background, perfectly exposed.
  • If when you are finished shooting, you still see details on your silhouettes you would prefer illuminating play with the editing tool on your camera.
  • picture and be mindful of the beauty around it.
  • Take three slow deep breaths as you commit to staying fully focused.

Practice 28

Shooting the night

  • Spend ten minutes after dark, shooting what lights the night. Night shooting is easiest in the busiest parts of town.
  • Look for dramatic pictures: illuminated buildings, doors and windows, lights on cars moving through traffic, streetlights. Shoot through the windows of restaurants and stores.
  • To avoid your camera’s programming which is designed to make everything look equally exposed, turning the night into day, use the exposure tool on your camera. Compose your photo and then touch the brightest spot in your picture with your fingertip. The exposure tool (mine has a sun) will come onto the screen. Your camera will expose for the spot you have chosen and let the rest of the photo go dark.
  • Have fun doing this. Be sure to hold your camera as steady as you can.
  • Take three slow deep breaths as you commit to staying fully focused.

Practice 29

Your Pleasures and Dislikes

  • What delights you? What irritates you? Choose one illustrate.
  • If it’s what you don’t like, find things in your home, work, or neighborhood that irritate you and make as nasty a photo of each as you can.
  • You can spend all your time on just one if you wish, or do several.  It can be the someone else’s dirty dishes, the pile of unfinished work on your desk, the slow walker who won’t let you pass him on the street, even the person you are mad at across the room.
  • As you make each shot, mutter something angry under your breath and see if you can let the anger go.
  • If you choose things that make you happy, as you shoot those good things in your life, make your photographs that Illustrate what about them makes you happy.
  • Stay fully focused on what’s good, even delightful. When you press your finger on the shutter, say thank you.


Practice 30

Sunrise, sunset

  • Go to the best place to see the sun rising or setting and try to stretch out your ten minutes for as long as you can.
  • Begin taking pictures as soon as the colors start to change. Don’t stop until the magic stops.  Keep shooting, being careful to keep your horizons parallel. Hold your camera firmly in your hands to avoid movement and blur.
  • Use your exposure tool, touching your fingertip to the place not on the sun itself, but on a bright place next to it to set your exposure.
  • Experiment. Try different compositions, some just sky and others that include the ground or water below. Shoot silhouettes if you have time,
  • Although you are on an practice, allow the deepest part of you to enjoy the beauty you’re privileged to witness. Say thank you, again and again and again.
  • Take three slow deep breaths as you commit to staying fully focused.