Phono Photos: Monthly Challenge

Alright, we’re here!  I’ve been thinking about starting this for a long time, and I’m super excited.  Welcome to my new monthly photo challenge!

As some of you know, in addition to being a photographer, I’m also a musician.  So I thought it would be fun to combine these two passions in a different way.

The Challenge

Here’s how it works: Each month, I will present a new song as a prompt.  You will then have approximately two weeks to go out and shoot, using that prompt as your inspiration.  You can use the lyrics, the song title, the artist, the album, or even the emotions listening to it invokes – you should have a lot of flexibility here!


I will time these challenges such that you’ll have roughly until the end of the month to complete the challenge.  I will then post the submissions here on my site on the first Wednesday of the following month.

Please send me:

  • An image that meets the challenge
  • Your website/blog post (if you have one; if not, the name you’d like attributed to your picture); I will link it with your photo
  • Optionally, tell me how the song inspired your submission, and I’ll share those stories alongside your image (I’m always curious to hear how folks interpret these challenges!)

Image requirements:

  • Please send only JPEGs
  • Please keep file sizes small (no larger than 1MB)
  • You can submit any photograph or digital art you’d like.  You can even paint something and send me a picture of it; as long as it’s visual, I want to see it!

Email your submissions to

This Week’s Prompt

“Butterflies and Hurricanes” by Muse

Change everything you are
And everything you were
Your number has been called
Fights and battles have begun
Revenge will surely come
Your hard times are ahead

Best, you’ve got to be the best
You’ve got to change the world
And use this chance to be heard
Your time is now

full lyrics

This is a powerful song, and it’s one of my favorites.  It builds through themes of overcoming adversity and finding strength and inner power despite the difficult challenges life throws at us.  It then gives way to a romantic piano interlude, giving the listener a brief respite before declaring once more that it’s up to you to be the best of yourself – that you hold the power to change the world.

Song | Album

My Response

For this song, I wanted a powerful image.  While I have several of those on-hand already, part of the “challenge” for me is presenting something new.  So here it is.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

This was taken during a weekend trip out to the Gorge, and this was actually on the way to another hike (not our initial destination).  We ended up having so much fun here that we never made it to our originally planned spot.

Getting to the top of this waterfall required using ropes to scramble up steep slopes covered in lose soil.  But even the most reserved rose to the challenge and overcame the fear of heights and of falling into the pools at the top, to be rewarded with another beautiful waterfall that even fewer see.  Though we were presented with an obstacle that would stop most other passersby, we rose up and faced it head-on.

I also appreciate the symbolism.  Waterfalls often start as tiny streams, never given much thought.  But all of the individual rivulets of water join together to cascade down a cliffside, becoming a truly formidable force.  The water might rest briefly in mid-stream pools, gently tinkling in a rolling arpeggio, but it comes back stronger than ever, with the power to shape the earth around it.

Your Turn

What part of this song speaks to you?  Perhaps it’s likewise a sense of overcoming life’s obstacles.  Perhaps you like the title and would like to shoot some butterflies.  Perhaps you want to share a photo of your personal muse.  Perhaps the rolling bass line reminds you of a thundering train.

Please have all images submitted by 11:59pm, 10/30/17 (according to your timezone).

I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

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This Week on Instagram: 5/26/17

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Either way, I’ll continue to put my photos out there.  These are the ones I like, at least.

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© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

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Secret Moab Hike

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© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016 Continue reading