Cut Through the Noise with the One Photo Challenge


Who is up (or down) for a minimalist photo challenge?

Pictured above is a fraction of the photos I’ve taken and shared this year. A small fraction. Tiny even. With exception of the people pics, all of these images have been brightened, softened or altered in some small way. I did experience all of the things pictured above (and made the vegan cupcakes myself!) but they didn’t appear exactly as they do here. I made them look better.

If we really want to live authentic lives, why do we try to enhance our realities through pretty pictures? It’s possible that we do it in the name of creativity, but I think it’s important to look at how it may be distracting us from really being ourselves.

Without the expense of film and processing, we are shooting more than ever before. The quantity of images is an issue, but the quality is a problem too. We edit, alter and then share images that are supposed to represent our life. Our pictures are becoming noise on Facebook and other social media sites and with filters and styling, they are becoming stories we tell about our life that aren’t really about our life.

As a photographer, I fully appreciate creative photo apps, but I also think these features may be a disservice to us. Sharing photos on Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest or wherever is fun, but the more you share, the noisier it gets. Your image gets lost in a sea of highly-processed, unrealistic shots. Because we sometimes compare our insides to someone elses outsides, these manipulated photos can be deceiving. Not only that, but because memories change over time, you may look back at your bright beautiful images and wonder why your present isn’t as pretty as your past.

I might be wrong, but there is only one way to find out.

The One Photo Challenge

For 30 days, commit to taking and or sharing only one unedited image per day. If it makes you feel more comfortable, take a handful of shots and choose one at the end of the day. Delete or save the rest.

How this challenge may help you:

Creativity. By becoming more discerning in sharing your one image, you will look for something that really catches your eye or describes a moment in your day. You may take more time in framing your image and capturing the emotion or feeling that you want to share. Telling a story with one image is real art. It will fuel you creatively and give people you are sharing with something to look forward to.

If you regularly share images, this challenge may help you become more selective and intentional about your work. If you don’t take or share images, this challenge will help you to tap into creativity which will open the door to opportunities that you have yet to consider.

Simplicity. If your camera or camera phone only comes out for one shot a day or less, you can begin to simply enjoy your surroundings. Your social media feeds will become less cluttered and at the end of your challenge, you’ll have images that actually capture and represent moments of your life. Eliminating photo editing tools and apps will simplify your approach to photography too.

Connection. By sharing your images with the hashtag #onephotochallenge, you can connect with me and other people passionate about simplifying their lives and actions. I’ll be searching and sharing some of your images on the blog and on the Be More with Less Facebook page at the end of our challenge. If you want to keep an eye on the images I’m sharing, they will be:

Challenges and experiments are a great way to try something new and decide how best to move forward. After 30 days, decide if this was a successful experiment and continue your new photo sharing practice if it adds value to your life and those around you.

Quick One Photo Challenge Rule Recap

  • Share one unedited photo per day (or less)
  • Use hashtag #onephotochallenge
  • Continue if you notice benefits
  • Discontinue if you don’t

My hope for this challenge is that we enjoy more intention and creativity with less noise and distraction. When you speak softly, people listen more closely. When you share less, people notice more.

Are you in?



  1. says

    Courtney! What a fine way to slow down and notice things in our environment! May you enjoy millions of profound photos from the world over!

  2. Keisha says

    This is interesting. I took my children a surprise visit to see their grandparents last week for the Holiday, and we practiced ‘photo dieting’. I put my phone away for the whole three days. It came out three times – once for a memorial picture we had pre-planned, and twice more for one shot each. My husband and I just kept reminding ourselves that we have memories, we don’t need clutter on our facebook and our wall. I know this is much more of an extreme approach, but it was very freeing to see the lake, and the kids, and my family through the lense of experience instead of the lens of a camera.

  3. says

    I am up for the challenge. After I think on it a bit I will upload my submission to your hashtag on twitter!

  4. says

    Gosh… to be honest, this sorta sounds exhausting to me. Perhaps I’m just lazier than the average bear, but posting photos sounds like a lot of work to me – and trying to do one every day might just push me over the edge! (Assuming I’m not there already, that is.) But since I don’t have accounts on either Twitter or Pinterest, and I have no earthly idea what Instagram is, I guess I’m off the hook! :-)

    • Courtney Carver says

      It’s not for everyone! I thought some people might not resonate with this challenge, but knew that plenty would. I’m glad it’s not an issue for you. 😉

      • says

        Don’t get me wrong… It’s not that I don’t admire people who have the time and energy to take and post all those beautiful photos – I just can’t imagine going to all that trouble! Maybe it’s different if you have a smartphone – but I fear I still live in the world of the land line!

  5. Sally says

    I love this idea, but I have something to add: what about only checking sites like Facebook and Instagram once a day as well? I held out for years without a smart phone and only recently downloaded Instagram and I have now gone from happily existing without either to checking all the time, throughout the day. I notice that my friends (we’re all in our mid-20s) are compulsive about constantly updating, formatting, filtering, checking and commenting on a perpetual stream of photos and videos that often bear little semblance to reality. Perhaps if we not only limited our photo output but input as well, there would be fewer feelings of dissatisfaction and less comparison with others. Although I enjoy Instagram, I have to say that my constant consumption of it has become rather thoughtless, and it has certainly led me to moments of feeling that my life wasn’t good or glamorous enough. That’s a problem that needs fixing, and mindful moderation seems like a big step in the right direction!

    • Courtney Carver says

      That’s a great challenge Sally and add to it full days or weekends with no digital connection!

  6. Anja says

    Great point! I seldom take photos at all, and I always travel without a camera, or even a photo camera. I’ve noticed people who travel with me sometimes only really see the sights when they get home and go through their pictures – while on site they are so focused on taking the perfect picture they sometimes don’t even really look at the sight they are photographing. Not to mention they return home without having learnt anything about the people and the culture. It’s sad, really.

    I think this is an excellent challenge. I also agree with Sally that people “are compulsive about constantly updating, formatting, filtering, checking and commenting on a perpetual stream of photos and videos.” Challenges about checking social media already exist, I believe, but there’s no harm in another.

    • Courtney Carver says

      Anja, I think we have to be personally challenging ourselves and our habits all the time. It’s the best way to recognize things that are distracting us from living our best lives.

    • says

      I think it depends on the person and their interest in photography. I would argue that I see even more through the lens of my camera and I see things differently. I think the camera gets in the way for me when I want to capture a special moment involving my kids – I usually end up ruining the moment when I try to capture it.

  7. says

    I swear, sometimes the universe truly does work in mysterious ways. I found your blog through a million twists and turns today, and just yesterday I wrote a post about something that lends itself to this challenge. I wonder if I can work this in to my life right now…I know I should!


  8. says

    I’m in. There’s also a hashtag-feature in Facebook these days, so I’m sharing both there and in Pinterest. I’m also going through a trial of trying to post only three posts a day in FB, which for me is a true challenge, as I’m there all the time. But I’ve noticed it’s helped both me and my account. Three posts a day means you have to think about what you can afford to post, and end up posting much more essential stuff to life itself. And I’ve noticed that people respond more to my posts these days when their timelines aren’t filled with just everyday stuff.

  9. says

    What a great challenge! Lately we have become very critical of the photos we save and simply delete them to eliminate electronic waste – which is still clutter, at least on your desktop when you are trying to find “that one” you are really looking for.

  10. says

    Courtney, you know I adore you, and love the idea of your challenge, but I don’t agree that my photos, or the filters I use, create more noise, distraction,or cause me to miss out on life. I highly respect your views, but in this area I respectfully disagree.
    I strive to be discerning with the photos I share, and work to be thoughtful in that area and will continued to do so, but at this point in my life I want to take more photos not less! I’m enjoying the opportunity of learning to be a better photographer, particularly on my iPhone. It brings a lot of joy to my life. That said…all the best to you in the challenge. I’m a fan regardless!

    • Courtney Carver says

      Lisa, I adore you right back and know that this challenge is not for everyone. It may not even be for me, but until I try it, I won’t know. Already though I’m finding that it’s challenging me creatively. xo