I hope you will join me as we start a series of photography assignments here on DEDPXL. First, I have to share where the inspiration for all of this has come from. There are four people who have directly impacted my decision to create this series of assignments.

I was once in conversation with photographer Joseph Stefanchik and he made a great statement. “It’s easy to teach a photographer how to shoot. It’s far more difficult to teach a photographer how to see.”

It’s important to know how to shoot a photograph. Honestly, though, that’s the easy part.

It’s more difficult to see a photograph.

I was once walking down a sidewalk next to photographer and postproduction guru, David Nightingale. He and I were walking with a group of people and he fell back from the group only to catch up with us later. The next night I was sitting next to him at a bar while he was working on an image in Photoshop. I looked at his screen and said, “What in the hell is THAT? That is amazing.”

“Oh. Remember that little statue / fountain / whatever thing we walked by last night?”


“Yeah, you walked right by it. I went back because I saw a photograph in it.”

Ten photographers walked past something. None of us saw it. David saw it. Not only did he see it with a camera and lens, he went further and saw it in Photoshop.

I was once sitting in a lecture by photographer Chris Hurtt. Chris had been a friend of mine for a few years but I had yet to hear him teach. He was giving a class about the art of seeing. It was an hour or so of Chris being awesome and funny and sharing his joy for photography.

It was a lecture about simple ideas to help new photographers delivered in a light hearted way, but it hit me like a shit ton of bricks. I was burned out. I had plateaued. I wasn’t shooting to see. I was shooting to shoot. Yeah, I could see okay but I couldn’t see like he was talking about. Chris was seeing the world. I was shooting the world. There is a difference.

I was once talking to photographer Steve Simon. He told me his new book, The Passionate Photographer, was recently released. I got the book. I read the book. And now I suggest you go buy the book too because I’ll be referencing it during the discussions we have based on these assignments. It’s a fantastic book.


I’m not going to go to deep describing these assignments. Jump in with me. No matter how elementary they may seem to you on the surface. For those of you who are as green as grass to this craft then these are going to be great for you to start building your visual muscles. For those of you who feel you have a good grasp on photography the simple assignments are going to kick your ass because of the expectations you are going to put upon yourself. Trust me. I know. I’m shooting these assignments too.

Some are going to be direct and specific. Some will be more open to interpretation. Each will build on the next. Each is designed to push and pull your eye and your vision as a photographer. Go with me on this journey. Take the pill. Let’s get to that green code of the matrix.

Watch the video above. It’s the first assignment. Lines. Lines. Lines. Lines. Lines.

I don’t care what kind of camera you shoot it with. I don’t care what lens. I don’t care what light source you use whether it be available light or lit with strobes or lit with flash lights. I don’t care. Lines is your assignment. You’ve got until March 25th to shoot NEW work for this assignment.

Share your best line images with us via the new DEDPXL assignment community on Flickr. Or share them on 500px or Twitter with the hashtag #dedpxl01 (that’s zero one) Let’s keep it to that for now so I can keep up with it. Flickr. 500px. Twitter. You can post to your own blog or the like just share the link via twitter with that hashtag. I’ll lose it on Facebook and IG in about ten seconds. I may start a G+ community as well if you are interested in that. Let’s just say Flickr is going to be the proverbial water cooler for now.


During the assignment I’ll have a post about how it’s going both for me and for those of you starting to share. Sort of a mid assignment assessment. At the end of March I’ll be doing a group critique of what worked, what didn’t, and we’ll start a conversation about lines. We will then start the new assignment and work on that for two to four weeks. We will continue this process for at least the next year. YEAR! This is long-term baby. Go with me on this. After a year you’re going to walk out in the world and you’ll be seeing more than merely shooting.

I’ll be shooting these assignments as well and sharing via the outlets mentioned above. I’ll be sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly. 🙂


DEDPXL assignment community on Flickr

Zack Arias

A full time commercial and editorial photographer, Zack shoots everything from bands to CEOs to ad campaigns. A gifted teacher and communicator, he has an uncanny ability to meet and connect with all types of people.

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  1. Ian Spiers

    Digging the site! Gratz!

    Hmm. This area looks live to me now.


    • Nimitz Benedicto

      Thanks for starting this interesting assignment………………….

    • Todd Creamer

      Are you still planning a mid-assignment assessment. Only six days left on this one.


  2. Simon


  3. Lauren Coleman

    Monthly photo assignment? I’m so down.

    Great job on the new site, Zack!

  4. L.M.

    Fucking IN

  5. GWG

    Great site, well done. Very much looking forward to this series of assignments-thank you for taking the time!

    • Michael Gnahoua

      could any one tells me when the second Ass will be available

  6. Evan


  7. Alfonso

    Outstanding! So glad you`re doing this Zack! Really looking forward to this. The hunt for lines starts now! 🙂

    • Michael Gnahoua

      Hi there,

      when will the Assignment two be out.

        • Michael Gnahoua

          Hi Zack
          I haven´t seen any in my mail box.
          I love the first one and I am seen lines more and more.

  8. Dasha

    Hi Zack!
    Great new website – I love the More Signal Less Noise motto!
    By the way, your neighbor Thomas Dodd introduced me to your existence. Isn’t it good to know you’ve got a nice guy for a neighbor.
    When I read the assignment stuff, I immediately thought ‘oh, I’ve got a great photo in my portfolio for that.’ Then I realized that is not the point at all.
    So I’ll create something new. I really look forward to the assignment year.
    All the best for your new venture!

  9. Laurence Zankowski


    Made smile appear on my face! You showed up, honest and real. Now to go forth and click.

    Be well


    p.s. I am a fan of geometric abstraction, don’t hold that against me…

  10. Richard

    Congratulations on your new website and all the exciting vision it promises.

    I’ve been looking around for something exactly like your new assignments where I can hopefully develop some photographic vision now I seem to have learnt how to focus my camera (harder than I thought.)

    I hope it goes wonderfully well for you and will give the assignments a shot and come along with you.

  11. Emma Phillips

    AWESOME! Love these kind of projects, can’t wait to get started!

  12. Terri

    Thank you Zack. I still carry your words from Rocky Mountain School of Photography around with me like gospel.

    I’m really looking forward to this.

  13. Adeel Bukhari

    Thanks for doing this. I have been looking for something like this for a couple of months. I never comment anywhere but I’m posting here so I can be held accountable, if not by anyone in the community then at least by myself.

  14. Brian Fox

    Sweet….love the idea and the new site.

  15. Martin Howard

    Yes!!!! Dusting off my One Light DVD and Dedpxl magazine now.

  16. Cindy Lewis

    Thank you!

    For doing this and all you do to help us.

  17. Michael bowen

    Bring it on I love homework makes me fill like a kid again an know I want to learn everything I can.

  18. Robert

    The whole assignment project is magnificent idea! Intro video and sample photos gave me shivers. It was that good. That is the best way for improvement – have some pressure from the outside. Having fresh assignment and precise deadline makes you hustle. I had a huge gain of knowledge and great experience from Strobist assignments. I see another cool experience coming up right here 😉 Great idea and cool design for the site!
    Good job and keep on comin’ Zack!

  19. Mark

    Thanks for putting this together. I’ve been looking for an excuse to pick the camera up again.

  20. Diego

    Oh man this is awesome. This is exactly the type of thing that I’ve been looking for. Not only in regards to the technical stuff behind photography but the philosophy behind it all, it’s beautiful being able to create an image out of something unexpected. It’s art and it’s all around us.

    I cannot wait to start shooting and being a part of this community. I feel like the past two years I’ve learnt so much already and I know that this year I’m going to learn a lot more…

    Thanks for starting this!

  21. Brandon

    The site looks promising! Looking forward to these assignments. Hopefully I can overcome my perpetual laziness and get the motivation together to become an active participant because I’d like to take my photography to the next level.

  22. Wing Wong

    Been waiting with baited breath for your site to go live! Looking forward to your assignments!

  23. Graham

    ahaha rail line humour. old school ZA “in” joke.

  24. Cindy

    OUT. STANDING. thanks, man!

  25. Aaron

    This is awesome! Thank you for starting this. your q&a book/blog have helped heaps for inspiration and practical tips, and I’m excited about these assignments. Time to get off my own visual plateau.

  26. Trey

    Hi Zack,

    This is an amazingly innovative idea.

    I hope the photography community appreciates how helpful these online assignments are because this is incredibly generous.

    Thank you!


  27. Marcie

    What so no babies on train tracks with a guitar? 😛

  28. Jayson

    Awesome. I really needed this GOYA series. I think I’m gonna do all assignments on my X-Pro1 just to try and expand out of my DSLR comfort zone. Thanks Zack, really exciting stuff. Congrats on the launch!

  29. Rebecca L. Bolam

    Hey Zack! I’m sure diggin’ the site! Thanks for the awesomeness.

  30. Kathy Porupski

    Just what I needed to kick my butt in gear and get going on some creative challenges! Thanks Zack and congrats on the launch… loving it! 🙂

  31. Joonas

    Once I heard you say “You need to head out every day with your camera –” I was sold.

    When I first started shooting I did a lot of walking down the streets of the city I lived in and shot whatever seemed interesting. None of those pictures turned out to be anything special (because I sucked) but I sure did learn a lot.

    Nowadays I rarely take my camera with me unless I know what I will be shooting. That is a problem. No, that WAS a problem. Not anymore.

    Bye couch, bye computer, bye phone! My camera and I are going out looking for lines.

    Congratulations on the launch of DEDPXL, Zack!

    All the best from Finland,


    I stumbled across your old web-site, or a post from you or something quite a while ago and signed up awaiting an update.

    It arrived this evening, and here I am. Excellent forage into the wilderness and thank you for making the effort.

    Game On!

    I look forward to the challenges you have in m(eye)nd.


  33. Aldwin

    This is awesome, Thanks Zack

  34. Feather


  35. bimal nair

    This looks awesome Zack! Am digging this site.
    And may Lord give me enough gas to pull off my ass from the chair & shoot every assignment you throw upon….for my better! After all this help you are showering on our community, if am not pickup it up, i should put my camera down & walk away. And am not walking away.
    Cheers to the awesome stuff you’ve put up on Dedpxl Zack! ROAR!!!

  36. Ed Jones

    “Nooo!” love it, even my wife laughed… and she’s an unphotographer too

  37. Mark Soon

    Thanks for conducting this assignment Zack. I can’t wait to get started. I’m just wondering how many photos should we be taking?

  38. Jeppe

    Zack you limit yourself/us to 99 assignments with that hashtag, make it #dedpxl00001 please:)

  39. Jim Robertson

    SQUIRREL! Ded Pxl is going to be so much fun. Love the the opportunities for learning and, of course, the swag. Thanks Zack!

  40. Mejrin M.Albinali

    Hi Zack,

    This is awesome Project , I’m reading every thing in dedpxl, i love the assignment this will help us go out and start takiing photo, i have one question regrding the assignment, what is the minmam photo we can submit for assignment?.


  41. Jeremy

    I’m in. Thanks for pushing this to go live – it looks to be a fabulous resource. I’ll be grabbing the new onelight video to help support too.

    And just in time – this winter has really had me down in the annual dumps. Work is coming in, but it’s been hard to feel the passion lately. Need something external like this to light the fire under my ass again and get out there and try something new.

  42. andrew hollister

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    — — — — — — — — — — —
    — — — — — — — — — —

    |- | |\|

    • Zack Arias

      I see what you did there. 🙂


  43. Saadia Mahmud

    I am so in too!! Really excited. Just wish you used Facebook more. I can’t access flickr groups from dubai and now I gotta figure out how to use 500 px to post the images to your group. Anyway you are coming down to dubai, I am gonna grab you and get some techie tips how best to contribute. Ps. I don’t know how to use twitter either. Lol. At least not like you. Time for some learning!

    • Zack Arias

      I’m kind of getting into Facebook again. It’s just hard to keep up with everything that goes on there. The Flickr pool is an easy repository but I understand it doesn’t work for everyone. Be sure to send me links via twitter or leave them in a comment here on this blog post.

      I’m now in Dubai trying to get over the jet lag. See you soon!


      • Saadia Mahmud

        It was fun chatting with you and meg today. Going to try and upload a pic – let’s see if I can get over my technological disadvantages successfully enough to get it across to you!

  44. JC Ruiz

    This is awesome. Thanks Zack for continuing to challenge us mentally and with our photographic abilities.

  45. Morrie Fink

    I have never done anything like this. Love the the opportunities for learning! Thanks Zack

  46. Alex

    This is just great. I look up at you!

    Thank you 🙂

  47. Todd Higgins

    This is perfect! I have been in need of a motivational tool and this is just the ticket.

    Thanks Zack

  48. Mikeyyah

    Lines? =)

    Can’t wait to see everyone’s photo!

  49. Erik

    You’re such an inspiration man! Thanks for doing what you’re doing.

  50. Andreane

    Welcome back Zack! Looking forward to the assignments, and new inspiration!

  51. James

    So while I was driving today (about 3 hours total) I spent my time looking for lines….and found myself singing (to teslas signs)…..”Lines lines everywhere lines, braking up the scenery, blowing my mind!” and it’s been stuck in my head for about 5 or 6 hours now……Thanks for that!

    • Zack Arias

      @James – This needs to be recorded. 🙂


  52. Jesus

    My first post, will be doing this assignment on the weekend. Have a P&S at the moment, but it’ll do fine in this assignment.

  53. Mike


  54. JP

    let’s go.

  55. Bill Gellerman

    Impressive sir. I’m joining in. Good challenge oh and the plateau thing. Yeah me too. Cheers back!

  56. Jon

    I’m so happy I found this site, big up for the awesomeness- so much good karma here <3

  57. Axel Widjojo

    You’re right, this assignment is driving me nuts. =\

  58. Davide

    Hello Zack,

    I’m just an average amateur, who’s willing to not just learn how to take sharp, focused and well-composed images, but to learn how to put a meaning into them, to develop a theme through a photographic media. This looks like an awesome project, the kind of thing I’m looking for these days (I’ve even signed for a Sara Lando’s 4-months workshop that will be held from next September), but I have a question: I’m more of a studio type, meaning that when I think of something I make up a scene and try to do the best to build it and photograph it (or at least that would be my goal). At the beginning you were talking about being able to see what other people can’t, to bring to life subjects thatother people just pass by, so I’m questioning myself whether making studio shots isn’t the point AT ALL, if maybe hopping in this project wouldn’t be lost efforts

    • Davide

      Sorry, I hit the submit button by mistake… Well, I just missed the final greetings. I have an idea for the line assignment, I hope to receive a thought over my doubts first…

      Thank you very much, greetings from Italy


      • Fabio Giraldi

        Basically, the same concern that I had.

        My personal projects are all constructed. The description of this assignment seems to suggest more of a street/reportage photographic style. It’s not that it is explicitly said, and I think that is so by will.

        I think that both ways, “studio” style or “street” style, would have their benefits for the “studio” photographer. The former could allow the creation of portfolio work, the latter could allow an healthy exercise totally out of the comfort zone. All in all, actually doing this assignment is a win-win condition.

        Let’s see if Mr Arias is going to answer on this 😉

        • Zack Arias

          @Fabio – Well said! Just to reiterate… You can go in any direction you’d like with this project.


    • Zack Arias

      @Davide – This assignment is WIDE open to any kind of subject or style you want to shoot. Studio. Street. Backyard. Inside. Outside. Natural light. Strobes. Found. Created. Whatever you want.


      • Davide

        Thank you very much!

  59. Michael

    Hi Zack,
    As Al Bundy (you know, the guy with his hand below his waist___) would have put it:
    “Let’s rock!”
    I really needed someone to kick my donkey to get shooting again after winter hibernation. Thanks a lot, man, your efforts and your new site is greatly appreciated.
    Your new padawan is awaiting your orders, sir!

  60. david

    wow big world small world.[i’m in]

  61. Gazzaroonii

    Hey Zack and all…

    So I am a bit late to the party but will certainly take part in these assignments. Great idea.


  62. Brian Bohannon

    Which color pill you want me to take?

    Looking forward to the trip!

  63. james

    Thank you Zac,this means a lot,thank you for one light 2 can’t wait…
    your a winner !!

  64. Helen

    I am enjoying this assignment a lot but it is also driving me slightly mad… I cannot walk down the street (with or without camera) without hearing Zack in my head, repeating “lines lines lines”. I cannot look at a fence, a lamp post, a kerbstone, without mentally noting “line”. I have Zack doing Talking Heads in my head (“Blind” but with “Lines” instead). Good thing we’re almost done! 🙂

  65. Dennis

    How do we know when your going to post or say something about the project as it goes by? Does flicker send something out? I don’t know. Do, I need twitter?

    Great project, I’m in another one on G+ for blank and white, for basically the same reason. I’m old school, and want to do more with my photography. It’s hard to explain, old dog learning new tricks. But, maybe I will after a year of this.

    Most of the time, folks don’t get it, and I wonder if it is my photography not expressing it. Hope I find out after a year. Lets rock-n-roll and have fun.


    • DavideV

      You can use any RSS reader and put this blog in you feed, so you’ll be able to read ANY news from it. I use feedly, easy to use and available as chrome app, and on android/ios platforms

  66. Yvens

    I bought OneLight 2.0 on the sole premise that you will maintain these projects and the community alive. I really hope you do. I’ll put a ton of hard work to start “seeing” and I count on you to deliver the same quality content and challenges. Keep them coming, we’re waiting.


    • Zack Arias

      Thanks Yvens! I’ll keep it going!


  67. elena

    awesome new site, thanks so much for putting it up!! xx

  68. Ben

    Nice site, Zack…even greater idea.

    This is going to force me to get off my ass and work on what I truly love.

    +1 on Yvens’ post-

    Side note- My Dad is 70 and dying from C. Saw him recently, and Q&A was in the ‘reading room’. Says it was the best gift he’s gotten in years. It made him smile just talking about. Thanks for writing it. Brought us closer! So much for the sunshine…looking forward to the assignments!


  69. Kurnia Lim

    Nice website, it’s clean and neat I love it. G+ also good if you still have time for it Zack 😀

  70. Les

    Dear Zack,

    I have fun looking at all the lines submitted. (No visible trolls!)

    This is really fantastic: you have photographers around the world all looking at and ‘seeing’ lines. The interpretation is freely left vague and open to the individual photographer’s individuality

    I see straight lines and curved lines. I see circular lines and natural lines and fabricated lines I see living warm lines and inert cold steel lines. Wow!

    Fantastic concept and program. Congratulations on inspiring and energizing us.

  71. Eve

    Hi Zach!

    A great idea! Thank you for this 🙂

    Is there any news about a community on G+? That would be cool, because G+ is my home, so to speak.

  72. Joakim Jonsson

    Hi Zack.

    Will you release the new assignment before the critique or will we maybe get them at the same time on friday? Im really eager to get the new assignment :). And also thanks for an awsome website.

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