For this assignment we are taking our mind off of lines and repetitive shapes and forms and we are now looking for light. More specifically, we are looking for shadows. It’s difficult to say something like, “Go shoot great quality of light.” What is “great quality of light” anyway? Soft light can have a great quality to it but you can take a horrible photograph in it. Hard light has a great quality to it. You can use hard light to your advantage and hard light can kill your shot.

Shadows are an easier theme and subject to go after. While light is what we are chasing for this assignment you cannot forget about lines and form and pattern. You see, there’s a lot to think about when you pull the camera to your face and push the button. Line. Shape. Form. Light. Shadow. Contrast. That’s the short list. That’s just the first second of thoughts in your head. The list grows longer and longer as you work on your craft. These assignments will keep the list growing for sure.

While you are out shooting for this assignment I want you to take a photograph and then examine it. Ask yourself, “Does the shadow make the shot?” or “Do the shadows make the shot?”

Is the photograph a picture of something that has shadows in it? Or do those shadows make the shot? If the shadows aren’t making the shot then try another angle. Come back at another time of day. If you are using lights of any kind to make the shadows then you need to move your light source closer. Or further away. Or change the angle to the subject. Or change your camera angle. Find that intersection where subject, angle, light, and shadow come together to where the shadow makes the shot.

This assignment is open from May 31st to June 14th 2014. This is for NEW work and NEW work only. Make sure the clock on your camera is set correctly! Get the hell out of your archives and go shoot some fresh new photographs. Share your work with us via the DEDPXL communities on Flickr, Google+, or 500px. If you share on 500px please be sure to hashtag  your photos DEDPXL03. We aren’t looking at IG this time around. I’ll probably go there again when I find a better viewing solution for the critiques.

After June 14th Meg and I will do a group critique and then the next assignment will be announced.

What I enjoy most about these is seeing the massive array of photographs that can come from one simple assignment. There’s an assignment coming up where we will all be shooting the same subject matter. It’s going to be really interesting to see how that is approached by so many people. Y’all enjoying these so far?


Tech Note :: The video above was shot with the new Panasonic GH4. It was shot in 4k and edited in 1080. I’m loving this new camera and I’m loving the ability to crop and change the shot while editing. If you notice the jump cuts in the video above those are done using the same piece of footage with zero loss in quality. Since 4k is 200% larger than 1080, you have the ability to cut to a different crop. I’ll be talking about this camera in the next “Moving to Motion” blog post.

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. terrie

    Enjoying very much!
    Hey, the title of the YouTube video is “Shapes”, when I believe it needs to be “Shadows” (?)
    Thanks for all that you do with DEDPXL, it is much appreciated and unique.

    • Zack

      OMG. Thank you so much for catching that Terrie! Fixed! It’s late and Meg is in bed. She’s my editor. She usually catches all my mistakes. .. Of which there are many. 🙂 Thank you!


  2. JWoodson

    Hot Damn! Can’t wait to start shooting!!

    My goal for this assignment is to at least make the “this photo is safe” cut this time around (:o)

    Warm Regards,


  3. Vic Roman

    Most def enjoying these assignments. Thanks for that much needed motivation. Now let me go out and shoot some shadows … Tomorrow cause it’s bed time. Peace homie.

  4. Punman

    Thanks Zack,
    I have just started following these assignments and critiques, and am excited to join in with the next one. In fact, it’s kind of perfect, because for a while now, i have been thinking I need to learn to control shadows for effect better.
    Thank you for helping us all to grow and improve.

    This is exciting. 😀
    (If I am lucky, my new X-T1 will arrive this week too, so that will give me a good chance to learn the camera.)

  5. Yvens


    Are silhouettes considered shadows in your book?

    From the guy who has way too many nicknames ; Robert Paulie Tiks, thegenius, RPTiks.


    • Zack

      Great question. I’m torn on it. You could argue that a silo is the subject in shadow. You could also argue that it’s more a matter of exposing for the subject to be darker against a brighter background. I think I’ll say that the shot has to scream “shadow” more than “silo”.


  6. Jan Schwarz

    Nice, great theme! It’s funny how it makes it for some reason even more exciting to go out and shoot when someone tells you to do it. Perhaps that’s just me though?

    Keep up this thing here, I love it. Just like the loooong critiques!

  7. David Charles

    Awesome, really looking forward to this. Been wanting to exaggerate shadows in my portrait work for a long time now. Will have to do a mini-project of it in the next few weeks. I’m actually going out of town on the 13th, so this is a perfect amount of time to shoot between now and then.

    Also, love the thumbnail shot on the blog for this assignment.

  8. Richard Wintle

    “Y’all enjoying these so far?”

    That would be a resounding “YES!”. 🙂

  9. Rui Freitas

    Hello Zack and Meg,

    First of all, I just want to say thank you for your work and the videos/posts. They are amazing and I love them.

    Unfortunately, I just found these assignments recently and it was impossible for me to upload any photo for the previous one since the deadline was over. Is it ok for me to try and submit a photo for this assignment and continue from now on? Or is it better to wait for you guys to reset the assignments?


  10. amit

    Do you need a new shot to me taken or I can use any of my old pic shot recently from my portfolio..probably shot in march

  11. amit

    okie..i read is new work..

  12. Amanda

    Crumbs. Yes, please keep going with these assignments… I just landed late last night from China: I was gone exactly the duration of the assignment. I have some pictures I would have been able to submit, but I still need to do the usual chores of a human being too… food, clean clothes, etc. I am working on picture filing while I am waiting for grocery stores open…

    Oh well. I will sit tight and hope I can catch the next round. A big thanks you guys for rallying the crowd around you to keep shooting new work.

  13. Styron

    As difficult as it was, I prefer the shorter deadline. Thanks for keep us on our toes/heels (depends on how confident I’m feeling).