Thing a Week

Thing a Week badge Those who have followed me on Twitter or this blog for a while may be aware that back in June 2009 I started a Flickr photography group called Thing a Week. The concept is quite simple: To take a picture on a different theme every week.

A half-remembered history of Thing a Week

The original inspiration came from the 2009 Cardiff Photomarathon (back when they still used film!). A group of us hung around the Millennium Centre at the end of the day and talked about what a fantastic idea the Photomarathon was and how someone should start something similar that we could do throughout the year. Shortly after I decided just to go ahead and get something started.

It got pretty popular for a while and I had great fun running things and taking a new photograph every week. I also learned a lot about running a group, trying to be inclusive and democratic but clear and fair about the rules.

Thing a Week cards

I felt that Thing a Week should be about motivating yourself to take more photographs and encouraging feedback and constructive criticism, so it was important it didn’t feel like a competition. One of my first ideas was to introduce badges.

i can haz badge? The idea was that anyone could create a badge and award it to anyone else, for any reason. Old badges could also be recycled, and were given jokey names like the ‘Actually I Really Like That Award‘, the ‘Awesome Anthropomorphic Award‘, the ‘Limited Edition Attack of the Thing Award‘, the ‘Epic Award for Epic Awesomeness‘ and so on.

While the badges added an element of fun, the real challenge as an administrator was picking the themes. I actively solicited for ideas in the group forum and would either pick one myself or put a few interesting ones up for a vote. Every theme was different, but some of the earlier ones were: Back to nature, Toy story, “Imagination is more important than knowledge”, Ten things, Phobia, Weather, Lucky number, Play with your food, The five senses, Anthropomorphise, Rude, Out for a walk.

As the group found its legs, it became clear that there were two aspects to a successful Thing a Week photo: A great picture and a great idea. Creative interpretation of a theme was just as important as creating a brilliant image. You can check out some of the most algorithmically ‘interesting’ pictures on Flickriver.

I even gave an Ignite Cardiff talk about the group (slides here), which was a big first for me. There is video out there, but I refuse to watch it because I would rather cling to the impression I have that it went really well!

Thing a Week-up at St Fagans, 3 March 2010 Perhaps the highlight of the whole thing was the Thing-up – a very well attended gathering of local (and a few not-so-local) Thingers at St Fagans, March 2010.

After a year though my motivation had begun to fail, and I was of a mind to bring the group to an end. After some discussion though, Jason and Renato volunteered to help out and soon pretty much took over the running of the group. More recently Howard took charge of what had become a small but dedicated group of loyal Thingers. More recently Mark Stevenson gave the group a final tour of duty. I owe big thanks to all three for keeping the group alive for so long.

Originally posted on This post was revised for on 2012.08.30.

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