Photo by Paul May.

Five Photographers Who Stepped Outside Their Comfort Zones

The entries are in from our #DitchComfort Photography Challenge, and we were truly blown away by the submissions, which came from all over the world! Fellow photographers have inspired me with their stories, their efforts to push their limits as people and as artists, and with the results of stepping outside of their comfort zones.

Congrats to our winner, Paul May, for winning the Grand prize of a 1-hour photography consultation and critique, and a copy of Summits & Starlight, and to our four special mentions (we couldn’t choose just three!), who will also receive a copy of the book. Thanks as well to everyone who decided to #DitchComfort and submit their photos. Some of you stepped outside your comfort zones just by entering, and I really appreciate the effort.

Grand Prize Winner

Photo by Paul May.

Photographer: Paul May

Location: Northern Lake Michigan, Leelanua County, Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore

Surfing fresh water entails surfing when the wind blows best during the winter months. Andrew Pritchard (crawling out of the lake) and Saeth Gronberg take full advantage of some strong SW winds moving up Lake Michigan. While they stayed warm with all the exercise I stood around on the beach and froze my ass off trying to keep my lens clean. This photo was taken at Sleeping Bear Point during the first part of January 2014 – the roughest winter I been through in 33 years.

Special Mentions

Photographer: Jan Zwilling

Facebook | Flickr | 500px

I happen to come across your Ditch Comfort Contest and thought the timing is perfect to enter a photo of mine. I’m on the Lofoten Islands right now chasing snow, low-angle winter light and northern lights. There is one photo that in two ways is way out of my comfort zone. First, there was some hiking in the night necessary to reach this location, a lake in the interior of the islands. With freezing winds and a headlight, this was something that I’ve never done before. And second, I’ve never seen, nor shot the Aurora before and could only imagine the experience and how to capture it with the camera. It took me some time to figure it out, but then I was nothing short of amazed by this phenomenon. With this photo, I wanted to express the feeling of reward when I ditched comfort.

Photo was taken on January 31st, near Molnarodden on Lofoten, Norway.

Photo by Stuart Kinnear

Photographer: Stuart Kinnear

Last Saturday was absolutely the perfect night for a hike/photo-shoot. The moon was almost full, and I didn’t have to use my headlamp once. My only regret was not having anyone to share it with. I’ve never gone out hiking by myself in the middle of winter. The mountains have an entirely different character at that time of day. It was stunning. Everything really has a grander scale, especially when you are the only soul for kilometres. This photo taken near the top of Marble Canyon really invokes the vastness that I felt out there in that moment.


Photo by Douglas Drouin.

Photographer: Douglas Drouin

Facebook | Instagram | Flickr | 500px

Comfort is what you make of it.  Are you comfortable indoors in the heat, sedentary and waiting for warmer weather?  Are you comfortable knowing that your day-to-day changes and varies so little that it blends into a seamless march towards infirmity?
Or are you like me, after my accident cost me the near total use of my left hand; finding comfort in doing things all over again. Challenging yourself and finding what it is to live again?
Comfort is whatever makes you feel most relaxed and at peace with yourself and the world around you. I find my comfort playing with my children, shooting whatever I can see that captures my imagination in whatever conditions are available at the time. Ditching comfort is no more, nor any less a challenge to actually go out and do something that challenges your every day existence. For some of us it is getting off that couch and getting outdoors. For others it is a fireside show under moonlight.
This contest will I hope have people examining exactly what comfort is to them and, with luck, maybe it will not only produce some quality images, but also challenge people to define what comfort means to them and allow them to grow as people.

Blue Hour on the Wisconsin RiverPhotographer: Benjamin Tatrow

Facebook | 500px

I’m a U.S. Army Military Police veteran and, to be honest, waking up most days is ditching comfort for me, but I have learned to keep my smile, sanity and sweetness through photography. I am so happy to offer, “Blue Hour on the Wisconsin River”, as my submission to your #DitchComfort contest. I like to semi-joke that my body is being held together with bubble gum, cheap paper clips and spare parts from dead GI’s and that usually gets me out of the conversations of why am I not climbing mountains or hiking miles or jumping jacks of the like. So for me getting off the beaten path is difficult most times, although I still do it and this is one of those times. It wasn’t easy to get to where this picture was taken, and despite the pain and bitter cold it was so worth it: to stand where I’ve never stood before and see the river I’ve seen a million times like I’ve never seen it before.

“To my boys,  Honor those who have come before you, bring warmth wherever you may go, follow your dreams, hold closely to love and always find the light, no matter what life may throw.  Listen closer if you can not see, be faithful to your strengths and make this world more beautiful, through you being you, let it be~  Love, Dad” 

October Gold Landscape Photography Workshop with Paul Zizka, Dave Brosha and John Marriott

Thank you for your interest in this one-of-a-kind event hosted by John E. Marriott, Dave Brosha, and Paul Zizka at beautiful Baker Creek Mountain Resort near Lake Louise in Banff National Park. Join us for a fun-filled extended weekend this fall in the heart of the Canadian Rockies and let us help you take your landscape  photography skills to the next level!  You’ll get a chance to work closely with each of us as we tackle a variety of topics in the field and classroom aimed at expanding your technical photo skills and your creative vision.

Dates: October 15-18, 2015

Number of participants: 30

Accommodation and Meals: Your home for the duration of the workshop is the Baker Creek Mountain Resort, featuring delightful chalets located in the heart of Banff National Park. All meals (which are included in your fee) will be had at the resort’s fabulous bistro, other than one packed lunch that will allow us to maximize our time in the field. We will have the Resort’s Heritage Centre at our disposal for editing and presentation purposes.

For more details and to register go to the event on Eventbrite.

#DitchComfort: Photo Challenge with @PaulZizkaPhoto

We’re calling on all photographers to go beyond their limitations and boost their creativity with the #DitchComfort Photo Challenge!

What does that mean? Find a new angle of a common subject, experiment without inhibition, get wet and dirty, try a new genre – whatever it means to you to step out of your comfort zone as a photographer. Submit your #ditchcomfort photos for a chance to win a 1 hour photo critiquing session with Paul Zizka and a copy of Summits and Starlight: The Canadian Rockies!

Promote the contest with #ditchcomfort and @PaulZizkaPhoto (no bonus point for that – just fun!).



  • Contest open: January 26, 2015, at 12:00 am MST – February 8, 2015, at 11:59pm MST.
  • Winner and Special Mentions will be chosen by February 14, 2015.
  • Landscape and outdoor adventure photos only, please, from anywhere in the world.
  • All submissions must have been taken during the contest period.
  • Up to 5 submitted photos allowed per photographer.
    • Submit photos for web at 72 ppi (1200px long side is sufficient).
    • Submit a short story (up to 100 words) with each photograph, describing how you got out of your comfort zone to capture it.
    • Include your social media links, website link and contact info with your submissions.
  • Email your submissions to A Dropbox link or something similar is acceptable.
  • Any submissions that are incomplete or that are submitted through any other channel will not be accepted.
  • By submitting your images, you agree to have them posted on and on the Paul Zizka Photography Facebook Page. They will not be used in any other way.
  • Paul Zizka Photography reserves the right to make slight edits to stories for publishing purposes.


  • All shortlisted and winning photographs and stories will be published on the Paul Zizka Photography Facebook Page, as well as on (with credit/social media links).
  • 1 Grand Prize photo and story (chosen by Paul Zizka) will win a 1-hour photo critique session with Paul Zizka (can be done through Skype or Google Hangouts), as well as a copy of Summits and Starlight: The Canadian Rockies. 
  • 3 Special Mentions (chosen by Paul Zizka) will win a copy of Summits & Starlight: The Canadian Rockies. 

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