This thread contains all past ideas for the Theme of the Week. Ideas submitted by members in the PotW Theme Ideas thread will be copied here, and any ideas created by a moderator if there were no other community submitted ideas will also be tracked here. Please check this list FIRST before submitting a theme idea.

15 Answers 15


Portraits by Candlelight

Inspired by Is it practical to shoot portraits by only candlelight?, but not, I promise, as an excuse to submit the ones I already took. I want to see what everyone else can come up with!

Originally proposed by: mattdm
Ran on: Jan 20 – Jan 29, 2020



Any subject that is related to science, or the study of science.


  • Refracting light
  • Scientific instruments
  • Fluids
  • Astrophotography
  • Magnetism
  • Chemical reactions
  • Biological processes

Originally proposed by: maynard-case Ran on: Aug 6, 2012


The Classical Elements

This would be a four-week series, with one each for

  • Earth
  • Air
  • Water
  • Fire

(I made this one proposal rather than four as it would be nice to see them run all in a row..)

Originally proposed by: mattdm
Ran on: March 5, 12, 19, 26, 2012


Tis the season for a fresh start

The concept of the theme combines the winter season with the idea of fresh starts. Give us your best seasonal photo, or your favorite new beginning. Bonus points for new starts with a seasonal flair!

Originally proposed by: scottbb
Ran on: December 12, 2019



The challenge is to post the best picture that would fall short of "professional" photographic standards. For example, photos taken on old or cheap digital cameras that have low resolution, photos taken on long-expired film, or photos which exhibit significant "mistakes" such as light leaks. For more information, see the Wikipedia article on lomography.

For clarity, the word "lomography" refers to the genre of photography, not to the photographic brand Lomography. Photos submitted need not necessarily be taken on Lomography-brand equipment.

Originally proposed by: gparyani
Ran on: May 12, 2020


Imperfectly Beautiful

This theme challenges you to find beauty in unexpected places. Appreciating it not only in spite of imperfections, but perhaps even because of them.

Originally proposed by: LightBender
Ran on: February 1–14, 2020


Straight out of camera

This theme seeks your best straight-out-of-camera JPEGs. This also means no processed raw images: shoot RAW+JPEG if you want, but only submit the JPEG produced from the camera.

Scans of film shots are welcome to submit too. Please use your best judgment as to what constitutes "creative darkroom techniques" or scan touchups. Follow the spirit of the rule as best as you can.

There's no way to enforce the SOC rule, this is all on the honor system. Let's have some fun and see what we can get, Polaroid-style. =)

Originally proposed by: scottbb
Ran on: Feburary 15 – March 1, 2021



The theme of this contest is simple: photos where mirrors, windows, water, or other reflective surfaces were used to get reflections.

Originally proposed by: Eric S
Ran on: March 1–15, 2021



The theme of this contest is simply transportation. Trains, cars, ships, planes, bicycles, etc.

Originally proposed by: Matt
Ran on: March 15–29, 2021


Up There

Subjects in the photo should be unsupported by the ground. Examples include airplanes, balloons, bubbles, water splashes, astrophotography, clouds, birds/insects/animals in flight, etc.

Originally proposed by: whackamadoodle3000
Ran on: March 29 – April 12, 2021


All Blur

In the spirit of Why would one shoot a fully blurred picture?, let's see some abstract and semi-abstract works.

Originally proposed by: mattdm
Ran on: April 12–26, 2021



A photo with a focus on typography. Letters, numbers, words and so on. The shapes of them, the layout or where they're placed. Address numbers on buildings are sometimes quite interesting. Writing on roads, signs and so on.

I imagine the focus being on the presentation of the words, rather than the meaning of them but I can see that latter working too.

We would probably have to avoid trade mark slogans and logos though, but I'm not exactly sure on the legality of that. Aside from legal reasons, SE or the Logo's company may not want to be associated with each other as the photo would be in a prominent place on the site. [Note: I didn't run the contest with this caveat. Probably not an issue. –scottbb]

Originally proposed by: Vian Esterhuizen
Ran on: April 26 – May 10, 2021


In Deep Thought

Capture a photo of a subject that demonstrates "deep thought", contemplation, intense musing, etc. The subject may be a person or animal, even an inanimate object, so long as the key concept of deep thought is the central focus of the photograph.


  1. The subject of the photo must be in, or appear to be in, deep thought
  2. Should be a portrait shot of a person, people, or pets/animals
    • Self portraits are allowed
    • Inanimate objects or trees may qualify, but only if they depict deep thought
    • An example might be the contorted silhouette of a tree that emulates a person in deep thought
    • Another example might be a statue, small, large, even huge, that depicts deep thought
  3. The object of the subject's thought can be anything
    • i.e. Another person
    • i.e. The sky
    • i.e. The relationship between being and time, wherein each reciprocally determines the other, yet the former cannot be addressed temporally, nor can the the latter be expressed as a being.
    • i.e. Chocolate-pecan pie

Originally proposed by: Aquarius_Girl
Ran on: May 10 – May 24, 2021



The photograph must display some form of symmetry.

Originally proposed by: Maynard Case
Ran on: May 24 – June 6, 2021


Long Exposure

Either a picture containing motion blur (star trails, cars on a road etc.) or a combination of several photos to create a time-lapse in one photo.

Originally proposed by: damned truths
Ran on: June 9, 2021

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