12 by 12 is a year-long series of photo-challenges set by renowned photographers. Every month a new challenge is issued and group members are invited to interpret it by submitting their responses on Flickr or Instagram.

The project follows on from the success of our two previous projects 52 by 52 and 26 by 26 which attracted some of the world’s leading contemporary photographers including Edward Burtynsky, Carolyn Drake, Nadav Kander, Steve McCurry, Terry O’Neill, Martin Parr and Alec Soth. 12 by 12 aims to stretch its members creatively, encouraging experimentation in terms of approach as well as aesthetics.

You can keep up-to-date with the challenges by subscribing to our Mailing List or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Make the story behind a photograph as important as the image itself.
— Jon Tonks

Jon adds…
Submit a photograph along with a caption, quote or information that will entertain, amuse or enlighten the viewer to something new. It sounds simple, but working as a documentary photographer I always want to have meaning or a story behind my pictures – it opens discussion, and adds a layer beyond the aesthetic. I have always felt this is an important tool when working within such a subjective industry.

Jon Tonks  |  Read more

Photograph something that you have had in your mind for years and you just can’t let go.
— Alejandro Cartagena

Alejandro adds…
Also write down why you think you can’t stop thinking about it. It could be an idea of a project or something or someone. If possible use an interesting point of view to how you photograph this “thing” so that it is visually attractive. This should make it fun. Please have fun.

Alejandro Cartagena  |  Read more

Don’t see photographs as an end result, rather as a source.
— Anouk Kruithof

Anouk adds…
Gather photos, whether you make them yourself, or appropriate them. Think about what you’re going to do with them once you have them in your hands, as prints or on your screen. What do you want to tell with them? Are they best presented as prints on a wall, framed or not framed, standing, lying on the floor, as a website, in the trash bin? A book maybe? Wallpapers over buildings, shredded and spread around? Stamps? Mounted on other materials? Present photographs in a way that adds to the origin, reason, content or subject matter.

Anouk Kruithof  |  Read more

Take a photograph that will embarrass you and make your audience uncomfortable.
— Erik Kessels

Erik adds…
A lot of photographs these days feel very comfortable, stereotypes and clichés are consistently being repeated in both style and subject matter -we’ve seen it all before. It’s difficult to create an image that feels genuinely new and unique. Even harder still is taking an image that makes people feel uncomfortable; shock value has been overused and as a result people have become desensitized. I challenge you to take an image that makes you and your audience squirm; don’t stop until everyone is blushing. Nothing new happens in the comfort zone. Be afraid, but enjoy the ride!

Erik Kessels  |  Read more

“We have tested and tasted too much, lover –
Through a chink too wide there comes in no wonder.”
(Patrick Kavanagh)
— Eamonn Doyle

Eamonn adds…
Great photographs can often be about what’s not shown as much as what’s in the frame.

Eamonn Doyle  |  Read more

Reconsider the selfie.
— Patrick Willocq

Patrick adds…
Practically everybody today takes selfies. Often these are unstaged, have little to connect them to the place they were taken, involve people you know and almost always involve you. Defy these conventions.

Patrick Willocq  |  Read more.

Try to tell the truth by taking photographs that lie about it.
— Max Pinckers

Max Pinckers  |  Read more

Photograph the interior of a building without going inside. Choose a place you’ve never been in before.
— Nicolò Degiorgis

Nicolò Degiorgis  |  Read more

Take what you believe will be the final series of photographs before you die.
— Nick Brandt

Nick Brandt  |  Read more

Build something with the intention of photographing it. After you have photographed it disassemble whatever it is that you created.
— Dan Winters

Dan adds…
Create whatever type of object that you want. It could be as ambitious as a house or as simple as a house of cards. The photographs will be the evidence of your efforts.

Dan Winters  |  Read more

Find a place where you live where history made its mark. Allow yourself to breathe, feel, contemplate and react with a photograph.
— Laura El-Tantawy

Laura adds…
“The ground that you stand on is the same ground where something profoundly good or evil took place.”

Laura El-Tantawy  |  12 by 12 Interview  |  Read more

Take a route you’re familiar with but have never photographed along and photograph someone or something every 100 or so steps.
— Vanessa Winship

Vanessa adds…
“I’ve spent most of my photographic life photographing what is unfamiliar to me, so I thought it might be interesting to consider what is familiar but unphotographed. It’s about attempting to see the familiar with fresh eyes. I like the idea of creating a relatively narrow framework, a kind of limit and see how expansive you can make the work. I’m imagining that you could repeat the same journey several times and come up with different images each time. How does the same route differ on different days and what remains the same. Do you sequence the images (the journey) chronologically or do you put them together randomly and if so what links one image to another. You can make it playful by changing the number of steps if you repeat the route several times.”

Vanessa Winship  |  Read more

12 by 12 on the BBC

Vanessa Winship has chosen a handful of member images from Challenge #1 for an article about the project featured on the BBC News website.

The project has so far been featured in net magazine on the Over Here Please blog, West of England Design Forum website and on the Royal Photographic Society social media platforms.


This year you can respond to the challenges on Instagram using hashtags that looks like this #12by12challenge9, #12by12challenge10 etc. We’ll also be releasing the challenges on our Instagram account.

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If you’ve taken part in 12 by 12, one our previous projects or have simply enjoyed following the project please consider backing us by becoming a Supporting Member. You can do this by giving a small one-time donation of your choosing. There are different personalised rewards available depending on how much you like to donate.

This year we’re supporting the wonderful photographic charity PhotoVoice, so half of your contribution goes to them.

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