Epic Staff take on the Ugly Location challenge

May 18, 2018

Epic Staff members take part in the Ugly Location Challenge, a trend that has been viral on social media. The challenge entails taking aesthetic photos at unconventional locations. Keep reading to see how Epic staff members took on this task.

Team 1: Chloe, Kelsey, Medha



I had already watched several YouTube videos prior to the Epic’s Ugly Location Challenge, so I had an idea what to look for and what we could try. However, the fact that we had to vlog while taking photos in Safeway and the parking lot with a lot of people around made the experience more nerve wracking. From opening one of the freezer doors and standing there for awhile, to sitting in the shopping carts while others walked by and giving us “that look,” made me feel a little more self conscious. At one point, an employee even came up to us and demanded that we talk to the manager. After looking over the photos, I was surprisingly impressed, and I have to say that it was a unique and memorable experience, as I normally wouldn’t go to Safeway to take pictures!


Going into this challenge, I was excited yet nervous. I have experience taking photos, but few in modeling for them However, all those nerves went away as we entered Safeway, our first location. We turned on our vlogging cameras and began our photoshoot in an aisle of frozen produce. I had watched a few YouTube videos of people trying this challenge, but still didn’t have a clear idea of what photos I wanted to take. My first attempt at modeling consisted of me pushing a shopping cart, but after almost falling off, I decided it was too dangerous for me. After that, my poses were more simple and less dangerous, but I think those were my personal favorites. Our next location was in the parking lot, but after spending an hour and a half in the supermarket, I was all out of ideas. However, we were able to get some pretty cool shoots and personally, I’m very satisfied at how our photos turned out!



I was honestly so excited going into this challenge! I envisioned shoppers laughing in carts with a rainbow of tasty food behind them, and I was sure that these pictures would turn out great. I think that the biggest misconception that I had was about the scenery. Scenery is not difficult to find, but rows of canned goods will not magically make you look beautiful. If you think you look bad in pictures, your pictures will not miraculously turn out better; the only difference is the background. The pictures will definitely look different from the ones you may have from the past. If you are looking for a way to spice up your photography game and keep all your pictures from looking the same, the Ugly Location Challenge is the way to go!

Here’s a gallery of photos they took:

Team 2: Sadhana, Ashley, Diana


I did not know what to expect when starting the Ugly Location Challenge. After watching numerous YouTube videos of professional photographers taking on the challenge, it seemed easy, but it most definitely was not. The photography was one thing, but overcoming my self-consciousness was a whole other beast. To get one of our shots, we had to move ten huge plants into the gardening section of Home Depot to create a nice background of plants behind our subject. The number of glares and stares we got from an employee was enough for me to give up right away, but we persevered. The worst they could do was ask us to stop, after all. By the end of the challenge, we had transformed the ugly hallways of Home Depot and a stairwell into the backdrop for our portraits, and they did not look half bad!



The Ugly Location Challenge was more challenging than I thought it would be! I was really excited going into it and did not realize how much work it would actually require. Before, I thought I would only need to go to the location and smile for a photo. However, we had to do things like look for a place with good lighting and work with the angle of the photos. At times, we were also passed awkwardly by the employees at our first location, Home Depot. Home Depot, to my surprise, had many aesthetically pleasing spots, such as the garden with the flowers and the orange carts in the parking lot. I wondered how people took photos in public because I became extremely awkward and shy when we first started posing. Our second location was the stairway. We were able to use the way the light naturally hit the stairs to create a cool shadow in the photos and were able to be ourselves because the location was more private. Overall, I really enjoyed this challenge as I was able to bond with my fellow Epic staffers and take cool photos at the same time.


I came into this challenge pretty eager to “wow,” expectations high but experience relatively low. I had never taken photos knowing that my skills would have to compensate for the unflattering setting. When we entered Home Depot, I had a lot of ideas for where to go and what to do. However, as we went through the list, I realized getting a good photo, let alone multiple, posed a definite challenge. Thankfully, we found two great places for a photoshoot: the generic flower aisles, and surprisingly, the carts in the parking lot. The stairwell was much less stressful to take photos at, solely because there was only one place we could take the photos- the stairs- in contrast to the various aisles in Home Depot. I didn’t have much of an issue with the strangers’ stares and the judgy background conversations, but I will admit that made the whole group slightly more hesitant to “go for it” and get in bold photos. I definitely had a lot of fun doing this challenge because it not only let me practice photography, but it also let me bond with other Epic staffers and overall just have a good time.


Here’s a gallery of photos they took:

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About the Contributors
Photo of Chloe Lee
Chloe Lee, Art Editor

Chloe Lee is one of the art editors for the Epic this year. She's most excited to continue learning about everyone's story while making graphics and more...

Photo of Kelsey Lu
Kelsey Lu, Business/PR Manager

Kelsey is the 2018-2019 Business/PR Manager and a senior. She joined the Epic in 2016 where she explored the design, writing, and photography aspect of...

Photo of Sadhana Sarma
Sadhana Sarma, Design Editor

Sadhana Sarma is the Design Editor for Epic in the 2018-19 year. She's super excited for a journalism-filled year and loves being part of a student-led...

Photo of Ashley Song
Ashley Song, Design Editor

Ashley Song is a senior and the 19-20 Design editor. All she does is eat copious amounts of food and listen to music. :) UwU

Photo of Medha Upadhyay
Medha Upadhyay, Features Editor

Medha Upadhyay is a senior who currently lives in San Jose with her mom, dad, and younger sister. She adores crafts, superheroes, and chocolate. She has...

Photo of Diana Xu
Diana Xu, Managing Editor

Diana is a senior and the Managing Editor of the Epic. This year, she hopes to grow close with the staff and have fun at socials. She loves listening to...

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