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I Need Your Input On A PFRE Photographer of The Month Voting Issue

January 24th, 2012

Last night I noticed there had been a spike of eight votes in one photo that before that before that time had only had one vote. I contacted the owner of the image and he told me he was just promoting his image on FaceBook and a bunch of his friends had come over to the PFRE Photographer of The Month group and were helping him win the contest. This surge of 8 votes now makes him the current front runner. If you look at the voters profiles most seem to have no involvement with real estate photography.The fact is this photographer is just making good use of social media. Knowing this group of readers tastes in real estate photography as I do, my guess is that if you knew this was happening the majority would not choose this image as the winner.Frankly, I should have anticipated this. I have a proposal fix for this issue:

  1. Add a rule to the contest that to vote in this contest you must in some way be involved in real estate photography and demonstrate that in your flickr profile. This could be a series of real estate photos you shot on your flickr account or have a link to your site as a Realtor or real estate photographer. No voters can have a closed private profile as one in this series of voters has.
  2. Exercise the new rule stated in 1 on these votes.

The bottom line is the underlying assumption (that’s never been explicitly stated) of this voting is that the voters are intended to have some connection to real estate photography. The idea is the best real estate shot is being chosen by your peers, not by just anyone.

I will use the poll to the right as your final answer to this question. What’s your decision? I’m also open to any other brilliant ideas you may have.<

Update 1/25/2012: Thanks everyone for all this great advice. You’ve confirmed  my feelings are on this subject. Open voting doesn’t make much sense as this competition grows. I doubt that there was very much like went on this time in past voting.

I’m going to attempt to create a panel of distinguished judges that are a collection of past winners and PFRE contributors that I know. Otherwise this competition will mean little.

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22 Responses to “I Need Your Input On A PFRE Photographer of The Month Voting Issue”

  • What if there was a quiz question that qualifies or disqualifies a person answering. I’m not a photographer, so I wouldn’t know how to answer “what happens when your ISO is 32 and the wind differential is 99 and your saturation is 239?”

    Of course that is all garblety goop, but you get my point – as a non-photog, I couldn’t answer it and my vote would be kicked out.

  • For what it’s worth, I, as an occasional R.E shooter agree with you. I don’t think that for the amount of R.E work I do, that I should have a say in picking PFRE photographer of the month.
    Keep up the good work.

  • How about a council. If you win PFRE of the month you are added to the council and only those previous winners can vote on images. If there is a tie then Larry or maybe the real estate photographer of the year could cast the deciding vote.

  • I voted for the new rule. I do realize that people who have an interest in RE photography but don’t practice it themselves would not be able to vote. Is this a good thing? I don’t know.

    I do like Dan’s idea of some kind of council with previous winners. Maybe you could organise a 50-50 voting system, 50% users, 50% council.

    But in my opinion the PFRE Photographer of The Month should be, for the largest part, chosen by other RE photographers. In the end this will also be the most rewarding for the winner.

  • If the voting was only open to those photographers listed on the PFRE directory, it would truly be a recognition of your peers.

  • Normally I would simply say let it be, and let social media do its thing. However, the PFRE Photographer of the Month award currently means something when you win. It means you were selected by a jury of your peers, if you will, and chosen as the best photographer that month by people who know what they’re doing. Allowing those with the largest reach in social media would water down the importance of the award. Grudgingly, I agree that the new rule should be implemented.

  • @Lani- Problem is I’d need to automate the test so this activity doesn’t take over my life.

    @Dan- Wow that’s a great idea. A natural way of establishing a bunch of distinguished real estate photographers. This would add a lot of weight to winning! Thinking about it, this is how most distinguished contests are done… a panel of distinguished well known people in the industry do the picking. Excellent idea.. thanks.

    @Bill- No, this contest has nothing to do with the real estate photographer directory.

    @Kerrick- Exactly, this is exactly why I raised the question. I think we all want this to be more than a social media contest!

  • Here in Atlanta I work as an Assistant Elections Poll Manager so am sensitive to voting issues.

    What that person was doing is not much different from what a certain political party here in Atlanta does every electon cycle: they hire private transport then take people by the dozens from senior centers, homeless shelters, etc. Then they feed them before driving them to local voting centers so they can cast their ballots. During the trip the party “officials” give terrific pep talks about so-and-so running for particular places on the ballot. Who do you think those folks vote for before being driven home?

    That photographer was using social media to stuff the ballot box. And is is just as wrong.

  • Art isn’t subjective.

    It shouldn’t be voted on, anyway. I just think you oughta pick the best, or have a council decide. But then you get into the nasty business of setting up that council and the inevitable irritation that comes along with making sure it is balanced and everyone is happy.

    So why don’t the founders of PFRE.net just pick the winners 🙂

  • I think the problem is simply lack of participation in the contest as a whole. The fact that 8 votes can seriously sway the outcome tells me that the overall participation is TINY. For this to mean something, it needs to have the attention of the industry overall, which it doesn’t seem to at this point. Further restricting the pool of voters will only marginalize the contest even more.

  • 1. Goal is to sell houses. If more people see my listing, great.
    2. Go is to highlight good photos – then you already have a different goal …
    3. Agree about 8 votes … Tiny contest will always be able to have ballot stuffing.
    4. Fair contest – see dpchallege etc. like council idea – but face it if people come here and want to hire me because I was #4 and they liked the image – win!
    5. Any oPen voting system people can make dummy accounts… Judging however is far more work – see Dancing with Stars/ American Idol –

    6. What’s your goal – ideal outcome – of contest? Great photos get recognized…

  • @Terry- Yea, good analogy.

    @Scott- It’s still growing! This months participation is way bigger than there’s been before. Dave Rezendes got a huge amount of positive coverage from being PFRE Photographer of the year. It would be great if everyone participated but that’s never going to happen… some people are not attracted to contests like this.

    @Mike- Yup, you are right I’m convinced that a panel of experts makes more sense than open voting.

    @Sclous- The goal is to get recognition for all the top real estate photographers out there… nothing more.

  • I never check out the contest… Simply because it’s not easily accessible or I tend to forget… I would suggest make a sticky thread (closed to comments) on the PFRE group where the images can be seen in the thread and perhaps a better voting system.

  • While I like the idea of the Council of Past Winners, it may become an unweildy obligation. Once a year may be one thing, but month after month having the obligation and expectation to vote may be too much. After a while, it could almost be considered “punishment” for winning.

    People come to the PFRE site because they are interested in the subject – photographers, vendors (ie tour and product owners), realtors, or a combination. The common denominator is they have an interest in the PFRE field, and may choose to actively participate or simply lurk. In either case they get something out of it. That self determination creates a small population which is easy to skew by marketing, and taking away from the original intent…and ultimately demeaning the product.

    @Colin…it is accessible in the group of FLICKR links along the right side of this blog. Perhaps vould be enhanced with a static RE POM box including the link, Theme, Window to submit, and Window to vote info.

    Mechanics to control and limit the voting pool to those with PFRE interest would be very easy – make it a closed group with membership limited to a PFRE interest as demonstrated in their Flickr account. That way, Larry as moderator, only has a one time review rather than monthly ongoing. Such a setup to limiting a FLICKR group to a population is not unusual. An example is Malia’s Cinematography for RE group which requires RE video in your stream. Another is a Business of Wedding Photogrphy” which has over 4000 members…but must demonstrate that have wedding business to be a member.

  • I think the point of PFRE contest is having the best photo – not being able to round up more people to vote on a photo whether or not it is ‘the best’ otherwise, it just turns into a popularity contest

  • I voted for the restrictions. In a perfect world this should not be a problem. The award should be awarded on the photographers skill and talents not on how many people he can get to throw a vote his way. Look at our own political system. To often we see the politician that can yell the loudest about their opponent too often win the position while perhaps the other guy might have been a better choice. I’m envious of ALL the work I see in the contest. Choices should be made by the people who KNOW and DO the business, its really a good incentive to make our own work better.

  • +1 on the council concept. I even like the idea of weighting the council’s choice with the public’s choice.

  • Well I am the guilty party here, glad I could stir up a little controversy! When Larry emailed me I replied promptly and honestly and encouraged him to remove the photo if he felt it should be. That said, I did have reservations about plugging it with social media, but had assumed the rule “To vote, join the contest group and comment on any two photos you like” would have negated most of the votes. Still the sentiment is loud and clear from the majority, that it should be voted on by real estate photographers or realtors. In the meantime I will work on my sky replacement and and try to remember bug spray for those twilight shoots!

  • I also like the committee of previous winners idea. The point someone raised about it being a punishment has some validity so maybe just use the previous year’s 12 winners and the PFRE of the year winner for the committee. That way they will only be responsible for voting 12 times and then they are done – unless they win again. Then let everyone vote on the PFRE of the Year from the pool of monthly winners from that year. This way everyone gets in on the action at some point.

  • I rather enjoy the current format of RE Photogs or REALTOR Photogs voting. Going the to committee of previous winners takes some of the fun out of it for me. Also, I don’t care for the number of entries this month. When there are 10-20 qualified and prejudged (by Larry of course) entries, it makes it easier to deal with. I don’t care for the ballot box stuffing at all. Larry, I am not sure how you would screen the voters, but to remove the voting from those of us that ever hope to have the skills and eye of the past winners, it is a real treat to be able to judge. I’ve learned a great deal about processing and composition from voting over the past and would not like to lose that opportunity.

  • I always thought that the photo should stand on its own. To have anyone go to social sites and beg for votes defeats the whole purpose and in the end, it denies the recognition of good work and to the “winner” it is a hollow victory, nothing to be proud of.

    Makes me wonder how much of this in the past has gone on. How many were rigged?

    It is a shame really, that there needs to be all kinds of rules, because some take the low road

    JM

  • I do not want to cast aspersions on Michael for using social media for marketing his services. However, my understanding of the contest has been that it is recognition by one’s peers for excellence in our field. Opening the contest to the public makes the contest about who can most successfully market their images, not about the quality of the photography. I’d vote for whatever system keeps voting to peers and keeps extra work on the part of the judges to a minimum (Larry, past winners, etc.).

    And 1 last thing: I don’t really mind if the voting pool is small, as long as they are qualified.

    Best to all,

    Cameron

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