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My Response To The Issues Raised With This Months Photographer Of The Month Contest

Published: 26/06/2015
By: larry

ContestI want to respond to everyone about a couple of issues that arose with this months PFRE Photographer of the month contest. Here are the two issues:

  1. Theme definition: Some people felt that Tony's winning image didn't conform to the theme of  "Large interior adjoined space."
  2. Voting process: Some people thought that various entries that didn't receive any points should have gotten points.

My general attitude on the PFRE contests is that their purpose is about getting feedback from the best shooters and raising the quality of your work, not whether the points awarded to everyone that entered is perfectly fair and rationally justifiable. The fact is a huge amount of the voting process is subjective and personal opinion.

I want to do everything I can to REDUCE the number of entries in this contest and spend less time on it. Getting 30 entrants to follow the 10 existing rules takes too much of my time. There is no way I'm going to make the rules more complicated. I may even put a cap on the number of entries. The month we had 60 entries was insane.... too much work for everyone involved in the contest.

My response to arguments about justifying the voting process and how and whether points are awarded is that I want to only announce the winner and perhaps the second and third place. No announcement of points, just who won first, second and third. I want to eliminate these discussions completely. They have no value. I actually did this for a few months but gave in to a reader that wanted to have a detailed history of points awarded. I still may go back to this scheme that doesn't even disclose points and voting process. What other photographic contest discloses the voting process and points and let contestants argue about whether everything is fair and fuzzy feeling? None that I know of.

The voting system is like it is to accommodate what the jurors want. Some jurors want to cast all 10 of their points to one entrant. Other jurors want to split their 10 votes between three entrants usually 5,3,2. The majority of the jurors vote 5,3,2. Also the details of the voting is hugely affected by how much time the jurors have to participate in the contest. There were only 8 jurors that had time this month to vote and more than usual cast all their 10 points to one entry so this is why there were many entries that didn't get any points. I don't think this is a big issue so I'm not going to try to fix it. I believe the best image was selected.

The only change I'm going to make now, is I've changed the June theme to Foyer.

I'm considering the following changes:

  1. Caping the number of entries each month to 25 or 30.
  2. Eliminating showing how many points each entry gets.


21 comments on “My Response To The Issues Raised With This Months Photographer Of The Month Contest”

  1. OK
    First, I think that Larry should be commended for providing a forum where those in the industry can vent, learn and socialize with those like minded in the field.

    Second, when I was juror for a PPA org, we used a simple system of viewing each entry, giving a value up to a 100 to each image and then moved on. That total was divided by the number of jurors to get a average. Once all had been judged, we would award "ribbons" for those that had a score of 80 and above. So you could have multiple entries that received a merit ribbon of silver, gold and best of show. Best of show was the one with the highest average. Each juror had the same weight on each image, no more or less.

    Third, when there were a couple of prints that stood out and were in competition for the "Best of" award, they would be brought back up for a second review and the jurors had the option to re-asses their score given. We were able to discuss our position with each other to validate our position (While I do not think that is feasible in this venue).

    Bottom line, this is a lot of work to pull off and I think there may be some who need to think about that as well. I myself would call this a "Challenge" rather than contest, since we are all striving to do better. As a former juror and one who used submit prints to be judged (a very long time ago), I got tired of the games, politics and bitching that came with the territory. That is why I no longer submit, rather count on the response from my clients....that is a lot greener anyway.

    So, Larry, thank you for your endeavor, but, I certainly will understand if you pull the plug....

  2. Complaining that you didnt get points is just lame (and unprofessional).

    Larry and the jurors do a great job and shouldn't change a thing. While the actual contest is for the entries and winning, there are tons of us that just like to browse and not only learn from the photos, but also from the jury comments. Its a shame after how much work Larry and the jurors put into this they need to deal with this BS.

    One thing I would suggest is not allowing an entrant to comment in his own photo, that is for the jury to comment on, not a place for you to whine about points or rules etc.

  3. My opinion & you know everyone has one..

    1) Announce the Top 5
    2) No points displayed
    3) entries each month, to me this is a little touchy, maybe shorten the entry deadline. This would give the jurors more time to do their stuff & pushes the photographer a little.

    And I agree with Chris, that, "Complaining that you didnt get points is just lame (and unprofessional)."

  4. Larry, I just want you to know that I really appreciate you organizing these contests and for all the time you put into this site. I've learned a lot here over the years. Thank you!

  5. My feeling is that when you look through the images, the selections of the judges are spot on. It's easy to get wrapped up in your own bubble, and while the image you submit may be the best you've ever produced, there is always one that can top it. That's photography. Our vision is subjective, as is each judge, which is why it requires a panel of judges to have any balance. (though I have often thought that art critics would make better judges then photographers, as in general, photograhers are far too subjective for their own good) But, art good critics are hard to come by... 🙂

    In terms of the assignment, that's subjective too. I've been watching the series Tiny Homes on HGTV, and I keep hearing the phrase "THIS is HUGE!" lol not! So Tony's room could be considered big or small, depending on how you see it. There was a second image in the contest that rivaled it though, that probably better illustrated the literal definition/intent of the contest. But, if the panel was swayed to choose Tony's, there may have been some other factors that played in.

  6. As for the insane number of entries, I guess the good news is that you are a victim of your own success. I'm president of the town camera club, and our competitions are also facing growth issues. If we continue to grow, I think we'll have to add a pre-screening step, and I wonder if you will too. Now that you've gotten bigger, maybe there's a way to shift work away from you? Maybe there's a way to use the Flickr postings as a way to prescreen?

  7. I’ve mentioned this before…. It seems that the winning photos are chosen based on the technical aspects and difficulty ‘pulling it off’ rather than the total merit of the photo as a real estate photo.

    Agents couldn’t care less if you needed to use 20 flashed to light up the scene or if you needed to push down to F/64 to get the bright outdoors balanced. They want a good picture.

    As professional photographers we sometimes get self involved and lose sight of the ultimate value of the product we produce. This contest has long ago lost its credibility in that regard.

    just my 0.2 pesos

  8. Wow, Jeff. Seems like you're working pretty hard to find something negative to say about this fabulous site. You scorn technical aspects and difficulty in favor of total merit and ultimate value? Really? I'm trying to imagine the agent saying, "Well, the color is off and it's poorly lit, but it has great total merit! You've really delivered ultimate value with this technically wanting, but otherwise great, image!"

  9. Larry I commend for putting together this great website and monthly contest. Thousand of real estate photog have learned the art through this site. Although receiving the CC is great on the images for the learning, contestant look forward to the monthly contest as a means of validation, status as an RE photog, and credibility. Ergo, I believe the judging should be more carefully thought out, as these "wins" boost to SEO, and for professional marketing, seeing as how this is THE main and most recognized RE photography site on internet. Photog of month, and then YEAR is big deal in community of over 30k! And look great to show off to client as well!


  10. Lets all remember that this is a FREE contest.

    I thought Tony's image was beautiful, but I was on the fence as to weather it hit this month's theme or not so i didnt give it any points. Sorry Tony. I still love your work. However, at least 3 judges thought it did fit the theme, gave it points and it won. I see that as confirmation that it worked.

    It can be very frustrating to have an image that you think will be one of the top images in the contest and receive no points. Most of my images receive little or no points. I use that a fuel to improve.

    Larry, you do an awesome job! I wouldn't change much, if anything at all. My only suggestion would be to combined tied scores so they all share the same position. For instance, this month, 2nd, 3rd and 4th all had the same amount of points. I would consider calling them all 2nd place. Instead of 2, 3 and 4 in front of theirs names, they all get a 2. Then the next highest point total would be 3rd. and so on.

    Love your site!

  11. I agree with all that Chris said, particularly the 'lame' comment.

    I've only entered twice but I love to see the entries every month and read the usually very constructive comments.

  12. Foyers? Now I'll never win the June contest. None of the homes I shoot have foyers. This is hardly fair!... I thought I'd get that argument out of the way early. Some people's "sense of entitlement" is ridiculous. Particularly for a FREE site and contest. I appreciate winning praise from my colleagues as much as the next photog but not as much I enjoy sending invoices to my clients. Priorities.

    Larry, keep doing what your'e doing.

  13. I love the contest and want to reiterate to everyone who is involved a warm thank you. It is one of the best ways to get some good solid critique of your work I feel.

    I don't want to offend anybody, I really don't, but I think either way you do the points is fine Larry. I personally don't think people should be commenting about whether or not they got enough points. That is the problem as I see it.

  14. I forgot to add I think if it a question about whether or not the image qualifies, that should just be part of the judging process. This month for example not many of the judges seemed to be too put off by Tony's entry, so there was obviously not a problem. Great image by the way Tony!... and certainly a deserving winner in my estimation.

  15. You will never see a forum where plumbers fight about what wrench to use on a pipe. Chefs (true full time professionals) are not on the internet blasting someone for using a different ingredient than they would in a dish, Electricians are drinking beer after work, not complaining about how the Natl Elec Code guidelines suck and they want a new set of rules..

    Photographers, especially those not engaged in the business full time, never cease to amaze me with the amount of complaining they do about stuff that doesn't matter.

  16. @Jason--are you saying all rules, everywhere, should never be looked at, criticized? Even in order to improve them?

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