Photo Challenges - Do they help you improve?

Started Mar 14, 2014 | Discussions thread
dwight3 Senior Member • Posts: 2,637
Re: Photo Challenges - Do they help you improve? YES and NO!

When I first joined dpreview I lurked for a bit, then decided "what the heck, I'll enter a challenge!". I did so, and voted and watched and came in somewhere in the middle. Then I tried another, then another etc. Always coming somewhere between 25% and 75%. Except once when I came in second. It was a challenge titled something like "your worst picture ever".

I only have time in the winter, so I did that for a couple winters, then eventually gave up.

I originally thought challenges would improve my photography. I still think that, but the dpreview challenge didn't do it, and probably won't the way it operated when I tried it.

First of all, the judges are anyone who wants to vote. Crowdsourcing works only if the numbers are large enough, and the number of people voting in challenges was far from a large number. Sometimes there were only 5 votes. Some people thought that if you entered the challenge you shouldn't vote at all, for any of the entries. Some people voted for only one or two of the entries (out of 20-200 entries). I must admit that I could have been part of the problem. I voted in all the challenges I entered (you are prohibited by the software in voting for your own submission) but did not vote in many other challenges. Many of them I had no interest in, so I just ignored them. So I did not contribute to raising the number of judges in most cases.

Second, there was reputedly a lot of cheating. The comment forum was full of complaints about people with extra accounts voting for their own entries and giving low scores to others. I did not look into this to confirm it but when I looked at the votes my entries got they were all over the map.

Finally, and IMHO most important, there was no feedback. If an entry got a lot of low scores, there was nothing to tell me why. Similarly, there was nothing to tell me why an entry got high scores. At the end of the day there was just a set of numbers. Likes. Dislikes. Why? Who knows? Without feedback, there is no improvement. I don't know what to change to do better.

I think the suggestion to join a local camera club is the best one. You still get people judging your pictures who are not necessarily trained or the best photographers around. They're mostly just average people like you or me. But you can talk to them. You can ask them why they did or didn't like your work. The feedback is there.

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