Why We Let Professionals Enter Our Contests

January 1, 2007

in FAQs

When we first came up with the idea of I Heart Faces, we were fairly certain that beginner and amateur photographers would be interested in playing along with us…but we weren’t so sure if professionals would be interested.

We were thrilled beyond belief when we had not only a few, but quite a lot, of professional photographers join in on the fun! Why? Because, no matter what level of photographer we are, we all want/need to be inspired and to learn more about photography. That’s the main reason we are here, right? By having the experts join in, we all are rewarded by that!

When we started receiving some thoughtful emails that stated “maybe the professionals shouldn’t be allowed to enter anymore” or “maybe you should have a separate category for pros and non-pros”, the most interesting thing to us was that a lot of participants didn’t seem to realize that quite a few of our winners so far have not been pros. They have been people who classify themselves as amateurs and even some who say that they are beginners.

Our plan was to try to add in a “Beginners” category sporadically when we are able to, but we’ve found that we cannot keep up with an extra category. There are several reasons for this:

1) We do not have the amount of time it would take to monitor an extra category. Our photo challenges typically have between 400 – 500 entries…and we go through every single one of them. If we added a Beginners category, we anticipate that we would get at least that many entries in that one as well…in addition to the enormous amount of entries we are already going through.

2) How do you classify who is a beginner, who is an amateur, and who is a professional? Some of the amateurs on our site are better than some of the professionals on our site….some of the beginners are better than some of the amateurs. And yet they would never consider themselves to be part of the other classification of photographers. We can only imagine the huge headache we would have if we tried to monitor who could and who couldn’t be part of the Beginners category if we added it in.

Another interesting observation that we have made is that we have never…not even once…been contacted by a professional photographer who was writing to complain that they entered our contest and didn’t win. Never! And there have been many of them. There are many of them who enter every single challenge and they have never won a Top Ten place at all. We think that the pros don’t complain about this because they realize that our contests are completely subjective to whatever the taste of the weekly judge is. Photography is a complex art form that speaks to each person in a different way. If you don’t win the weekly contest, it’s not necessarily because your photo wasn’t good. It’s just that your photo didn’t speak to the weekly judge in the same way that it spoke to you.

We hope that everyone will be able to realize that winning the weekly challenge is just one teeny-tiny benefit of participating in them. We feel that these additional benefits are even more important than winning:

1) Being inspired by others works of art
2) Having top photographers come to your website to leave a comment on your photo
3) Being part of a fun, positive, inspiring community of photographers
4) Being able to participate no matter what level of photographer you are (even the very beginners can join in the fun…we love to have them participate!)
5) Seeing blog traffic on your website increase as a result of participating in I Heart Faces
. This has been wonderful to see! If you leave comments on other people’s entries, you are bound to see an increase in the amount of traffic that comes to your site as well.

Those are just a few of the benefits of participating in the fun on our website. We hope that the contest will just be a small part of what you get out of being here and that the sense of community that you feel here and the friendships you foster will be the even greater benefits of sticking around.

All we know is that we absolutely love having you all here!

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