I submit my work. I submit images for critique to online professional forums. I submit work to online magazines. I submit work to competitions. Getting feedback and seeing how my work resonates with viewers - both other professionals and just the general public, pushes me as an artist. Sometimes I even tag a lens company when I get an amazing shot with their product.
This spring I submitted 50 images to the Shoot and Share Contest. My 50 went into a pile of over 1.1 million submissions. For several weeks, people from around the world voted on these photos. Anyone, anywhere can vote in this contest. Professional photographers, for sure, but also kids and grandmas and lots of ordinary people. Voting is anonymous and super simple. Four images appear on your screen. You click your favorite. That's it. You can vote as many times as you'd like. And with 1.1 million images, there's really no way to rig the contest. I could get all my friends and family to vote for hours, and they might never see one of my photos.
In the end, over 81 million votes were cast, and 17 of my photos received awards. Two were even finalists.
This is a different kind of contest. It's not necessarily the most technically correct or the most artistically amazing photos that win. No one is evaluating them that closely. It's just 4 photos. . . Click. . . four more. . . click. In the end, I call it a "first impression" contest. You just have a few seconds to wow the viewer, and beat out the other three photos for that click.
Because of that, it's important to choose photos with a "Wow" factor or images that evoke strong emotion. Color seems to win over black and white. Images that require some analyzing to truly appreciate them often get knocked out in the early rounds of the contest.
The voters have spoken! Over 81 million times! I probably wasted way too many hours voting, and probably obsessed just a little too much while waiting on the results. But it sure feels good to see which images the voters liked the most. And that some of my personal favorites were their favorites too is just icing on the cake!