I've become a bit of a "Challenge" nut over at DP Review. Every day there are at least 5 new photo challenges that you can enter, and the entries are then voted on my your peers. Some of the titles are pretty hilarious, others whimsical, others "hmm, why didn't I think of that?" For example: "Blonde Hair Blue Eyes", "Other Worlds", "Circuit Boards Run Our Lives", and "California."
Good way to learn
It's a fun, free way to get objective feedback from your peers, a few steps ahead of Facebook Likes. And if your'e the competitive type, it doesn't take much to win a challenge - just enter enough challenges!
But it's very helpful to look at the photos that do well, not just from artistic and technical standpoints, but from an editorial viewpoint - which photos fit the challenge requirements? This applies not only to self-critiquing, but also to what other photographers are doing 'right'.
As for myself, yes I've won several challenges and have finished fairly high up in a number of others. But I've also 'bombed' in quite a few. My ego tells me it's not because the photo was bad, but because I just chose the wrong photo for the wrong Challenge. Case in point: one photo placed 3rd in the "Tracks in the Snow" challenge, but only 65th in the "Shadows" challenge (yes, I entered it twice. Naughty naughty).
Humble or Progeny
If I include all of the challenges that I've entered, my 'average' placement is probably about 15~20th. I thought that was pretty reasonable. On the other hand, two of my own children have entered challenges, with photos taken from cheap point-and-shoots. They each placed 11th.
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