My Good, Bad, and Ugly Competition Results from ViewBug

I enter quite a lot of competitions, most of which I don’t hear anything from as my photos don’t get chosen for the finalists. There’s no problem with that, that’s just how these things work.

But one of the sites I am a member of – ViewBug – now does an interesting thing with competitions you enter.

To give you a bit of background before explaining what they do with the results you enter create a account, upload photos and you can then enter them into competitions to win various prizes from sponsors.

Before explaining these levels, ViewBug is not just about the competitions. There is quite a community of photographers there of all levels, each of whom can comment and give their own peer awards on any photos they see and like. You can take inspiration from the work of others and get some feedback on your own work as well. Users can even run their own challenges for other members – like the competitions but the only prizes are recognition and some rewards points that can go towards some additional perks.

There are 3 levels of user and corresponding competitions:

  1. Lite – the free one. No fee to join the competitions or for membership of Viewbug. No particular limitations other than a maximum of 10 uploads a week and you can’t enter the other competitions – this is my membership type.
  2. Premium – the cheaper paid for account. Unlimited uploads, entry to the Premium competitions, double allowed entries on the free competitions, plus various other perks
  3. Pro – the top account type giving access to all competitions, unlimited uploads, unlimited entries, and various other perks in addition to the extras in the Premium account.

More details can be found here: https://www.viewbug.com/upgrade

The competitions are all judged, but a large part of it comes from user votes. Photos are put forwards in groups of four and you pick your favourite two. This has some form of scoring system so you get the ranking of the photos in the competition. Nothing particularly new or unusual there.

So what do they do that is different?

With the results, you will get a weekly update for any competitions where the voting is still going, and then when the voting is over you get a final email saying the competition is closed and you don’t hear any more unless you are picked as a finalist.

Unusual, but still nothing new perhaps. The difference is that with these emails you get links to see how you entry or entries are doing in the competition. You get told if you are in the top 50, 30, 20, or 10 percent of the entered photos. That is quite nice to see (or at least it can be), but this is not the only thing they do.

More recently you also now get to see how many entries you have performed better than. This is a new feature, but one that I am (mostly) quite enjoying. As a result I thought I would start a semi regular feature showing how well or badly my entries have done.

But why have I decided to do this? A few weeks ago I had one of these weekly updates which happened to feature the same photo in three different competitions – the photo in question is the one I have used as the header image. Unfortunately I don’t have the email to check but basically the difference in the results was quite spectacular showing just how subjective these things can be.

Roughly speaking I think in one competition it was doing quite well, it was in the top 10% and was ranked ahead of somewhere round about 10,000 other entries. This was the first one I looked at and needless to say I was a bit chuffed with that result.

The second competition it appeared in I think I was still top 50% (just) and was ranked ahead of about 4,000 entries. Not as good but still quite pleasing.

The third competition was not so good. Not even vaguely in fact. This number stuck in my head. The same photo as the other two competitions on this occasion ranked ahead of only 96 other entries – the progress bar (which roughly indicates how far along all of the entries yours falls) barely showed where I was. Suffice to say I was not so happy with that one.

The other reason for my doing this is that I have got into the habit of entering the same photo time and again in different competitions as evidenced by the above same photo in three competitions – and these aren’t the only ones this photo has been entered for. I’m no saying I will use a different photo every time but I should try to vary it more than I currently do. There are always themes so I can’t use the same photo every time anyway, but with some photos fitting lots of themes it is easy to fall into the trap of not bothering to try something different. I am hoping that by doing this I will see myself using the same photo and push me to try something different.

The first set of update results I’m going to share was from 28 August 2015. There were 4 competitions in voting stages that I had entered so here are the voting results as it stood at the time in order on the email:

Mark of Time – a photo to show the passing of time. I went with this photo as I thought the passing of a river affects the land a lot:

Shallow Falls

And here was my current standing:

Mark_of_Time

Ok, not the best start then. Why did I decide to share these results again? Never mind, on to the next.

Get Out – a photo showing a summer adventure. Admittedly I wasn’t convinced by this entry – it had to be  photo of the outdoors but I didn’t consider having someone in the photo doing something. It was a mistake not to try and take a photo specifically for the contest but I decided to give it a go. Here was my entry:

Malham Cove

Here was my current standing:

Get_Out

Perhaps not the best performance but I was happy with it – onwards and upwards.

Best Water Shots 2015 – as it sounds, you best shots of water. Here was my entry:

Man-made falls

Here was my current standing:

Best_Water_Shots_2015

That’s more like it – in with a good shot for this one perhaps if things continued to go well. Needless to say I was very pleased with the standing of this one at the time. So on to the fourth and final update from this email.

Basic Edits – again as it sounds, a photo with only some basic edits done to it. I knew what I wanted to enter for this one, I still consider this one to be one of my best photos even though this was from the first trip out with my HS20 after buying it. Here is my entry:

Young Bald Eagle

Here was my current standing:

Basic_Edits

Oh. Not what I had hoped for – perhaps I just view the photo through rose tinted glasses as I consider it one of my favourites or also very likely the competition was just too good. Never mind.

A bit of a mix of rank updates from this email as you can see. I’ll continue to share more as they come up. I have been a finalist once for a ViewBug competition (with the header photo of this blog as it happens) and hope I will get there again at some point in the future.

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16 thoughts on “My Good, Bad, and Ugly Competition Results from ViewBug

  1. These are all beautiful pictures. I especially love the first one there is something about archways and black and white that just works well. I did one of MCRD longest hallway in San Diego a few years ago. I loved it so much I had it printed out HUGE.. You should print yours out.

    1. Thanks Sonya 🙂 That one is on the list to get printed large, got a few – I just tend to be a bit rubbish and not get round to printing much. You’re right, arches seem to fit well in B&W

      1. What I did on my super large one was had a engineer print done at a local office supply. This print is like 30 x 40 inches. Engineer prints are only for Black and white, but the thing is the papers very thin and fragile but its cheap. I mounted it with glue onto a matt board from house foam core board. Next time I will tack it. I wanted the thickness of that house insulation board. It looks amazing and cost supplies and all maybe $20.00. No one knows any difference lol. Everyone thinks I bought it as a large print.

      2. Thanks Sonya, may well give it a go. I’ve had a few prints done to go up in a coffee shop (15x10in) for sale, plus one other that was done to 24x36in, although the photo did not take up the whole space, probably about 20×28. Hoping to get a few more done soon for home when I get round to it.

  2. I cannot get my head around Viewbug, I have just been invited to become a curator for the site, apparently only 5% of members are offered this, and I have been offered it due to being “such a positive force in our community” I was a bit suprosed at this as I only have 12 images on their site, and very, very rarley comment or like others work.

    1. Hi Russ, from what I can see everyone can become a curator as it appears to be one of the badges but they like to try and encourage people to get more involved so they send out things like that. It might be more that only 5% reply to the offer. I tend to take messages of more personal congratulations and encouragement with a pinch of salt. Nice to get them but I don’t think as targeted as they would like to make out. I pay far more attention to the other users than to contact from ViewBug themselves.

  3. Hi Neil,
    I enjoyed reading your post. I am about 40 years veteran of Photography, but just started posting some pics on Viewbug and found the same exact turnouts as you have stated. I have done pretty well in International competitions over the years, but don’t expect anymore than just plain fun and link help from Viewbug. I use places like Viewbug to get links to my website, as we know social media is a big factor nowadays in SEO ranking. To me its an evil must do to survive. In the mean-time, I was pleasantly surprised with Viewbug.

    1. Thanks Kevin, I think with any site like this you have to take it with a pinch of salt like you say, but like you I do find Viewbug fun, you just can’t expect too much from it. No matter how a site like this is run someone won’t be happy.

  4. Nice post. I too joined Viewbug but I find the competitions frustrating. Mostly because although there is a theme to most of them, fairly regularly the winners don’t really seem to fit the theme or do very marginally (that is not to say they are bad photos or mine are any better or relevant) which I find makes it hard to figure out how to improve.
    Although I do prefer it to 500px or Flickr.

    1. I’m amazed by some of the challenge entries you see from time to time which I’m sure happens in the competitions as well. I ran a steam train challenge at the end of last year, quite simple – show me your best steam trains. Still got one or two with no train in sight, let alone a steam train. Black and white challenges usually have a number of colour entries. I tend to rely on inspiration for a style of shot I would like to try rather than looking at themes. Feedback can be better on Viewbug I find but it is all a bit subjective as with a lot of things – you get out of it what you put in as I’m sure you’ve found. Thanks for taking the time to leave your feedback 🙂

  5. Viewbug truly do have no concern for their members. I had an account for 6 months. I do boudoir and pin up photography. My photos have some tasteful nudity (which is allowed). I had a photo shoot on a beach in Aruba and one of my photos was very popular, it had 1500 view had many rankings in photo trifecas. Viewbug even gave it the summer selection award. Then one day it just disappeared off the site. When I contacted them about it numerous times, they ignored me or just gave back generic they were looking into it notes back. I eventually gave up and stayed off the site a couple months. (I am a paying pro member as well). Last week I went on and they had a female form contest. I submitted some black and whites. They were in no way explicit. You could see a breast in 3 of them thats all. Within two hours they disappeared. I had them marked as adult. So I contacted them, they insulted my creative works by telling me nudity for the sake of nudity was not allowed. I took screen shots of other peoples work which showed open vagina, and masturbation and asked how my picture with just a breast was more offensive than those. They appear to pull pictures based on complaints without looking at actual picture. They refused to even look at what I sent, but cancelled my account on me. My pictures have been used by artists to paint and are sold as prints. They are in no way pornographic and I am disgusted by how viewbug has different standards for different members. One of the pictures they pulled of mine was in week 3 of being top 10 trifecta, if given awards one week how is it offensive the next week? Do yourself a favor and don’t support viewbug as they are unprofessional and a joke in the photography world.

    1. Hi Ben, it’s sad indeed that you have had this kind of experience from Viewbug, unfortunately this is the sort of thing that will happen on sites such as this. Because they rely on people reporting what they think should not be there some things are removed that shouldn’t be whilst others – not seen by the same people – remain for others to view. Whilst this will always be true, the response you should get from Viewbug should certainly be better than what has been received reading what you have said above. I guess this is also going to be a regular grief unfortunately due to the subject matter you use – this is not something I have ever done so will not likely get that kind of response. As I have said to others who have commented on the Viewbug threads done to date I put no great faith in these sites being totally unbiased for competitions as there will always be a bias towards paying customers in whatever form it happens to take – more entries so greater chance to win or just more exposure/less entrants to compete against. Whilst I will never pay for an account on Viewbug I enjoy what I get from it even though it is not much so will continue to use it. Viewbug has developed into a site for anyone taking a quick snap rather than just those who are either pro of keen enthusiasts (such as myself) so not everyone is going to be looking at pictures in the same way. I hope you have found something that you have been able to use instead.

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