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Why One Blogger Chose to Participate in Rather Than Host Photo Challenges

Always Write Interview/Guest Post Series #6

#Bloggers Hosting Writing and Photo Challenges

Today’s guest post takes in a different perspective than all of our former interviews and guest posts in this series. Welcome to one of my new California blogging friends, Susan Gutterman on her blog, Musin’ with Susan. She’s a former talented photo challenge host turned participant and has the enthusiasm and boundless energy to go with her skills. See what she’s doing since she gave up her challenge.

Presenting Photo Challenge Opportunities to my Camera Club

by Susan Gutterman

I was very honored when Marsha asked me to write a guest post about my experience of doing a presentation about Photo Challenges online for my Camera club, the Friday Foto Fanatics, or FFF.

At our monthly meetings, and online, I often talk to others about the numerous challenges that I participate in and back in April my friend, Pam, approached me with the suggestion of delivering a presentation to the group, via Zoom, as we were already locked down. She thought that most of our members might not be aware of all of the photo challenges in the blogosphere and on social media and might be interested.

My Photographic Background

I was introduced to blogging in 2013, at about the same time as I began to get serious about photography. I started to read about photo challenges which sounded like a good way to improve my photography skills and keep myself motivated. 

I had developed a love for macro photography and could not find a macro challenge on WordPress, so, in 2016, decided to start my own.  I called it Macro Moments and the weekly challenge developed a small, but loyal following.  I loved running this challenge and learned so much, but a year later decided that it was time to move on and spend more time participating in challenges moderated by someone else. 

Criteria for Joining a Photo Challenge

My criteria for joining a challenge is that participants are serious and that it will encourage me to learn and grow. I look for challenges with technical themes, for example; macro, high key, bokeh, long exposure, and the like, as well as those that are just fun. I often try a new skill which fits with a theme.  I have worked with water splashing, smoke, painting with light and tiny railroad figures, to name a few.

I wanted the club members to learn about online challenges and get them excited about joining in some themselves.  I started with this slide and briefly discussed each point–

A screenshot of a cell phone

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I then described  a number of the challenges that I participate in regularly and shared a photo or two that I had submitted to that challenge along the way, as seen in the slides below. 

52 Frames 

  • Each week has a theme. The purpose of 52 Frames is to turn YOU into a truly awesome photographer.
  • When you join the group, you get your own page on the site.
  • The Photo must be taken the week of the challenge and is due by Sunday at 12:00 am Eastern time. 
  • They have over 2,000 submissions per week.
  • The pictures are published in an album each Tuesday.
  • A select small album called “52 Picks” is published each Thursday.
  • There are small groups of 10-12 that offer each other constructive criticism within the larger group.
  • The website hosts local photo walks through their partners.
A picture containing underwear, pink, purple

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52 Frames Theme: Inverted by Susan Gutterman
Food on a table

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52 Frames Theme: Not What You See by Susan Gutterman

The Trevor Carpenter Challenge

  • This challenge is in a public Facebook Group.
  • Submissions are posted on the Facebook page or on Flicker
  • The photo must be taken the week of the challenge. 
  • The themes are often technical.
Trevor Carpenter Photo Challenge Theme: Triptych by Susan Gutterman

Self-Taught Photographers

  • This daily challenge is in a private Facebook group.
  • Photos may be new or from archives.
  • Submissions are posted on the Facebook page.
  • Administrators choose one photo a day to be used for the banner in the next day’s announcement.
  • The banner winner chooses the theme for the next day.
A close up of a flower

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Self-Taught Photographers Theme: Insects by Susan Gutterman

Sunday Stills

  • This weekly challenge is on Terry Webster Schrandt’s WordPress blog, Second Wind Leisure Perspectives.
  • To join, create your own blogpost and link back to Terri’s post.
  • Photos may be new or from archives.
A close up of a flower

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Sunday Stills Theme: Fantastic Florals by Susan Gutterman

Macro Mondays on Flickr

  • This weekly challenge is in a Flickr group.
  • Each entry must be a macro (defined as no larger than three inches.)
  • A photo must be taken during the prior week and posted on Monday.
  • Submissions are posted to the album on the group page.
A close up of some shoes

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Flickr Theme: Zipper by Susan Gutterman

PhotograpHER

  • This weekly challenge is a local group Facebook group out of Berkeley.
  • It is for women only.
  • The photo must be taken each week.
  • It is added to a weekly album.
  • They take local field trips.
A person standing next to a body of water

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PhotograpHER Theme: Rule of Thirds by Susan Gutterman

Lens- Artists

  • This weekly challenge is hosted on WordPress blogs by four rotating hosts.
  • To enter you create your own blog post and add a link to the original challenge.
  • Photos can be recent or from archives.
A cat sitting on top of a leopard

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Lens-Artist Theme: Distance by Susan Gutterman

The final slide in the presentation was also my handout, emailed to the members.  It is a list of the challenges that I regularly participate in, with links to the sites.

Exploring Online Photo Challenges

  • A Photo A Week Challenge: 

https://nadiamerrillphotography.wordpress.com/

  • Self-Taught Photographers: 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1441617732734316

  • Macro Mondays on Flickr: 

https://www.flickr.com/groups/317988@N20

  • PhotograpHER (women photographers only): 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/photographywomen

Conclusion and Responses

After my presentation, several people contacted me to tell me that they had enjoyed the presentation and that they were going to look into the challenges.  I don’t think anyone was already participating.

I sent an email to the group yesterday asking them to let me know if they had joined any challenges and what their experience had been.  One member responded that he joined 52 Frames right after my talk and he has been submitting every week.

He commented, “It’s a great group”! 

This made me very happy and I immediately looked him up in the group. 

Biography

Susan Gutterman was a diabetes educator before she retired.  She counseled people with diabetes and worked for LifeScan, a Johnson and Johnson company which manufactures blood testing products. During her last years with the company she traveled for them to Europe and Asia and her love of traveling took off from there.”

Susan is married and she has two children and four grandchildren. In addition to her photos and travelogues, you can expect to occasionally hear about her life with Gabby, her yellow Lab, her family and friends, and her home and garden.

She hosted a weekly photo challenge called “Macro Moments” for a year and now regularly submit photos to various challenges on WordPress and other social media sites.

She loves “meeting” her fellow bloggers and photographers, and connecting with family and friends in this space.  She meet Pat, from Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss, live and in person in Basel, Switzerland and Nicole, from Nicole Pottier Une photo, un poem from Normandy on recent trips.  Lunches together were highlights of those trips! She can’t wait to read your comments and learn from each other.

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33 replies »

  1. Photo challenges were how I got interested in photography. I started with the WordPress weekly photo challenge (such a shame they ended the challenge ) and soon came across a few more. I even ran one of my own, but it was a lot of hard work, and I couldn’t keep up with it all. It ran for 32 weeks before I called it a day. By the time it ended, it was getting well over 50 participants each week. I admire all those who run these weekly and monthly challenges.

    Now I tend to stick to the Wordless Wednesday photo challenge and also dip in and out of Sunday Stills. I believe that by participating in these challenges, your photography improves. The same goes for writing challenges (especially when there is a word limit).

    What a great post, Marsha and Susan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve run into her several times. I will definitely check out her challenge. Thanks for sharing it, Carol. I’m with you. I don’t think I could be consistent enough to run a challenge unless I had someone to help me. The challenge coming up in Friday’s post is an interesting one that Susan talks about in her post run by four women from all over the world. You’ll enjoy it, I think. 🙂

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  2. Hi Marsha, hope all is well!! So great to see Susan here! We California girls need to stick together (at least virtually). I met Susan and participated in her Macro Moments challenge and I learned a lot. Susan is a talented photographer and I’m happy to read about her journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is an interesting post, Marsha. I don’t focus on photography challenges but rather on writing prompts, but I do sometimes participate in Teri’s. If I post photographs they are always concerning my food art and baking.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve just started with the writing prompts, Robbie, and since I didn’t have a list of them, I started researching. I knew about Carrot Ranch and Colleen’s Tanka Tuesdays, but I’ve found a few more as well, but as I started the series, it morphed back to include photo challenges. I tend to be better at non-fiction and didactic writing, so photo blogging fits my style. I love that I can tell a story to my photos and still have them sharable on someone’s photo challenge. It’s still a lot of work, but I don’t have to concentrate so much on dreaming up the story or poem. Writing challenges are great mental exercises for me. 🙂

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Marsha

Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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