A Photography Contest for (Almost) Everyone

Have you ever wanted to pursue photography as a hobby but lacked the creative push to begin? A perfect incentive to get more involved with your camera is to join a photography club with weekly ideas for you to photograph. There may not be local clubs near you but there is the option of using the internet to encourage you - and that's where the weekly Farktography contest at Fark.com comes in.

An example of humorous entries from "Street Photography"
An example of humorous entries from "Street Photography" | Source

An Introduction to Farktography

Fark.com is a news aggregate website. If you've ever wanted to burn some productivity at work or take a humorous look at the events of the day, you may have already discovered this internet gem. For the past six years, Fark has also hosted a weekly photography contest. Although there is no tangible prize for winning aside from some internet notoriety (yet...), participation in this community has generated visible growth and technique in the regular participants, including my own work.

This contest is open to anyone with an internet connection, but you will need to use a Fark account to post. Accounts are free and there is no restriction on who can create one; all you need is an email address. Although content on Fark is generally safe for work and adolescents, more mature content is occasionally externally linked to the site. Therefore I recommend this contest for users aged 16 & up. (Also, younger people might not get all the jokes...)


How to Participate

So what do you need to participate in this contest? It's as simple as internet access, something that takes pictures and a free Fark.com account. The contests start at 8 p.m. Wednesday night, where users who have a paid account can get an early start at posting. The contests and voting go live on the main page of the website at midnight Thursday where everyone else can participate. Voting lasts through Sunday.

  1. Check out the schedule for upcoming themes at Farktography.net. While you're there, make sure you familiarize yourself with the general rules of the contest and any special rules for the individual themes, which are found in the theme descriptions.
  2. Choose up to three entries and find a place to host them online. Flickr, Photobucket, Picasa and other sites offer free and premium paid hosting.
  3. When the headline for Farktography appears on Fark.com, click on the comments to post your entries.
  4. To post your entry, use html, bbcode or the URL link box to link the photo in your comment. You can add a title or brief story to go with your photo. Remember to click the check box for "Voting enabled" or your photo won't get any votes. Click submit, and you will see your entry join the others.
  5. Vote for as many entries as you like!

Rules of the Contest

Like any contest there are a few rules that have to be observed.

  • Submissions must be photographs; screen captures do not count as photographs.
  • You must be the original photographer of your entry. Do not submit any else's photography as your own.
  • You are only allowed to enter a photograph once. Do not submit the same photo to another contest later.
  • Up to 3 photos can be entered in each contest. Post each photo separately so they can be voted for individually.
  • Ideally your photograph should be presented as close to the original as possible, but image corrections such as cropping, color corrections and minor retouching is allowed. No removing of compositional elements is permitted (no removing telephone poles, no adding Elvis). Perspective? Pin cushion? Unsightly blemishes? Stray hairs falling over your model's alabaster face? Fix these. That's cool.

Website banner created by user BecauseISaidSo from multiple contestants' entries in "Alphabet Photography".
Website banner created by user BecauseISaidSo from multiple contestants' entries in "Alphabet Photography". | Source
An example from the Farktography Statistics Manager
An example from the Farktography Statistics Manager | Source

Tracking Your Progress

As I mentioned previously, the winner each week does not receive any tangible prize, but their photo is displayed as the top photo in Fark.com's weekly photo viewer. This does not mean that the victor passes unnoticed. There are two databases that track every participant's entries for each contest and display all manner of graphs, charts and data that shows your personal bests, worsts, averages and how you rank against other players in the contest. The first of these is located at Farktography.net and is called the Farktography Statistics Manager. The second of these is called Bibliostats, and is currently in beta testing and development. Both trackers show every photo used by every participant in every contest, how many votes it received, how it placed and tracks the individual and accumulated statistics for each person in each contest. Each participant has access to this free useful tool to chart your growth as a photographer by simply participating in the contest.

1st Place Photo: "All Night Long"
1st Place Photo: "All Night Long" | Source

And now, the Why?

Now that the guidelines are out of the way, we can focus on the most important part of Farktography, or the answer to the question "Why should I do this?" Put simply, the community of Farktography is unlike any other photography community on the internet. The regular participants are not professional photographers - they are amateurs or amateur-professionals who have a deep passion for the art and technique of photography but have only embraced it as far as the time they can devote to the hobby. The interaction and flow of ideas and creativity from one member to the other is always positive. Feedback and criticism is 99% constructive and praise for interesting, unique, difficult and creative ideas is abundant. Tips, tricks and secrets are openly shared. Unlike many forums on the internet, farktography.net is relatively drama free and it's members work to keep it that way.

Additionally, this contest is open to anyone who feels like participating. You can play every week or you can play only in themes that catch your attention, but each week brings new and diverse subject matter from the dramatic to the humorous. Past themes have included technical ideas such as HDR, stitched panoramas, tilt-shifting and color popping, but there have also been ridiculous themes like "Barbie and Ken" or "Legos" and everything in between. You can even suggest the next contest if you have a great idea.

Finally, there is no technological requirement to participate. Your entries can be from a cell phone camera, DSLR, or film. Sometimes the winning picture is humorous, poignant, pointed or strikes a chord with the voters, rather than being "good" or "technical". I will state that data trends show posting earlier in the contest gives you a boost in votes, but otherwise the only limiting factor to your personal success is your own imagination.

What are you waiting for? Check out the current week's contest or upcoming themes, and give yourself a reason to exercise your camera and your eye every week.

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