What kind of contests can I enter?
There are three types of contests users can compete in: publications, challenges and awards. Capture My Chicago contests are a great way to show off your photography and see how you stack up against other Capture My Chicago photographers! We encourage you to explore the contest opportunities:
Publications: Publications are typically real-world products, such as books, calendars, magazine inserts, etc. When a publication contest is announced, we'll send out a news item to everyone. We consider publications the biggest, broadest and best contests on Capture My Chicago. Where else can you enter your photos in a contest and end up published in a real-world product?
The key part of publication contests is the agreement between you, the photographer, and us, the publisher of said publication. The agreement is 100% optional, which means you decide if you want your photos to be eligible for use in a particular publication. We aren't interested in any sort of rights grab, so we give you complete control over your photography and ensure you retain all rights. If you want your photos to be eligible for a publication, all you have to do is opt-in to that publication's agreement and voila!, your photos will be considered. Nothing more is needed.
Challenges: Challenges are super fun! They are usually fairly short (from a single day to a month or two), and super focused on a theme. Challenges are the best way to see how your photos stack up against other photos because all photos are put into a head-to-head matchup. Users then pick one or the other photo and we track each photo's win percentage, or the percentage of time that photo is selected. Occasionally, challenges photos are eligible to wind up in a publication, but if that's the case, the challenge will have an agreement opt-in as laid out above for publications.
Awards: We have a ton of different awards! From photo-based awards such as Photo of the Day (for winning Photo of the Day) and Most Loves (for the photo loved the most by users) to user-based awards such as the Top Voter (for the user who's cast the most votes) and Top Promoter (for the user who's sent the most emails sharing Capture My Chicago with others). We also have awards for big milestones, like when a photo reaches 100 votes or a user casts 1,000 votes.
An award is also the way we highlight photos featured in publications or picked as winners in challenges. Some awards come with a specific value, like a gift card for winning the Editors' Choice in a challenge.
Are there prizes?
Challenges almost always have a prize. Publications usually do as well. The value of each prize is listed with each award on either the challenge or publication page.
How are contest winners selected?
Most contests (publications and challenges) are a mix of people's choice winners and editors' choice winners. The guiding principle is simple: editors may have a trained eye to pick a great photo, but there's no reason regular folks can't spot a superb photo as well. To marry the trained eyes of our panel of editors with the everyday vision of the people of the Chicago area, users to vote for photos. Voting helps shape two different kinds of winners:
People's Choice: People's choice is all about voting. Within challenges, the vote is a head-to-head matchup, but everywhere else the vote is simply how many "dig it" votes a photo receives--especially for publications. In addition to the total number of votes a photo receives, its current popularity, peak popularity, age, and other factors are considered. In other words, the photo with the most total votes isn't necessarily the top people's choice photo. Many other things are considered.
Editor's Choice: If contests only had people's choice (votes), they would be nothing more than popularity contests. That's no fun. Instead, we have editors who pick photos to win things (awards, challenges, publications, etc.). Editors browse Capture My Chicago regularly to flag photos that catch their eye. Our editors can't see all photos, however, which is another reason the vote is so important. When picking photos for publications, challenge winners, and so on, editors take a look at top-voted photos, popular photos, photos with a high peak popularity as well as photos they've flagged over time.
In the end, we think publications, challenges or anything else where winners are selected is the perfect balance of photos the users think are a cut above the rest and photos our editors think are something special.
How involved are the editors?
In a word: very. We built Capture My Chicago to help find the best of the Chicago area in photography, but that goal would be impossible without the oversight of our panel of editors. Our editors are looking at submissions every day and highlighting their favorites.
How will I know if I've won something?
Every time a photo is awarded it gets a fancy award badge on its page. At the same time, an email goes out to you if you've opted to receive such emails on your settings page. Fun!
What's the counter in the top right corner for?
The counter shows you how much time is left before a contest closes. Between challenges, publications and awards, there's always something to compete in on Capture My Chicago, so pay attention to the counter to know which contest is coming to a close soon.