Gurushots.com is a photo competition “game” website. There are themed challenges that you can join by entering up to 4 of your images. Prizes are not always the same, most will have in game currency awarded, such as “swap”, “boost”, “auto fills”. Some award prizes from sponsors, books and some are inclusions in exhibits. The exhibit and book ones have a small fee to enter. Challenges are run by “guru’s” and winners of the challenges are chosen by votes and one by the Guru. Joining is free as is entering the challenges. Player rankings start at Newbie and as your photos gain votes and as certain criteria are achieved your player ranking progresses, ending with the Guru status.
I’ve been playing for maybe 6 months now and currently at the “expert” level, here’s my profile. I think I’ll be stuck here a while since one of the criteria I’ve yet to achieve is winning a challenge. So here’s the gist of “playing” Gurushots, as I see it:
You upload your images and your shots get displayed to fellow players and if they like your image they click it to signify voting for it. You can increase the chances of your image being seen, the free way, by playing the game ie voting for the images in the challenge. Or the not so free way, which is using “boosts” either from winning them or purchasing them. There is an “exposure meter” (relating to your image) that increases as the number of votes you cast increases. If you don’t want to “play” or you’ve entered so many challenges that it’ll take you all day to catch up, you can use your “auto fills” to fill up your exposure meter. Again, these can be won or purchased. As you move up in rank. If an image is not garnering enough votes you can swap it out using a “swap”. Again won or purchasable.
Exposure and Voting…I have no clue of the inner workings of this and it seems this is the source of a lot of negativity.
I have no idea what the formula of how often an image shows up on a players voting page. But you can “keep voting” after the round of images shown when you first start to vote is done. But how many continues are you willing to wade through? There are thousands of photographers in each challenge each submitting 4 photos (I’ve seen over 10k photographers in some challenges), so if you’re not viewing pages and pages of images, there is a pretty strong chance you won’t see (and get to vote for) the eventual winners. Is this a flaw of the system? Maybe but I wouldn’t know how to do better, as long as I’m getting beat by better images, I’m ok with it.
Then there are those who believe that other players will deliberately vote for “bad” images to decrease the votes of the good images. That doesn’t make sense to me as I find that poor sportsmanship. While I believe it may happen, I can’t bring myself to believe that this happens so often that it makes a difference in the results. If you are skeptical look through all the winner’s galleries. I haven’t come across a single winner’s image that I can wholehearted say doesn’t deserve to win, not that I’m an expert or anything, its just I’ll know when an image is better than the one I submitted.
As for the buying the win…ya there is an advantage. Do I buy them, no. Why? Because I can win some if my images are good enough. After all, this is a competition. Am I handicapping myself? Not really, because you get a few boost, refills, swaps when you join. If my images are good and I use them then I should be able to win more to use. I find only when enter too many at once that I run out of boosts. Plus you can only boost one image in the set of four that you submit (that I’ve experienced). The swaps I only use at the very beginning if I don’t have time to vote in so many challenges. I do however pay to enter the challenges that have an exhibition or a printed book as a prize.
Now the prizes, I can’t attest to getting any because I haven’t won any. I can attest to getting swaps, boosts, and auto fills when my image or image set has done well. I can attest to being notified of inclusion in an exhibition (albeit only the digital section), you can see it here. Also I can attest to receiving the book “Powerful Shots” for free (my image is on page 60). It’s a beautiful, hard cover book measuring 30.5 cm x 22 cm. The entrance fee to be included for selection for each of these challenges was below $10 USD, can’t remember exactly how much it was. For sure you can’t buy a photobook of that quality for $10 with your image in it, even if you make it yourself! Personally, I think making it into an exhibition in another country for less than $10 is worth it. What would be even better is if a portion of the proceeds from the book makes it back to the contributing photogs. I’ve also wondered why images aren’t available for sale, I’ve seen some awesome work that if I had the budget, I would buy or recommend to someone who would.
So bottom line, do you have to pay money to play and win? No. Does it consume a lot of time? It can. How much is up to you.
I play almost everyday around 15 to 30 min. I have a certain block of time in the day to do my social media/marketing/emails and I play then. I find it really has honed my photographic “eye” and recognizing/understanding photographic artistry. For example, prior to playing gurushots, I would have a max of 2 image acceptances from photography salons (International competitions recognized by FIAP, PSA, GPU, IUP) the most recent one I got 15 acceptances, one merit and one honor mention. You can check this out on my instgram post. So for me there is a
It is my opinion that being able to put up images to compete and seeing responses in terms of votes, being able to compare the number of votes winners get has helped me to understand image making…from choosing an image to editing style. The extra benefit of buying in (cheaply) when my numbers are high enough to compete for a spot in an exhibition and or book are worth it for me. You can put these achievements on your artist bio/CV, it’s worth it.
The only thing that I don’t really “like” but I do it too, is the entering of an image into multiple challenges. It’s just too easy and quick to do so. I shouldn’t complain because I do this too but I am complaining because many times it’s the same photographer(s) and or image that beats me.
And therein lies the challenge!