Guidelines for writing a Community Contest brief

A well written contest brief is essential for the success of your community contest.

The brief should clearly outline the subject or concept of the contest, and should leave the photographer with no doubt about whether an image they have in mind would fit the brief or not. 

If this seems daunting, don’t worry! All submitted briefs will be reviewed by our community moderators who will make sure your brief is in good shape before your contest goes live.

Guidelines for writing a good brief:

  • Write the contest title and brief in English.
  • Keep the language simple, clear and direct. Write in a way that can be easily understood by the general public, avoiding overly technical terms or unexplained abbreviations.
  • If there are subjects you do or do not want included in your contest (for example, ‘no people’) or you only want colour or black and white images, make this clear in the title of the contest, or very early in the brief. If you add requirements like these later in the brief then they’re likely to be missed by a lot of people and result in off-brief submissions.
  • Try to avoid being too prescriptive and having too many rules for your contest. The more exclusions and inclusions you add to your brief, the more frustrating it will be when lots of off-brief images are submitted.
  • Including definitions of certain subjects or concepts can be very useful, and add clarity. But don’t simply copy that definition straight from a dictionary or Wikipedia. Try and incorporate a concise definition into the wider brief using your own words. If a definition needs to be more extensive, consider whether the theme might be too complex for the community to engage with.
  • Instead of including specific technical boundaries, instead focus on the effect that is intended by that technical approach. For example instead of saying that the aperture must be 2.8 or wider, ask for images that demonstrate a shallow depth of field.
  • Avoid the inclusion of personal information about yourself, your interests and beliefs, home and family life, reasons for submitting the contest etc.
  • Avoid including requirements that cannot be determined just by looking at a photo, for example:
    • Instead of “photos of your pet” say “ photos of pets, maybe your own pet”
    • Instead of “flowers growing in your garden” say “flowers typically found in a garden”
    • Instead of “photos of members of your family” say “photos of people displaying a close family bond”
  • There is no need to describe the banner image in the brief, or to acknowledge the photographer of the banner image if it is another member of the Photocrowd community.

Things we don’t currently allow:

  • Contests that express a particular political or religious view. Contests that broadly explore religion or politics are allowed.
  • Contests on the theme of nude/glamour/lingerie/boudoir. This is with the intention of creating an inclusive space on Photocrowd where all members of the community feel welcomed.  
  • Contests on the themes of hunting, fishing, bullfighting or any other pastime where a substantial proportion of the submitted images are likely to involve the harming or killing of animals for sport.
  • Contests whose themes ask for text to be applied to the image.
  • Contests asking for 'creative editing' or 'painterly effects' or other excessive post processing treatments that will encourage the entry of imagery that is non-photographic in nature
  • Contests asking for reproductions of brand names, logos, artwork or signs. These encourage simple copying of other people's art or graphic creations. Briefs will be either rejected or amended to specify that the subject should be set within a wider context.
  • Restricting entries to a particular device (such as a mobile phone) or to a particular brand of camera. Some premium contests on Photocrowd have these restrictions, but community contests are intended to be as open to the whole community as possible.
  • Specifying that images must not have watermarks, borders around images, or the like. Watermarks and borders are allowed on imagery on Photocrowd, and in contests, as they are a matter of personal preference. Images with watermarks or borders are generally less likely to do well in a crowd vote, and judges are of course able to award (or not award) any images they wish to.
  • Specifying ‘No Photoshop/post-processing of images’. Most images will benefit from some post processing, even if it’s a small increase in contrast, or some blemish removal. Instead you could state that “I prefer to see natural-looking images without heavy post-processing effects”
  • Specifying 'No composites'. Any restrictions must be enforceable, and this rule isn't. A well done composite won't obviously be a composite, and a badly done or obvious composite can be assessed by the judge and the crowd as such. Instead you could state that “I prefer to see images that are not composites, and that are instead taken from a single capture.”
  • Specifying that images must contain certain information in the title or description. Photocrowd does not require images to have any specific information included in the title or description, so whilst you might encourage members to add this information, it can’t be a requirement for entry to your contest. The only exception to this is for location-specific contests, where it is OK to ask that the location information be added into the title or description, to avoid doubt about where an image was shot.

Community contest moderation

After you submit your contest brief one of our community moderators will review it. They are very experienced in ensuring that community contest briefs are clear and conform to Photocrowd’s requirements for well written briefs. You can even ask for assistance with writing the brief when you submit it.

They may edit your brief, and sometimes briefs are not approved. You'll always receive a message back from them to explain why a brief has been edited or has failed to be approved. Please don't take these edits personally. We've learned over a long period of time why some briefs work well, and others don't!

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