Seeking Your Input for Picture This Photo Contest

– Posted in: Garden Photography

Sunrise March 18 08

First, a big thanks to all of you who let us know that you really want Picture This Photo Contest to continue throughout the winter months rather than taking a respite until next spring. We’re thrilled about the community of gardeners who have come together to make Picture This such a vibrant contest!

We’d be happy to keep the contest alive throughout winter, but we need your input. Because Picture This takes a tremendous amount of time to organize and manage, Nan and I have come up with a few possibilities that are much less labor-intensive and hopefully will keep the ‘soul’ of the contest alive and kicking.

These are our thoughts:

1. The prizes for the winter months would be the Gold and Silver Medal Winner badges with no rewards from outside sources.

2. Rather than having a professional photographer judge the photos, you, our readers, would vote. The format would be as follows:  A new subject would be posted at the beginning of the month. The entries would close on the 22nd of the month, and then there would be a 5-day voting period, during which you could send in one vote for the photo that you think should be the winner. You would send your vote directly to my e-mail; then I would tally up the votes and post the winners. Individual votes would not be made public.

Please let us know your thoughts about this new format. Is it something you’d want to participate in and read as well? We’re depending on you for your honest opinions. If, for any reason, you’d prefer that your thoughts be kept confidential, please write me at [email protected]

As long as we’re on the subject of asking for your input, it would really be helpful to Nan and me if you could let us know the reasons why you read Gardening Gone Wild. Does it offer you anything unique in the gardening blogosphere? If so, what? What areas of gardening are we not addressing that you would  like to see us write about? 

Nan and I have spent a tremendous amount of time and energy (as do most garden bloggers) to craft a blog that you find compelling, informational and inspirational. It is our goal to keep it fresh, offering a spectrum of gardening topics written by the five Regular Contributors – myself, Nan, Debra, Saxon and Steve – with the intention of informing and inspiring you continue on your garden journey.

We feel privileged to participate with you in the gardening blogosphere. And we thank you for making Gardening Gone Wild a part of your world.

*** We are reading all posts but won’t be posting responses to them on this subject. Your words say it all and it’s appreciated!

Fran Sorin

Fran is the author of the highly-acclaimed book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, which Andrew Weil, M.D., recommends as "a profound and inspiring book."  

A graduate of the University of Chicago with Honors in Psychology, she is also a gardening and creativity expert, coach, inspirational speaker, CBS radio news gardening correspondent, and Huffington Post Contributor.

Learn more about Fran and get free resources that will help you improve your life at

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Fran Sorin
23 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

Marie November 13, 2009, 8:02 am

I like the your plan for the garden photo contest through the winter. I would put in my vote. I look forward to seeing the photos when I’m cranky during the dark, cold winter. LOL

Why do I read this blog? Because it’s informative, well-written, interesting and fun. That’s why. Congratulations to you all.

Dear Marie,
Thanks for your input….especially the use of the word ‘cranky’. It made me laugh! Fran

Mr. McGregor's Daughter November 13, 2009, 10:27 am

This blog is a great source of inspiration and information. The visits to gardens, the inside scoop on garden photography, the design examples are what I most enjoy.

The ideas for the photo contest over the winter sound good. I’ve never entered because of the possibility of winning stuff. Reader selection is fine with me, although I prefer having a professional photographer as judge.

Dear MMD,
Thanks for your input on both subjects. It’s appreciated. Fran

Carolyn Parker November 13, 2009, 11:19 am

Yes, to the photo contest continuing!
I read the blog to keep up on things, don’t want to miss anything.

Nicole November 13, 2009, 1:43 pm

Yes, please do keep it going over the winter months-this is also welcome for us folks in warmer climes.

Pam/Digging November 13, 2009, 2:00 pm

What makes your photo contest unique is having a professional photographer judge it and, if contestants are lucky, he or she making the time to comment on various submissions. I have to admit I wouldn’t be as likely to enter if that weren’t the case, though I’d still enjoy seeing everyone’s photos.

Prizes are nice of course (and you’ve had some good ones!), but that’s not as important to me as who the judge is.

To answer your question, I read GGW for design ideas, Nan’s beautiful garden photos, pro photographer tips and a look at the behind-the-scenes process of getting magazine photos, and your wonderful interviews with well-known designers or other interesting folks. You guys do a great job!

Helen at Toronto Gardens November 13, 2009, 2:01 pm

In addition to an enjoyable read, I always find valuable things to take away after a visit to your blog, whether it’s design or plant info or photo tips. I’d say, keep on doing what you’re doing!

This is my first entry for Picture This, but while prizes are a nice perk, they aren’t the main attraction. I’d love to post one of your winning badges on our blog.

I see why it would be hard to line up pro judges, though that would be my preference.

My concern with letting us be the judges is that many would vote on the basis of friendship. Would that dilute the value of your prize badges? If so, perhaps the contest name could change over the winter to something such as People’s Choice or a seasonal name like Winterfest, to distinguish it from Picture This.

Frances November 13, 2009, 6:31 pm

Hi Fran, I have always loved reading GGW. It has diversity with the various contributors, all top notch. I am often inspired by the posts. I love great photos of great gardens. I do think there needs to be a judge of some kind for contests, so as not to have it be a popularity contest. They already have that type voting at Blotanical. The prizes are not why I enter, although they seem like nice ones. Also, my entry this month is the final photo. 🙂

Jean at Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog November 13, 2009, 8:58 pm

I read GGW for the design ideas and interesting information about garden photography. It’s a great blog and you all deserve tons of credit and all your gardening wishes to come true.

I would love for the contest to continue through the winter and I really think that prizes are not why people enter. At least that’s not why I do (although they are VERY nice). I think folks do it because it’s a great challenge and to post one of those GGW winner badges is special. I would prefer a professional judge because that’s how I learn more. And that’s why I love the contest.

Gayle Madwin November 13, 2009, 10:22 pm

I read Gardening Gone Wild because it frequently offers insights into garden design and garden photography that I don’t find anywhere else. I don’t care about the information involving specific plant species, because I rely on other (more local) sources for advice about plant selection, but the garden design workshops and “The Camera Always Lies” columns here can’t be beat.

I won’t comment on the proposed changes to the photo contests, because although I enjoy reading them, I rarely enter them – mainly because my garden is still too new and too small to be very photographable.

Town Mouse November 13, 2009, 11:53 pm

Ah, never mind the prize. I’m always worried I’ll win, and will then have to find a home for the plant which won’t usually fit into my CA Native plan garden. Well, I’m not that worried, but never mind the prizes.
Getting the feedback is very useful, though for me, it wouldn’t have to be a professional. Anyone’s honest feedback is great. Most garden bloggers are too nice.
I like the design advice in the blog, and I really like the variety. It’s been an inspiration to me; I might have started my own blog but I liked your blog so much I decided I needed at least one other author.
Photos on your blog are really great too, and I love it that you don’t have obnoxious ads (a few small ones are fine).
Keep up the amazing work!

salix November 14, 2009, 10:53 am

I love GGW because of the diversity having multiple contributors – both regulars and guests.
The Design Workshops and Picture this – along with interviews and inspiring, informative posts on gardening and photography makes this blog so unique.
It is absolutely one of my favourites!
I have never entered the Picture This contest, but I enjoy viewing the submitted pictures and learn from the selection process of a prof photographer.

mjb November 14, 2009, 4:32 pm

you might consider using this plug-in on your blog to automate the voting process. this way, you don’t have to pollute your inbox with so much extra mail and it should be simple to use…

anyway, the contestsn — keep ’em coming!

the inadvertent farmer November 14, 2009, 5:18 pm

I would hate to see the contest go over the winter…that is at least for me the most challenging time to come up with something interesting. It is more of a stretch.

As everyone has said I don’t enter because of the prizes but for the feedback, the enjoyment of seeing how others interpret the assignment and of course I would love a badge! I think having a knowledgeable judge is what sets you apart from other contest.

I love the variety here…with each post there is something new to be gleaned or something lovely to bring a smile to my face…thanks!

Susie November 14, 2009, 10:14 pm

I don’t enter because of the prizes either. I love seeing the creativity of the other entrants & also to see what is going on in gardens around the country. I love GGW because it offers so much info from multiple contributors, beautiful photos & design ideas.

healingmagichands November 14, 2009, 11:36 pm

I don’t enter the Picture This contest for the prizes, actually, but for the feedback, experience and fun of it. So not having the actual prize but a badge wouldn’t keep me from entering. I do have some qualms about having the bloggers vote; I share the concerns others have mentioned about it turning into a popularity contest. It would also mean that you would have to trust your readers to actually go and look at every entry before they voted. I actually do this every month and it is quite time consuming; I wonder how many others actually do check out all the entries.

Why I enjoy GGW? I like the fact that there are so many different points of view presented here. This is an “all round” gardening blog in a way that none of the others I visit are. I think it is because you don’t just have designers, or a photographer. You have the full spectrum of the professional viewpoint presented here. And the fact that many of you are professionals gives us amateurs an opportunity to visit places and gardens through your posts that we might never hear about, much less have the wherewithal to actually go visit. For example, there was a post a while ago where one of you went and photographed a living roof from close up, and I’m pretty sure that the ordinary garden blogger would never get that close to that subject.

Another thing I really love about this blog is your willingness to be so inclusive. The Garden Design Workshops actively solicit input from the rest of the blogging community, and that makes it a lot of fun for us when we participate in the workshops. I have come across new garden blogs that I enjoy visiting all because of those posts.

Nancy Bond November 15, 2009, 1:56 pm

I, too, hope you’ll continue your photo contest throughout the coming winter. And I very much like the idea of reader votes…I would participate, of course.

I first came to GGW for the same reason so many others did — besides your alluring blog title, I’ve enjoyed the many faceted and informative articles and photos very much.

ESP November 16, 2009, 12:34 am

Hi Fran.
I can imagine the time and logistic commitment (on your part) it must take to run these photographic blogging competitions, which are so much fun for all entering, and all laymen reading. I am so happy you are considering ways to streamline and continue these competitions into the winter months.

What great questions to ask…my take is simple…the competition, in my opinion, definitely needs a professional photographer, a person that can “speak the language” and articulate professional feedback on each photographic entry…in my opinion, that is the backbone of the GGW competitions…the articulate feedback, it is what makes it engaging and pushes us all to higher levels. The award badge is THE reward for entering, no need for a physical award, (although that was a nice touch).

I repeatedly visit GGW firstly for the photo competitions, secondly for the design workshops, that, when I have something to offer, I will enter, then for all of the other informative postings your website offers. You are a great, albeit not local informational resource, one that I find myself hitting on a regular basis.

I have met so many garden bloggers from your site, you should be proud for propagating this on-line community.

Appreciate all your hard work.

marmee November 16, 2009, 5:00 pm

i found ggw because my sister entered a contest a few months ago and it intrigued me. i have really enjoyed the contests and the prizes have nothing to do with it but of course i haven’t won any yet.(lol)
i completely understand if you all need a break during the winter months but i would like to see them continue if you are able. i really enjoy hearing the input from the judges as well. so having people just vote and not knowing why would be a let down. i really don’t enjoy the contests where it is up to how many votes you can solicit to win. i like the idea of placing a badge from ggw on my page to say i have won.
i love seeing how everyones interpretions have been so different and then even how the judges make their own personal choices based on what moves them.
i also have met lots of interesting bloggers from seeing their entries and then reading their blogs.

thank you to all of you who contribute to ggw.
i appreciate all of your time and effort into making your blog and contests.

Susan November 16, 2009, 10:48 pm

I’m new to blogging and taking photos. I came across your blog quite by accident and saw the contest and thought how interesting-The End of the Line. I would truly love to be challenged again, especially for the winter. The garden has so much texture in the winter, and the light is different and the sky…
So anyway you choose, I will participate, because I’m a creative bugger.

Yours is the first gardening blog I’ve read. What can I say…love it.

Susan….we loving having you join us. Fran

TexasDeb November 17, 2009, 12:36 pm

I will mostly repeat what others said – a professional judge commenting is valuable to the contest participants, I too find the design content something not widely available elsewhere, and I very much appreciate the different voices represented here. I believe a winner’s badge from GGW would be plenty of incentive for prospective entrants.

The winter themes could be a bit more off the beaten path, such as “The worst photo I absolutely love”. Or there could be a month for procrastinators “The photo I meant to submit in [whatever month they missed]”. There could be a tutorial one month where we send in photos that are NEARLY great, and a professional photographer could offer suggestions on how to improve. I also really liked the sleeping/dreaming/waking theme suggested. I am hopeful you will find a way to do this without it creating too much work for yourselves. And if not? Then just one more reason to look forward to Spring!

Country Mouse November 18, 2009, 2:45 pm

Prizes – not the point. Judges – definitely. I was thrilled to come third runner up and have comments from Saxon on one competition. But we can do something else in winter and give you guys a break. Badges are fun, we’re all scouts at heart and like a bit of recognition.

Why do I like GGW? – good writing on varied topics, good photography, great ideas and tips.

Kaarina at DigTheDirt November 18, 2009, 4:35 pm

I would definitely vote to vote! I am all for the “wisdom of the crowd” and feel like we are all great little judges. I would never win a contest like this, but that’s not what it’s about anyway 🙂

Heather's Garden November 22, 2009, 8:55 pm

I think a judge is important and it helps to have a professional act as the judge. I’ve learned a lot from reading their comments about the photos entered in past contests. But I don’t think a prize is necessary at all. I’d like to see it continue over the winter, but if it doesn’t, I won’t stop reading.

I started reading GGW when a blog I read linked to your monthly design subject. I stayed because of the expert advice and pretty photos. I like the opportunities for us to participate by entering the photo contests and link to the monthly design workshops.

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