Gurushots User Review

October 19, 2016

I recently became aware of photo-contest websites to which users upload their best photos in the hopes of winning either a prize or for the sheer glory of online fame, badges and points. They differ from straightforward photo-sharing sites like Instagram and Flickr in that users are encouraged in various ways to vote for their favourite works posted by other users.

The first platform I tried was Viewbug which I wrote about in this post.

Then I heard about Gurushots, which describes itself as an “online gaming platform for photographers”. At least they’re honest about the emphasis they place on the competition side of their offering.

I joined up to Gurushots with an open mind and no particular agenda except discovering whether it was something I would find useful to advance my photography and connect with other users. All of this was really a new thing for me, because beyond the basics of Instagram and the very outmoded Flickr which I’ve used for 10 years, I’ve no prior experience with anything like this. As an aspiring professional, I had nothing to lose.


I set up a profile and saw that the way it works. You upload pictures in order to enter them into challenges set by the ‘Gurus’ (advanced users). Very quickly the notifications of votes, likes and other types of engagement came flooding in. There are around 8 challenges that I could see in which to participate. For each challenge a maximum of 4 pictures can be entered. The challenges might for example be called Golden Light or Cat Portraits or Looking Up, so fairly broad topics and a springboard for ideas.

Straightaway I found that the gamification of the voting system was very apparent. For each challenge on your dashboard you have something resembling a speedometer. It’s set to the lowest ‘exposure’ level until you do something crucial to get it up to the high level: you have to vote on the other challenge participants’ photos.

How many you vote on determines the exposure level of your own photos. The exposure meter drops as hours pass, meaning you need to keep voting to rev it up to the highest level of exposure on your pictures. From what I can gather, the more pictures you vote on the more ‘voting power’ your individual vote carries. So a particularly avid voter might have “7 X Voting Power”. Gurus’ votes count for 20% more than any other users.

Your dashboard shows various levels of advancement all the way from Newbie to Guru. In order to progress, you must attain a certain level of popularity in so many challenges, attain so many points, and complete a successful ‘swap’, which I still don’t really understand but I think it is when you successfully remove one of your 4 photo-challenge pictures for a different one which then achieves more votes from the community.

This system surely keeps you chained to the site if you give in to the addictive power of it.

This system surely keeps you chained to the site if you give in to the addictive power of it. You’ll feel that you always need to vote or swap out photos or submit to new challenges.

You can even buy ‘swaps’ for $.99 each or less per swap if you buy 20; and ‘autofills’ which are just a big, crazy nothing. An autofill “fills up your exposure meter in all active challenges” and is essentially a day off using Gurushots. That you buy. What a time to be alive.

I’m not entirely sure how Gurushots monetizes, as buying the refills etc surely can’t be that much of a revenue-generator. They do offer a critique service in which amateurs pay pros $8.95 per photo for their critique with Gurushots taking 30%. No doubt as happens with almost all online platforms, after a few years of operation, they change their terms and conditions. They inevitably make users pay for features that were previously free. (As an aside, the inescapable changes to T&Cs of just about every online platform over time make me very cautious. That’s one reason I choose to publish my primary content on my own platform, where the rug is less likely to be pulled from under my feet.)

Gurushots has many fans whose reviews you can read online, and has gotten kudos from this blog for removing the rights grab last year. It means photographers’ rights are supported as Gurushots can’t use their work for general advertising purposes, only for promoting the contest to which the images have been submitted.

In an increasingly vapid and meaningless world this just preys on our need for validation and engagement with others.

However I’m not down with Gurushots. (Excuse me while I round up that high horse, I need to get on it.) In an increasingly vapid and meaningless world this just preys on our need for validation and engagement with others. Fanboys will have you believing that this is just a harmless way for photographers of whatever level to share their work, hone their skills, learn new ways of seeing the world and be part of a creative community.

There are many ways of engaging with good photography without having to spend hours on a website everyday voting in order that your pictures are seen by others. It’s just empty, people! Outside of this one particular website, who cares about the badges you are awarded and the 150,000 points you will have to achieve in order to attain ‘guru status’? Are you going to get more clients? Is your photography going to be worth more? Are you going to feel great about yourself for all the hours and weeks and months you spent completing the game? Maybe. But more likely you’ll feel empty because this is supposed peer interaction that bypasses anything that human beings would actually regard as socially fulfilling.

It is an illusion that means absolutely nothing outside of this little URL

Human beings will always crave validation, whether you are a photographer, a postman or a brain surgeon. Gurushots and others like it feed that need to be accepted and liked by our peers. The numbers can be quite dizzying straightaway and that kind of instant gratification is extremely addictive and gives us a real buzz. But the buzz is short-lived when we realise that it’s fake.  It is an illusion that means absolutely nothing outside of this little URL that we type in when we need an ego boost. Sure we can kid ourselves that it’s just a fun little game and it actually improves our photography but seriously? It’s just a way of getting your ego stroked – and paying for the pleasure whether with money or with time.


I play with gurushots a bit, I find it quite an interesting and also frustrating platform. I agree the validation it awards is useless but not so sure it doesn’t have a role in improving or developing some users skills and interests, it is never going to make a poor photographer a good one.

If it encourages people to look at the composition or their images and those of others that is good, unfortunately I don’t think it has that effect often, many entrants to a challenge struggle with basic concepts, “faceless portraits” had many full and 3/4 profile head shots, “upsidedown” had images that had been rotated 180 degrees, whatever is entered it seems to always attract some votes! Perhaps the voting needs a “for” and “against” option with images achieving a significantly negative score being dis-guarded.

Other frustrations are the gameplay used with entrants using four very similar images, or the same successful images appearing in multiple challenges over and over.

The site seems to be growing hugely with the number of votes increasing rapidly, I suspect though that is in part due to the multiplier effect, as users move up an have more voting power the number of “votes” increases, more false gratification.

I have been astounded by the quality of some images used and with doubt there are very skilled photographers using the site.

One correction, you write “So a particularly avid voter might have “7 X Voting Power””, that isnt exactly correct, the level of voting power is dependent on your level of achievement, newbie to guru, newbie being X1 and the next level up X2 etc. The guru pick adding 20% caused distortion and I think has been altered to a flat 50 votes.

Gurushots is probably in all fairness more useful than Instagram in honing our aesthetic eye and improving our photographic discernment, but I have to confess that it was only on IG that my passion for great imagery blossomed. The point being that looking at any photographic collection that has been deliberately curated, can be useful and interesting to those who are interested in improving their eye.

I think this must be a reason why people sign up Gurushots, because they want to be inspired by being a part of a bona fide photographic community which has way more kudos and elite appeal than IG.

But I actually think the severe gamification of the platform compromises any claim they might put forward to be authentic or inspiring or meaningful. It’s just a waste of time. One’s photography can be improved by trawling through Google Images, or reading a library book on Cartier-Bresson or joining a Facebook amateur photography group. At least these things do not demand your vital life energy in exchange for one’s photography being improved!

The meaninglessess of Gurushots and sites like it is exemplified in the factors you mentioned – users submitting almost identical images, or images which show an inadequate understanding of the theme.

Or, as you also mention, the same images being entered over and over again in multiple contests. But, worse than this, the same images (or the same photographers) winning different contests! Yes, it happens.

It has been shown on similar site Viewbug that ‘fluffers’ are employed to give false likes and engagement to newbie participants, to encourage them to upgrade to a paid version. This is yet another reason it is so meaningless to me, you’ve no idea whether the likes are genuine from admiring fans or Gurushots pros whose votes count for more (and fluffers, if they have them) getting you hooked. Like you say, it’s false gratification (I wonder what true gratification would look like on this site).

The for and against concept is a nice idea but hopefully you see why this would not work in the context of that Gurushots and its ilk are offering. True photographic value is not high on the list as far as the way the platform is designed, implemented and monetized. Sometimes, it’s a nice, but incidental bonus. It’s a machine, a contest, a money-maker, and above all a numbers game.

I’ve been interacting with Gurushots for about a month now. I’m slowly making my way up the achievement status. Here’s why I’m using it… for now.

Firstly, photography is a hobby for me. It is not a source of income. I am not concerned at all if other people use my images for their gain.

Secondly, it’s a game and nothing more. There is very little interaction with other photographers than the occasional like and quick, “I love this photo” comment. I play the game but I understand how meaningless it all is.

Zoe is very correct in asserting that sites like Viewbug and Gurushots aim to make profit by utilizing ego, self-importance, and validation. To be absolutely honest with anyone that wants their photography validated: Nobody cares. Nobody cares about your photography. There are occasionally people that want others to improve their craft but the majority that play the “challenge/contest games” on these sites do so for their own benefit.

Many that play the game will undermine the rules to get “votes”. Many will post the same subject but with slightly different alterations (against the rules) and those that do so tend to make it to the top in challenges. Some people will “follow” you and when you follow them back they will unfollow you. That way they have thousands of followers but will be following no one themselves. That’s a recipe for “ego”.

I haven’t spent a dime in Viewbug or Gurushots because doing so is no different than putting money into a slot machine. The only thing I’ve spent is giving them access to some of my images.

The only real reason I use Gurushots is because it’s a game. How can I get the most votes without spending money? Which image should I boost. Which image should I swap?

At my current rate in Gurushots I will most likely get to “Veteran” status before my climb stops. And that’s okay.

What I enjoy most about Viewbug and Gurushots is the incredible amount of “quality” and skilled photographs that are posted. People certainly want validation for their hard work, but most importantly their hard work inspires ideas. There are several ideas I want to try in my own photography after viewing some unique images.

And that’s pretty much it. If you play the photography games KNOW that it’s pointless. Most people don’t care about your photography. There are better ways to validate your art, and these contest websites are far from that. All I can say is PLAY THE GAME. Don’t let the game PLAY YOU.

Thanks for the comment, Jamin.

It’s an uneasy relationship that I personally have with sites that you have to spend a lot of time on, with the trade-off being that you are exposed to wonderful images that you might otherwise not have seen. I wrote this post where I went into depth about my addiction to Instagram and where it got me, and what I thought about it once I decided to stop using it until I could return to it with a healthy attitude.

The thing is, any sites or apps that feed the ego are addictive by their very nature. It is one of the universal human needs to be validated, to be recognized, to be rewarded – and as much as we like to think “oh, that isn’t me, it’s the next guy’s that’s like that”. Ego validation isn’t just something for those needy people over there. It’s something at the heart of every one of us, with very few exceptions.

People that use social media like Instagram or photo contest like Gurushots are probably the same ones who are posting their best work, who are striving to make good images, who basically want their own work to be seen in return for looking at the work of others. The people spending hours on such sites aren’t the ones who have yet to post anything themselves.

Having said all of that, I think it can have a positive effect on one’s own photography and on that basis it has some use. And yes, it is a game – and games don’t necessarily have an outcome except to be an enjoyable way to pass the time, move up the ranks, test your own skills, maybe engage with others, and have some fun doing what floats your boat. It’s not a game you can win but it’s more like a hobby that you can pursue to while away some time.

It’s not something I have time to play but I do think it has some use and merit for some people, as you can tell by how many users are posting, I’m sure, very good images.

I like your comment Jamin. It’s only a game and to became a Guru seems to be an illusion, tempting illusion because that can raise your work whether someone is amateur or profs.


Thank you! I almost got suckered in to waste alot of time on these two sites when I really need to be working! I stumbled on to your review, gave a sigh of relief and now am getting back to work. This even happened to me on 500px last year and I came out of three day experience feeling ‘used’ and like I’d never get that time back. As an amateur photographer it would be nice to have an outlet for my work, but as you said these sites are just predatory, there has to be a better way. Anyways love your work and blog, you are amazing!

Hey Erin, that’s so funny. And so true! I think we’ve all had that feeling of giving so much of our time and energy to whatever it is – the latest hot thing on the net/social media, even not sleeping in order to play on it – and then suddenly waking up at noon cold, clammy and used, and wondering htf did I get here?!

With photography contest sites, the draw is strong because it’s supposedly more about talent and creativity than the usual social media stuff where it’s all about likes, comments, followers, snooping on your exes, whatever. It somehow seems more legit, almost like ‘work’.

But don’t let that fool you! These sites prey on the same insecurities and weaknesses we all have, and they openly flaunt how addictive they are and, with Gurushots, even stating that it is “an online gaming platform”.

I think there are plenty of better, more worthwhile ways to spend your time like, ooh, everything.

Hi Zoe…and OMG!
Reading your comments re Gurushots and ViewBug really made me wide awake….in seconds…..I am such a fool and a sucker…a true “blond” – I used to say I am only a “bottle” blond…lol…I spent money on both sites (I bought swaps, and boosts) and membership on Viewbug…and the time I spent on voting!…..hours….the only thing I enjoyed was actually browsing through some amazing galleries…and interacting with some fellow members/photographers..and yes…meeting some people from amazing places…and also some comments were great and very helpful getting me to google and read about “how to”…
You made me see it is all an illusion…..and maybe only few “likes” or peer awards are/were genuine…and I completely get it the things your are saying about our egos and gratification and craving attention/recognition etc…so so true…said all that other sites (more professional) charge an arm and a leg to enter photos to contests or Challenges….and you never get to know how your photos were judged and if they were even up to a standard ..I am glad my delusion is gone (Thank you!)….I may still visit those 2 sites (have profiles there) but will just enjoy browsing through and playing a bit…IF/WHEN I have spare time and really NOTHING else to do!…..I am cured….lol….

I’m glad that it’s been eye-opening, Nina! That was my intention – to expose the seemingly harmless game/bit of fun as a total waste of time and energy (and sometimes money too). There’s always something better to do!

Hi. So I just joined Guroshots today. It was fun getting votes for my amateur photography and I found the numbers were consistent with the quality of the pics I was submitting. The problem I see is that the voting process doesn’t guarantee that people actually like your photo. It’s easy just to click on any photo without much thought until you have filled your speedometre. I suspect a lot of people do this. However, the competition is tough. It’s not likely amateurs have any chance of winning. My best photo received some 600 votes. I reached elite in one challenge. (I’m quitting my day job!) I would never consider paying for the swaps and boosts. I can’t believe anyone would. Anyway, thanks for your informative review.

I appreciate your taking the time to do the review. I am virtually immobile at the moment so having fun on both Guru and Viewbug. You do learn important things, like how to make photos for the internet, that horizontal is preferred, that thumbnails need to be attractive, that kind of thing. I could not care less about the popular vote, because the results are so predictable, though it is interesting to see what a majority of people like (angles, man made, bright colours). I am after the Gurus’ votes, but honestly? Some of their picks have me shaking my head in wonder. At least VB has some explanation of why a winner is a winner. That helps. Many times on GS the winning photos are taken down by their paranoid owners (hey, if we liked it that much, we’d have screen-thieved it already). That is one example of piggy behaviour by some players. The administrators only respond if you scream very loudly, and then it is to keep you from raising an issue. If you cheat or inadvertently put up a wrong photo, you can simply enter another photo and get the same exposure. There was also a time when one user account at a low level gave me many votes within a few minutes, so I took screenshots because it was a clear system hack and reported it. No response. So.

Thanks for the comment William. It’s funny, on this and my related review on Viewbug, nobody has yet stepped in to defend these platforms. Basically they are a bit of fun until you realize you’re being preyed on. They are completely unaccountable… and forget about trying to understand how they work and what’s real and what’s fake engagement. Once a user has become hooked, it is a short step to paying for the various services to boost their exposure. They basically traffic in creating an addictive, fake, opaque and unaccountable system that preys on some of our basic needs for validation, while rewarding ritualistic behavior.

“There was also a time when one user account at a low level gave me many votes within a few minutes, so I took screenshots because it was a clear system hack and reported it.”

Just wondering how you noticed this since the voting is anonymous. Just watching your number of votes go up one at a time??

Krisztina Lencses

I find it extremely unfair on Gurushots, that some people are using other photographer’s images as their own! I am a newbie, so I am not sure how things go. I’ve tried to report them to GuruShots, but nothing seems to happen. Is the “report copyrights” button there for decoration only? I have also sent messages to GS with names and links to prove who are the real photographers, but no reply. GS’s rules about Copyright: …You must own all submitted images. If you submit images that don’t belong to you, your account will be permanently removed.” I’ve already reported at least 5 person but their accounts are still active. I know for sure they are using images from:
Tom Miles
Gene Schiavone
RJ Muna
… just to name a few. Today I’ve decided to inform them.

All very valid comments. I’m ‘playing’ on both VB and GS – but with eyes wide open. I cannot ‘defend’ either site, but I DO find they have A LITTLE worth.

The GS model is the weaker of the two imho – and I certainly don’t pay for anything there. It’s a bit of fun, and nice to see how my pics stack up against others. So I now have 35,000 GS points. Well WHOOPEE DOO, aren’t you impressed? ;-). As a previous writer says – voting (and entry) is not very judicial – even I find I just click on images close to the challenge topic just to fill up that exposure speedometer. That’s mainly because the download speed is often so slow I’ll vote for anything that EVENTUALLY appears just to ‘fill ‘er up’. The ‘social’ aspect of GS is sadly lacking – virtually no contact with other members, and I really don’t know the benefits of ‘following’ anyone there, so I don’t. Couldn’t care less about who follows me either. Prizes seem to be intangible (ego strokes) – with the occasional chance to have an image included in an exhibition (they say). There is usually a (nominal) entry fee to be considered.

With VB the community peer contact is a little better, not great, but better … with a crude messaging system (you can’t broadcast to all your followers for example, and even cut/copy & paste doesn’t work in messaging.WTF?) BUT amongst the ‘fluffers’ there are some genuine members who may become ‘followers’ too. The prizes here are very real however, and the (extremely low) probability of winning one is at least a slight incentive to keep on going. I did pay for a year of PRO membership (I’m definitely an amateur) – it’s not exhorbitantly expensive and gives free access to ALL contests. Contest access depends on membership level, with enough free ones to make it interesting if you don’t want to pay. They have both CONTESTS (set by VB ‘staff’ – with prizes from a camera strap or bag to a fully paid photo tour of Italy being awarded) and CHALLENGES (set by other members – points and prestige/recognition are the only award). VB does have some astonishingly good members (so does GS … but I find VB a bit above them) and ALSO publishes some good advice, tips, and will present themed collections, so you do get something back for joining. You WILL be inspired by a lot of what you see. VB also has some very credible internationally recognised photographers judging their contests.

So, with both the more you play and engage the better you will do with PEER ‘recognition’ – and that’s ‘phony’ – I’m not in that game.

BUT: With both sites I usually do agree on the merits of winners’ entries. Somehow the best do seem to get the most attention and votes. My status and ‘awards/votes’ on both sites is (I think) reflective of my creative capabilities (and certainly in VB’s case that’s how they promote themselves – “FIND OUT HOW GOOD YOU REALLY ARE” – so I think you get a good appreciation of your artistic merits and capabilities through basically ‘the wisdom of crowds’.

I do find the topics for contests and challenges useful to set me themes for taking shots. I’ve only recently started taking the photography game fairly seriously, so that’s useful rather than just heading out without a focussed purpose and aiming for the next pretty flower or whatever I see. I’ve never tried “night shots with bokeh” before (had to look up what bokeh even meant) so the inspiration and goals set are useful. And you can see others’ entries so know beforehand what you need to measure up to. There are however too many ‘the colour red/purple/blue/yellow/dots”‘, or “your best rainbow/sunset/dog/cat’ type topics – so you just move on (or NOT and enter/re-post the same images you did for the same topic the last 247 times). There are however enough good new ones to keep me challenged.

Yes, I will tire of it, and will probably lapse my VB membership to the ‘free’ level next year – but FOR NOW both sites are fun to play, I enjoy sharing my ‘work’ with others – and THAT’S IT.

Nice blog!!

Excellent review, I agree on all…however, what makes an artist truly special is “vision” that is a unique expression of the self, and the risk it takes to “put it out there”. These sites are not helpful except to see what is cliche or has already been done well, and to see what will sell. My father was a gifted water colorist who spent a lifetime being pulled between what is popular, and what is really art.

Love this comment.

I have written to the ‘management’ at Gurushots about the shocking sexism in what was supposed to be a challenge on diversity. There was no diversity. Out of 10 top picks 7 were of scantily clad young white women. 1 man, one old woman and one it was had to tell.

It seems the only images getting votes were the ones of young white women, the least clothes the higher the votes count. I find that deeply disturbing in 2017 but it shows the level at which most Gurushots viewers are at, It is not about challenging the stereotypes, or art or anything that requires any level of thinking, it is just the same old same old, but at least you get to know what the same old is and can troll out the same old stuff yourself if you have access to a slim young white person. What a waste of potential.

Please, don’t be mean, it’s -like it’s said- only a game, and it can help you share and try to receive sort of critics without being (or willing to be) a professional photographer like you personally aspire to become.

Enjoyed reading your blog post with regards to guru shots and I am in total agreement with you. People would be better off spending time reading various articles on line rather than joining in with the (you love me and I will love you brigade). One good article to read, equivalence, by Minor White.

regards Iain C

Great article totally agree, I joined the site few days ago, and it’s very addicting, especially when you have big archive of good images, it may be good for beginners to go out more and shoot, and see the different types of ways to shoot a subject, but overall I don’t see how it helps for creating amazing images if you already have good grasp on photography, but it’s still fun as long as you remember to not take it too seriously

After recently joining Gurushots, I have repeatedly thought the experience to be very “plastic”…especially for seasoned photographers. The website is definitely geared towards people who are seeking validation leading one to question the point of it all. At first I enjoyed voting on the various challenges because it gave me access to see some rather phenomenal photography. The concept of “blind” voting adds some objectivity but it also plays to the need to be liked. Apparently there are people who have time to vote often but I would rather devote my time to taking my next set of great shots. The challenges may inspire many beginners to get out to improve their photography but experienced photographers most likely will not find it to be motivating. It can be fun to participate but it can feel cheap if you are more serious about your photography. I probably would not have joined Gurushots if I had read this article first because I really don’t enjoy being a slave to the “vote”. I greatly appreciate your insight as I am now climbing out of the vortex!

I signed up with Gurshots a couple of weeks ago. What I’d actually been looking for was a site with some real sharing of ideas, inspiration, etc.

After a week or two of posting pictures, doing a bit of swapping, boosting, voting, I began to wonder, “what’s the point?” The only point seems receipt of validation, which is important and not to be downplayed, but the validation is coming only in the form of votes that are apparently bought by doing the above activities, rather than actual interaction with other photographers.

I rarely see comments, only likes or votes. I don’t get it.

I get more inspiration through Instagram and 500px as the quality of photos on those two forums are far, far higher and lead me to wonder how they got the shot or processed it.

Gurushots may be for some, but its appeal doesn’t get my juices flowing.

Forgive me if this has already been covered, but who owns the copyright to the uploaded images? Are Gurushots actually collating a library of images in the hope of charging others for their use? If so, does the photographer get a slice of that pie?

Hi Matt thanks for your comment. As of right now (July 2017) the Gurushots terms state:

“GuruShots does not claim any ownership over Content you submit or make available on the Website. Ownership is retained by Users at all times. By submitting content to GuruShots you affirm, represent and warrant that the you own (and/or otherwise have the right to submit) the Content submitted or made available by you on GuruShots. However, with respect to content on publicly accessible areas of the Website, you hereby grant GuruShots, as well as its partners and sponsors, the right to display the Content and the right to use the Content to promote the challenges(s) on social media and other websites. In such cases, credit will be explicitly given to you as the owner of the Content. The foregoing not withstanding, User shall at all times retain all copyright interest in any and all images submitted.”

It’s not as if you’re giving away your copyright to Gurushots, but I’m wondering also what they might do with images you upload, in terms of promoting their platform, even with the user supposedly retaining their copyright.

My husband is strongly addicted on GS. He’s a professional photographer, but since our country is facing a serious economic crisis, he can’t find work. So he spend hours and hours and hours, waking up in dawn just to catch up with GS. He’s an excellent photographer, but has very poor skills on marketing, you know, getting clients and making money. Surely GS WON’T HELP AT ALL in this case. I’ve tried to talk to him, other people already has noticed his addiction. I’m lost, I really don’t know how to convince him that this site, for him, is doing more harm than good. He has purchased swaps God knows how much money he’s spent on it, without making any – even in real life. I feel completely hopeless. I just wanted this website shut down. Thanks for your text.

Love reading it, & agree completely.

Zoe Larkin’s article is pretty much right on. It is interesting to look at what others are doing. It has caused me to look more closely at what I do with my photographs so far as post-processing, etc. I have mixed feelings about Gurushots. There is a boring similarity among photos submitted by the higher rated photographers. Along those lines there rule about Thank God for High Dynamic Range software if you want to have a chance at a high vote count for one of your photos. I can’t help but wonder what the real thing looked like.

My observations are: Really artistic photos will not end up in the highest ranking vote levels. If you want to help your chances of a higher ranking you should vote for the worst of photos and hope others vote for the better photos. LOL! The rules about “Similar images: Images with the same combination of subject, background, foreground and location are not allowed. Images must be distinct – Same image multiple times (cropped, angle change or tone changes) and Images that don’t comply may be removed from the challenge” are very loosely followed. Or not followed at all. Considering how poor many of the photos are I wonder how much a vote is worth anyway. I guess that is the purpose of lower ranking photographers votes being worth less, but then there are many more lower ranking photographers voting than higher ranking photographers voting.

Gurushots challenges can be fun, but in the end, does Gurushots does little to really improve the skills of better photographers or even skills of some entrants who seem to be vying for “worst photo” recognition.

IIt was fun …going through my photos made me more critical of my work and gave me a greater appetite to expiriment and be more critical about what I shoot. Really enjoyed the different challenges anfd searching , organising and editing what I think are worthwhile photos. Liked the international group of photographers that participate and their travels. I did find it valuable. What I did not like as much is the competitive aspects, the random voting, the addiction to the game.. time to stop and go back to taking photos for the artist in me! Thanks Zoe for your thoughts!

Hobby Photographer

Very good review and valid points! There is lots of very good images on G, but even more absolutely lousy stuff. But, its just a virtual game. For me it has been an interesting game because it activated me to search my old images, trying to find images suitable for various themes in the Gurushot’s challenges. It has been an interesting journey that made me see photos in very different ways and it has actually changed my way of looking at my own images, as Sid Akselrod also said in his comment above. I found some shots that I never before considered interesting… Maybe it affects my own hobby in a positive way, maybe not.

I was close to get addicted to Gurushots, found myself night-long clicking through awful photos just to gain exposure, I didn´t care whether it were good or bad photos, just gain votes, like a junkie. That was bad, because it wasn´t respectful against the art and skills of good and inspiring photographers.
And the other very poor thing, it didn´t improve my photographic skills. I learned what it took to have a high voting picture. This had little to do with artistic photo work. I even gave up with some of my favorite photos and swapped them against some streamlined, winner-like photos, I produced for the challenges, extremly overdone colours, softening out the rough edges, went for the common taste…what a bad idea from me. I recently started only to bring in my personal favorites, regardless if they get votes or not. No need to swap anymore, that´s it, take it or not. What is the value in becoming an expert or a veteran? Nothing, it´s worthless. Only thing that counts is to develop your artistic side, to transfer ideas to photos, eypress feelings,show respect for colleagues and their work, learn, discuss, enjoy.

I spent some time on Gurushots. I believe the more you vote, the more your photos appear to be voted on. And it doesn’t matter whether the photos you vote for are good or lousy. You also improve your chances of getting more votes if you like your own photos to be HDR photos – Very HDR. I moved up the ladder a ways and then decided I was better off spending time out taking photos rather than playing the Guru Shots game. Haven’t missed it.

I’ve been on GS for a year now and really its just a means of getting used to being online. I’m from a generation of photographers that took photos on film, had them developed or developed them yourself in a darkroom, had them printed then entered them in a local photography competition. They were judged in real time by real people and if you were lucky and won you thanked a roomful of real people and if you didn’t you still talked about your photography with a real person over a cup of tea and a cocky biscuit at the end of the night. Now its all done for you and you sit there in front of a computer and wait for validation that never comes. Maybe its time to go back and join a local photography club again!

I have been on Gurushots for a couple of years but feel the chances of becoming a guru are there but! will be a long time coming, lotsof problems at times but after all it is a free site so must be fair on that one, it is fun if very time consuming, I am on seven days a week 365 days a year, my wife thinks i’m mental and I sometimes wonder lol. but one does what one does, don’t knock it and I have never purchased a swap, key, or infill yet! but won plenty, I find them as helpful as they can be so will continue to try, regards, leon.

I have played GS for about 6 mo. I started out of curiosity because I figured that a photo site would be used by people passionate about Photography and therefore their opinion, or vote, for a particular photo would be more competent than the average person looking at Instagram for instance. I just wanted to see whether my photos were worth anything in the judgement of these photo fans or whether they were total rubbish. I enjoyed going through all my photos choosing those for the various challenges and editing them to make them as good as possible. I have also been stimulated to take unusual (for me) photos which I never would have thought of before (the rusty bolts on railroad tracks!). Now I rarely leave home without my camera and have definitely learned how to use Photoshop better. I don’t care about likes or followers and never bother with either. I have bought swaps a few times but I think that any site has to earn income in order to survive and see nothing particularly scandalous in this practice. No one is obliged to buy anything in order to participate. I agree it is an ego trip to see how many votes you earn, the final standing etc. Playing this game, I realize that my taste in photography does not correspond to that of the majority. At times I am amazed how many votes simple things like colored pencils/shavings in various arrangements get! A subject that requires no effort at all! I definitely have a disliking for the totally artificial, manipulated, white mirror sea and sky with boat/tree in the middle type of photo. I do not vote for pics which seem totally artificial . I have made it to the 7th level and am quite near to the 8th, however, I will never actually win a challenge, not being a professional. Perhaps my enthusiasm will wane, who knows? In any case, I am retired and have plenty of free time.GS is a pastime like any other and for the moment, I am enjoying it.

I hope, more and more people will look for feedbacks before registering to any website. I just Googled “gurushots issues” today and found this blog. I am happy to see; there are some recent comments too. Here is my experience about Gurushots: I registered around 23rd August because of their Facebook Ad and because some friends already “Like” their FB page. I read their FAQ and About and the idea to get some feedback via fair voting was a good reason to register and enter much contest. I used the word “fair” because the first sight it is: you get votes without indicating who took the photo and what is the title of the photo. I have some difficulties to give titles to my photos or write a longer description of my feeling or how I took the picture. I started as “Newbie”, and now I am an “Expert”, I need only a “Guru’s pick” to be “Champion”. So, I spent some minutes and hours during the last three months on their website and spent some money too. Because the “swap”, “autofill” and “lock” aren’t free. One get addicted and me too. But after some strange issues, losing votes, more and more irrelevant photos in the contests, lack of proper communication between user and Admin on their FB site, poorly composed photos gain more and more votes, so today I said: enough. The last days already I forgot to check their website and see how many votes I got or I forgot to spend time for voting. And this is a good sign. I can tell you folks: this website good for getting inspirations, ideas for photo shooting and subject. Try to avoid to join in the vote game. There are many technical issues regarding their website, and also, I am not sure anymore, every vote is fair. Also, I became tired reporting all photos what is not related to the challenge’s theme, sometimes even user with “Master” status post off-topic pictures or pictures with the same subject-place-time just in a different angle (what is not allowed regarding their rules). More and more selfies appeared, more and more HDR or over-saturated pictures even if the subject is not HDR and recently, even “Champion” or “Master” user posting “digital-camera-made” photo to the “Mobile shots” challenge. Come on folks; this is a game, let’s be fair. And spend less money and save that amount for your photography gadgets or buy e-books or just go out and take pictures instead of checking your votes on their website. Conclusion: I won’t close my account on their website, but I won’t spend more money even if it looks like not much (ooh, this is less than a coffee/soft drink etc. but the end of the month you will see it differently when you check your bank account…). This site is good for getting ideas, for example: looking for subjects with red/blue/yellow colour or starting with “A or B or C…” and collect them IN YOUR PERSONAL Facebook account/album/Flickr site… Take this is site and their voting system less seriously, and you will be happier in your real life.

I couldn’t agree more with your comments. The website is good for ideas and caused me to look at a number of photos that I previously ignored which turned out to be excellent with a little editing. Gurushots administration and customer response is terrible. There are just too many really bad photos being posted and sometimes it is difficult to find decent photos to vote for.

Nice blog. I have been on GS for about nine months. CG has challanged my skills and experience to the maximum. Am I addicted – yes; however, I know I have the flaw of addictive behavour and know to reign in or abstain when necessary or forced (I am a recovering alcoholic and have not had a sip of alcohol in aver 34 years.) I like the range of challenges provided by GS rather than the limited scope of groups of photographers specializing in motorsports, landscape, wildlife, etc. For the life of me, I cannot figure out how or when votes happen. Entries in a challenge may seem to remain relatively dormant for a day or so – swap out one image for another and the new one rockets to the highest vote tally in a few hours???? I realize that the number of images in a given challenge increase during the timeframe of the challenge; therefore, the rate of incoming votes cannot be linear. GS has pushed me to learn more about the camera and image manulipation. I am beginning to branch out from GS as I focus on other likes, hobbies, and life without regret – no need here of a 12 Step Program.

Gurushots is a game but, as every game, has hidden rules. You talk about exposure of photos in the platform. The gauge for that meter is a bait, not a real fish. I always have my gauge filled up and when a challenge begins I see in a few munites some photos with 500 votes and mine with 5
Well.. your photos are not good enough… but here is the bait. My photos have received only 5 views and with only five views nobody can get 500 votes!…
How they manage the exposure bonus in Gurushots is an hidden rule that is nit known, at least, for me.
But I have a guess. In the begining was used to buy “swaps”, “fills” and “keys”. I had photos with more than 1500 in a chllenge. Now that same photos get 300 to 400 votes…
Gurushots is a comercial site. Is there to make money not to promote art… I think.

The “accolades” seem to go towards HDR and other highly processed, dramatic enrichment skills taking a boring plain snapshot and technicolorizing clouds and backgrounds with unrealistic and unnatural scenes. If HDR and other techniques suit you? Welcome to your new home and join in. A professional photographer is someone that can spend hours cataloging, doing school portraits, mostly doing tedious time consuming routine boring work…so when someone says the “pros” win? Ams don’t have a chance? I’m not sure what that means. There are only a few handfuls of pro people who sustain a living doing solely their own work that would enter or have time to risk entering work I would imagine? To say some am can’t compete is just as mind boggling me, they do all the time. Titling yourself a pro and being one, two separate things. Gurushots in my opinion is heavy slanted to PROCESSORS and not PHOTOGRAPHERS.

Yes, gurushots is a site to make money not to pro,ote art. Swaps are bought! I have the same experience. In the beginning I swept a lot and had very good results. As I begun to swap only the free ones, photos that received more than one thousand votes in a single challenge, got only 2 to 300!, no matter how full is is your exposure gauge.
But gurushots has another secret that I didn’t discover yet. In the beginning of the contests there are a few photos that start with hundreds of votes in a few minutes. These photos receive especial treatment from the staff or gurus and it is scandalous to realize that photos of the same author in the same challenge are quoted normally wind a few tens of votes. If you don’t start in this position you never win a contest and this is unfair.

GuruShots is a ego baiting cash scam that is rapidly losing it’s sponsors!

I was introduced to GS via a link sent to me. I joined up and submitted my photos. I am one All Star short of an Expert being at Veteran.
I have found GS to be extremely time consuming and expensive. Yes, expensive. To get to my level has cost me mega gigabytes in data bundles as well as for swops and boosts. When you look at the ratings of the challenge you have entered and add up all the entries and check against the views on your entry, the views are very low. 675views compared to over 18000 entries for 125 votes.You have to keep hitting that vote button like a woodpecker to get feeble exposure and the poor quality photos you have to scoll through.The number of cats, dogs, flamingoes and frogs and off topic pictures is overwhelming. At the end of a challenge when you look at the top ranks why is it mostly exotic birds in flight win the challenge even if the challenge is not about birds? I need one more All Star win to become an expert more to bruise another contestants ego than anything else as they have a huge opinion of their so called talents and puts a picture of themselves in as many challenges as they can but have no real skills and then I am done

Depression is my demon snd photography is my cure. An amateur but that’s oksy. I get my own satisfaction when I actually do taj a good shot. Living in the shadow of my overachieved family (sisters and cousins) it gives me a sense of self worth. Not getting any acknowledgement from family and friends but from absolutely strangers does give me the reason to never give up. With photography I have also learnt to look deeper at my surroundings, noticing the smaller things in life that everyone is to busy living and simply walk on by.