This article was originally written on October 19, 2016. It was a review of my experience using a popular photography contest site / game called Gurushots. 4 years ago, I decided to use the site and give it a go. I threw up a review and thought nothing of it. I’m including the original review here below, in case that’s why you actually came here.
Thanks to the Wayback Machine, on the internet, nothing ever really dies.
Then we will proceed with the SEO experiment ;-/
Gurushots User Review
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 favorite works posted by other users.
The first platform I tried was Viewbug which I also reviewed.
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. [Note: they have now changed it to ‘The World’s Greatest Photography Game’]
I signed 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.
How to set up on Gurushots
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.
Voting on Gurushots
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.
How does Gurushots monetize?
Gurushots monetize by in-app purchases such as buying refills. They do offer a critique service in which amateurs pay pros a fee 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 won’t 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.
My personal opinion of Gurushots
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 realize 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 time.
In an increasingly vapid and meaningless world this just preys on our need for validation and engagement with others.
The SEO case study
Now, let’s get into the real reason we’re here. The nerdy stuff: the SEO case study.
So, the original article. Reproduced above. I wrote it and put it online, like I said. Some time later, I realized it was getting lots of views. Like, thousands of hits.
Seriously, what was going on?! Here I was trying to make it as a professional photographer – and the only thing my site is getting known for is an article about some photography game I looked at for 2 hours, years ago?
I didn’t know what to do. It bugged me that this was somehow throwing out contradictory signals to Google. SEMrush would put my site in the wrong category. Ubersuggest would show my site’s only keywords as being ‘Gurushots’, Gurushots review’ and stuff like that.
Meanwhile, my wedding photography services in my local area barely made a dent. It was a rough start getting established as a photographer.
Confused, I consulted with an SEO professional. He’s well-known in my industry. The question I put to him is below. Also you should be aware this was back in 2019, about 1 year ago. (Phew! What a difference a year makes!)
The question at hand – to scrap or keep the offending blog post
I have one blog post that I wrote over 3 years ago – it was actually migrated from a previous website. It has absolutely nothing to do with anything that I offer or am interested in, nor is there any crossover that my clients might find useful. It’s a review of a photography contest site for hobby photographers, while my website is about my wedding photography services.
This one post gets sometimes 200 hits a day in comparison to my next visited post/page which gets maybe 20.
With what we now know about SEO, and how everything on our site communicates to Google what the subject is, is it actually damaging to have such a popular post that is nothing to do with the rest of my site?
Could it confuse Google and penalize my ranking for the terms I actually care about? (i.e. not ‘reviews of x site’ which is my most-for searched term!). Sure, it’s great for vanity metrics to see my site is getting so many hits but there is zero chance of those users becoming clients.
Or, to the contrary, could it actually help my SEO because people are staying on my site longer, lowering my bounce rate, sharing, leaving comments and actually boosting my domain authority?
The SEO professional’s advice
The SEO pro was incredibly helpful and patient, listening to the issues and offering his advice.
The advice eventually was to remove the article from my site. He agreed that it is indeed confusing Google, “diluting” my SEO signals. He also mentioned that the possible benefits I referenced may well be “false positives”. And I was in complete agreement with him.
Looking at the various metrics now. ‘Time on site’ – would not be valuable unless the audience spends time on the home page and other important pages.
There is no lower bounce rate, he said (which was my contention). When people are looking at ‘review of X site’, then see no related content, they bounce. And as for increased sharing and leaving of comments, he argued both were irrelevant.
He conceded that having this article up may help with domain authority. But that is such a nebulous metric, it’s impossible to measure or make meaningful assumptions.
What we never touched on in the SEO discussion
One part of the conversation that we didn’t have was about backlinks. This piece of content has a large number of backlinks, which I suddenly lost due to the article being pulled.
I probably wasn’t super aware at the time of exactly how valuable a backlink is- when it’s from an authoritative site. As there were not a ton of quality reviews of the Gurushots game back then, I’m sure I got some very juicy backlinks. I didn’t know enough to find out for sure, however.
Another point that probably should have factored into the discussion was the huge comments section. Because of having access to the Wayback machine, I was able to preserve the comments. Not in their original form but I copied and pasted them so keep scrolling. The point is, the article had a good 70 or 80 comments! In years of blogging I have never seen numbers like that.
I used to write a personal development blog back in the day (2013) which would get a ton of comments but I don’t think I ever surpassed the original Gurushots piece.
The comments were what made this a valuable SEO asset to my site – with incredible social signals.
The final takeaway of his advice was to either scrap that whole article or, as sort of a middle ground, update it by doing these 2 things:
1. Tweak the content to bring it a tiny bit closer to my actual business.
2. Make a clear statement at the beginning and end of that post about my services to funnel “shallow traffic” and catch potential leads.
The move from local business to maybe something more
Also, now I am moving towards being more of a content creator/ blogger than a straight-up local business. Well, it’s just an experiment. A hobby, if you will. But I’m curious to see how that changes the outcome of this little experiment.
Currently my goal is to create some passive income through this site – which has grown far beyond a local wedding photographer blog.
To best serve that goal, it makes sense to have as many eyeballs on the site as possible. Especially now I have established my content as being largely centered around wedding photography, which I hadn’t at the time I consulted with the SEO professional. I simply wanted to sell wedding photography services – that was it.
How times have changed…
Far from being a vanity metric, having more visitors to my site now does move the needle for me.
I’m re-launching this article. 4 years after I wrote it, one year after I pulled it from the web. I want to see what happens and if any of that traffic and backlinks are recaptured. We will see.
Here are some current screenshots of website analytics on publicly-available, free tools anyone can use, SEMrush and Ubersuggest.
Unfortunately, my site traffic has come down a bit lately across all traffic estimate tools. That is also shown in my Google Analytics and Search Console, but I’m almost too nervous to really drill down into it. Here’s a quick screenshot from my own sources – not too bad really, I guess. The growth however is so steady it’s almost shocking, given the huge amount of content I’ve been pumping out lately!
Traffic is on a downward trend currently, but I am honestly not sure if that’s caused by my keywords not being as searched-for currently, or if my site is taking a battering because I’ve started posting non-Bay-Area-wedding-photographer content. We will see.
In the meantime, I’m hoping by regular publishing of quality content I can establish my authority in a related but new niche. SEO not as a service but as a topic that I’ve now got a lot of experience in, first-hand.
To sum up
I could dive into this further by looking at my SERP tracker for all my keywords and really trying to figure it out, but that’s not the purpose of this post. So, what is the purpose of this post?
I want to see if I can reclaim those original rankings and any backlinks from reinstating (and revamping) this old article with the same URL. What happens to my site’s content best-guess from tools like SEMrush and Ubersuggest?
If the post continues to overperform, will this skew external parties’ impression of my site’s core content – or not, now that I’ve firmly established myself in my niches? Will this post be good for when I finally turn on ads (probably when I reach 10k monthlies)? Or is no-one searching this content anymore about Gurushots, 4 years after my original post and the fuss surrounding the new photography gaming platform?
We will indeed see.
Comments from the original Gurushots post
December 16, 2016 at 4:37 am
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.
December 16, 2016 at 5:50 pm
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.
August 29, 2018 at 12:28 am
Thank you for your thoughts on GS. My main concern was that they might be able to use my pics for commercial purposes.
Stylish website, but I just would like to say that the logo doesen’t show well on my screen (imac 21″ non retina)
The script look fuzzy. I would suggest you resize the image?
December 1, 2018 at 6:47 pm
Hi have you ever wondered if someone at the top of the site is selling on the better photos? I have. Publishing houses buy photos for their books, and have researchers who search for what they want. You also cant download your own photos back from the site but I’m sure they can download them . When I queried them on these subjects they just didn’t answer me. And yes it is a game if you buy swaps keys etc you do better and all that money would add up as sometimes there are tens of thousands of photos in a challenge. Also yes if you don’t vote you get less votes it is quite addictive they count on that. I keep copies of all my photos now but earlier ones are gone forever.
December 18, 2016 at 4:45 pm
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.
December 22, 2016 at 1:37 pm
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 [since pulled] 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.
January 11, 2018 at 12:01 am
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.
December 26, 2016 at 6:12 pm
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!
January 3, 2017 at 10:50 am
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.
February 2, 2017 at 7:41 am
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….
February 21, 2017 at 10:17 am
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!
February 21, 2017 at 8:24 pm
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.
April 2, 2018 at 11:05 am
I am not a professional or trying to be, I enjoy seeing other countries and their surroundings.
Its like traveling around the world, without being there! and if we can talk, ever better!
March 16, 2017 at 11:36 am
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.
March 5, 2017 at 1:17 pm
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.
November 19, 2017 at 10:47 pm
“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??
March 24, 2017 at 6:32 pm
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.
August 2, 2018 at 6:01 am
How did your report to the real photo owners go? There is now a Facebook page called “the gurushots users union”. They hunt down these thief’s and have them banned.
March 27, 2017 at 2:12 am
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.
GOTTA GO NOW – MY EXPOSURE METERS WILL BE DROPPING …. LOL!
March 27, 2017 at 5:03 am
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.
December 18, 2017 at 9:06 am
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.
March 16, 2018 at 3:24 pm
Sounds as though you should have written to the ‘Missmanagement’ ** department!**
Did you get any response?
Todayhas been my first day Gurushotting and had managed to enter eight challenges before realising had to shell out $ to continue advancing. Duh!
Be interesting to learn how you perceive the world and social mores have changed since December..
Read yesterday that the female actors in a major cinematic extravaganza are getting paid LESS than their male counterparts!
The SHOCK! HoRROR! aspect comes not from the $$$ inequality but from the fact it is being reported upon.
Change is afoot.
Best wishes. Aubrey.
** Please forgive the wretchedness of the pun.
March 20, 2018 at 10:20 am
I fail to see why so many of you seem to be foaming at the mouth, scandalized by the entries in the challenges! No one is required to bow down in front of the omnipresent politically correct obligation. I have been playing for almost a year. I joined because I was curious to see whether or not my images were “worth anything” in the judgement of other photography fans, In instagram, for example, everything is based on likes and followers ie fan base, whereas on gurushots one supposes at least that the participants are photographers themselves not just idle spectators and therefore more likely (stress: more likely) to be competent judges of the images. The game costs nothing unless you run out of swaps and want to buy more. There are many pros participating, evident by the quality of the winning photos but just as many mediocre photos. The voting system seems fair to me, it’s anonymous so it’s not an “I’ve got more friends than you” type of competition. For me, at least, the various challenges have encouraged me to take certain kinds of photos which I never would have taken before and also to improve them in post production. I now carry my camera with me every time I go out the door. It also stimulated me to read up on various techniques that I was unfamiliar with. Equally, I have realized that my “style” of photography is NOT what is currently popular with the majority of participants. HDR for example is wildly popular whereas I dislike the totally fake look of shots done with this method. There is also the big wave of minimalism, single tree on a snow covered hill for ex. which is also not my style. In any case, It’s a pastime, like any other. some people watch TV, some play solitaire, I compare photos.
May 19, 2018 at 8:22 pm
My experience with GS is the exact opposite. Where I shoot everything from nudes and landscapes to door knobs and bugs I have found that “sexy” photos do not do well on GS.
High contrast landscapes, and objects with high saturation almost always seem to do well but provocative photos? Nope. If you want to rank low and get few votes post a provocative photo on GS. If you are in the running for last place? Post a nude photo.
Provocative photos get raves and lots of love on sites like IG, deviantART and even facebook but certianly not on Gurushots. Far from it.
Just my two cents.
April 7, 2017 at 5:28 am
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.
April 8, 2017 at 2:43 am
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
April 17, 2017 at 3:55 am
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
April 21, 2017 at 9:06 am
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!
June 23, 2017 at 3:39 pm
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.
July 13, 2017 at 6:12 am
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?
July 13, 2017 at 6:18 pm
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.
February 2, 2018 at 1:13 am
Zoe Hi, I read a lot of the comments. I have to say that there are a lot of grey areas in Gurushots. One of the is that : there is a very thin explanation about how you can get a photo into TOP%. That would by OK, but they conditioned to get from “advanced” to “veteran” only if you get a photo in TOP30% It looks that has nothing to do with the number of votes. It is right to say that I improved my photography a lot, as I am taking seriously my passion for photography. Also. I have “something to say” in that activity and I like to show to my friends my improved technics and creativity; as a painter I know that an artist needs the social feedback, without it there is nothing . I am not making money from it and I don’t think that is the main goal of creation. You create because you need to do it. So, as far as I am concern, GuruShots made me to work harder and itgave me some tools for it- by comparing photos all the time is one of them. Seeing other’s work is important. But the way they do all the rules it is not all the time fair and correct.. Making points by sharing on Twitter or Facebook looks more like free publicity tools for Guru and has nothing to do with you getting better. and better… I don’t mind about professionals getting in the contest,, I will never be eligible for a prise, But if it is a game, OK, but it could be fair and correct. Overall, I am upset, but I need to see my work improving and that was the fastest way to find new tools and ideas. Only now I can choose some photos for a real exhibition in my birth town and than I will see about making money wit all kind of calendars -or others practical ideas of making money.
December 1, 2018 at 6:54 pm
How could you ever know if your image is used somewhere in another country???Its just words saying your images always remain your property you cant even download them back from the site.
July 16, 2017 at 5:45 am
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.
July 22, 2017 at 3:28 pm
Love reading it, & agree completely.
August 7, 2017 at 2:23 am
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.
October 9, 2017 at 12:04 pm
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!
November 1, 2017 at 1:13 am
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.
February 22, 2018 at 7:55 am
Love the reviews. I’m retired now living in Portugal and trying to discover a passion to fill my days. I’ve taken photos for a long time and learned to catalogue them and create websites.. I have worked my way up to Veteran and have enjoyed the ride. For me, it has given me a way to think about photography. I’ve been impressed with many of the photos and photographers.. I follow quite a few and just study their images. . Probably the best thing it has allowed me to do is catalogue my photos more effetively by looking deeper into the photos themselves and keywording them. The challenges push me to rediscover my own photos. I have rarely uploaded any new photos and enjoyed rediscovering past photos that speak to a random challenge. It’ also inspired me to learn Affinity Photo and Designer (i.e.Photoshop) as I’ve observed that few winners have won straight from their camera.!
November 1, 2017 at 5:44 pm
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.
C A Round
November 2, 2017 at 2:56 pm
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.
November 4, 2017 at 11:34 pm
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!
November 17, 2017 at 7:07 am
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.
November 19, 2017 at 4:02 pm
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.
August 14, 2018 at 8:35 pm
I second your experience. Veteran within a week, but now it’s going to get harder… a lot harder 😉
My biggest benefit for now is to learn from those who are better, a lot better, and to discover why they are better. It is much easier to compare and learn if you have a challenge with a somewhat themed and limited topic. Challenges also give me a starting point to go look at the world with a targeted eye, looking for anything “Orange and Black”. Also don’t mind spending a few bucks every now and then if that’s what the company needs for their efforts. At least I am not bombarded with ads …
It’s obvious there is a lot of PhotoShop involved with higher echelons, but I wish there was more emphasis on original picture taking, i.e. framing your shot (not cropping it), composition with your eye at the time of click rather than in post edit, etc. That would be my only criticism.
November 20, 2017 at 12:47 am
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.
November 21, 2017 at 8:33 am
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.
November 20, 2017 at 4:38 pm
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.
November 29, 2017 at 7:04 am
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.
August 4, 2018 at 10:50 am
Gurushort is a scam.
Harry R Prince
December 6, 2017 at 12:10 pm
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.
December 16, 2017 at 11:24 am
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.
April 2, 2018 at 12:10 am
I’ve been wondering myself what the secret is, and I’ve discovered that you have to boost ONE of your photos at the very beginnig, in the very first moment when the voting starts. I did it myself, and in the first hours my boosted photo got many votes, meanwhile the others hardly any. My boosted photo is now in the top 100.
December 16, 2017 at 11:35 pm
GuruShots is a ego baiting cash scam that is rapidly losing it’s sponsors!
December 24, 2017 at 8:28 pm
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
December 27, 2017 at 10:12 am
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.
January 29, 2018 at 4:24 pm
I’m really surprised at some of the negativity about GS here. I’ve been a member for about 6 months, have participated in almost 50 challenges, and have advanced to level 7 (champion). In the 3 months that I’ve been on GS, I feel that I’ve become a much better photographer, and I’ve expanded my portfolio to include many areas which I was completely uncomfortable previously. When I post a picture that gets lots of votes, sure, it’s satisfying, but even better is posting a picture that you thought was a great picture, and a great fit for the competition; only to find out that others don’t appreciate your image as much as you do. In that case, I consider it a personal challenge to find (or create) an image which will do better. As for the site wasting time, it will only take as much time as you are willing to give. Even if you never cast a vote, your images will still get exposure and votes.
In the time that I’ve been on GS, I’ve “liked” about 350 images, most of them contain some photographic quality which I would like to emulate in my work. Many times, I’ve found completely new and interesting ideas which I can’t wait to try myself. Sometimes those tries are wonderfully successful, and other times, they fail miserably. In the latter case, it’s just motivation to get back out there and try harder to hone my craft.
March 13, 2018 at 12:44 am
I agree with you Eric, you have pretty much said everything I wanted to say. I have been on the Guru Shot site for a week and a half and have got to Advanced. I also can see the view of it becoming addictive but then so is just about any Social site, I think it’s on the individual.
What concerns me is more to do with the data usage . i am wondering if the site is a Crypto Mining Site because I find my CPU is running flat out even when I am just sitting on the home page (Dashboard), and that is how I ended up on this Forum. Can anyone here confirm or explain to me why it so savage on the CPU
I really like spending my time doing something more constructive with my time like this ratter than being addicted to the BS on Facebook, I am so over the constant negativity on FB not mention the way FB is controlling the feeds and the bulling is just too much for me, it is refreshing in a big way for me find something like Guru. Just concerned about the drag on my PC and Data usage, .
February 3, 2018 at 4:40 am
Well must admit i was captured by the Guruchallenge site, but you are so right in most of your points risen here. I would say it is more a businessmodel than a photo content. They want you to be addicted to a point where you spend money on promoting your pictures to achieve votes. However I believe some of the best photos win most of the contests. Maybe it you will learn from participating but there are no real learning on the page. Many pictures are terribly bad in context of the competition they are thrown into. If you participate you are captured by the need for votes. It is addictive more or less. I have been trying to figure out how their algorithm may work but havent got a clue. I never spend a dollar and I believe it might define the number of votes you can obtain. I find myself voting for the same picture several time and I have adressed it in their FAQ. Bottomline: It is waste of time though I find it much more interesting than Instagram. The concept is basically good but has a lot of room for improvement which could be hard to implement. First of all there are too many really bad pictures. The voting mechanism needs an all new version focused on quality and not quantity
April 17, 2018 at 8:22 pm
I have been a GS member for about 2 months and I have had a lot of success – I am at Champion level, and nearly at Master level. I have had 2 guru picks and was thrilled to death. I am an amateur photographer, but have been learning a lot since I started and sometimes I have a picture that I absolutely love – and it is nice to get validation for that. Yes… I have spent money buying swaps and boosts, and spend too much time on the site. Usually I love the photos that win contests, and that inspires me, but sometimes I wonder how they got so many votes. Recently I have been growing suspicious about the # of views received by some photos – I was checking out the views/votes of some members whose pictures I didn’t think were very special. One photo had 3056 views and 653 votes – all for one challenge. I have no idea how a person could get that many views in one challenge. My boosted photos usually get around 600 – 700 views, and I keep my vote meter full most of the time. I sent a message to the admins to ask how this could happen, but haven’t received anything back. If a picture has the same amount of total votes as there are for the specific challenge, then you can check how many views there are for only that challenge. Usually top pictures have been in multiple challenges, so there is no correlation, but sometimes it is a new picture and then you can see if the # of views is reasonable or not. I think I am going to stop using GS because it is taking up a lot of time. I am also on viewbug, but have become disillusioned – they approached me to be a moderator. I said yes, thinking that I could comment on pics. What happened is they sent me messages to send to other members, and I just had to click on the message to send it. Even if I wanted to review the picture I was commenting on, I didn’t have the opportunity! So fake, and it made me wonder about the legitimacy of the comments I had received from others. Anyway, I am going to try to just take lots of pictures, find a class, and learn more about this fun hobby.
April 23, 2018 at 12:39 pm
Hi, I’ve been on gurushots for over two months and almost am at the champion level. What inspires me here is my the platforms fair play. Only by voting others, you happen to get votes for yourself. The best part is the blind voting system. As compared to View bug where you have no clue as to how they selected the winner.
Only if you watch good photographs that you can understand what’s not a great photo and where your photography is lacking or what it takes for someone to like your photo.
Just uploading images your images on Instagram or Facebook gets you likes from your friends n family who like every crap you upload all because they like you .Thats barely even knowing where your photo stands before total strangers.
Yeah. gurushots rightly puts itself as a gaming platform. Obviously you either play or get hooked on to a game or not. Just like soccer or a casino maybe. Its not as if they force you to be in there. Everything in life is empty. What else is so fulfilling than a pay cheque or a lovely dinner? Even that Is temporary. Playing a game or even a computer game only makes you win the game someday maybe. Sometimes the last round in many games is so tough only a few crack it. Right from FIFA to War Heroes. So what, you were only playing a game to some day win it. For your self satisfaction not to get paid or crowned by someone. And you don’t play it, leaving your job.
I feel a few people have written a few negative stuffs just to point out something, not sure what.
About the view from the picture being 3000 odd, I see that in my pic all the time. It’s just a bug in their software. The number of views don’t even count. Why are you pulling the bull by its tail.
Yeah, some foolish people don’t upload fitting images. For which you can report the image. Gurushots then asks a voter to review the report filed. If agreed, that image is disqualified. I purposely tried that once to see.
Yeah there are people who don’t own the images and yet they claim its theirs. Gurushots expects this criteria to be critical for exhibitions not for regular challenges. Gurushots isn’t a photography police to kick people’s ass when they are off the line.
So what people upload the same images over n over again.?although I hate it as much, when I see the images appear in varied competitions, do you expect photographers to leave their paying jobs to upload fresh picture for every challenge? And how many times do you get the best ingredient that makes a wonderful image? And why would they want to share it with you, even if they had loads of amazing pictures so you may learn and try it at home to recreate that image and yourself gain accolades by uploading on your FB or IG?
I find quite a few of the comments to be quite sadistic. I wonder if you guys really care bout your photography or because you probably aren’t doing so well on gurushots and are complaining.
Frank de Groene
May 20, 2018 at 3:47 am
I am also participating on the Gurushots site. Even made it to ” Expert”. But this time I really tried to work out how “swopping” works, something for which you have to pay. Every time I swop a picture, the next picture gains more votes. And I deliberately swopped pictures that are less good (in my opinion). So every time I gain votes, but up to a certain amount, and then it stops completely. Even if I keep voting myself to keep the exposure meter up, apparently there seems to be a sort of maximum amount of votes that you can get. Unless you swop again. I am now in a contest only 74 votes away from being “All Star” in this competition, but nothing happens anymore. I just don’t get any new votes. So it really seems to a sort of scam, where you can only advance if you spend money.
May 21, 2018 at 7:38 am
I’m a contestor on GS since a few months and I’m already a Master, but! To go higher is almost impossible since one is depending on Guru’s votes…
May 21, 2018 at 10:35 am
I am not sadistic (?) and am now at Champion level. I just need one more Guru pick to be at Master level. I have stopped voting, and only submit a photo to a contest if I think it has a chance to be picked by the Guru. I have stopped spending money and time on this game.
If there is a bug in the software that shows more views than is correct, then Gurushots should fix it.
I have personally reported about 5 people to the administrators who were stealing photos from the internet and submitting them as their own. The profiles were taken down. I think that their software, which is smart enough to tag the kind of flower, the colour of the flower, etc. should be able to identify at least the most famous pictures that have been on the internet for a while. I have also asked for a button to report cheaters, so I don’t have to record all of the details and email them separately.
Anyway, it has been fun, and I do like to see the best pictures that win contests, especially to look at the settings used by the photographers, so I can learn.
January 11, 2019 at 8:15 pm
I’ve been a player on Guru Shots for over two years, clawed my way up through the levels, am sitting on Expert with 940,000 guru points and the only thing stopping me from going further are the said Gurus. I have over 130 votes at levels higher than AllStar top 100’s top 10% etc etc. I have almost become convinced after seeing the allocation of Guru picks, that thier votes have little to do with quality or consistency, even within their own brief.
The GURU PICKS need to be removed immediately, and a an open voting system without Gurus selecting the higher ranks of Champion, Master, and Guru. BTW I have little concern about Gurus reading this, I have no doubt, that despite public voting I will never get a Guru’s pick, really don’t care, I trust my peers blind vote more than the Guru’s who often voite nepotisticly. I’ll let my GS points and achievements tell the story, and hopefully someone will have the balls to change this skewed voting system.
Each time the voting levels in the challenges change and criteria change, it is not to the advantage of the average punter, and instead of making the game more stategic, makes it more accessible for those with the coin to buy votes, and for those without coin,just another job,Depending on the number of challeges you have running (I normally have around 20plus, that means a two hour plus voting routine.
I’ll wait until I get to 1,000,000 votes, then I will quit Guru Shots, I honestly believed in this game up until around 6 months ago, upper level vote rigging is unacceptable.
August 15, 2018 at 1:28 pm
I have played around with this Not much of a “gamer” but I too have used 500px and ViewBug. I find these sites to be a step above Instagram and Flickr. These sites require engagement. This is a positive thing to a degree. I fancy myself a bit of a renaissance man when it come mesnto photography. Photography is to be viewed and even more talked about to be fully appreciated.
Okay here is the Rub… while competition breeds innovation and new ideas and the need to level up one cannot level up without quality feedback. And these sites really don’t do much for that aspect
GuruShots seems to have it worked out that I order to score higher in the challenge you have to swap and boost and use the auto fill.
I have tested this. I have voted by hand and boosted my exposure meter but I always gain more votes when I use the auto fill.
The prizes are usually gifts of swaps and fills and boost keys so really there is not real prize money involved. There is an option to buy more swaps and keys and fills because you will inevitably run out of the free ones.
The Corinne system really doesn’t promote picking the best photo but just clicking anything will boost your exposure meter and therefore there is no incentive to really put thought into the voting
I guess all the sites have their pros and cons. I have determined that GuruShots is not really a good platform to cultivate good talent and it is merely for fruitless bragging rights.
August 29, 2018 at 8:03 pm
So I have been messing on gurushots for the last 5 days. Got hooked a little seeing how I could climb the ranks and it was quite fun.
I didn’t spend any money and I hadn’t been paying much attention to what others were posting or what I was voting on apart from noticing there were a lot of bad images entered.
It took 5 days to get to expert level which means I need top 10 and top 5% ranks (and guru picks) to progress so I started looking at the competition and boy it was depressing.
I just entered a challenge for insect macros (speed challenge so no boosting). I though my image was pretty nice, it is doing average, I looked at the number 1 ranked image and 2 and 3 and 4 and it wasn’t till I looked at number 6 that I saw an image that had I taken it would have made it out of lightroom (or actually photolab).
Don’t know what to do to get those 5 and 10% ranks (or that I should even bother).
For example this is currently the No. 1 ranked image https://gurushots.com/photo/e1b170c070a988fe8b7eed0331f455ff
August 29, 2018 at 9:10 pm
I second your experience. As a somewhat decent enthusiast, you will climb to the rank of Expert somewhat expeditiously, and then the going gets tough. Guru Picks are not that hard, as they only mean a Guru – most of the time the host of the challenge, will give your picture a thumbs up (not to be confused with Top Guru Pick). Now the 10% and 5% Awards are much harder. This is because they don’t actually mean top 10% of all entries, whether a batch of 4 pictures or a single picture – depending on the type of challenge)-, but it means the top 10% of all ranks. For the levels of Popular, Skilled, Premier, and Elite there are 1150 ranks in total, and many, i.e. 10s of thousands can share in these ranks. All Star level still shares ranks with members who have received the same number of likes, so there are many “ties” among submissions. You may rank 200 in All Star level, but you may actually rank 900 or lower in true ranking (meaning there are 900 ahead of you). I have studied several challenges and run the numbers: a 10% award is more equivalent to being in the top 2% of all competitors. This is not scientific as it depends on the number of All Star members for each challenge – the only number of ranks that can vary.
Although this lack of transparency is frustrating at times, somehow the really good pictures still take home the winning ranks. Of course, many of these are examples of very good Photoshop skills as well. And there are some other issues, but it’s still fun to play. Just don’t take it too seriously 😉
November 15, 2018 at 9:06 am
I’ve been playing Gurushots for about a year and made it to Guru after about 8 months. The best 20 photos on my page are all photos that I took based on ideas that I got from other gurushots users. Many misconseptions about how gurushots works in the comments. I’ll try to debunk some mis information. The “Vote Meter” is used to increase the number of views on your photos. In general, a full vote meter at the end of a challenge will increase the number of views by about 20-25%. There is no value to voting to increase your vote meter at the beginning of the challenge, because as time goes on, your vote meter will go down slowly. So filling your vote meter at the end of the challenge is the only voting that has any value. Adding a boost to a photo will add 200 views to your photo (almost immediately), so if you join a challenge early, each of your photos might receive 50-100 views. An early boost will increase this to 250-300, so of course you’ll be ahead of almost any user who hasn’t unlocked a boost.
There is certainly the possibility to spend hours voting, but in 12 months, I have participated in 800+ challenges, and I do this with about 15 minutes/day on guru shots. Every morning, I login and vote the challenges that are ending that day, and then join challenges which are ending soon. I never enter a challenge until it’s within 24hours of completing.
Check out my user page, and you’ll see that I have a huge variety of photos uploaded to the site, and trust me when I say that at least 30% of my photos are inspired by other GS users in previous challenges.
November 15, 2018 at 9:17 am
my GS page
January 12, 2019 at 9:03 am
Hello Guru, is there a way to make money on gs or is it just exposure to other photographers
November 15, 2018 at 9:49 am
One more item.
How do top % awards work.
Short answer, not as you’d expect them to work.
If there’s 100 users, and you’ve got more votes than 80 of them, that does not mean that you’re in the top 20%.
that’s becuase gurushots uses the concept of “Buckets”. All users with 289 votes are in 1 bucket.
Consider the example
user 1 – 100 votes
user 2 – 99 votes
user 3 – 99 votes
user 4 – 99 votes
user 5 – 99 votes
user 6 – 99 votes
user 7 – 90 votes
user 8 – 90 votes
user 9 – 89 votes
user 10 – 88 votes
In this case, there are 5 buckets. (100 votes, 99 votes, 90 votes, 89 votes, 88 votes)
if you’ve got 99 votes, you’re in bucket 2 out of 5.
2/5 = .40, so you’re in the top 40%
If you look at the rank of a 4 photo challenge, click on the “Popular” rank, then scroll up 1 place, you’ll see the lowest ranked “Skilled” user, It will probably be 250, so you know that there are 250 buckets of skilled users.
Click on Skilled, and scroll up 1 place, and you’ll see the lowest ranked “Premier” user,
If you do this for each ranking, and add them up, you can determine how many total “Buckets” there are for this challenge.
You can then check your rank, and see how many buckets are above you.
Divide your bucket# by the total # of buckets to figure out your percentage.
Most 4 image challenges will have nearly 1 bucket for every vote count up to the all star rank, so if it takes 1200 votes to get to all star, you can expect that there will be a maximum of 1200 buckets between popular, skilled, premier, and elite. Then add the lowest ranked allstar to determine the total number of buckets.
I know this can be confusing, but hopefully the information will help someone who’s trying to get a top 30% award.
December 24, 2018 at 7:40 pm
Hi there…:-) Thank you for your information and time spent writing it all up. I have been “playing” GS a year now and am at a Champion level. I love browsing through some amazing images from some amazing places and that is why I am mainly there. I do write comments on my liked photos and get feedback in return. I have few issues with the GS but I must say I know it is like a gambling game so try not to over do and I do take breaks. I did spent some money on keys and swaps but not any more. Not for a long time. If I get free once I use them and that is that.
People are desperate for Guru pick….you can not progress without it. Well, I got 6 Guru Picks already which surprised me but pleased me heaps as well. Problem is I can’t get into that 5% required to move to Master level. I would like to be at that level…..for me it is harder to achieve that than to get a Guru pick……and that surely must be strange?…?
I constantly report similar images and off topic once. It is quite disgusting that even Masters and some Guru level people could put similar images to a Challenge….and when I say similar they are exactly like! Say one bridge in colour and exactly same bridge in B&W! I even wrote an email to GS admin asking them to browse through top voted photos and cleaned up that mess and give ppl warning….it is not fair for sure!….all the best in NY 2019 guys…..have fun playing…:-)))
scotty of eden
December 8, 2018 at 1:36 pm
I started fiddling around with GuruShots a month ago. It’s fun at first and definitely plays heavy on phycology in feeling the urge to complete an unfinished task. Reading the comments I’m reading about how GuruShots can help with various skills, but there’s no specific feedback from users to say what you are doing right or wrong, just that they ‘liked’ it, which means nothing. Also, there’s no link to the real world, so there is exposure. You can’t link your social media or website, so what’s the point. It’s an internal infrastructure.
Lastly, I’ve been ranking Elite and All-Star in the contests, which are top rankings, but I haven’t been able to get past Rookie, because I have to have 3 “successful swaps”, which is just retarded x7. That has nothing to do with photography!!! Swaps are hard to come by in winning contest, so in order to progress you have to pay to play. I’m out!!!
December 30, 2018 at 10:03 pm
Hello everybody and thanks so much first to the person who wrote this blog and to all the people who added their own stories and comments. I rarely comment on anything online but I just read this entire thread and I thought I owed this blog to add something. I am a pro photographer, and by pro I don’t claim that I am good but only that there are regular people and businesses who are willing to pay me to shoot something or someone. I have never used GS but I received quite a few emails from them that I decided today to check it. I looked at many photos, very few I would vote for (and I suppose very few people would vote for mine) but since it is a contest open to everybody I thought that it could be nice way for both ams and pros to be a part a community sharing the same passion. But I became suspicious after browsing a few pages, reading about rules, votes, levels, and paying swaps, My only quest when I came on GS today was if it can be good for my business and bring me in any way more customers. I obviously wouldn’t find any sincere answer on GS so I looked on Google, I skipped all the paid links, and then all the GS descriptions, and I clicked on the first personal, meaningful, link about GS, and I found here exactly what I wanted to know: there is absolutely no way to get any exposure for my business so I won’t spend one minute on GS uploading, voting, or waiting for approval. I supposed it would have taken me a few days to figure it out myself and I am extremely grateful to all of you to have saved me that time.
What I was wondering is if there is another photo website where people could also participate to challenges, compete, and improve their skills, but where you have to pay upfront to post a photo, I don’t know $1 , $2, or $10, enough to for the website to make a living and to pay pros or gurus or users to provide real comments, at least 2 or 3 lines, and not just a vote. Maybe I am naive but what I know for sure is that you have to pay for a good service, and it also eliminates 99% of the free crap, it would mean less challenges, less photos, but something more meaningful.
Don’t think I only think about business I also consider myself an artist and each time I get hired I arrive a bit in advance and look around for new photos to shoot, just for my own pleasure and creativity. Finally my advice, coming from someone who never used GS, is don’t spend any time on anything addictive and pathetic as GS, there are many places to look at great photos, learn about techniques, and compare your work, without a meter.
February 1, 2019 at 5:24 am
Hi all..I’m a professional photographer who started to check yesterday this “Guru” site..i realized after 5 minutes this site is completely fake…i want to warn everyone don”t upload your professional photography because im quite sure they use somewhere somehow the best ones.. if you check all the guru’s profile you will see they pics like “download from the google”” or buy from the shutterstock..i think they download the best pics with all” open challenge” and they steal your photos..that’s all ..so if you are a skilled photographer never upload images to these sites! Better if you sale them for the correct price!good luck and be aware!
February 27, 2019 at 12:51 am
I got hooked on to Gurushots for about 2 weeks now and I got to Champion Level. My family and friends found me clicking on my phone all the time, every little break I get, at lunch, while having a conversation… it has become so addictive.
I’ve realized something that happened tonight. I was trying to get to Master level and I need a Top 5%, and 2 Guru picks. So, I submit my best and relevant photos for the challenge and I see my photos raising to the top and standing at #2. This is when I get mad. I keep voting to get more exposure, but nothing happens. I refresh the page every second to see if there are more votes… none. It just stops. And I see other photos start to climb over mine… I see myself drop to #3, 4, 6 , 10 and so on… just going down. I keep voting to catch up and that is when I saw that the photos that are on top are not even presented to me for voting. And the photos that are presented for voting are repeating 3 or 4 times and some of them more than that.
I suddenly felt something fishy going on. I recorded my screen and wrote to GS. And then searched for Gurushots Scam… I ended up here and it all makes sense. Very well written. I was almost getting consumed by GS. Now I feel liberated.
I’m going to uninstall the app from my phone and get away from this site. It was fun, but it should’ve been fair. I spent money on it thinking it is fair. But it is just gambling. Addictive and fruitless. I’ll go back to traditional ways of getting my photos critiqued. Thanks a lot for this post and all the comments from other experienced users of GS.
March 20, 2019 at 1:59 pm
I join this afternoon .More out of curiosity than anything .I submitted 4 pics .4 hours later I have 3 ranked at all star level but now I sat thinking so what ? I was hoping it would give me exposure (no pun intended) and might have been a plat form to sell my work but the whole thing seems pointless. People will vote randomly ,no matter the quality of the photo just to boost their own profiles .An soulless afternoon wasted as far as I am concerned.
May 15, 2019 at 5:04 pm
Thanks for the review. After 3 weeks I find the whole thing a con. People don’t understand the concept in the challenge, despite having turned off adult content one still gets adult images. Also people just randomly vote on the first images they see without considering the content of the image. Also I would not be surprised if there was an element of collusion at Guru level.
Total waste of time. Wish I had seen your review earlier.
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