Onexposure is a photoblog with a difference. The idea behind it is both interesting and problematic. Basically, how it works is this. You join, submit a photo, and if the powers that be think it is good enough, it goes up on the blog under a category. The idea behind this is clearly to achieve and maintain a certain level of quality to the images. But the problematic part of it of course is that the four screeners are putting themselves in a position of judging what is good and what is not. They further put focus on that judgement by having a section where you can see what percentage of your submitted photos have been accepted. And depending on that rating, they allow you to upload more or fewer pictures for submission.

I joined and submitted some pictures to see how the process worked. Of course I submitted stuff I thought was of a decent quality. Many of my initial uploads were accepted but then when some shots were not accepted it made me start to think about the process. Did I really want to have these 4 people sit in judgement on the quality of my work. Where was the line and how could I know what they would think was good. Of course I wanted more exposure for my work, but at what price? I then started selectively uploading different types of shots to see how they would be received. When a photo is rejected, there is a process in which you can appeal a photos judgement. The screener then tells you why a picture has not been accepted. It was here that I lost my interest. I felt the screeners’ judgements were very flawed and I found I didn’t agree at all with what they were saying. I found examples of other pictures on the site I felt were hugely inferior to ones of mine they hadn’t accepted. In the end I realised I wanted nothing to do with the place and of course that’s what I did.

But the question then is what others think. Is this way of engaging in community based photo appreciation a good way? I think not. I think it’s extremely problematic because of the very small number of screeners. If there were 50 screeners and they all ranked a picture, then averaged out that ranking, that’d be a more consistent and reasonable way of doing things. But 4 people sitting in judgement over hundreds of photographers work and thereby getting themselves a very nice looking website in the process seems a bit… cheap. I know of others who have also had problems with this site and those that run it.I have also heard that they re-use the photographs on another of their sites, nowords. I don’t remember seeing this in the terms and conditions when I signed up, but I suppose it was there. If not, it’s unacceptable. Maybe I should go and check…

An alternative way of doing things is weeklyshot. Run by Brandon Stone, this site accepts submissions on a theme, and the users themselves rate the photo in 5 areas. Those that rate highly get featured on the home page. A much more democratic system I think, and a very enjoyable and productive way of getting and giving productive critique.

Basically it boils down to this: It’s hard to have a photo you think is really good rejected. If three people reject it, then it’s easy to think they just don’t have any taste. If 100 people reject it, it’s easier to accept there is something wrong with it. We all know it’s hard to be objective about our own photos, so it makes sense to get feedback on them. But by seeking out the widest possible feedback will give you the most balanced view of how people generally view a photograph. And even if 100 people hate your picture, remember there will probably be someone out there that loves it.