ALL RIGHT! I get questions about these things allllllll the time on Instagram so I decided it was best to just write a post about it. If you have any other questions that aren’t answered here, feel free to leave a comment/message me and I may add to the post down the line.
What the hell is a Hufflepuff photo challenge?
There are a few different formats, but mostly people post a set of prompts at the beginning of each month, and people take photos based on the prompts. E.g. wall = post a photo of a wall. Bookish photo challenges are exactly like that, only they’re centred more around books. E.g. wall = post a photo of a book on a wall/a wall made out of books.
Why do people participate in them?
Some people absolutely love photo challenges, and some people think they’re a waste of time, or too stressful. I’m firmly in the love camp; I’ve been hosting monthly photo challenges for two years now, and it really helps me figure out what I’d like to post ahead of time. If I didn’t have that motivation, my posting would be far more sporadic.
How do people participate?
With hashtags! Each photo challenge will have a hashtag associated with it so you can share your posts with the host and other participants. Use #Ampersand2018, for example, and anyone can tap on that hashtag within your caption and be directed to the overall page for #Ampersand2018.
Where do I find photo challenges?
I’ve participated in challenges for long enough that I know which accounts are most likely to host them. BUT you can also check out some Instagram accounts that specifically exist to collate this information. I use Booksta Challenges.
Do I have to follow the host of the challenge?
Absolutely not. But it is nice to follow the host because a) they worked hard to create the challenge you’re participating in; and b) you’ll know when they post another challenge.
Should I tag the host in each picture I take?
Nope. I’m sure it differs depending on the host, but I actually prefer it when people don’t tag me in their photo. For example, #Ampersand2018 had more than 1200 posts by the third week of January. If even a small number of participants tagged me in their photos, I would be totally overwhelmed by the influx of content. That’s why the challenge hashtag exists—so I can scroll through, see photos, and like and comment on some at random.
There are, like, a lot of days in this month. How am I supposed to keep up?
We all have busy lives, and there’s nothing worse than realising at the last minute that you need to cobble something together. Personally, I prefer to take as many photos as I can on one day/weekend at the beginning of the month so they’re ready to go ahead of time.
Do I have to complete every single prompt?
Not at all! I participate in up to 20 other challenges each month, but I only post once or twice a day. I’ll combine complementary prompts where possible, and I intentionally keep my prompts broad so you can interpret them however you choose. But at the end of the day, no one is going to see you as a failure if you skip a day or a week when you need to. Be kind to yourself.
BUT more participation = more chances to be featured!
Like many other hosts, I pick a picture I like for each day of the challenge and feature it on my account. Some people post a collage; I share the photos in my Instagram story and tag the accounts.
I make a concerted effort not to feature the same person twice in one month, which means there are 28 changes in February for you to be featured. The more photos you post, the more chances your account has to be featured.
How do I make sure my photo gets featured?
There are no guarantees with this—there were only 31 slots for January features, for example, but far more than 31 people were participating. Not everyone gets to be featured every month. But I do have a few things I look for when choosing photos (this will differ for every host):
- High-quality, well-lit photos. That doesn’t mean you have to use a DSLR; just make sure your photo isn’t blurry or out of focus, and make sure the lighting is appropriate (e.g. no flash reflecting off the book cover, nothing so dark I can’t see it, etc.)
- The prompt. Since people are in different time zones and others are playing catch-up, photos won’t always appear in the right order. If I can’t obviously see which prompt it’s for, I won’t pick the photo. And if someone has just used my hashtag but isn’t participating in the challenge that month or that day, they definitely won’t get picked.
- Individual content. Don’t repost someone else’s photo and just use the hashtag. That’s not fair to them.
- Actual photos. While you’re more than welcome to take screenshots and post them to the challenge, please understand that, for features, I will eschew them in favour of a photo that someone has set up, photographed, and edited.
- The correct hashtag. Some photo challenge hashtags can be super long or complicated, so it’s not surprising that your phone will sabotage you with autocorrect. Whenever you post a photo, just tap on the hashtag afterwards and make sure it directs to the correct place so I can see it. If you’ve made a spelling mistake/typo, chances are the photo will be only one listed under that hashtag. Just edit your caption with the correct spelling to make sure it goes to the right place.
I think that’s about it! As I said, if you have any other questions about photo challenges just let me know and I’ll try to answer them as best I can.