Want a different angle for earning prize money in our photography contest? Just aim for a certain day!


posted Sunday, November 11, 2018 at 7:42 AM EST


Our Photo of the Day contest is a terrific way to hone your skills as a photographer and get recognized for your hard work out in the field. It’s also a great way to earn prize money that can be put towards that next awesome lens you’ve been dreaming about! But to get a chance at the prizes, you must first be awarded a daily winner.

Now, for those of you who’ve tried and not yet been successful, take heart and don’t be discouraged. You may not know it, but less than 10% of the submissions we receive are awarded daily placements, as we get literally hundreds of submissions per month. Your safest bet for “breaking through” is to therefore keep practicing and keep submitting until you succeed, and that’s a sure-fire bet.

But for anyone who wants a little “head start” on the competition - a wee jump on those others who may miss this little story or don’t bother reading it - keep on reading as there’s a little inside info we’ve decided to share with you now that we’ve rarely (if ever!) divulged. And that information is this:

We award certain type images depending on the day of the week!

We long ago decided to choose certain types of images for certain days, and for varying reasons that I’ll list for you in just a bit. Of course, these are just guidelines and there will be exceptions, primarily because we won’t dip below our standard of excellence in the competition just to make sure we have the proper image for a certain day.

But if you look through our Gallery of Winners and match the dates with the days of the week you will see a clear pattern emerge over time that is rarely strayed from. You could likely figure this out even without the key down below, but I’ve decided to save you the trouble and divulge the key for you here. The reason is simple: You may have more success if you decide to focus on one of your particular niche skills, and knowing how we select images (and why) may help you further hone your own submission decisions accordingly!

And so, not to be too longwinded about it, let's move on to...

The Key!

Cheery Monday

We want to let our readers (and ourselves) start the week off bright and cheery! And we fortunately receive a nice array of gorgeous images of flowers and bright-colored insects, hummingbirds, frogs, that sort of thing. We use these to adorn our site on Mondays whenever possible, so keep the bright-colored glories of nature coming our way!

Reaching by Debra S. Dorothy • $200 Second Prize winner • Canon 7D Mark II

A nice, bright image for a Monday!

Birding Tuesday

Birds, birds, and more birds! We receive so many birding photos in our contest that we decided to make one entire day Birding Day. This was both to honor the craft, but to also make sure that we didn't go overboard on birds! Of course, avians in flight are super-tough to capture, so we do our best to include as many actual in-flight images as possible. Photographers such as Linn Smith, Anita Ross, Abeselom Zerit and Robert Kaplan have all used this to their advantage! But then still birds can be quite artistic as well. Keep them coming, as now you know there's a whole day that's (mostly) reserved for you birders out there!

Osprey in Flight With Catch by Abeselom Zerit • $200 Second Prize winner • Nikon D500

Birds in Flight are all the rage on our site on Tuesdays....

Wild Wednesday

We found ourselves scratching our heads one day years ago, mulling over an image that we found beautiful, but that was, shall we say, off the beaten path? What to do?!? Ah, and then an idea presented itself....  assign a day of the week to catch the weird and the wild, and that's exactly what we did. On Wednesdays you will often find the abstract, the strange, and even the downright weird..... and if they have photographic merit we are proud to display them and give them a place to "live" in our contest. So, if you like photographing "off-the-wall" subjects, you're in luck and will receive a due audience from our judging panel.

Shadow Art by Anindya Phani • $200 Second Prize winner • Canon Rebel T5i (700D)

Have an image that's "off the beaten path?" We have a day for that!

Popular Thursday

We tend to keep Thursdays open for "group favorites". These are not a specific type shot, just whatever the group tends to like the best. I've not done a study of how many prize-winners at the end of the month come from Thursday placements, but it would be a safe bet that there is a natural skew. This isn't because of the day of the week of course, as we have no idea about such things during monthly prize voting (nor the name of the photographers of the images during the monthly vote) but simply because we tend to put our favorites on Thursdays, as it is also a well-loved day of the week!

Thirsty Kitty by Greg Miller • $300 First Prize winner • Nikon D810

Thursdays tend to produce more First Prizes than any other day of the week here at IR....
(Thirsty Thursday?)


Sundown Friday

Just as we ramped you up for the work week with something bright and cheery on Monday, so too do we enjoy "winding you down" on Fridays, letting us all ease our way out of the long work week and on into the glorious weekend. And so, most images you'll see on Fridays in our contest are either sunset-related or simply tranquil in nature. So you landscape shooters who capture sunrises and sunsets at the ocean or in the desert will be assured at least four days of the month in definite need of your craft!

Bathed in Morning Light by Melissa Anderson • $300 First Prize winner • Canon 5D Mark III

Like shooting sunrises and sunsets? Then Friday is your day of the week in our contest...!

Sports Saturday

Similar to the strange or the odd needing a home on Wednesday, sometimes "fun" images are hard to know what to do with. And so, we made a home for them on Saturdays! If you get a great shot of your child playing baseball, or perhaps a montage of a child on a trampoline, it might likely make the grade on any given Saturday. The same goes for playful shots of a dog catching a frisbee, or a cool shot from a motocross race!

Launched by Steve Vit • $100 Third Prize winner • Canon 1D Mark III

You'll see a variety of images on Saturday in our contest, and great sports images will rise to the top...

Tranquil Sunday

As with Friday, we like to save Sunday for tranquil imagery. But instead of sunrise or sunset, on Sunday we often go for other brands of tranquil. This could be a gorgeous old mill on a colorful fall day, or a beautiful church in a distant field. What might seem commonplace or even boring during the week may bring a nostalgic feeling on any given Sunday, so keep the peaceful images coming!

When Lightning Strikes by Karen Celella • $200 Second Prize winner • Canon 7D

Sundays in our contest are often tranquil landscapes....  but sometimes lightning does intrude!

[A special note that it doesn't matter on which day of the week you submit your images to us. This has no bearing on the results, as the daily judging generally happens on one day of the month. One additional note that the above key is just a guideline, and we can't guarantee these results, only that we do our best to stock in this manner given the images that make the grade from the judging panel.]

• • • • • • •

So there's a look at the general weekly stocking pattern in our contest, and you can use this to your advantage! You may notice that we didn't choose a day for portraits or people shots, and this is not an oversight on our part. Why? Because we simply don't get enough of these to keep a day of the week stocked. Oh, we very much wish we did! Great people shots can be incredibly compelling, and we award them daily placements every chance we get, but simply don't get many.

Of course, we're not just talking about casual snapshots. As we've mentioned in prior pieces offering tips to succeed, just because a cute child or family member relates to you doesn't mean the image will relate to others. There needs to be something compelling about the image to reel in someone who doesn't even know the person, and if you can capture that essence or beauty then you may find great success in our contest.

So, best of luck to you all, and most importantly please remember that we are very grateful to all of you who enter our contest! Looking through your images and choosing the best is an honor and a privilege for us, and we love sharing the results with all of our daily and monthly winners. It takes courage to enter, and we salute all of you who do!

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