Capture Arkansas is the photography book made by Arkansans, voted on by Arkansans and ultimately powered by the editorial team at the Democrat-Gazette. People from all over the state have already submitted photographs of people, places, events and everything else. It's not too late. This year's book has more categories, and the website is a bit nicer, with integrated social networking and better tracking options.
There was a bit of controversy here about Capture Arkansas in 2008. I exchanged emails with a few people and a few people commented about the volume of photos presented, and how most of them, to quote one exchange, "suck." As someone who has judged several photo contests, I can tell you that that is true of any public photography contest. You get a bell curve with a few really good photos, a few really bad photos and a whole bunch of decent ones. That happens even when there is a contest admission fee. Capture Arkansas is free to enter, so you wouldn't expect everything to be National Geographic ready.
If you're looking for only award-winning photographs, you should skip the site and buy the book. To me, that attitude misses the point of the project. The project is about people who love Arkansas and photography and want to share that passion. I was talking to some friends (Paul and Karen Caster) about the project and Paul was saying he submitted to receive comments and feedback on his photos, and offer comments and feedback on other great shots. I think that's really what this project is about, sharing the love of photography.
To me, the best part about the contest is that even on the "mediocre" photos, nobody is posting, "YOU SUCK!", "This photo is stupid." Almost everyone is either silently clicking "nix" or saying something nice, to encourage the photographer. I have only seen a few "you suck" type comments, and I've been through about 50% of the photographs.
I've entered some photo forum contests where shots are ripped apart. It's nice to have a "friendly" forum to look at people's "best" shots. People wouldn't have submitted it if they didn't think something about it was good.
The site does it makes it easy to check out the popular photos, and skip junior's first date-stamped, blurry birthday cake if you want. If you want to check out my likes, I have followed quite a few good photographers (some of the people I'm following are my friends, but even most of them are excellent photographers). You can also check out my favorite photos. If you're brave, browse through the entire collection and find lots of favorites of your own. There are about 30,000 photo to browse.
Now I'm off to take photos of my dog, and I don't care what anyone thinks of them. It's fun and that's what photography is all about!