Thinking about running a photo contest on your website? This can be a fun and engaging way to interact with your community, boost user-generated content, and increase traffic to your site. Photo contests have the potential to engage a wide audience, as demonstrated in Greenpeace Canada’s 2014 to 2015 photo contest, which exceeded its goals by 600%

Winner in the 2021 Greenpeace photography contest
Winner in the 2021 Greenpeace photography contest

For website creation, WordPress is a popular platform – it has a user-friendly interface and it comes with a range of added functionality provided by the WordPress plugins you use. This makes it a good choice for running a photo contest. 

WordPress comes with a native image gallery, but this lacks advanced features and doesn’t include the ability to accept user uploads and basic customization options. FooGallery is a better alternative, as it is a robust and flexible plugin for WordPress that allows users to easily manage photo contests when combined with the User Uploads add-on. FooGallery comes with a range of additional features, like customizable layouts and easy gallery creation, to help you take your photo contests to the next level. 

Demo of User Uploads in a gallery

Are you ready to create engaging, interactive content on your WordPress website? Then follow these simple step-by-step instructions for launching your own photo contest.

How FooGallery Makes it Easy to Run Photo Contests on WordPress 

FooGallery is a robust WordPress image management plugin that simplifies running photo contests by providing a suite of basic and advanced features. It is simple to install and integrates seamlessly with WordPress, making it easy to set up and use. Plus, it includes:

  • Multiple gallery templates, such as a carousel, grid, or masonry layout. 
  • A range of customizable options that allow users to design their photo contest gallery exactly how they want it. These include hover effects, loaded animations, custom css, and more. 
  • A fully responsive design, which means your galleries look good on any device, from desktops to smartphones.
  • A FooGallery block and gallery shortcode that together allow you to place your gallery anywhere – the homepage, a dedicated landing page, or even as a widget. 

To further simplify the process of running a photo contest, you’ll want to allow users to upload their own images. The FooGalllery User Uploads add-on provides this capability, making it an essential photo contest plugin. 

This add-on includes a number of useful features:

  • Frontend submissions: User Uploads allows participants to submit their photos directly from the website’s front end. The add-on supports drag-and-drop uploads, making it extremely easy for participants to submit their photos, encouraging more submissions by reducing technical barriers.
  • Moderation and management: Competition runners have the option to moderate submissions before they go live. This feature ensures that only entries that meet the contest criteria and rules are displayed. Moderators can reject images that don’t comply, adding a layer of security.
  • Seamless gallery integration: Once photos are approved, they can automatically be added to the existing gallery. This integration ensures a smooth workflow from submission to display, keeping the gallery updated with new entries as they are approved.

Choose the Right FooGallery Plan for Your Needs

There are various FooGallery plans available, allowing you to choose the best fit depending on the needs of your photo contest. When choosing your plan, there are several factors worth considering, such as the expected number of entries and the need for any advanced features. Below are some pointers that can help you make your decision:

  • The User Uploads Add-On integrates with all of the FooGallery plans, so you could get the free version, and integrate the add-on to run your competition. This is the most cost-effective option.
  • However, if you want more templates, then you should consider upgrading to FooGallery PRO Starter. This plan also includes custom options like the pre-styled hover effects, to help boost your gallery appearance with minimal effort. 
FooGallery Hover effect Preset Sadie
  • FooGallery PRO Expert provides even more control with added features such as filtering and custom captions. For advanced users, this is the ideal option as you have more control over your gallery appearance and functionality. Features like paging can also help improve page load times – an important consideration if you are expecting a large volume of entries. 
  • The PRO Commerce plan is especially useful for a photo competition as you can implement watermarking and right-click image protection as added security measures. You’ll also have the ability to sell images if that’s a goal of the contest.

The Best WordPress Gallery Plugin

FooGallery is an easy-to-use WordPress gallery plugin, with stunning gallery layouts and a focus on speed and SEO.

Create a Dedicated Photo Contest Page on Your Website 

The first step is to create a dedicated contest page on WordPress and add it to the website’s navigation menu. FooGallery’s strength is that you can set up galleries on any page, and this means you can even run the competition directly on the landing page.

Once you’ve created your photo context page, you will need to add some content. In particular, you should state the contest theme and clearly outline the contest rules and guidelines, stipulating any specific entry criteria. You can also post any eligibility requirements (for example, is the contest location-specific?) and the submission deadline. 

To encourage participation, you can add information on the available prizes or possible giveaways as well. You can also state the date on which the winners will be announced and how winners will be contacted. 

Choose the Right Layout and Style

Next, you’ll set up your photo contest gallery. With FooGallery, there are various layouts and styles to choose from. For example, you can have a flat style, or you can add borders and shadows to your gallery thumbnails to make the images stand out. While there are a variety of layouts, a grid style would probably work best to showcase the different entries – choose from the responsive, masonry, justified, or Grid PRO layouts in FooGallery.

Grid PRO Gallery layout

A well-designed gallery can have a big impact on user experience and contest engagement. You can style your gallery accordingly, ensuring that there is easy navigation and clear, concise captions. Using features like filtering, search, and paging can also enhance user experience. 

A responsive design that adapts to different screen sizes is essential, especially for mobile users. Luckily, all FooGallery galleries are fully responsive and provide an optimal viewing experience on all devices.

Customize Your Photo Gallery for Maximum Impact

The various gallery layouts in FooGallery all come with some default styling. However, it is simple to further customize your chosen gallery layout for maximum impact. For example, you can adjust the size of the thumbnails, borders, and gutters to ensure each image stands out. You can add hover effects and change the theme between light and dark. Plus, if you’re using the built-in lightbox, you can adjust the navigation colors to suit your theme.

FooGallery’s user-friendly customization interface means that you have the potential to create a unique and attractive photo contest gallery.

The Best WordPress Gallery Plugin

FooGallery is an easy-to-use WordPress gallery plugin, with stunning gallery layouts and a focus on speed and SEO.

Customizing Your Photo Contest 

With FooGallery and the User Uploads add-on, there are a number of ways that you can refine and configure your competition gallery, to accommodate different contest formats and requirements.

Apart from the various layouts available, FooGallery PRO Expert offers additional functionality like paging and filtering. These can be useful tools for larger galleries and can help improve page load times, ensuring you have an SEO-optimized gallery

User Uploads settings allow you to customize the upload criteria

With User Uploads, you can also set more stringent criteria for participants. For example, you can stipulate the number of entries allowed, and the maximum file size permitted. The latter is an important consideration, as overly large images could slow down your page and, unless you’re selling the images, you shouldn’t require very large file sizes. 

Customize settings for User Uploads

Monetize Your Competition

If you want to monetize your competition, you could use the FooGallery PRO Commerce plan to set up entries as products and sync your gallery with WooCommerce. This will allow visitors to purchase the photos or artworks from the competition. 

As an example, if you’re running a wildlife photography contest, you could include a clause to sell the winning entries. Customers would then have the opportunity to purchase the artwork, and for every sale, you could take a commission on the payment (as one would with an art gallery).

Alternately, consider integrating a plugin that allows you to put content behind a paywall. This option requires competition entrants to pay to reach the competition landing page and creates revenue from each entry. There are several WordPress plugins that provide this functionality, including MemberPress, LeakyPaywall, and PaidMembershipsPro.

Monitor and Moderate Entries

Once your competition is live, you’ll need to monitor entries to ensure that they meet the contest rules. The FooGallery User Uploads add-on includes moderation features that allow you to approve or reject submissions before they go live on your site. 

You can follow these steps when moderating entries: 

  1. Open the moderation form on the backend and you will see any images that have been uploaded. 
  2. Click on Approve or Reject for each image – approved images will be added to both the media library and the gallery in question. Images that have been rejected will not be added to either.
User uploads in Moderation can be approved or rejected

Regular moderation keeps the contest fair and maintains high standards. Depending on the number of entries expected, you’ll need to monitor the entries fairly often. Once the competition closes, however, you can disable the upload form for the gallery to prevent further uploads. 

Implement a Voting System

There are a few options for how to judge the competition. First, you might simply decide to judge it yourself or alongside a panel of colleagues/acquaintances. If you are a professional photographer, and the aim of the contest is to share your expertise, then this would be a good option. 

However, you could also decide to base the winner on how many shares each photo receives – this is also a clever way to expand your social reach. A great way to do this would be to integrate your gallery with FooBox PRO, a lightbox plugin that has social sharing capabilities as well as deep linking. 

Lastly, it could be judged on how many of each photo are purchased using the PRO Commerce plan. This could be an effective means of counting voters, especially if your aim is to generate revenue from the competition. 

Promote Your Contest for Maximum Engagement 

Promoting your online contest is crucial to maximizing engagement and achieving your contest goals. There are several ways to do this:

Advertise on Your Website

You already have a platform on which to advertise your photo contest, so you can make the most of it by simply directing visitors to the relevant page. FooBar is a notifications bar that is perfect for telling people you are running a competition on your website, even if it isn’t on the homepage. 

With FooBar, you can create a sitewide notification, or place the bar on specific pages. You can use a call to action to encourage voting or set up a countdown bar to create a sense of urgency and encourage entries. 

Leverage Social Media

For maximum engagement, you should also promote the photo contest on your social media platforms and use your website’s blog to spread the word. For example, you can use FooBox to allow your visitors to easily share photos across social networks.

Social sharing with Foobox pro

Social media promotion can also increase the contest’s visibility, attracting more participants and generating more website traffic. You can even consider partnering with influencers or other brands to reach a broader audience. 

Finally, it’s important to engage with visitors throughout the contest to increase participation and create a buzz. Do this by responding to comments, sharing entries on social media, and keeping everyone updated on the contest’s progress. 

Use Email Marketing

Utilizing or building a mailing list is another great way of getting the word out and keeping in touch with people who are interested. Here are some ways to generate additional exposure with email marketing:

  • Set up a way to grow your email list. You can use a tool like FooBar PRO’s sign up bar to gather email addresses. 
  • Send out an email blast to your subscribers announcing the contest with all the details they need to participate.
  • Once the competition is up and running, email subscribers with a call to vote. 
  • Keep your audience informed with updates about the contest, including highlights of the contest entries and reminders about submission deadlines.
  • Finally, send out an email announcing the finalists and winners, along with the prizes they’ve won. Encourage everyone to stay subscribed, so that they can be the first to hear of the next photo contest. 

Announce the Photo Contest Winners

Once the contest is closed, you can announce the winners. Of course, you can do this through social media, email marketing, and any other communication channels, but you should also do so on your WordPress website. 

There are several options for doing this, such as by using FooGallery to create a dedicated winners gallery. This could feature the winner and other finalists and could be placed on your homepage. Alternatively, you could highlight the winning entry on the main contest page by setting the winning image as the ‘featured image’ on the gallery.

While this contest may be over, there is still potential for further engagement and publicity opportunities in the winners’ announcement process. Here you can encourage readers to check back for future contests or subscribe to your blog or marketing emails for professional photography tips. 

Launch Your Photo Contest with FooGallery 

Throughout this article, we’ve looked at how to run a photo contest on your WordPress site. With tools like FooGallery and the User Uploads add-on, you can easily get a contest up and running quickly.  

FooGallery offers an intuitive interface, robust gallery layouts and customization options, and seamless integration with WordPress, making it an excellent choice for hosting a photo contest. With compatibility with tools like WooCommerce, you get even more functionality and potential. Furthermore, its user-friendly User Uploads add-on allows participants to share their entries with you easily.

After having tried several gallery plugins, each with its specific pros and cons, I finally found FooGallery “that simply does it all”.’

Piotr Liński (@piotrlinski) FooGallery plugin customer review on

So whether you want to increase engagement, boost traffic, or capture unique content, the FooGallery plugin with User Uploads provides everything you need to launch your photo contest with efficiency and style.

What are you waiting for? Start harnessing the power of photo contests with FooGallery.

The Best WordPress Gallery Plugin

FooGallery is an easy-to-use WordPress gallery plugin, with stunning gallery layouts and a focus on speed and SEO.