Best of 2015 Photo Challenge

“Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.” – Ansel Adams

Just like Ansel Adams, we realize twelve good images a year is a tremendous accomplishment that should be celebrated. So last year we challenged our readers to come up with their own 12 best images, turn them into small photo books and exchange them with us. Everyone who participated was thrilled with the experience, especially Me2 and myself, and requested this to be an annual activity.

Now that we are well into November, it’s time to start thinking about this past year and begin creating a “best of” photography book that showcases your work from 2015. Everyone here at Stuckinplastic (Me2, Balakov, Kalexanderson and myself) are excited to create our own photo books and exchanging them with you.

My question for you is this: Do you accept our challenge to look through your own images from the past year, curate them into a book and then share them with us? (This a big commitment so before you jump in and say “yes”, take a moment to look through your images, think about the process and then make your decision.)

Here are a few reasons why I think you should participate:

  • Reflection is good. We are so intent on taking new pictures, we rarely look at the ones we have already taken.
  • Editing a group of photos into a cohesive group is a great excise and a skill that should be practiced
  • You will have a beautiful record of your years work that you can share with family and friends
  • If you repeat this exercise over several years you will be able to see how you have changed and grown as a photographer
  • The books you will receive in turn are priceless, trust me.
  • This is a great way to bring your internet friends one step closer to real life friends.

The day to day world of social media is fast paced and we have very little time to reflect on what we have created or how far we have progressed in a single year. This process, if you accept our challenge of curating your work into a book, will give you a real and tangible sense of accomplishment.

I hope you will accept our best of 2015 challenge and share your photography with us, because we are looking forward to sharing ours with you!

~ xxsjc

If you are interested in participating please leave your comments below. We are limiting the number of participants this year, so keep an eye out for the official signup later this month which is now available closed.

The Stuckinplastic crew will be having a hangout this weekend. If you are interested in having a photo considered for a gentle critique (as well as being featured) please tag it #stuckinplastic_pcm.

Image courtesy of @herrsm
Image courtesy of @_me2_

58 Replies to “Best of 2015 Photo Challenge”

  1. I am definitely interested in participating in this! I’ve long wanted to publish my work in photo books just to have for myself, and this will be a great first step to finally accomplishing that.

    Now, to choose my 12 photos…

  2. Wow, what a great opportunity! This is something that I felt I missed out on last year and definitely something that I’d love to join in with…

    But, I haven’t exactly been active again this year. And it is a big commitment. Hmm..

    Maybe I should have a long think about this.

    1. Mike, more than a few of the books I received last year played fast and lose with the best of 2014 theme; not all of them where toy photography either. You can create / organize the book in any way you so desire. You have a few weeks before you have to commit completely so give it some thought and let me know if you have any questions.

  3. I love this idea, and wanted to take part last year but was too scared to jump in! I’d like to do it, but before fully signing up would be interested into how much it would likely cost/how many books we would need to produce?

    1. Lizzi, We are limiting participation so everyone can keep there costs to a level they are comfortable with. You can choose to swap books with either all four of us at stuckinplastic or everyone who is participating. I think we agreed to cap it at 20 total participants. Also by keeping the book under 12 pages you will be able to order the cheapest book from any of the major printers of these types of books. I will have a full post on printing options later this month. I hope this helps you decide on your level of participation. Please let me know if you have any further questions!

      1. Thanks Shelly! I’m definitely in for the ‘lite’ version. Just need to look at the costs for if I could do the whole thing! Would love to say yes, but the costs could stack up quite quickly!

        1. I hear you Lizzi! That is why we capped it where we did. We may need to look at that number again. Of course we may not even get that many people who want to participate. Once we have the formal sign up on the site, I think it will be easier to commit. I look forward to exchanging books with you!

  4. Yes!
    -(At this point I have to admit that for the last four weeks I got more and more nervous as I thought about last year´s book exchange but didn´t want to ask because I knew how busy everyone was either with preparing for the second course of the Seattle exhibition, with Darth Inc. or life itself. The happier I am now to having just read the very latest blogpost!)
    I absolutely agree with Shelly about the importance of reviewing ones own pictures after some time. And that it´s an enormous joy to receive others´books! I am totally in for the next round of exchanging books of “Twelve significant of 2015”! (And I also agree about limiting the number of participants. For same reason I will probably not choose the same format that I did last year.) So looking forward to this… ;-)

    1. Of course we are doing it again Stefan! Ye of little faith. :D

      I would definitely adjust your book size down as well as choose the soft cover. There was a request that we allow everyone to exchange with everyone. Even at capping the participation at 20, it is a definite money commitment. Of course we will have the light version – only exchanging with the members of stuckinpalstic.

      I am thrilled you will be on board again Stefan! I think you will be amazed (and pleased) at how your work has grown. I know I see a huge difference in your work. :-)


  5. I think that’s an excellent idea. I am definitely looking forward participating but I have a few questions.

    How many albums are we suppose to print? I tried to find a post from last year’s contest mentioning it but couldn’t find one. Do we send a book to each participant?

    If we indeed send the book to each participant I also have the following question. I found a post from last year where you discussed about the different options for printing the books. However I haven’t found any information about shipping. What would be the most cost effective method for shipping? I have two options in mind. First the obvious would be to send each book myself but I have no idea what are the shipping cost outside the UE. So I wonder if it could be cheaper to print the books for US people on a US printing service and ship directly from this service.

    1. Last year we had a total of eight participants so many of your questions didn’t come up. This year we anticipate a larger group because it was so much fun lat year. As I mentioned earlier we are capping total participation at 20 people. With in that group you can choose to exchange with only the main four or exchange with all the people who are participating. Since I don’t have a clear idea how many people will opt for option a or b, it’s hard to say what will be the most cost effective way to print and ship the books. While your idea of having the printing comping ship them is a great way to minimize costs, many of the books came signed or with personal notes. Certainly this is not necessary, but it was a nice touch. I believe this will be a more expensive year for all involved, but if you ask anyone who participated last year, it was well worth the costs and effort. Of course, we may not even get to 20 participants… only time will tell. We might need to give people an opportunity to back out if once the final list is compiled it becomes cost prohibitive. If you have any comments or suggestions, I am happy to take them into consideration. We want this to be fun not a financial burden. :D

      1. I have a few possible ideas on how to save on shipping like centralizing books of everybody before dispatching them. I think it could really be interesting financially if there were lots of participants (like +10) but on the other hand shipping will be far much slower and will require lots of organization. So I don’t know whether it’s really a good idea or not.

        Anyway I’m very enthusiast about it and can’t wait!

    1. This is unexpected and totally awesome! Woohoo!! I absolutely can’t wait to see what you do. You are one of my all time favorite toy photographers Matt, but you already know that! :D

  6. If newcomers are welcome, I’m for sure all in. I love this idea and it would be such a joy to share and receive the photos/books. Such a fantastic idea!! Many thanks, Doug

      1. Awesomeness Shelly! Thank you. Seems like I can just wait for more exciting details here on this page before figuring out where and what I’ll print, right? Meantime, I’ll sort through my pics from this year. I love this challenge. Thanks again all. Looking forward to your books!

    1. Andrea,

      You would need to make as few as four and as many as 20. The upper end depends on how many people want to share with everyone. I think there are a few who have already indicated they only want to share with the main group. We won’t have an exact number for a few weeks. I hope this helps in your decision making. (FYI, most books start at around $10 a piece plus shipping to you as well as shipping internationally to the recipients.)


      1. Ok great. I’ll start shopping around sites. I think I have some old groupons for photo books that I never used, but I’ll think about it as it could get expensive.

    1. Im glad you are willing to do it again this year. It will be expensive with shipping, but I think the gift of 20 diverse photo books (ig you opt for the whole enchilada) will more than make up for it! Shelly

  7. I’m also very interested but will have to check my travel schedule to see if it’s feasible. I’d hate to commit to everyone and then be delayed getting books out. When is the shipping deadline?

    1. Kirk, We haven’t set one yet. I know last year that a few books arrived in January. Even if you shipped by Dec 15th (one potential deadline), some overseas travel time was longer than expected. I want to be realistic since it does take time to produce a good book, get it printed and then shipped. Check your schedule and we will have the official sign up next week. Shelly

  8. Just thinking about making this cost do-able, would there be a possibility of having a 10 book per person limit, and then swapping with 10 random people (so make two lists and then group one swaps with each other, and the other ten swap with their group? Or draw it randomly?) I’d be happy to help with some of the admin in doing this. I think 20 books will be too expensive for me, but 10 I could manage!

    Just a thought. I’ll be quiet now.

    1. Liz, please don’t be quiet, this is a good suggestion. I will take it up with the group this weekend and see if we can’t come up with a couple of options that will help keep the costs down. I want to be realistic and know most people have limited budgets for such an extravagance. Look for an update next week! Shelly

    1. Excellent! I have added you to my unofficial list! We will have a more formal sign up soon, so keep a look out of that. I am excited to exchange books with you! Shelly

  9. For the fast ones on here:
    There´s a promo code for all photo books ordered via that is only valid until Nov 17. By using the code “GEM50” you´ll get 50% (!!) off all books.
    Saved me 160$…

    1. That is a great deal, but I don’t know how many books to print or even if I could afford to print them for everyone.

      I wonder how much it would cost for everyone to put their images in one book and we all order that one book?

      Just a thought.

      1. Andrea,

        The idea behind this project is for each person to do an individual book to get the hang of practicing editing as well as putting together a cohesive set of images. I like your idea of a group book, but that would be a different project. If you are worried about cost then only print five books. One to share with Mike, Kristina, Boris and I and one for your self. Considering your finances I think you would get the best value from only exchanging with the principles. Maybe next year you can join the large exchange. I would love to tell you how many that larger exchange will be, but I have no idea what the final number will be. Right now we are 17 total participants with one or two still on the fence. I hope this helps you make a decision.


  10. Hi Shelly and all,

    I’m so excited about this project. In preparation, does anyone who did it last year have any coaching around whether to use text, if you include location/date, if you did a bio, etc.?

    Many thanks,

    1. Hi Doug,
      I wouldn´t want to call it coaching but what I can do:
      If you let me know your email I´ll send you a pdf of the book I did last year. There are MANYMANY ways to do it and I wouldn´t recommend my book as a template but it may give you an idea of one book that was done last year.

    2. Doug,

      Last year I printed my book through iPhoto. I chose their small soft cover book. I think they cost me $10 a piece. I included a short intro to the book. For each image I included the title, the date and a short paragraph as to why that image was chosen or what made it important to me. The last page included a bonus image with a short dedication. My contact information is on the back cover.

      I think this year I will break from this format and do something a little different; but I will let you know later this week. I encourage you to do whatever you want. I have books that took the idea of 12 best images very loosely. These books reflect that person and the images that they chose. I think your book should be a reflection of you and there is no right or wrong to approach the project.

      So whatever you decide to do, have fun with it! Holler if you need any more help.


      1. Super helpful. Thanks Shelly! PS: Can you please delete my email address from public view above? Stefan got and shared his very cool book from last year. Many thanks!

    1. Julia, It’s not too late; we have a few slots left and I have you down on my list. We will have a more formal sign up here very soon. Keep a look out for it. Welcome aboard! Shelly

      1. Thanks a lot Shelly. Now I start looking for my 12 photos :)

        It’s possible that anyone could send me the book that did it last year in PDF? It’s only for to have an idea, about the text, locations, exif, format of book… you know
        It’s my first book and I would like to do well.

        1. Julia, I can send you a PDF, just let me know your email address. But I will warn you that my book will look different this year. You can use this as a jumping off point, but your book should reflect you and your images. The text can be about the images, why you chose them or even something completely different. There is no right or wrong answers. The only rule is that you should have fun and be proud of what you created. :D

  11. Hello Friends! I just got an email indicating that Blurb is offering 40% off on books with a total purchase of USD $25 or more through December 1st. It’s a “Cyber Weekend Sale.” The code is CREATIVE40. Woohoo!

    For those of you who have done this before, do you recommend ordering a sample book first and then ordering the 20 or just taking the full dive? Thanks. Here’s to the fun ahead!

    1. Doug I ordered a sample book. My experience is that there are always few images that print darker than they appear on my screen. I have sent my sample book out and hope to have it back by Monday. We should have final numbers for everyone by Monday so you can take advantage of the sale. You aren’t the only one looking at saving a buck by getting the order in early. :D

  12. Hi Everyone. Any suggestions on the best packaging for a 7×7 book? I want to be sure they arrive solid and happy, especially since our books will be traveling far and wide. Many thanks for any ideas. Happy Holidays!

    1. Doug, Last year I sent my books (which are 6″ x 8″) in padded envelopes. I taped the excess over so the books didn’t move around and the overage didn’t get caught in machinery. As far as I know they all arrived intact and in good condition. I will do the same this year since looking at the complete list all but two are international (for me anyway). I hope this helps! Shelly

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