If you follow the University on Facebook, chances are you’ve seen and possibly taken part in some of the Photo Friday excitement.
What is now known as Photo Friday began in May 2009, after the University had reformatted its homepage so that large, full-size photos could be more neatly featured. Photographs taken by University photographers were mostly used to begin with, but University Web Editor Lori Packer thought that community members could use the space “to show off the campus experience that they see.”
In the case of the UR homepage, the most obvious goal of Photo Friday is to show off the University to prospective students and their families. Using photos taken by current students allows prospective students to see what UR life is like.
“As an international student I didn’t have the chance to visit UR before coming here,” sophomore Nadia Gribkova said. “But pictures taken by students, like Photo Friday’s, showed everyday things in light and helped me see what the University was like.”
Photo Friday is also aimed at current students, allowing those who submit photographs to show off their school pride according to Packer.
Photo Friday has become more than just a source of advertisement and photographic publicity—it has become a sort of competition. A collage of photos are posted on Facebook, the UR homepage, and Instagram, and the winning photograph is based on the number of votes the photo receives between all the sites over the weekend. The collage contains most, but not all, of the six to twelve photos submitted each week; photos that don’t contain any University imagery are set aside.
Although most students know about Photo Friday from Facebook, the University “wanted to make sure people could vote and participate even if they weren’t on a particular social platform,” said Packer, which is why it is also sourced through various other social media. Each week’s winner has their photo posted on the Photo Friday “Wall of Fame,” and will be featured as the Facebook cover photo for that week, as well as re-posted to Instagram.
The most recent—and final—Photo Friday of February consisted of nine photos. Four contained snowmen, six featured Rush Rhees library, one was of a family wearing UR apparel on a beach, and another was of a UR alpine skier. Sophomore Maria Yidi’s picture of a snowman in front of Rush Rhees won the week’s contest, and now has over 600 likes on Facebook.
Yidi’s picture, however, appears to be part of a larger trend.
“I mean, the pictures are pretty, but they’re always of Rush Rhees,” junior Julie Dib said. Looking through the last five weeks of Photo Fridays, it seems Dib is correct. Three of every five photos were taken of Rush Rhees.
“We get a lot of photos of Rush Rhees Library. A lot,” Packer said. “The library is a beautiful place and photos of it always do really well.” But that’s not all you can enter, of course. Packer expressed how nice it is to see photos of students, groups of friends doing cool and exciting activities in University garb, or dramatic photos of storms, rainbows, and sunsets.
And if all those nights studying at Rush Rhees have made it a place you cherish, there are always interesting ways to incorporate that into your pictures.
“Sometimes we’ll get a really interesting twist on the Rush Rhees Library image,” Packer said. “Like Rush Rhees Library in gingerbread or carved into pumpkins, and you figure that must have taken a long time to do.”
Overall, the reception to Photo Friday has been distinctly positive. During the nearly seven years that Photo Friday has been in existence, the University has displayed over 2,700 photos from more than 1,000 photographers. There were only two weeks during those years when there weren’t enough photos submitted to display a gallery on social media.
Packer noted that about 70 percent of the submissions come from students. Next in line are faculty and staff, with the occasional photo submitted by an alumnus or parent.
“As far as I know,” Packer concluded, “our homepage is the only university homepage that showcases the imagery of our students and our community in such a prominent way.”