Get Squared Up for the New Year with Becky B.

#Challenge Host Interview #9

I am so proud to introduce today the hostess of the Squares Photo Challenge, Becky B. of Becky of Winchester on my hobby blog, Always Write. I met Becky through my Photo Challenge friends, Cee Neuner of Cee’s Photo Challenges, and Terri Webster Schrandt of Second Wind Leisure last summer or early fall. I love the word games Becky B. plays with her photo challenges. She’s so popular with many of my readers that I was thrilled when she said, “YES,” to an interview.

What prompted you to begin to host a photo challenge? – Squares didn’t actually begin as a photo challenge! The very first one began because I need a focus for a month. I was still reeling from the death of my Dad, and with what would have been his birthday in September and a busy month for my first ever festival I wanted something to keep the blog alive and myself distracted. So Square in September was born, and within hours a few friendly bloggers decided to join in the fun. By the end of the month there were around a dozen joining me daily, and I realised there was potentially a great challenge in my hands. So Squares as a challenge was born! I must at this point shout out to a few other amazing bloggers who run challenges such as Debbie from Travel with Intent, Jude over at Cornwall in Colours, Restless Jo and her Monday Walks and the Queen of Challenges the incredible Cee. I have learnt so much from all of them and other great challenge hosts.

What is your purpose in hosting the challenge? How does it support photographers? – I hope to provide a friendly place where photographers can make new blogging friends and find inspiration as well as having the opportunity to share their photographs, thoughts and lives. By making it a requirement that every shot is square it levels out the playing field and so every photographer, whether brand new or experienced, faces the same challenge of creating a great photograph in a square. And it seems to be working as not only has my photography improved, but Squares has become a community. There are now between 50 to 75 bloggers taking part every week during the challenge month, and some of those have become great friends.

How long have you been hosting Becky’s Squares? Have you hosted other challenges? – Squares began in September 2017, and it takes place once a quarter. To date there have been 14 square challenges with the themes of flowers, sky, circles & squares, roofs, in the pink, time, spiky, blue, lines, words ending in light, top, perspectives, kinda and up. I have tried hosting other challenges, namely ‘Past Meets Present’ but as I host two blogs for myself as well as organising a major festival, managing website and multiple social media for a charity I volunteer for I now focus just hosting Squares.

How much time does it take from preparation to follow-up each week? Everyone’s challenges run differently. What steps do you take to get your challenge ready?  – ooh that’s a tough question! I guess each theme takes a few days or even weeks to be born, and then once I have decided upon it I have to start collating my own photographs. Prior to the pandemic I would decide themes months in advance and so I could easily take new photographs specially for the challenge as well as drawing upon the archives. In this new world however I tend to decide much nearer the time and need to dig deeper into my extensive photographic archives. Up to 6 weeks before the start of the challenge month I will share teasers and then an official announcement. Then a week or so before the challenge begins I will set aside a couple of days to prepare the photographs and then schedule every square post in advance. Occasionally the last few days won’t be scheduled until the end of the first week as I like to be inspired by everyone else’s fabulous squares. Everyone is so brilliant in fact that quite often once the challenge starts I will tweak posts or throw in new squares. Once the challenge starts I will spend up to 3hrs each day visiting other posts and responding to comments, and then there are my galleries. These have evolved over the years, but I now keep a record of every participant and my technique of creating prose for each one seems to have become a favourite for everyone. I have such fun collating the galleries, and the half day or so I spend on them is always a pleasure.

How did you attract people to participate rather than to just leave comments on your post? The trick it seems to me is to have a really simple challenge idea that just takes off on its own accord, however I admit it does help if some of the major league bloggers take part! Other things that seem to help is to connect with others both during and outside of your challenge, and this is best achieved by taking part in other challenges yourself and regularly leaving comments on other posts. I love taking part in other challenges so even when Squares is happening you will often find I am also taking part in others. 

Supermarket Views – The UP doesn’t have to mean the direction.

What do your participants say they like most about your challenge? What do you like most about hosting the challenge? It is an honour to host Squares; everyone is just so lovely. You’d probably have to ask all of them though why they like it. If I had to guess I suspect there are three possible reasons 1) there is only one rule your photograph has to be square, 2) it takes place for a whole month x4 per year and you can post as frequently or infrequently as you like, and 3) I collate a gallery so everyone can visit everyone else at least once.

What are you most looking forward to in 2021? Having the vaccine and being able to get out and explore again, and in particular meet up in person with some of my blogging friends and non-blogging friends. It has been so long since I saw them in person.

Do you have anything else to share? Tips for readers, advice for blogging? Take time to understand how your blogging tool (WordPress, Blog, SquareSpace etc) works, it will pay off in the long run, and most importantly have fun with your blog. Not only is it your voice, and a great creative outlet, it is a fabulous place to make friends.

Thank you again for joining me, Becky. I’m sure that my readers, many of whom are mutual friends, will love getting to know you better.

Becky’s Contact Information

BeckyB as in ‘Becky in Portugal‘ and ‘The Life of B‘Twitter – @BBWinch and @beckyinportugal
Instagram – @lifeofbb and @beckyinportugal

Other Photo Challenge Interviews

Attention Photographers

A hobby blogging friend of mine, Frank, is looking for photographers to collaborate with him on his website. He writes but wants to promote your photographs. It’s a great opportunity for fun and exposure. Contact him here. Collaborators – Beach Walk Reflections: Thoughts from thinking while walking (wordpress.com)

Author: Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

89 thoughts on “Get Squared Up for the New Year with Becky B.”

      1. You’re sooo welcome Marsha!!! sooo beautiful. Fri-Yay Funday is up and running with lots of challenges on my end today.. Not sure you got notified but hope to see you there. ❤️ Have a great weekend! Sunny hear today.. 70’s 🌈🌈🌈🌈☀️

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad to introduce Becky to someone new, Robbie. I sometimes figure that all my friends know each other. Her challenge is so much fun, and I love the wordplay aspect of the challenge as well. 🙂

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    2. Thank you for the lovely feedback 😊 I don’t take all as squares just for the quarterly challenge, and occasionally I cheat and crop after! However squares is addictive so quite often after the challenge I still find myself squaring 🤣

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Oh Marsha, this is a wonderful interview with Becky. She is such a great host. Her square challenge is always fun and she is so interactive with people and encouraging. She brings out creativity in a way I never knew existed. I’m so glad you interviewed her. 😀 😀

    Liked by 4 people

  2. So typical of Becky to give a shout out to others in her interview. Thanks, hon! She is always kind in her comments, though we oldies like to tease each other a bit. The range of subjects that appear in the skwares (don’t laugh- I haven’t got a _ on my laptop 🙂 ) is extraordinary and Becky welcomes everyone with the same enthusiasm.

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  3. Wonderful interview, and I came away with an idea. Hey Becky, are you there? At Beach Walk Reflections (on Saturdays), I have been featuring photos from photographers to go with my writing around a theme. I’m willing to do more days (I post three times per week). How can I get the word out to photographers in your network?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I told people Becky was inspiring. You prove me right, Frank! You might click on the links in the interview and get to know some of the other photo challenge hosts. Here is a Photo Challenge Host interview that was not mentioned that you might want to check out, too. How Four Strangers from Around the World Coordinate a Weekly Photo Challenge. Good luck with your project. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Carol. I really like Becky. She is such a kick and so good with her followers. I’m bummed that my new phone does not have a square function for taking photos. I liked that about my other phone because cropping involves making hard decisions! 🙂

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      1. Awww, Carol is my good blogging friend. She introduced me to several challenges years ago including Restless Jo. We have had the privilege of meeting several times, which is no minor feat with her in Australia and me in the U.S.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi, Marsha. I absolutely love this interview with Becky. If I was a different person, I would love to join challenges but how I function, I flow in the Moment. That means, I usually don’t know beforehand what I will be writing about or actually doing. My main “theme” on my blog is love, beauty, and truth. I would love to follow Becky but she accepts only email subscriptions, something I just am not able to do on account of the volume I receive at my blog. Thank you for sharing Becky’s talent here.

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    1. Hi Amy Rose, you do have an enormous following. I’m sure Becky understands. I am not consistent with any challenge even though I try. I appreciate the time an effort that goes into designing and hosting a challenge. They do help many hobby bloggers to build a community. I have two goals with my blog – to support hobby bloggers and to have fun meeting other bloggers along the way. So challenges help me to meet both of my goals. I am so glad to have met you, Amy Rose. You are so talented. Thanks for stopping by.

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    2. Hi AmyRose great to meet you. Are you on WP as you should be able to follow without email subscription.

      And totally understand about juggling challenges, it’s never easy! If you ever fancy dropping in for just one day we’d love to see you

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi, Becky. Yes I am on WP. The little follow button is not popping up. It was a few hours ago but it was only for email subscription. I really like your perspective on photography so that is why I wanted to follow. xo

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you, and I’d be honoured if you followed.

          It is odd you’renot getting option, I’ve had lots of new followers these past 2 weeks. I’ll check my settings though. In meantime have you tried via reader?

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Thanks for answering, Becky. I haven’t tried through reader, I don’t think, but I will again. All the different ways we can follow people gets confusing. I don’t like to follow via email only because I get too many and I find it overwhelming and time consuming. So the reader would work best. 🙂 thanks again, Becky. You are awesome!

            Liked by 1 person

          2. OK. I found where you followed me and I followed back via my notifications. No idea why your blog didn’t like me. (pout) I’m just glad we got it figured out. All is good. SMILE! xo

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  5. I enjoyed learning more about Becky and her challenge, which I just joined regularly this month. One thing challenges do in addition to meeting other bloggers and getting your work our there is help organize your blogging week if you don’t want to wonder what to post each day. There are challenges every day, so it’s just a matter of choosing. Warning: they’re addictive!

    janet

    Liked by 3 people

    1. They are addictive. You get to know each other and look forward to what they will post as their next saga. They are all so different, too. I like when I can combine several challenges, but then my posts tend to get a little long! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great interview! I love B! Her challenge, photography and comments are always encouraging. Even when she reminds me my photo “isn’t” a square! Ha ha. It’s all good! I regularly have done Sunday Stills, Lens-Artist, Cees many challenges.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Hi Marsha
    Great interview with Becky. I just love her and the Squares challenge. I look forward to it every quarter, but only just joined last April. I’ve only been blogging since July, 2019, but I’ve been a photographer for almost 20 years. Life gets in the way of me visiting other blogs as often as I want and I’m always behind. See how long it took me to look at this. LOL! Really a great job you are doing! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Lisa. Becky is so lovely. I’m glad you are able to participate in the challenges. It takes a lot of time – at least for me. It takes me so long to pick out the pictures that meet the challenge, then process them. But you must have hundreds of thousands of pictures in your files. Do you ever write guest posts for people? I am curious as to how you go about organizing your files. I have only 37,000 photos on my phone and others elsewhere in tons of places. I can never find them when I want them! I’d love professional advice, and I’m sure my readers would also, if your are interested and available.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I have only done one guest post and it was on the WordPress platform. I am open to knowing how it works and doing it. I host the Bird Weekly Challenge and that is really where I concentrate a great deal of my time besides running my Etsy shop. I have almost 20 years of digital photos and who knows how much 35mm printed photos that I haven’t even started archiving from years before. I wasn’t very organized back then. Everyone organizes differently, but I would love to share how I go about it. It’s a bit different for me because I have to organize mine and my hubby’s. I don’t know all the ways to do it, just my way. Let me know what you have in mind and we can get something on the schedule. 🙂 Here is the link to my Bird Weekly Page. https://oureyesopen.blog/bird-weekly-challenge/

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        1. Lisa, I have heard of your Bird Weekly from so many of my photo challenge friends. I take terrible bird pictures, but it is so good to know what it is. I don’t have anything specific in mind. I’d just like a way to find my high resolution pictures easily because every photo challenge is different, so I can’t possibly anticipate all the different ways to find them. I have them in camera roll, which doesn’t have all of them, in my phone, which doesn’t have all the ones I took with my Canon, in my iPhotos files, which worked when I had an Apple computer and I downloaded my Canon shots to my computer, but they are hard to access with my HP computer. Google Photos, Some on Dropbox that went in automatically, but are listed by number only, two hard drives that don’t seem to work with this computer, and One Drive – which is the Cameral roll and about 50 other different files. See what a mess I have. Vince bought me a thumb drive that was supposed to organize all of them, but It didn’t work for me. I also have photos on thumb drives and disks for my camera. YIKES!!! I don’t know if other people have these problems, but I bet they do. When I read that you organize your I thought, I’ve got to learn from you!!! 🙂 Anyway, thanks Lisa. My email is marshaalwayswrite@tchistorygal.net or tchistorygal@gmail.com.

          Liked by 1 person

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