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Photography Question 
Alvin C. Lopinot

How to judge photos in competition


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9/30/2003 6:50:13 AM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
No need to "shout" . . . you can use lowercase letters. :-)

My take on this (an opinion), and it's something I've contemplated on several occasions . . .
You are attempting to "codify" in an objective manner something that is often purely subjective . . . the judging of "artwork." It defies doing so. Furthermore, many judges will seriously balk at being tied to a detailed checklist. They will feel hamstrung in a straightjacket. At best, you can provide several very broad categories of things to consider . . . more judging "guidelines" than a checklist. Here are some broad aspects of judging guidelines you might consider giving them:

Is the work suitable "presented" that meets minimal standards for public viewing (and the rules for submission). Note that this is a serious consideration for the works I've submitted to galleries. It won't make a photograph succeed, but it can make one immediately, and quite summarily fail, especially if there's extremely stiff competition simply to get "hung" for the ensuing show (many more submissions than space). Whatever guidelines you give should fit with your submission rules.

Technical Execution:
Are there serious flaws with execution of the photograph that are very obviously *not* part of the artist's intent for it? This is something that must be judged with caution so as not to confuse a technical error with something deliberately done for visual effect in conveying the "message" of the work to its viewer. The only rule for composition is there are not rules (see next guideline).

Visual Interest:
Regardless of subject material or artist's intent (the work's "message"), how well does the composition capture attention visually, draw the viewer in, and hold attention?

Message and Intent:
Does the photograph convey something to the viewer, be it an intangible, abstract feeling or emotion, or more concrete information? [Take clues from the title, if there is one.] How powerful is the message? Again, this must be done with caution, as some works are performed simply because of their visual interest, particularly abstract studies of highlight/shadow, shape(s) and texture(s). Not all photographs are intended to be complete realism or documentary.

-- John

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9/30/2003 8:29:36 PM

Tony Sweet
Tony's Photo Courses:
2-Week Short Course: A Quick Start to Adding More 'Pop' to Your Images
  Judging is subjective, Alvin. Even with the well layed out categories that John mentioned, the bottom line is all judges evaluate images through their own personal prism, experience, and personal visual prejudices. The most important judge is YOU. The only person you have to please is you. The only person who has to live with your image is you. Judges only have one opinion, but not the ultimate opinion. That's yours. The most important thing is to have fun!

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10/1/2003 3:14:45 AM

Alvin C. Lopinot   It is right to be subjective in judging a photo contest if only one person is doing it. How about when three or five are doing it? It would be more fair to the photographer in the contest if all the judges were on the same wavelength. Surely there must be some standards that all judges look for. Alvin Lopinot

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10/1/2003 12:04:12 PM

Tony Sweet
Tony's Photo Courses:
2-Week Short Course: A Quick Start to Adding More 'Pop' to Your Images
  These are for slide competition. Print competitions are different and involve printing techniques and other technical criteria.

Universal design concepts standards:
1. simplicity
2. clean backgrounds
3. rule of thirds
4. good color
5. best use of light.
6. subject selection
7. emotional impact
8. visual impact
9. use of leading lines
10. clever compositional techniques

And, of course, none of these may apply if the judge is incompetent (it has been know to happen!)

Tony Sweet

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10/1/2003 12:21:05 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  A good picture dosen't have to follow rules either. Because you can have a good picture with the subject right in the middle of the frame, regardless of the rule of thirds.

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11/26/2003 4:43:55 AM

  I have to agree with Tony's first response! "Judging is subjective" Yes the first point is you have to like your photo, then hope you get feedback to help you craft you hobby if it's in a positive or negative way.

Gary Rohrbaugh

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11/29/2003 11:46:15 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  Very subjective. A picture of a chicken won first place.

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12/28/2003 4:07:46 PM

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