Judging for Competitions

How is your Photograph Judged?

The purpose of the competition is to provide instruction through constructive critical comment and evaluation. Images are judged by 3 professional photographers.

Judges comment using 3 categories:

  1. Pictorial or Artistic Merit (IMPACT)
  2. Technical Skill
  3. Interpretation of Subject

Pictorial or Artistic Merit (IMPACT)

This is a measure of the SUCCESS of the COMPOSITION.

Factors include the “RULES OF COMPOSITION”:

  • Rule of Thirds
  • Balance
  • Lighting
  • Framing
  • Tonal Range and Texture
  • Pattern and Rhythm
  • Lead-in Lines


Here you measure the skills of:

  • Exposure
  • Depth of Field
  • Focus
  • Shutter Speed
  • Filters
  • Panning
  • Mounting, spotting (prints)


Here you evaluate how well the photographer interpreted the topic photographically.

  • Is the subject matter appropriate?
  • Has it been chosen carefully?
  • Has it been captured in an interesting way?
  • Does the subject communicate itself clearly without distraction?

Note: a TITLE may or may not assist in this process. It is only one factor to be considered.

(some titles are merely labels, and are therefore neutral).

Image Evaluation

10. Outstanding, flawless
9. Dramatic, beautiful, strong impact
8. Excellent, minor flaws only, photographic mastery
7. Very good, just short of excellent
6. Competent, technically OK, lacking impact
5. Average, unmemorable, lots of room for improvement
4. Below standard, one or more specific faults
3. Many faults, badly composed
2. Unacceptable, slide or print should not have been entered.

Awarding Points

  • A 30 point system of judging will be usedEach of the 3 judges will award up to 10 points in each of the following categories:
  1. pictorial or artistic merit (impact),
  2. technical skill, and
  3. interpretation of the topic.
  • All points are totaled and divided by 3, giving a maximum of 30.
  • Judges will vote to break ties

What does the total scoring reflect?

30/30 Unique; outstanding; stunning; flawless (rarely awarded)
27/30 Outstanding; dramatic; beautiful; technically superb; very strong impact
24/30 Excellent’ worthy of Honorable Mention – minor flaws only. Demonstrates photography mastery; a memorable picture.
21/30 Very good, but falls short of excellent rating.
18/30 Good. Competent: technically satisfactory, but lacking in impact, interest, strength of composition, etc.
15/30 Average, undistinguished; unmemorable. Shows minor faults. Lots of room for improvement in composition, interpretation, etc.
12/30 Below standard; lacking in some essential quality or definable way. One or more specific faults which really spoon the picture

Guide for Judging Presentations

Judges are asked to evaluate and score the presentation in each of the following categories:

Introduction & Ending

• How effective the opening and closing slide are in terms of titles, maps, graphics, etc.
• How well they lead into the main theme and how well they close out the set at the end
• Transitional slides within the set, if used, should also be considered here


  • Mixing of styles
  • Order and timing of images on the screen
  • Appropriate select of images for illustrating the topic
  • How well they interpret the theme


  • The quality of the images in terms of:
    • Composition
    • Artistic merit
    • Impact
  • Technical quality:
    • How well the photographer has used his/her equipment
    • Focus
    • Exposure
    • Depth of field
    • Lighting

Slide cleanliness and lack of projection problems are also important

Audio Presentation

  • If commentary is included, consider the narrative style including:
    • Choice of words
    • Smoothness of presentation
  • Intonation (expression, delivery, clarity of voice)
  • Unity of thought
  • Evaluate choice of music and sound effects if used

Overall Impact

  • Evaluate the set as a whole

Each category is judged out of 10 which gives you a grand total out of 50.

To view the judging sheet, click here.

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