Judging criteria are intended to give makers and judges common ground for what constitutes a high quality photographic image. Factors to consider are grouped into three main categories,
1) Overall Impact, 2) Composition of Elements, and 3) Technical Aspects. Although an image can sometimes defy specific factors, its impact, composition and technical aspects should still
work together to create a compelling result. Criteria should be given serious consideration but it is acknowledged that subjectivity will also play a role. Judges’ decisions are final.
The image evokes emotion in the viewer. It compels the viewer to return to the main subject again and again. A mood may be projected and the image may make a statement or tell a
story. Impact can also be achieved through an original presentation using unique lighting, use of color, interesting perspective or by featuring an unusual subject.
Composition of Elements
The main subject or subject area is clearly presented by thoughtful placement in the frame. The maker might use the rule of thirds, golden ratio, or less often, center-placement
to achieve his or her intent for the image. Leading lines, interesting lighting and well-done cropping contribute to a cohesive image that leads the viewer’s eye to the main
subject. Other elements in the image support the main subject and invite the eye to move around the image and back to the main subject without detracting from the subject. Artful
use of these techniques create dimension and depth in the image.
The image is in focus, although selective focus may be used to create a mood. Exposure, contrast and color balance (white balance) are suited to the subject and inviting to the
eye. Color combinations may suggest a color scheme that is exciting or restful, warm or cool. Post-processing succeeds in enhancing the image without unwanted artifacts, such as
haloes, noise, etc.
Additional, for Print Competition
Translating an image to print can be a challenging and worthwhile process. The maker might consider calibrating the computer to the printing equipment they are using in order to
match the colors and tones accurately. Because a digital image can show more depth and contrast than print paper, the maker might also enhance the image prior to printing or work
with the printer in order to achieve the desired results. Minimizing scratches and fingerprints on the print will contribute to the print’s overall presentation. Makers can
prepare their print with a border and/or a narrow stroke line in post-processing to create a frame if they wish. See print guidelines for preparing prints for competition.