Why Compete?

The monthly competitions are entirely voluntary: members may enter all sections, some, or none. We believe, however, that participation in these competitions provides an opportunity to grow as a photographer.

First there is the added discipline of taking on a topic that you might not normally pursue. Then, faced with an unfamiliar subject, you may have to think through anew the “how” to effectively present the “what.” The technical aspects of photography are just the tools you use to express your vision. Like any other skill set, it gets better with practice.

When you submit your work to a judge's objective eye for critique, you have to step back, too, and actively look at your photos in the same evaluative way. Why did I take this photo? Does it accomplish what I intended? What could I have done differently? No matter the judging outcome, learning to be objective about your own work is critical to the developmental process. Competition Rules are described more fully elsewhere on this site for Monthly competitions. Of course, not all photography is about competition. Sometimes you get to shoot what you love most. Then the critical processes you have mastered will make those pictures better, too, and even more satisfying.

How Your Photos Will Be Evaluated

Our competition judges tend to evaluate and score photos using the three criteria listed here. When considering whether to enter a photo into a competition, you can use these criteria as a “check list” to increase your chances of earning a good score. 

And, of course, this check list might be useful in your own evaluations of what you see in your viewfinder or on your LED screen before you hit that shutter release button!

1. Technical Merit (“Craftsmanship”)

    • good exposure
    • good sharpness
    • proper depth of field
    • high-quality lighting
    • no distortion or artifacts (over-sharpening, over-saturating, excessive noise)

2. Composition (“Design”)

    • subject is well-framed and has “presence”; it’s clear what the photographer wanted to capture
    • all components help define and enhance that subject
    • there are no distracting elements (Rule of thumb: “If it doesn't add to the photo, it detracts.”)

3. Impact (“Creativity and Communication”)

    • Does the photo elicit an emotional response (deliver on the “wow” factor)?
    • Is the approach imaginative or commonplace?