• Competition: Provides a way for members to learn and grow as photographers, by providing a means for members to have their work evaluated, as well as the opportunity to observe the work of other fellow members.
  • Judging: The process of evaluating the work presented in a competition.
  • Commentary: The process of providing feedback to the photographers regarding their work submitted in a competition so that they can improve their photographic techniques.
  • Subjective: Some believe that judging is completely subjective and cannot be learned. Their basic premise is that: “You just know what constitutes a good picture.”. The issue with this judging style is that it’s completely dependent on each individual’s personal bias. If your intent is to impersonate a favored photographer, it’s probably the best way to have your work evaluated However, if you prefer to be a more well rounded photographer then this is not a good judging style to evaluate your work.
  • Objective: Some believe that judging can be based on applying a proscribed set of rules. Photographs that follow these rules will score well, and those that violate the rules will score poorly. Common photographic rules are: the rule of thirds, single subject, level horizon, exposure, lighting, etc. Another consideration is the relative importance of assigned subject content. While such considerations are important, and may well be paramount in some cases, the over reliance on such criteria may result in missed opportunities.
  • Combination: Some combination of both the subjective and objective styles is probably the best that can be achieved. There is always going to be some subjective bias because we will favor what we like best. On the other hand, it is possible to look at a photographic work within an objective framework. That is a learned skill.

Club versus Museum Judging

Large camera clubs tend to judge on a subjective impact level. This is because they have many photos to consider in a relatively short time. Not much time spent on any individual photo and feedback is minimal. The winning criteria tends to favor crop tight, use bright warm colors, and saturate. The subject content, even when assigned, tends to be reduced to secondary importance.

Small camera clubs, like museums and juried galleries, have the time for a more thoughtful consideration of each individual photo. Relatively more time can be spent on each submitted photo, and submitters can get commentary feedback on their work. Assigned subject content can be considered of primary importance.

SCC Judges

  • Competition Judge Chairperson (CJC): This is the person in charge of the competition and judging.
  • Judges: Four qualified members will be selected from the members present by the Competition Judge Chairperson.
  • Training: Club members wanting to be judges should take SCC developed judging classes. This would also include refresher classes for any current judges.


  • Each Individual Judge’s Score
    • General: Each judge has a numerical scoring range from 3 to 10, and DNQ, (Does Not Qualify), when appropriate. Score by displaying the appropriately numbered card. A DNQ is denoted by showing the reverse side of a score card.
    • More than Half the Score: The numerical average score from any judge is 6½, i.e. ((3+10)/2). Since we use only integral values for scoring, more than half is the value seven (7). To assign more than half the value to the primary criteria use the values 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7. Then add 0, 1, 2, or 3 points for any secondary criteria,
  • Combined Judges Competition Score
    • DNQ: If two or more judges rate a submission as DNQ, it is immediately eliminated from the competition without further consideration.
    • Score: The sum of the three highest displayed values. The expected range of an ‘average’ photograph should fall between 18 and 21 points.


  • General: Photographs are judged on their visual qualities, content, subject matter, and technical. However, depending on the nature of the competition, emphasis will be placed of different aspects of the photographic intent.
  • Open: Visual pictorial impact and subject presentation rate higher than subject content and should therefore count for more than half of the score, (paragraph 4.a.ii). i.e 3-7 points for visual qualities, leaving the last 3 points for subject matter content. The DNQ value does not apply, unless the subject matter is prohibited..
  • Assigned Subject: The submitted work must first be rated for it’s subject matter content. Regardless of pictorial impact, if it appears that, (1) the submitted work does not meet
    the standards of the assignment, then it should be rated as DNQ , or (2) if only marginally meets the assigned standard, it must be downgraded. The portrayal of the assigned
    subject matter content counts for more than the pictorial impact, and should receive more than half the value, (paragraph 4.a.ii), i.e. 3 – 7 points. The pictorial qualities may add an additional 0 – 3 points, for fair, good, better, or best.

    • Remember, the assigned subject has to be considered paramount, otherwise there is no point in having assigned subjects. The pictorial impact must be of secondary
    • To be effective the judges must apply the assigned subject matter criteria rigorously.This is admittedly difficult when a submission with high pictorial impact is presented
      that may only marginally meet the assignment. It is irritating to members who try to meet the assignment but may not have great pictorial content to be judged inferior to high pictorial content submissions that do not clearly meet the assignment. If, after a competition, you hear comments like, “I might as well have submitted a picture of my dog.”you know the judges ‘blew it’.

Each Competition Event

  • Judging Criteria: The CJC will review the criteria for judging the competition.
  • Preview: The submitted pictures will be previewed before judging. It is preferable that the preview run at an automated pace with 5-7, seconds allowed for each submitted work.
  • Judging: Each submitted work is judged and recorded in turn as follows:
    • The judges score each picture by displaying a numerical value from 3 to 10, or DNQ. When a judge scores their own work, they are to display a 3. If the displayed high and low scores differ by more than two points, (except for a single 3), or if a DNQ is displayed, the CJC will call all judges up for a conference the where high and low rating judges briefly explain their score. No attempt is to be made to persuade a judge to modify their score. The judges will be re-seated and may or may not modify their score at their own discretion.
    • The scores are added and recorded by the score keeper as follows:
      • Two or more DNQ scores remove the submitted photo from the competition without further consideration. The score keeper records a DNQ for that submission.
      • The three highest scores are added, announced, and recorded by the score keeper.
      • The recorded score is final, even if during the commentary it appears the rating might have been questionable.
  • Commentary: When the judging has been completed and all scores recorded, the judges will comment on each submitted work in turn. The commentary should focus on
    significant photographic elements and avoid nitpicking. The general membership is invited to join the discussion. The commentary is intended to help the maker improve their work for the next competition. No part of the commentary is to be personal, and none should be taken as personal.