Judging Criteria

Emphasis is to encourage creativity in members and urges them to step out of the boundaries of their level of expertise and comfort zone…to be willing to try new things and unusual views. Pushing one’s photography means taking chances.


  • readily identifiable center of interest/subject (dominate theme with subordinate contrasting theme vs confusing/competing interests)
  • background compliments subject in level of details/simplicity/color/texture o overall composition – (watch 1/3 rule…not absolute) good balance of elements, harmony of idea, color, mass, form, line
  • uses horizontal/vertical “frame” limit effectively (properly cropped)
  • leading lines to guide viewers eyes (with repetition of elements for visual continuity…be aware of rule of “odd numbers”)

TECHNICAL MASTERY to be judged only as appropriate to subject

  • correct contrast…highlights/shadows in detail
  • proper lighting (esp. face)…delicate elements lighted softly, watch excessive illumination, distracting hot spots
  • sharp in- focus image (esp. eyes)…motion/blur appropriate to composition/depth of field appropriately utilized o color saturation or appropriate color cast
  • parallax (tilting bldgs. unless creatively exaggerated), horizon (too centered or not level)

IMPACT some of the criteria to consider in helping to determine a “strong image”

  • immediate emotional reaction (strong mood displayed…wonder, intrigue, fun, awe etc.)
  • extraordinary/unique use of design elements (striking color values, dramatic lighting, unusual arrangement)
  • especially creative (strong or unusual subject/content)
  • unique perspective/not copying standard views or old ideas (views presented in new ways)
  • unusual bonding of picture elements (striking opposites juxtaposed…e.g. tiny kitten interacting with a Great Dane, baby’s hand holding the hand of an elder, light/shadows etc.)
  • an intellectual challenge or tells a story (a good title helps tell your story)


5 points = a snap and grab photo
an otherwise interesting subject is diminished by compositional and technical flaws
6 points = a photo club worthy image
good compositional and technical skills exhibited
7 points = some unique elements/approach
criteria for 6 pts…additionally some of the impact criteria met
8 points = stronger impact (beyond the usual), imaginative
stronger impact…innovative, imaginative subject, viewpoint or approach…impact sustained even after the 2nd or 3rd viewing
9 points = out of the box impact…WOW!!!
the rare image(s) that stand out above the 75+ images viewed and remains with you well after viewing all.(e.g. “how did s/he capture that” or “ I wish I thought of that”).

The score for a “Theme (M)” image may be lowered if photo does not adhere to the designated theme of the month.
Score may be adjusted for minor comp/tech flaws at the judges discretion, dependent on its affect on impact.

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