Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Judging a Photo Competition

I was recently asked to judge a children's photo competition. Three judges were selected for the competition. Each of us could follow our own judgment and criteria to choose the five best photos. I decided to define specific parameters for my selections in order to keep the selection process the same for each photo. 

I went with a two-pass process. On the first pass I eliminated the photos with obvious negative factors such as the focus not being on the main subject, poor composition, blown-out highlights, and bad exposures. Since the photos that made it to the second pass were technically satisfactory, I could focus more on the content of each photo. For this I used a scoring system broken down into four criteria—technical merit, subject, composition, and impact.

For technical merit I looked at focus, sharpness, detail, depth of field, color, brightness, contrast, saturation, and light.

The subject was children with a product, so I checked how relevant the content was to the theme and also how well the photo connected me to the subject.

For composition, I tried to see if the photograph told a story, where the photo leads the eye, and the overall balance of elements in the photo. I also took into consideration distracting background elements.
The final criterion, impact, is of course completely subjective. This was based on if I thought the image was creating the visual impact I thought it should.  This is a partial overlap of how strong the connection is with the subject.

Following these parameters helped streamline the process and create a selection that was balanced between technical and artistic merits.  

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