Camera Club Judging
When I joined my first camera club I learned so much and grew as a photographer through the lectures and watching the Judging process I decided I needed to get involved. I decided to volunteer to become and judge and have been a CACC camera club judge for about 7 years now. It has been a great learning, sharing and giving back process for me over the years.
I wanted to explain what a camera club competition is about.
What is a Camera Club Competition?
The competition is generally there to decide who goes home with the silverware at the end of the year but is also expected to provide a measuring stick for authors to judge their own standards / improvement or lack of such.
The concept of competitive art is a rather strange beast, but art clubs do the same, so we are not too far down a rat hole of our own making.
In many ways the members expectation of a “good” competition might be expressed as Elucidate, Educate and Entertain even though this may not be explicit in the title “Competition”
The implicit need for education does mean that the judge is expected to deliver the education to the audience by pointing out the flaws in the images and what might be done to potentially improve them either in post processing or at the taking stage. This does somewhat bias the commentary as time does need to be balanced between the positives and the education element.
Feedback might be tailored to a specific group if the club segments its members, with most clubs asking for more education in the general or beginners’ sections.
The most common genres entered in competition are:-
How are they Judged
Typically we see about 30-80 images on a competition night. We have approximately a 2 hour slot if we start and end on time. Normally we lose 10-15 minutes for the introduction, people arriving late etc.. then another 10-15 minutes for a break. This leaves about 90 minutes to judge the images, resolve the hold backs and assign winners etc.. This equates to about 60-90 seconds per image to deliver the critique, education, score etc..
Judges are looking for many different aspects within an image which can simply be summarised as
1) Impact/story/atmosphere/aesthetic quality
2) Quality of image (taking and processing)
3) Author input
4) Genre characteristics
Considering the time judges are given, many of the aspects may not explicitly be expressed but they have been considered. Focussing on explaining the flaws is often the path of least resistance as they are easy to explain, degrade the impact of the image and impact the education process to the greater extent. The analogy I would use is listening to music… If a great song is performed poorly it will without a doubt impact our ability to enjoy it. Often a decent song performed well will hit the number 1 spot because the performance enhances our appreciation.
A judge is not there to judge what you intended, but what you actually delivered as they can only judge what appears on the screen.
This is always a difficult one. Images that are particularly personal or require some culturally/nationally/subject matter knowledge may be judged poorly as they are so subjective in their content that a judge may not have the experience or knowledge to judge them in the same light that the author has taken them.