Criteria for Judging a Photo Contest

photo contest criteria

Fae Savignano, Marden-Kane SVP, follows up on her  “Good Criteria for Judging a Contest”  blog with this closer look at photo contest criteria.

I would like to expand the list of suggested Contest Judging Criteria as it applies specifically to Photo Contests to include updated entry methods, social media trends and promotional knowledge acquired in the past 2 years.

Previously suggested Judging Criteria for a Photo Contest:

  • Adherence/Appropriateness to Theme
  • Uniqueness of Concept
  • Originality
  • Clarity of Expression
  • Humor
  • Creativity
  • Innovative Means of Delivering Message
  • Entertainment Quality
  • Visual Design
  • Overall Artistic Impression
  • Composition
  • Clarity and Quality of Submission
  • Color, Lighting, Exposure and Focus
  • Audience Appeal

Newly suggested Judging Criteria for a Photo Contest:

  • Marketability/Commercial Appeal
  • Newsworthiness
  • Inspirational Power
  • Expression of Theme
  • Usage of Brand to Reinforce Theme
  • Overall Impression/Impact
  • Current/Potential Social Impact
  • Level of Detail
  • Inspiration to Others
  • Wow! Factor
  • Memorable
  • Technical Execution
  • Visual Appeal
  • Artistic Merit

And in addition to the information we provided in our “6 Tips for Creating a Contest Winning Entry” blog, here is what the Judges should look for when judging Photo Contest Entries:

  1. Did the Entrant follow the Official Rules including How to Enter, Eligibility Requirements, Entry Limitations, Judging Criteria, required Releases and more, specifically the Entry Content, Creative and Technical Requirements?

  3. How does the Entry fare against the published Judging Criteria? Every Entry should be judged on its own merit, based on the established criteria. A properly designed Judging Criteria will have the judges focusing their attention on the qualities that are going to be weighed and assigned a value or score.

  5. It is recommended to include an explanation/definition of each Judging Criteria so each Entrant and Judge can fully understand the Sponsor’s intent. Such as, but not limited to:
    • Impact– what you feel when you first view the Entry. Does the photo evoke an emotion from the viewer?
    • Creativity– how the Entrant was able to convey their idea, message or thought in an original and imaginative way through their lens.
    • Style – how the Entrant is able to showcase their personal originality and technique to influence how the image is presented and interpreted.
    • Subject Matter– was the subject matter displayed in the photo appropriate to the story being told in the Photo Entry submitted and does it fully represent the Sponsor’s promotional theme?
    • Story Telling– how the Entrant is able to let their Photo Entry evoke the viewer’s imagination, which may differ by each viewer. Is the story being told the right story for the Sponsor and their brand?
  6. Does the Subject Matter/Content fall within the assignment/theme? Is it relevant? What is the Impact? What does the Entry emote, within a Visual, Emotional, Aesthetic, and Intellectual context?

  8. Even if the Technical Requirements have all been met, does the Photo Entry create the visual impact that it should? Does the Entry exude technical excellence?  Here are some examples of what to look for:
    • Technique–the approach used to create the image. Printing, lighting, posing, capture, presentation media, and more are part of the technique applied to an image.
    • Composition– how all the visual elements harmoniously express the purpose or intent of the image. Does the photo draw the viewer in to look where the creator intended?
    • Presentation– having that finished look. Was the Photo Entry truly ready to be entered or were some finishing touches still required?
    • Color Balance– can bring harmony to a photo. Do the tones work together, effectively supporting the image? However, Color Balance is not always harmonious and can be used to evoke diverse feelings for effect.
    • Center of Interest– the point(s) in the photo where the Entrant wants you to view the image. Does the photo draw you in? Does it have more than one center or interest or none at all?
    • Lighting—how the Entrant was able to use and control light. Was the lighting applied in the photo (manmade or natural) properly used to enhance the image?
  9. Does the Photo Entry tell a story? What is the overall impression? What is the effect? Does the Photo Entry stand on its own, as complete and outstanding? Does it have the Wow! Factor?

  11. Is the Photo Entry sloppy? Even if the content is exceptional the overall delivery of the Photo Entry should be taken into account.

And finally, the Judge(s) selected by the Sponsor to judge their Photo Contest Entries ideally should be an expert or have some degree of expertise in what they are judging. A professional photographer would be a perfect choice; however, this is not a requirement, but it will help the Sponsor select the Best in Show! Plus, the Entrants gain a sense of fair play when they see that the winner was chosen by an expert. It should be noted that the Sponsor can also be a part of the Judges Group as they are the experts in what their brand and marketing goals are.

Since Photo Contests have increased in popularity, there are many reasons why you should run a Photo Contest for your brand and many different types of Photo Contests to choose from, click here to read more. And, when you are ready to run your next Photo Contest and customize the Judging Criteria to meet your specific goals, contact us.

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