Basic Photo Judging

Ray Magill

Photographer's expectations when you enter your photo images into a competition


  • That your print will be treated with respect by the judge(s).
  • That the judge is competitent to carry out the task.
  • That the judge will evaluate your print and comment on it.
  • That the judge will rank your print against the other prints displayed.
  • Judges Responsibilities


  • Read and understand all the rules of the competition before you attend the competition venue.
  • Check the viewing arrangement with organisers.
  • If other judges involved – meet and discuss arrangements.
  • At venue check that all entries meet the competition criteria.
  • View photo images making notes for comments & ranking.
  • Do not handle prints at this viewing stage unless necessary.
  • Inform audience of the method used to judge the photo image competition (below headings).
  • Be tactful at all times in your comments and avoid photo jargon.
  • Give ‘strength & weakness’ comments in a clear manner.  “In my opinion…..”
  • Inform audience of the ranking of the photo images in reverse order – commended, 3rd, 2nd 1st.

    Suggested Image Evaluation


    What the picture communicates to the viewer?

  • An emotion or feeling.
  • A statement or story.
  • An idea or inventiveness.
  • How well does it meets the theme criteria – if applicable.
  • Interpretation 50-60% of the total marks awarded.
  • What treatments are applied by the photographer?


  • Choice and control of light.
  • Selection of elements to be included in the image.
  • Composition of components within the image.
  • Interpretation of movement.
  • Macro / Close-up.
  • Viewing perspective.
  • Exploitation of tones and colours / shape texture and form.
  • Treatments  30 - 35% of the total marks awarded.
  • What technical controls are applied by the photographer


  • Correct exposure.
  • Control of depth of field.
  • Sharpness of important components in the image.
  • Post processing skills.
  • Quality of presentation of image.
  • Technical 15 - 20% of the total marks awarded.
  • Remember


  • A photo image that may do well in one competition may do less well in another competition due to the quality of the other images on display.