What the Photography Judges look for and how they score images

The Brant Camera Club (BCC) belongs to the Ontario Council of Camera Clubs (OCCC) along with about 35 other member camera clubs spanning from Windsor to Kingston and all points in between.  
The OCCC website can be found here.  https://o3c.ca/ 

The OCCC is a formal group that provides the Photography judges that our Brant Camera Club uses to do the online judging of our clinics and competitions.  Below you will find details from the OCCC on the judges scoring model as well as judging details  – essentially this is how the judges go about the practice of reviewing, scoring and commenting on images that they are asked to judge.  It talks about the main focus areas that judges use to arrive at their scoring and how they go about it. 

Hopefully, you will find this interesting and helpful for our upcoming Clinic #1 coming up Oct 17th as well as for the remaining clinics and competitions this year. 


Ontario Council of Camera Clubs (OCCC) Judges Scoring Model and Judging Details

Standard Scoring Model:
• Judges workflow: is to Evaluate, Score, and Comment on an image in 45 seconds
• Evaluation has 3 focus components: Impact, Composition, and Technical

Points for each are scored as below:

Impact – up to 3 points (out of 10)
Composition – up to 3 points (out of 10)
Technical – up to 3 points (out of 10)
+1 bonus point at judges discretion = 10 points

Details/breakdown of the 3 focus/component areas:

Impact (which includes aspects like)

• Mood
• Imagination
• Story
• Subject Matter
• Total points : 3 points

Composition (which includes aspects like)

• Distractions
• Space
• Leading Lines
• Placement
• Depth
• Visual & Abstract Elements
• Total points 3 points

Technical (which includes aspects like)

• Colour
• Light
• Exposure
• Sharpness
• Technique
• Total points 3 points

• Total points: Impact, Comp, Tech 3+ 3 + 3 = 9 points + optional bonus point +1 (remarkable achievement)
• Use 1/2 point intervals
• 3 points per criteria ( 1.5 less than standard, 2.0 standard, 2.5 impressive, 3.0 outstanding)

Scoring Guidelines:
• a score of 5 image has significant flaws
• a score of 6 image is a record shot
• a score of 7 shows signs that maker has made the image
• a score of 8 Image has impact, no technical flaws, may win competition
• a score of 9 Superior technically, high impact, strong story
• a score of 10 Outstanding technical, impact, composition, story

How NOT To Look at an Image (Judges direction)
• Beware of the WOW factor luring you to a high score
• Don’t Nit Pick, no petty excuses to deduct points
• Careful on assumption of flaws and artifacts
• Remove “I” thinking, no baseless personal bias
• swallow your pride, if other judges show you are off
• Stop being afraid to use 9-10 scores, reward achievement
• Street/photo journalism, be tolerant of minor distractions

Guidelines for Judges Comments:
• Mention what is good about the image
• If appropriate, comment on the story element
• Use correct photo terminology, clear concise suggestions
• Tell them what action/technique they can use to improve
elements, eg., Shutter, ISO, filters, focal length, composition
• DO NOT make statements like: I don’t like B&W, oh I love
motorcycles, I have seen a thousand Blue Jays, never use “I”

Composition Guidelines – for all Genres:
•placement of major and supporting elements
•right amount of details, to express message
•good balance, to lead viewers eye around frame
•rule of 3rds, 9 rect., image placed along lines or int.
•S curves, visual interest, leading eye into scene
•symmetry, identical elements in all 4 directions
• juxtaposition, contrast in subject matter, creating tension,
elements of varying colour, age, texture, gender
• depth, 2-D image appear 3— Dimensional, utilizing a
viewpoint to include foreground, middle, and background
• framing, main subject should have breathing room, subjects
in motion should have space to move into the frame

The Story Element
• story is part of impact, can be obvious, while others subtle
Nature: feeding chicks, nesting material in mouth, fighting,
Portrait: person dancing, playing music, painting,
environmental portrait
Street/ Journalistic: people interacting, parade, protest
Pictorial/Creative: implied message tied to an emotion

Image Defects and Detractions: General items judges look for that may hurt image scoring:

1. Sensor Spots: dust on sensor amplified by small aperture
2.ISO Noise: High ISO in low light conditions, shadows
3.Pixilation: cropping too much, and enlarging too much
4.JPEG Artifacts: overworking a JPEG file, soft and blocky
5.Banding: seen in graduated areas, skies, plain backgrounds
falls under Technical, different from distractions
6. Halos: high contrast with light and dark areas, “Band”
7. Sharpness: major & supporting elements should be sharp
8. Clone Marks: areas are slightly off, repeated in image
9. Colour Balance: Colour cast, or improper colour of subject
10. Cut & Paste Look: Composites, masking, lighting, shadow
11. Mergers: key parts of subject overlap each other
12. Record Shot: called a grab shot, little artistic value
13. Out of Focus: edges of main subject are not sharp, crisp
14. Soft Image: term used for image not quite sharp
15. Chromatic Aberration: purple fringing, lens fails to focus all
colours to the same convergence point
16. Too Tight in the Frame: not enough negative space around
main subject