Photography in General

Photo competitions – Judging the art

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by Snapr (flickr)

First of all, I have to tell you that I’m usually not much into photo competitions. Actually I can’t tell you why and I guess I don’t understand it very well myself, since competitions are a great way to break your own barriers and expand yourself in creativity. They are also, of course, a great way of gaining exposure to your work.

But I’m also not completely new to it. I’ve participated in several photo competitions and have won some prizes and honorable mentions.

Recently, photocritic.org published an article on How to win photography competitions which got me thinking a little bit more about it, specially the judging part of it.

Of course that judging a photography competition requires more than just the basic knowledge of the art. I think a deep emotional sensibility is also needed to interpret the photography not just on technical merits but also on the message the photographer wants to transmit. And this is all very well, but we are now in the digital photography era and the technical merits of a photography can be slightly blurred.


Times when what a judge saw on paper was what was achieved through the lens are gone. Computers play a big part on nowadays photography and virtually any image can be created in silico. How is a judge to deal with this?

Most photo competitions have guidelines and while some are very strict on what is or isn’t allowed others are more open. But even so, is there a way to see if a photo was overly manipulated or not? Having the photo submitted on paper is usually a requirement but it’s not helpful to the matter at hand. Moreover, if you are not required to submit on paper but are allowed to submit on file, some competitions started requiring that all files incorporate the EXIF info. It’s a start, but there are applications out there that allow for a user to modify the EXIF or even create one from scratch. So, this is also not the answer…

 Sincerely, I have no answer to the problem. Although I’ve heard of this problem coming up in several photography competitions, I don’t know to which extent it propagates.

Are photography competitions still clean or are we starting to see a new kind of competition doping?

What are your thoughts on the subject? Do you usually compete? Do you have any solutions to the problem?

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4 Comments

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  3. ganda

    July 28, 2007 at 3:17 am

    I see this as the history I have read about the football manager’s in the past… (yes is football back again… if yu don’t like it at least read the comment)
    In the past rules managers were only allowed to choose the initial 11 players, they were not allowed to make replacements during the game. that meas that the 11 that started were the 11 that finished the game. Even if there were injuries..
    This created managers that were brilliant and genius to choose the first team…
    then the rule of subs came into football.. and manager’s that were poor choosing the first team became brilliant choosing sub to replace weak players. and vice-versa… but not always vice versa..

    that’s how how I see photography. People have to adapt to times…

    is it manipulating or improving? is it cheating or playing with new rules???

    Is it fair or unfair?

    Knowledge and technology are there for you to use…

    one thing you have to remember… good or bad photo you still have to be the one who shoot it…

  4. Pingback: PhotoNetCast #8 - Photo Competitions | PhotoNetCast

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