Friday 13th January 2012 – Basic photo judging & interaction with members

I'll be the judge of that!

I’ll be the Judge of That

The set aim of Bangor and North Down Camera Club is “Promoting and developing all aspects of photography through example, discussion and competition.

The golden thread of competition is stitched into the fabric of our yearly programme, with one being held on almost a monthly basis.  Club members are encouraged to assess and compare their knowledge, skills and experience, through the mediums of print and the projected digital images, in club competitions.  The essence of competition means that there will be winners, who will always applaud the judge for their outstanding verdict. But what about the folk who didn’t win, what do they get from competition?

The evening was hosted by Ray Magill, a long-standing member of the club and Vice President of NIPA (Northern Ireland Photographic Association.) He recruited nine volunteers, split into three teams, to perform the role of trainee judges. The brave volunteers, and a few conscripts, were Alan McMorris, Alan Hartley, Julie Campbell, Bobby Peacock, Drew McAvoy, Harry Watson, Christine Pearson, Helen Fettus, and Deborah Carvill. They, and the audience, listened carefully to his presentation about the different aspects of competition; the contestant’s expectations, and the judges responsibilities.
Ray was at pains to point out that his approach was a personal one and was, as he described it, a work in progress.  However, his years of experience as a NIPA judge was clearly evident.  Ray mentioned that he was impressed with Eddie Sethna’s approach to judging photography and recommended members to check out his web site.
He used a Powerpoint Presentation to get the main points across, and we will be able to provide of copy of this to club members soon. Here is a summary of part of the presentation:
Photographers Expectations:

  • The judge should:
    • be an active photographer and suitably competent
    • have enough experience to be able to carefully evaluate, rank and provide appropriate feedback
    • have been made aware of the local club competition rules and sought clarity on the clubs definition of particular themes
    • All prints should be treated with respect; they should never be dropped, or damaged in any way, or returned with dirty fingerprints on the mount on the photo itself.

Judges Responsibilities:

  • Beforehand
    • be made aware of the entrants expectations, outlined above
    • check, the viewing arrangements
    • check, if other judges will be involved in the process and their role
    • Judging
      • check that the image meets the requirements and criteria of the competition
      • inform the audience of methods used to assess and judge the competition
      • give strength / weakness comments in a clear and coherent manner
      • provide appropriate feedback on as many images as possible
      • offer the results in reverse order, 3rd, 2nd, 1st.
      • be willing to answer questions from the audience

It is the role of the club’s  ‘Competition Secretary’ to ensure that the judge is aware of their responsibilities and the entrant’s expectations.  It is the role of the club chairperson, in particular, and all members present, to ensure that the judge is treated with respect and courtesy.

The three teams were assigned panels of ten mono and ten colour prints and while they deliberated the club members enjoyed a discussion on other competition concerns. The areas raised included whether a print should have a title and if it should be displayed? This provoked much debate, with no consensus being reached. Many members thought that a title was essential and should be displayed, just as it does with a painting or other work of art. Other members thought the focus should be on the photography competition and not on a caption competition.

By this time the three teams had finished their deliberations and were ready to present their findings. All the trainee judges did well, although two photos were dropped, no names mentioned of course. When asked about the exercise some admitted that it was harder than it looks while others thought that simply standing up in front of your peers was a challenge in itself.  The audience also found the exercise useful and no doubt it will be repeated again in the future.


Mark Allen


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