Ten things camera club judges say and what they really mean

Photography Basics

A few years ago I was a member of a great camera club and enjoyed what I got out of it. Recently I’ve joined another camera club after moving to a new area and I went along to one of their competition nights.

The camera club judge has a tough job. He or she has to look through a lot of photos and try and choose the best one. Now “best” is very subjective thing so already they know they aren’t going to please everyone. If they are brave, they will be honest about what they think, but run the risk of never being asked back to the club. The other option is to be nice about each image and this is where you can start to play bingo with the things camera club judges say. Lets see how many you have heard. Some of these are a bit light hearted, but others are constructive once you get the translation. So, in no particular order:

1. Well seen
This is a term I hear over and over again, but it’s a compliment. It means that you have seen something amongst a bigger scene and focused in on it. Now, it doesn’t always mean its a good photo, it just means that you’ve done we’ll to see it.
2. The mount is good
If you hear this then I’m sorry. It is another way of saying that the judge can’t find something positive about the photo so they need to look elsewhere. Now, presentation is important, but it shouldn’t be more interesting than the image.
3. It tells a story
This usually is a good thing to hear. It means that the judge can see something more in the photo about the scene or what is going on. Sometimes it could mean that the judge can see there is a bit about the shot but doesn’t really know what or understand it.
4. It’s had some treatment
Adobe Photoshop. It’s something that wows the unfamiliar, frustrates the amateur and ruins many a good photo. Used well though it can turn a good photo into a great image. Unfortunately, my experience is that even after all these years of photoshop being around, the filters are still over used and camera club judges can spot them a mile off.
5. It’s a bit busy
This means that there is a lot going on in the photo which also means that there is nothing in the photo which stands out as the main focal point of the image.
6. If you could take it again…
I’ve heard this a few times and its usually about a one in a million shot that there is actually no way it could be taken again, but the judge thinks it would be better for the lion to be on the right of the elephant rather than behind the dodo and the polar bear with sun glasses on.
7. It’s a cow in a field
This is something you might hear from a brave judge, but it’s the style of judging I quite like, but tends to be taken the wrong way and not in the constructive way it’s meant. Quite often you’ll see a photo that has a lot of ‘ahhh’ factor which masks the fact that the photo isn’t great. So the cow in a field reference is saying that once you get past the initial thought, it’s no more interesting than a cow in a field.
8. It distracts the eye
This is something you hear a lot and comes down to not paying attention to everything that is in the frame and not noticing a bright highlight or something going on in the background because you are concentrating too much on the main subject of the shot. If the judge is commenting on that then they are not looking at the main thing you want them to.
9. I’ve taken a similar photo
This is a dangerous thing to hear as you now have to put your photo up against the judges own photo as well as all the other camera club members. If you get good comments after that, then you know you’ve done well.
10. It’s not going to win any competitions
Oh dear. This is the judge being very honest. It’s back to the drawing board I think.

So there you go. The main thing to remember is that unless you are trying to make money from photography, what other people think of your photos doesn’t really matter. Learn from the constructive comments whether they are good or bad, ignore the other comments and keep taking photos. Competitions are just a bit of fun anyway!

2 thoughts on “Ten things camera club judges say and what they really mean

  1. “It’s a bird on a stick”. It was a bird on a stick and I was wishing I had the patience and the skill to get such a superb picture – but that’s all the judge said. The marks showed that he didn’t value patience and skill so that judge isn’t getting an invite to our club!

  2. We had “Cow in a field” once about a lovely image of a cheetah. OK, it wasn’t doing a great deal, just sitting there, but I’m sure the judge could have been a bit more tactful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *