Judges Guidelines for Assigning Scores to Competition Photos


For monthly competitions, the Cape Cod Viewfinders Camera Club (CCVFCC) uses a scoring range of 5 – 15. The higher the score, the stronger the image is judged to be. The following is intended to serve as a general guide for you as a judge to assign scores to individual images.


You should assign a value representing your overall evaluation of the image, taking into consideration the technical quality of the image, which includes but is not limited to factors such as exposure, focus, appropriateness of post-processing, and how well the image is presented; the impact of the image, including, where relevant, its story-telling qualities; the composition, which refers broadly to how elements are arranged to suit the goal of the image. Finally, particularly for the images that meet a high standard in each of the above areas, consider whether the image has something extra, something intangible that captures your eye and imagination. This general scoring rubric is sometimes referred to by the acronym “TICE” – for Technical quality, Impact, Composition, and Extra.


In judging the images, you will be presented with the images of a given format (print or digital) and Category divided according to the members’ Competition Class (Bronze / Silver, or Masters). For example, the B/S  Open is a separate competition from the Gold class Open.


Overall, the scores can be characterized as follows:


·       5-9 points: almost never used, these very low scores would be for extremely weak or inappropriate competition images.

·       10-11 points: an image with several problems or a single serious flaw involving technical, compositional, or other issues that result in it not being a strong competition image.

·       12 points: a generally competent competition image where the technical and compositional aspects have been handled appropriately, resulting in a good image.

·       13 points: a very good to excellent competition quality image with only minor, if any, technical weaknesses; well-composed and with strong visual impact. An image with this score often may receive an award.

·       14 points: an outstanding image of the highest technical quality, well-processed, with strong composition and impact. Generally, such a score is associated with an award-winning photo.

·       15 points: a photo of superior quality, craftsmanship, and artistic impact.  Any perceived weakness would be offset by outstanding redeeming qualities that elevate it.  A photo earning this score has an impact that makes the image significant and memorable.


The competitions are divided by Category and Competition Class for print and projected image formats. For example, the entries for the printed category Portraiture by members of the Masters class would be handled as an individual competition. You will assign scores to each of the entries, with the highest scores being awarded ribbons. When there are tied scores involving the awards, you should break the ties. Honorable Mention ribbons are awarded at your discretion up to the number allowed (chart below).


We wish to emphasize that there is no expected distribution of scores for an individual competition. The scores you award should be based solely on your perception of the quality of each image standing on its own and not in comparison to the other images.


What we are asking you to do:


On the evening of the competition, the images will be projected individually in the Category by Class competitions.

·       Run-through of all images in a class / category.

·       Images will be shown individually, and the titles read. 

·       Judge will announce the score.

·       Comment about the image, pointing out what was successful and perhaps what could have made the image stronger. Our members value these comments very much and use them to make their own images better.

·       Ribbons (1st place, 2nd place, 3rd place and HMs) will be announced based on your scores. If there are ties that affect the available ribbons, you will be asked to break the ties.


Prints will be handled similarly.


The schedule of awards is as follows:
Honorable Mention Award will be available at the judge’s discretion based on the number of entries.  When there are fewer than 5 scores, we do not consider that a legitimate competition.

  •    5 entries = 1st, 2d and 0 HMs
  •    6 - 7 entries = 1st, 2d, 3d and 0 HMs
  •    8 - 9 entries = 1st, 2d, 3d and up to 1 HM
  •    10 - 11 entries =1st, 2d, 3d and up to 2 HMs
  •    >12 entries = 1st, 2d, 3d, and up to 3 HMs

Within a Format and Competition Class, when there are fewer than 5 entries for a given Category, the judge will score the entries and indicate those images s/he deems worthy of an award ribbon.  These could be any combination of place award, honorable mentions, or no award at all.

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