A judge has four main objectives when judging an exhibition or competition.  They are to:

  • Evaluate the images,
  • Educate the image-makers,
  • Encourage those looking to refine their photographic skills, and
  • Entertain the audience in the process.

Image evaluation

WAPJA judges will use the same principles of image appraisal when assessing images for competitions (which rank all images relative to each other to produce a first, second and third) and exhibitions (which rate images against absolute standards (see WAPJA Exhibition Scoring System) to determine any number of gold, silver or bronze awards).  These principles are explained in the What the Judge Thinks page on this website.

The same principles will apply to panel judging, where the awarding of first/second/third or gold/silver/bronze is decided by three or more judges.  It is important that all judges are able to explain their choices to each other using the accepted language of criteria and elements.  Panel judging can be a rewarding experience if each judge is prepared to suspend personal biases and listen to opposing points of view.

General Information for Judges

All WAPJA judges will endeavour to:

  • adopt a professional attitude with due courtesy toward the club and its members,
  • apply consistent and constructive criticism regardless of image quality,
  • identify the merits of an image to provide positive feedback to the photographer,
  • use the appropriate language of image critique,
  • recognise and suppress personal preferences and biases,
  • balance objectivity and subjectivity when appraising images,
  • accept any disagreement and be willing to discuss with the photographer out-of-session,
  • consider positive and negative feedback from clubs and organisations as a vehicle for continuous improvement,
  • develop and maintain a personal portfolio of images for viewing by clubs and organisations, and
  • seek continuous improvement through feedback and by attendance at WAPJA seminars, workshops and judging exercises.

Specific Code of Conduct for WAPJA Judges

  1. All judges should treat each camera club and its members as clients to whom a service is being provided.  This means that a judge should strive to achieve satisfaction on the part of the club and its members.  The same principle applies to judging for organisations holding competitions or exhibitions.  WAPJA judges are representing the Association both during and after judging, hence their behaviour should reflect the Association’s principles.
  2. Judges must know and understand the WAPJA Judging Criteria and Elements, and ensure that the terms used in delivering a critique are consistent with them.  Be prepared to explain what these terms mean if asked.  Consistency in the language used by judges will, in time, improve the audience’s appreciation of the comments made.
  3. A judge should never imply that the creator of an image they are judging, is subordinate or inferior to the judge.   Judges should never demean or ridicule an image or a photographer, whether during judging or after.  While humour is always welcome in judging, indeed it may be used to entertain, it should never be at the expense of the competitor or exhibitor.
  4. Judges should give priority to being constructive in their judging.  Recognising and emphasising that what has been done well in an image is just as important as finding its faults.  Criticism should always be expressed in the context of how the image might be improved, and not in a way that would discourage the photographer.  Comments must have a positive, rather than a negative, tone.
  5. Whether a judge likes or dislikes an image (or a particular photographic genre) is irrelevant to the judging process and the rank or score given.  A judge’s task is to identify what makes the image successful or unsuccessful, but statements indicating personal likes or dislikes should be avoided.  While personal biases are natural and unavoidable, these should be suppressed during the judging process.
  6. It is not a weakness of an image if the judge would have made the image in a different, but equally valid, way.  If the reason a judge would have done something a different way is a matter of personal taste, then it should be expressed as “another way of doing this might have been…but your approach is equally valid”.
  7. The judging of photographic images is both subjective and objective.  It is important that the judge acknowledge those images that are objectively well made.  For example, a judge who does not personally take , or like, images of a certain genre must be able to appreciate the qualities of a well-made image and recognise the objective merits of it.
  8. When a judge awards the first, second and third places in a competition, it is inevitable that the judge’s subjective experiences and preferences will influence the result, particularly if the images would have scored equally in an exhibition.  This cannot be avoided.  However, the judge should explain that an entrant should feel successful if his or her entry is in the “winning circle” of images but was unplaced.
  9. Judges should not fear disagreement with their views; they should see questions as an opportunity to explain their analysis in more detail and to discuss and educate.  A judge should not feel it is necessary to defend his or her view or become entrenched in it.  It is advisable to defer questions to the end of a judging session, so that your focus is not distracted.
  10. Never reveal that you are angry with a comment or a question.  Professionalism requires that you demonstrate an attentive interest in the views expressed by members of your audience.  If you ever consider that some comments have gone beyond robust debate, you should report the behaviour to WAPJA through the Judges Feedback process.