An introduction to competitions
During the Camera Club year from September to May we hold a number of club competitions. These are held about once a month and each competition will either have a specific subject (for example “Water” or “People and Portraits”) or be “Open” where anything is allowed. Your challenge is to take pictures which illustrate the theme, and demonstrate both your artistic skill and your technical prowess. Competitions are popular with our members and always well attended.
How competitions work
- The list of competition subjects, dates and who will be judging are published before the start of the season (the list can found on our web site and on the programme cards).
- Most competitions have separate classes for prints and digital projected images, so you need to shoot a number of images (normally 2 prints and 2 digital) that match that subject, however some are digital only (3 digital entries for the Natural History competition, 2 digital images for the panel competition).
- You need to ensure that the competition secretary has your entries at least a week in advance of the competition.
- On the night of the competition the judge will be shown the images one at a time and the title of the photo will be read out, the photographer’s name is not announced during the competition.
- The judge will look at the image and highlight areas where the photographer has done well and will suggest areas for improvement, before giving an overall mark for the picture.
You should always remember judging is subjective and depends on many factors, not least of which is the other entries, therefore your score will represent the judge’s opinion on the night.
There is unfortunately no winning formula to guarantee success.
- Some competitions have trophies for the best print and best digital image, and the judge will be asked to choose these separately.
- Points are collected during the year and trophies are awarded at the end of the season for the overall winner in print and digital categories.
How does the judge choose the best images?
All judges used by Hitchin Camera Club, will be approved by the East Anglian Federation and will have completed a period of study and passed an assessment day. They will be looking for 3 things;
- Technical competency both in shooting and post processing
- An understanding of the subject so that the image is more than just a record
- Artistic competency to put the image together and presenting it to the judge
How to prepare for a competition
Firstly you need to choose your pictures. Most members shoot specific images for each competition, however providing it’s not been used in a competition before there’s no reason why you can’t enter an image you shot previously.
Choosing your entries
- You need to make sure that your image fits the competition subject, for example having a duck in the background doesn’t make it a nature photograph.
- You need make sure the image is technically good; is it focused correctly with the subject in sharp focus? Is the exposure right, not too dark or too light? Have you made good choices about the shutter speed and aperture, and the type of lens to use?
- Have you used light well, whether that’s artificial, natural or combination?
- If you’ve used a special effect, does it add to the picture?
- Is the image “artistic”, is it more than a record shot?
- Does the image tell you something about the subject?
Finally for prints you need to think about how to present it? How big should the actual print be, what colour or finish should the mount be? Should there be a border?
The subject of the competition will give you a good idea of what images you can enter. If you need more guidance check out the Club Competitions > Definitions page, where you’ll find more detailed descriptions of the different subjects, and pictures from previous years’ competitions.
Competitions are a chance to express your creative and technical talents and at Hitchin Camera Club we encourage our members to explore the subject fully, however straying too far from the brief can be a risky strategy. If the judge considers your entry has doesn’t really fit within the bounds of the competition your images can be marked down.
If you need more help or guidance just ask a committee member or mentor.
Are my images good enough?
Absolutely! Everyone has to start somewhere, and we brief our judges that we have a range of abilities within the club, so images are never judged harshly and once you start entering competitions you’ll have the opportunity to get feedback on your images.
How do I enter?
Very easily! As a member you’re allowed to enter all of the club’s competitions.
Etiquette on on the night and afterwards
We invest a lot in creating our images and sadly judges don’t always share our views or understand the intent behind them. As tempting as it might be, we would ask that you don’t openly criticise the judge or remonstrate with them. Equally if a judge makes a comment outside artistic critique that you don’t agree with, please raise this with a member of the committee.
This also applies to the WhatsApp group where we would ask that members do not make detailed criticism of the judges comments. Our visiting judges provide a great service, with a wealth of experience, often with supportive critique.
Click here to see detailed instructions for submitting prints and digital images.