Judging the 2017 B&W Photo Competition for Padre Trails Camera Club

Sunshine Through the Darkness" by Carol Fuessenich

Sunshine Through the Darkness ©️ Carol Fuessenich

In January of 2017, I had the pleasure to be the judge of the 2017 Black and White photo competition for the Padre Trails Camera Club of Monterey. The club, established in 1948, is the oldest photography club on the Monterey Peninsula. Its membership has grown considerably since then and today it includes 64 members with diverse technical level and expertise. 

The competition included 87 photographs divided into three groups according to members' success in Club competitions over time. A-group (advanced) included 60 images, the AA-group (intermediate) 12 images, and the AAA-group (beginners) 15 images.

"Megan" by John Avera

Megan ©️ John Avera

Puddle Reflections by Chris Johnson

Puddle Reflections ©️ Chris Johnson

The competition had no specific theme. Members presented a variety of subject matter including portrait, landscape, still life, wildlife, and abstract. The quality of the images presented was outstanding indicating that members of the three groups have complete dominion of the technical aspects of photography. I judged the images based on the following criteria in order of precedence: storytelling quality, creativity and of course, the photographer's technical ability.

One of the requirements for the judge was to provide constructive feedback to all 87 images. This forced me to really spend time looking at the photograph even when the subject matter was not high on my list of interests. I really tried to be as objective a possible. My first question was "what is the photographer trying do communicate. What is the message? Once I established that I evaluated how successful the photographer was in presenting the message or story and whether or not there were distracting elements stealing viewers' attention from the main subject. While going from photograph to photograph, my subconscious mind was building a list of candidates for an award. Depending on the number of photographs in each group, I was supposed to award 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and honorable mention prizes. These prizes contribute to the photographer's rank and possibly have them jump to a higher group.

The feedback from the club was very positive. Members were genuinely thankful for my comments and suggestions. "You certainly took a great deal of interest and circumspection on each and every submitted image. I will be anxious to relay your comments to our club because they truly offer advice as to how to make our images better as well as focusing on the purpose for taking the picture in the first place," said John Drum, the Competition Chair.

Dahlia by  Dominique Gallet

Dahlia ©️ Dominique Gallet

Rooftop by Brooks Leffler

Rooftop ©️ Brooks Leffler

Stairwell to Hell by Bill Shewchuk

Stairwell to Hell ©️ Bill Shewchuk

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