Judging Guidelines

To Judge in TPS Division Competitions a member must have 15 photographic points in the division in which they are judging.

TPS uses a 5 point scale to judge images. Each judge awards a score of 6 to 10 points.
Note: The software used for Online Projection competitions only supports 1 through 5 stars, so subtract 5 to get the equivalent stars: 5 stars = 10 points (Excellent), etc.

Composition (2 points) + Technique (2 Points) + Impact (1 point)


Excellent receives 10 points ( 5 stars). “Knocks your socks off!” Outstanding composition, Tells a complete story or creates a mood for the viewer, High Impact to the viewer. No Major weaknesses, not necessarily perfect. There is no definition for artistic perfection.

Very Good

Very Good receives 9 points ( 4 stars ). Technically correct, Good composition, tells a story or creates a mood, impacts the viewer at first sight, has only one major weakness and one minor weakness.


Good receives 8 points ( 3 stars). Typical image quality of the club, good color for the subject and background, good pictorial treatment, technically correct, may have up to two major weaknesses.


Average receives 7 points ( 2 stars). Average as far as the general public is concerned, little impact or imagination, Does not meet TPS acceptance criteria, may have up to three major weaknesses.


Fair receives 6 points (1 star). A snapshot type of picture that needs improvement. In the TPS System, the score of 6 is rarely given.

Design Components

Points can be broken down into three Design Components.


Composition: (2 Points) The selection and arrangement of the pictorial elements in order to enhance the meaning of the subject. Look For: One area of maximum interest, Use of lines and shapes to emphasize the center of interest, pleasing spatial balance, a complete story within the photograph, overall unity, simplicity.


Technique: (2 points) The selective application of the mechanical elements to strengthen the intended visual statement. Look For: Effective use of light, appropriate use of focus and depth-of-field, effective exposure, subduing of unimportant foregrounds, backgrounds, and highlights, effective filling of the frame, straight horizon lines, correct linear perspective of buildings, effective use of color (slides and prints) or tonal contrast (Black & White), effective cropping, cleanliness (slides) or neatness (prints).

A print’s mounting and matting supports the image’s message without attracting more attention than the image.


Impact: (1 point) The picture’s ability to attract and hold the viewer’s attention. Look for: Establishment of mood, strong emotional response evoked, sensory stimulation, fresh imaginative approach that lifts the work into the realm of art, subject matter made interesting by the photographer not merely by its own inherent quality.

Thoughts on Judging

Do not give a disproportionate number of high or low scores. In the TPS system the score of 6 is rarely given. If the maker thought enough of his/her photograph to enter it, for others to see, it should receive 7 points. For almost any collection of images the majority will fall in the middle of the group, receiving 8 or 9 points. A score of 10 indicates the image is outstanding not necessarily perfect.

TPS does not have a definition for artistic perfection. Clear your mind of subject matter prejudices, be a photo judge not a subject judge, Even if you have already seen a thousand sunsets, judge each image on its own merits. Learning objective judgment allows you to better appreciate the visual diversity of our world. Reward a creative approach, when it is effectively used and provides impact. A fresh look at a previously unnoticed subject, or looking at the familiar, from a new angle, deserves a higher score.

The difficulty of taking the picture should not change the rating. The image speaks for itself, no matter how hard or easy it is to capture. Resist initial “Impact”, a great photo should keep the viewer’s attention and needs more than flashiness or pretty scenery. Spend a few seconds before giving a final score. Good or bad emotions are emotions. Your task is not to judge the “happiness level” but how well the photographer succeeds in bringing those emotions to the viewer.

The presentation should not overpower the subject. A non distracting matt of, black, white or gray is usually preferable. Don’t get tied down to one theory on how good art should look( composition rules), or how the viewer should look at it ( analyzing eye movement). Photographic quality can be influenced by many different elements, all of which deserve consideration. If you don’t find any significant weaknesses in a work, give it full points.

Why do we judge? Club competitions become an incentive for improvement in Member’s images. Individuals can measure their progress each month at their own level. A respected opinion and constructive criticism will provide an evaluation of the entries and furnish information that will help the Member’s images improve, the next time a he/she picks up a camera.

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