If you ever want to learn what the pros look for in judging a photo, attend a PMPA (Portland Metropolitan Photographer's Association) competition. PMPA is the local branch of PPA, the Professional Photographers of America. I recently participated in the last quarterly competition of the year, which was open to the public this time, and two of my photographs "merited."
The judges use the 12 elements below as the “gold standard” to define a merit image. Once a print has "merited", it can be placed in the International Print Exhibit at Imaging USA, which is the annual convention.
Twelve elements have been defined as necessary for the success of an art piece or image. Any image, art piece, or photograph will reveal some measure of all twelve elements, while a visually superior example will reveal obvious consideration of each one.
The Twelve elements listed below are in accordance to their importance: Impact, Technical Excellence, Creativity, Style, Composition, Presentation, Color Balance, Center of Interest, Lighting, Subject Matter, Technique, and Story Telling.
Lights go down, windows are covered and usually three judges silently show the moderator the score they have given the photo (the photo is scored anonymously). Sometimes comments are made as to why a photo received the score that it did. This is a great learning experience! Every time I attend a competition, I learn so much. I have been lucky to merit at each competition, which is not an easy thing to do. I am humbled by the beautiful photos I see, and proud to be in the same class as these fine photographers. Above is a photo I took last month that merited in this recent competition. The photo is titled "Solitary Beauty."