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Competition Overview

The Gaithersburg Camera Club meets the fourth Monday of the month, September through May (except December), to hold digital and print competitions.  In addition, a year-end competition takes place as part of the annual awards banquet in June (the entries for this competition are judged prior to the banquet).

The competition meetings, which are held in Parker Hall at the Asbury Methodist Village, start at 7 PM and typically end about 10 PM give or take a half hour.   After a short business meeting, usually around 7:15, the judging starts.  There is a brief break for refreshments about half way through the judging, between the digital and print competitions.

Club competitions are designed to honor members for their photographic achievements and to provide members with feedback regarding their work and ideas for improvement.  Entered images will be judged in “novice,” “intermediate,” and “advanced” divisions, and classes of “digital projection” (projected digital files), “color prints”, and “monochrome prints.”  Competition points as well as ribbons are awarded to winning entries based on their placement (i.e., 1st, 2nd, etc.).

Typically members start out as a “novice” and progress through the divisions based on the accumulation of competition points in each class.  New members who are experienced photographers may declare themselves to be in the “intermediate” or “advanced” division as they feel appropriate by notifying the Awards Chairperson. The transition from one division to the next for a given class occurs when the member’s competition points accumulated in that class reach the threshold for the next division.  Once an individual has transitioned to the next division in two of the classes, he/she must compete in that division for the third class as well. Accumulated competition points are also used to determine eligibility for merit awards of various levels that are presented at the annual awards banquet.  For further details, see the Competition Rules.

Members may submit up to a total of four entries (six in the year-end competition) with no more than two in a given category.  Digital entries must be submitted via email by midnight of the Wednesday preceding the competition.  Print entries must be registered via the website by the same deadline.  (The entry procedures for the year-end competition may differ from these and will be announced in May.)  Print entries are to be placed on the appropriate table (per division/class) in the meeting room and the entry list (to be found on the table with the prints) initialed upon arrival at the meeting. 

Generally the images submitted must have been captured within 24 months of the competition month.  (Occasionally the Board will waive this time restriction, usually for only one month in the club year.)   Images eligible at any time throughout the club year are eligible for the year-end competition.

For further details regarding competition entry preparation and submittal requirements, see the Competition Rules, Digital Entry Requirements, and Print Entry Requirements.

Some club competitions have themes; other competitions are open to any entry that meets the time requirements of that competition.  In the case of a themed competition, the judge should remove any entry from competition that does not, in his/her opinion, conform to that theme.  See Current Year Themes for the specification of the theme or open status for each competition of the current club year.

The entries are generally judged by an individual from outside the club who is considered an expert in some aspect of photography.  Occasionally an experienced member of the club will serve as judge.  Entries are typically judged based on technical excellence, composition, and impact.

For each class/division, awards will be given such that the total number of awards equals one third of the total number of entries.  Normally this will include a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place along with a number of Honorable Mentions.  The Awards Chairperson or the Competition Coordinator will tell the judge before each competition how many total awards will be needed for that particular class/division.

Process for Judging Entries

  • Customarily the judge begins by taking a first look at each entry; going through all entries without comment to get a sense of the field.
  • Then the judge reviews the entries a second time with greater care.  During this pass the judge begins culling the field, stating whether the entry will remain "IN" the competition or be taken "OUT" (eliminated from further consideration).  As part of this process, the judge provides a brief critique of each entry, particularly regarding the reason for eliminating entries from competition.
  • Additional passes through the remaining entries are made until the field has been culled to match the number of awards available.
  • The judge will announce each place award generally beginning with Honorable Mentions, then Third, then Second, and finally the First Place Award.  After each award is announced the judge will pause to allow the competition coordinator to announce the maker’s name and to provide time for the maker to be recognized by the Club and his/her name to be recorded by the awards committee. When announced, the maker should stand or raise their hand to facilitate delivery of the award ribbon.
  • The competition is conducted anonymously.  Makers of individual entries are not to make themselves known or respond to questions about their work until awards have been determined.
  • During the print competitions, entries may occasionally be displayed in a way that appears upside down or sideways.  Competition rules dictate exactly how competitors are to indicate proper orientation of their entry.  In general, novice entries may be reoriented for correct viewing at the judge's discretion.  Intermediate and advanced entries are not typically given this leniency and should be judged based on the orientation indicated.  However, the judge is free to question those who display the photographs (not the maker of the image) to ensure that they are properly interpreting the "this side up" indicator.