Inter-club Competition selection process and criteria

To The Winner Photo by John Milne

To The Winner

Photo by John Milne

Recently there has been much discussion in the Club concerning our participation in inter-club photographic competitions, and the process for selecting images for them. The Club Committee felt it would be useful to meet to discuss the Club’s position on competitions, and to agree some steps to ensure the transparency and consistency of the selection process.

The Committee agreed some general principles which you can read in this article.

The Committee also started work on a written Selection Process, and Selection Criteria. The results of that work are presented in this article. It is hoped the Selection Criteria will also assist members in critiquing their own and others’ photographs.

Selection Process
Selection Criteria

In summary, the meeting agreed:

You can read the detailed notes from Committee Meeting here.

  • Kelso CC (“we”) agrees to participate in competitions but will not be dominated by them.
  • We will select the best images possible using the agreed criteria (shared with all members) Annually a selection panel will be appointed by the committee made up of four members, three of whom are seen as “experienced” members of the Club. The panel will be delegated and empowered to use their skills and judgement to select the images that will represent the Club. The panel’s decision is final.
  • We will select images they believe will score the highest in inter-club competitions based on the agreed criteria (shared with all members). However, members should accept that image selection inevitably remains somewhat subjective, as is the judging process.
  • We will have an agreed selection process to be used by the panel which is transparent and shared with all members.
  • We will provide regular opportunities for members to receive 1- 1 private and confidential critiques of their images. This will be done in a variety of ways including at the end of some Club nights, over a coffee at a local café or an invite to a member’s home. There may be other ways of doing this – the committee are open to further suggestions.
  • In order to get through more photos on Club Critique nights three or four tables will be set up for smaller groups to discuss images put forward by members. All members will be able to participate and in turn become more experienced in the process.
  • As well as the above all members have the opportunity to enter images for the Club Annual Exhibition where at least one image will be selected up to a maximum of 5 (depending on the number of entries and the size of the exhibition space). If required the selection panel will be asked to support this process.
  • All members will receive, via email or the Club’s website, copies of the Criteria for Image Critique and the new Selection Process.

Following this meeting, further work has been carried out on both the Selection Process and the Criteria for Image Critique.

Summary of the Process for selecting images for inter-club photographic competitions

You can read the detailed selection process here.

  1. Each panel member chooses their candidate images from the Image Bank (not their own)
  2. Any images chosen by all 4 selectors go on the Short List
  3. Each panel member votes (Yes/No/Maybe) and comments on the Long List of remaining images (but not on their own)
  4. Long list is collated, scored (Yes=2, Maybe=1) and sorted in order of score
  5. Images on the Long List are added to the Short List in order of score until there are enough or more than enough on the Short List.
  6. The critical and only mandatory stage. The Panel is convened for the Final Selection Discussion held face to face to review the Short List and to resolve outstanding issues:
    1. Check that the selection complies with the maximum allowed images per person
    2. To decide between images with the same score if the Short List is too long
    3. Finally, to “sense check” the entire Short List to ensure the process has not obscured an obvious candidate image.
  7. The final selection is announced to the Club as a whole. Positive feedback is offered during that announcement highlighting the reasons why each image has been selected. Individual feedback will be on offer to all members on a one-to-one basis to discuss how their images fared in the selection.
  8. After each competition, feedback will be given to the Club as a whole on how the images were received, what comments the judge made and where possible to view some of the other clubs’ entries.

Summary of Selection Criteria

You can read the detailed Selection Criteria document here.

The purpose of critiquing photographs is to encourage and to support people in improving their photography. Some people find it helpful to use a standard set of criteria against which they can review images, either one at a time of in a group of images.

The criteria which follow can be used in a number of ways:

  • as a tool for self-critique
  • as a tool to inform one-to-one and group critique and discussion
  • by selectors who are tasked with choosing a set of pictures for inter-club competitions Hopefully, the criteria will encourage a consistent, well-informed and transparent approach to image selection.
  • by judges of club competitions

In the detailed document you will also find descriptions of each of the criteria including notes on the relative importance of each of the criteria which may assist in assessing your own and others’ photographs.

The headings used in the criteria are summarised here:


  • The image has a WOW factor.
  • The image tells a story or captures the ‘moment’.
  • The image has original and/or interesting content. The photographer has added value to the image.
  • The image captures action.


  • The image has a sense of balance.
  • The image exhibits strong compositional elements eg leading lines, natural framing, thirds.
  • The image has been taken using an interesting angle of view.
  • Picture elements are well organised eg horizon, horizontals and verticals are appropriate to the image.


  • The image has real impact.
  • The image evokes atmosphere.
  • The image triggers an emotional response.
  • The image show originality.
  • The image shows good use of light.
  • Conversion to Monochrome has been done skilfully and is appropriate for the image.
  • The image gives a sense of what the photographer was intending.


  • The image is needle sharp where it needs to be.
  • Colour balance is correct and colour quality is excellent.
  • The image has excellent dynamic range.
  • The chosen Depth of Field is appropriate and enhances the image.
  • An appropriate shutter speed has been used to good effect.
  • Post Processing has been applied appropriately.
  • The image is clean and well-presented with no noise, fringing or dust spots.