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Becoming a photography club judge

StephT 12 29 United Kingdom
24 Mar 2013 10:40AM
Does anyone know how you go about becoming a photography club judge?

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LesJD 6 158 Wales
24 Mar 2013 10:58AM
Not sure how to answer this.I've been a club member for many years and most of the judges that I've been a victim of have letters after their name,FRPS EFIAP etc. but I don't think
you need them to become a judge . Grin
chase 12 1.1k 246 England
24 Mar 2013 11:05AM
You could try joining a local Camera Club for starters ( if you haven't already),they may be able to provide you with judging courses/tutorials that various bodies run from time to time ( mine does).
Paul_Anthony 6 442 4 Wales
24 Mar 2013 11:23AM
In Wales you become a Judge by registering with these guys as a judge The Welsh Photographic Federation

The closest thing I could find for England is these guys The Photographic Alliance of Great Britain

Dave_Canon 11 1.4k United Kingdom
24 Mar 2013 11:45AM
I can give you a partial answer. While I am not a regular judge myself, I did undertake the training a few years ago.

Most Clubs in the UK are affiliated to a regional Federation and the Federation in turn is affiliated to the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain (PAGB). The PAGB and Federations list judges who meet certain criteria and their names and contact details are published in the PAGB handbook annually. Club may choose judges from these lists for their competitions and will pay expenses which are set by the PAGB. This is where my knowledge becomes more hazy. Judges will initially go onto the "New judges list" and may get a few bookings because they are local or the Club is willing to take a chance. After a period of judging, you may wish to go up to the next level and Clubs (at which you have judged) will be contacted for a report. An experienced panel will assess the reports and determine when a judge is suitable to raise to a higher level. For my Club, we tend to choose judges from the top list for many of our competitions as the members expect a high standard though we have tried new judges from time to time. Surprisingly the training is not extensive and is mostly about common sense. If you are not already a good (experienced) photographer, you should not be considering judging. The main thrust of the training I received was about how to present to an audience (Face the front when you speak even if you have to turn your back to look at a print), always make some positive statements about each image, be more gentle on beginners and intermediate, limit criticisms to the key points (even if you see 8 things wrong just tell them about the most important 3), end with a final positive comment. There was also some guidance on how to treat some more specialist subjects.

Out of 11 judges we are using this season 10 are well qualified but one has no letters after his name. Generally, I think that most Clubs would expect judges to have some distinctions as these demonstrate some experience at national or international level. While this does not in itself make a good judge, members do like to have some confidence that the judge is experienced even if they do not agree with everything. Judging is not an exact science and very subjective but Clubs need an independent arbiter who is unbiased, experienced and entertaining.

scottishphototours 14 2.6k 2
24 Mar 2013 12:36PM
I judged for 15 years at Clubs all over Scotland with no letters after my name.

There is no prerequisite to have distinctions, some people are brought in on reputation alone...like Joe Brand judging the Countryfile competition...Blush
Dave_Collier 12 236 2 England
24 Mar 2013 12:56PM
Most Camera Club judges are affiliated to the PAGB through their local federation or club association, I know that the Chiltern Association of Camera Clubs run courses and seminars for those who want to be judges, but alas this did not stop them from being myopic boring individuals who felt the need to drone on an on about some fairly diabolical images of little or no merit, and say very little about some stunning work. If presented with work they had little knowledge of e.g. portraiture, it would often be marked down compared to other subjects.

I know being a judge is not an easy task, and quite often you will ruffle a few feathers and draw some flack from disgruntled individuals who feel that they have been slighted by the judges comments. That is why I gave up judging a long time ago.
keithh Plus
14 25.4k 33 Wallis And Futuna
24 Mar 2013 1:21PM
When you see and hear the comments regarding 'camera club judges', why anyone would want to be one I can't imagine.

I have never been a camera club member, but I have judged their competitions. I have never had my judgements questioned.....maybe a preceding reputation. Wink
scottishphototours 14 2.6k 2
24 Mar 2013 2:14PM
To the OP - go into this with your eyes open.

There is no way you will cover your costs for your time, though you may have your travel covered. I have had overnights stays, dinner, bed and breakfast paid for at one club and another local club (12 miles away) look at me in astonishment when I had to ASK for petrol to be covered.

I once had a President shake my hand as I was leaving and then he said "Thanks for coming but you'll never be back". Stunned, I asked why and he told me "This is X Club - nobody ever scores less than 12/20, so your scores of 10 and 11 mean you'll never be back". This was in a slide competition with 168 entries, giving me around 20 seconds to talk about each entry.

He was right too - I never did go back...
Nick_Hilton 13 575 2 United Kingdom
24 Mar 2013 2:38PM
As an active club member and judge I would like to ask the poster why they want to become a judge?
Is it to help and encourage others or think its an easy way to make money which its certainly not!
peterjones Plus
16 4.7k 1 United Kingdom
24 Mar 2013 4:14PM
The camera club photography judge is essential to a camera club calendar; almost universally clubs rightly or wrongly believe that one way of collectively improving members' photography is by encouraging them to enter the "sport" of photography; there are many arguments for and against photography competitions; I have my own views but I have no intention of debating that here and going off topic.

However I believe that such judges are vastly underpaid and under-appreciated for the work they carry out; I sincerely believe that camera club members are in no position to complain about the standard of camera club judges until they receive a fee and in addition expenses; one club I know meets weekly followed by a more social group a couple of days later, the favourite topic of members is judge critique ............ what a yawn!

It is also human nature not to appreciate anything that is given freely; the more we pay for something the more we appreciate it.

Why clubs will pay £££££s to get a good speaker and then balk at paying a judge defies logic except that the practise is inexorably and immovably ingrained in camera clubs' psyche; if you want good judges bl@@dy well pay them!


peanuts & monkeys
thewilliam 9 6.1k
24 Mar 2013 7:28PM
Judging, whether at a camera club or professional association is an exercise in diplomacy.

Ultimately, you can only please one person and even the photographers who come second and third will feel that the judge has let them down. Sometimes it's a struggle to find something good to say when we really want to ask whether the entrant actually delivers work of that standard to his/her customers. At the other extreme, choosing a winner can be tricky.

Even though I'm a trained judge/assessor with many years experience as an external examiner, I try to avoid it.
cathal 13 492 4 United Kingdom
25 Mar 2013 9:45AM
I've been a judge for a number of years now, and I think a lot of the comments on here are worthy.

How do you become a judge? The first thing is you need to want to become one. When I became a judge, about six years ago, a noticed was issued by the CACC (as mentioned by Dave Collier earlier) to all member clubs, calling for would be judges to attend a two day training course. So, your first requirement would be to be a member of an affiliated club to one of the federations. (Check out the PAGB website for information about your own area).

Once you've been selected for training, and done your course, you go on to the "new judges list", and wait to be called. Typically, you can expect to be considered a new judge for about two years. Note that just as you judge the entries in club competitions, the clubs also judge you, and report back to the federation about your performance. It's practice from here on!

So what do you need to be a good judge? You need to be confident in public speaking, quick thinking, outgoing, and have an eye for detail. You can use various techniques to sort through the pictures, but a good memory helps when sorting the good, the bad and the ugly. There is also a large element of diplomacy required. The picture you are judging may be a poorly executed interpretation of a tired cliché, but it may also be somebodies first ever entry in a competition, and savaging the picture could put them off for life. So there is a fair element of responsibility too.

What can I bring to the party? Well, judges are always required, so if you think you might enjoy it, then go for it. You don't need letters after your name (I have none) or any particular qualifications, but it is reasonable to expect that you should be a very experienced, and accomplished photographer.

It's more important what you don't bring... prejudice, ruddiness, arrogance and a narrow mind set can be left behind. While you don't need to be expert in all types of photography, you need to be able to appreciate all types. For example, if you hate monochrome street photography you would still be expected to be able to tell a good example from a bad example, and judge it equally against your own favourite subject.Some subjects are more challenging than others... portraiture, for example can be a minefield. You judge the picture, not the person whose portrait it is. Portraiture is always difficult as the picture loses a lot of context if you have no link with the subject. They may be another spotty kid to you, but it could be the entrants child or grandchild... think diplomacy! But you've got to mark it!

How much can expect to earn form this? Quite simply, nothing! You get expenses at PAGB rates, but the reality is this probably won't cover your costs. Your time, both travel to and from the venue, plus the hours doing the judging are all given freely. In saying that it is rewarding, and you do get a sense of "putting something back" ... but you won't get rich doing it!

Speakers at clubs get fees, but judges don't. Why is that? I can only suggest that it is to keep the system pure. I judge at several clubs, mostly as individual clubs, but occasionally there are inter-club competitions or regional events (such as the Rose Bowl) where clubs you may know will compete with each other. You wouldn't want a judge showing favour to a club who pays better, would you?
peterjones Plus
16 4.7k 1 United Kingdom
25 Mar 2013 2:23PM

Quote:You wouldn't want a judge showing favour to a club who pays better, would you?

If that was a valid concern I feel sure that it is not beyond the wit of the PAGB to standardise judges' rates. Whether a judge will remember or make a note of or compare club payments is a moot point however if such occurred his/her reputation would soon be known by the camera club fraternity.

brian1208 Plus
14 11.3k 12 United Kingdom
25 Mar 2013 2:35PM
This may be of interest to you, its the SAPA Competiton rules, including guidlines on how the judge will work and what to pay them.


As with many regional bodies SAPA have judge training workshops and have different grades of judge based on experience.

Its not a role I relish (mainly because my last 10 years at work involved a significant element of giving developement / training feedback to rather stroppy research staff and I had enough of it then! Tongue ) but several of my club buddies do it and get a lot of interest from it.

Good luck to you if you decide to give it a go

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