Feb 09, 2015

Open-minded Objectivity: Tips from Competition Judge Hilary Camilleri

Another NAPCP image competition is just about to close, and the judging to begin! I entered my first NAPCP competition 4 years ago this month. I, like so many of you, always found it difficult to choose which images to submit.

We must first recognize that we have an emotional attachment to our photographs because they are of people and places that we are connected to. The viewer does not have this point of reference. Being objective about my images was the first step in choosing what I submitted each time.

Being a regular entrant in this competition, I have learned many things along the way …

1. Images that get a lot of fanfare on social media don’t always score the best. Likes don’t always equal wins.


2. As you enter more competitions, you will learn to start separating yourself from your work, and thus become more objective toward your images.

DSC_0876 C copy 2

3. A strong image truly has elements of technical, compositional, and emotional impact.

Family 08 copy 4

4. Learn from feedback or a lower score.

Family 19 copy 3

5. Don’t assume a judge is only interested in work that looks like his/her own.

Graceblowfinal-2 copy

6. Trust your gut – even after you have crowd sourced some opinions!

It is important to remember that the judges are looking at hundreds of images. Your image must stand out! It’s that simple.

Being a judge for image contests in the past, I truly look for a combination of technical competence (proper exposure, use of light, composition) and IMPACT. What makes me stop on one image over another? Something interesting … it could be the light, the composition, the location, the angle, the expression of the subject.

Does that photo make me ask questions about the image’s story? Does that photo make me FEEL something? That, to me, is a characteristic of a strong image. People react inside their gut to great art.

Image competitions aren’t for everyone. It’s an individual choice for you to participate in them and have your work judged. Be open to the feedback and decisions. Quite often taking a step back and having an open mind will make you see how you can improve upon your work. And on the flip side, an image that scores well or places is to be celebrated!

Good luck to all of the NAPCP members!


See more of Hilary’s bold and bright work on her website, blog, and Facebook page.

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About the Contributor: My name is Hilary Camilleri and I deeply passionate about children and family photography! I am based out of Kitchener/ Waterloo, Ontario.


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