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News from the Director of Judging – Dec.2023

CAPA Criteria Refined To Emphasize Emotional, As Well As Technical and Organizational Considerations

Those of you who have recently entered a CAPA competition, or have been a judge in one, or have attended the judging course, will have noticed a refinement within CAPA’s judging criteria. While our judging criteria continues its attention to the “Emotional” [e.g., mood, creativity, impact, subject, imagination, wow], “Organizational” [e.g., distractions, space, composition], and “Technical” [e.g., colour, light, exposure, sharpness, technique] factors of an image, there has been an adjustment to accentuate the emotional and creativity aspects in the art and craft of photography.

For example, CAPA’s competition instructions now issued to entrants and judges direct their attention to the emotional, creativity, originality, and relevance to the competition theme aspects of an image. Entrants and judges are of late being instructed to note:

  • An Image’s title may be used by the judges in evaluating a submission, so entrants should take care in selecting a title that complements or contributes to the vision or message being presented in the image.
  • Judges will award their scoring primarily based on the ‘emotional’ components of the image. CAPA’s places the primary importance in judging an image with the available scores to recognize the “creativity and emotional impact”, with secondarily available scores for the ‘Technical’ and for ‘Organizational’ factors.
  • Technical and Organizational factors, such as exposure, sharpness, focus, space, and composition, will be taken into account solely to the degree they do or do not support or reinforce the creative vision and storytelling. Images will not be penalized in scoring for so-called technical rule infractions, such as focus, if that is immaterial to the creative vision and storytelling.
  • Likewise, judges will take into consideration in their evaluations the degree to which the entrant’s use of techniques such as colour, monochrome, duo and multi-tone, and infra-red, contributes to or supports the creative vision and the story telling value of the image.

Similarly, recent judging workshops have commenced stressing that so-called rules of composition, such as the “Rule of Thirds”, are solely ‘guidelines’ which, while having a consideration in determining an appropriate composition, are not absolutes. For example, there are numerous famous and successful paintings and photographs whose compositions do not obey the ‘Rule of Thirds’. A composition design should be evaluated solely on whether it reinforces the vision and the story meaning of the image, and not on whether it follows a so-called rule.

Over the next year CAPA members will see these refinements reflected in various documents, manuals, etc. as they become edited and reissued. Members are welcome to submit any questions or observations to Sheldon Boles, Director of CAPA Competitions, and/or myself.

Glenn Bloodworth, FCAPA
Director, CAPA Judging Program

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