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How Do YOU Decide Which Photo Is Best?

As overseer of the BPG Photo of the Month contest this year, I often watch you guys vote and wonder how you go about picking the winner of a category. What decides it for you…other than it’s your own image and you intend to vote for yourself? (That’s a joke, folks, though I have not been above doing that myself.)

Seriously, what makes a winner? Since voting means passing judgement on the work of our fellow members, it seems to me that some level of care ought to be exercised. For whatever they might be worth, I pass on some important things to consider when, every month, we stand in front of a display board with a blank ballot and a pen in our hands.

  1. Pay attention to the category; if there are any images that don’t fit, rule them out.
  2. Which image is most compelling because it has a clear subject that you can identify that tells a story or in some way strongly grabs your attention? (Often, it is difficult to tell exactly what the photographer had in mind when they pressed the shutter button.) Does composition place the subject where it ought to be in the frame.
  3. So you pick out an image you think would make the cut; don’t vote until you get a little technical. First, is it properly exposed? Is the subject appropriately sharpened? If color, is there oversaturation? Look at the background; does it distract the eye? Has the photographer policed the edges of the frame?
  4. Then…AND ONLY THEN…write the number of your choice on that little slip of paper and drop it in the box.
  5. Above all, remember that this process of voting on images is totally subjective. Just because your choice or you image did not win does not mean that it isn’t a good image; another one just got more votes.

Be aware that there is a space and a time limitation that work against the judging process. Our display space for a category is only 8 feet wide; when you have 80 or so people voting, the result is a solid crowd of people in front of the face of the board that may make seeing the images challenging. There also is a time limitation with 10 minutes allowed to leave seating, vote, and return to seating. (Maybe more of you visit the displays earlier and start your decision-making process?)

Beyond this, it would make my day if more of you would participate in the contest by entering. The Photo of the Month Contest has always been meant to be a challenge that makes better photographers. Take part in it.