We go through every single entry during each of our judged photo challenges and save each person’s photo to our computers (photos are then deleted after the winners photos are picked by the judge). We use these photos to send out the very best of the best to the Guest Photographer Judge for them to choose their favorites from.
Each challenge, there are a different amount of top entries. Any photo that we feel could possibly be a winner is given to our guest judge.
When we are choosing the top photos to send to our judge, we look at several things:
1) Did the photo follow our theme?
2) Is a person clearly showing in the photo?
3) What was the quality of the photo as compared to the other entries?
4) Did the guest judge send us an email including photos that they were really drawn to already?
5) Did the blog post have our button in it?
6) Did the blog post have only one photo in it?
7) Did the participant link to a post that allows for comments?
If we have 500 photos that were fantastic captures of the theme, they are then narrowed down to the ones that best followed the theme and were higher quality photos because…this is a photography contest. We always make sure that there is a good mixture of amateur and professional photos in the final mix. The judge usually ends up viewing between 175-300 photos depending on how many entered the photo challenge.
These photos are then all sent to the guest judge who is given free reign to choose the photos that he/she feels best portrays the photo challenge theme. Photography is such a completely subjective form of art that we’ve found that many times the top photos that our judge picks, aren’t the same photos that we would have picked. It’s fun to see what speaks to each different person.
We ask the judge to send us back their Top 15 picks in each category. This is because we have found that some people don’t follow our guidelines and so they are ineligible to win the contest. We then begin writing the Winners posts and checking through to make sure all of the Top Ten were eligible to win.
Honestly, we have no idea how the judge can eventually narrow down the entries to only the Top Ten. There are so many good photos during every photo challenge that we can’t even imagine trying to do their job. It really comes down to what appeals to the guest judge visually (and every judge has a different look that appeals to them) and it is a very subjective determination of who is the “winner” according to that judge.
Best wishes as you join in the fun and continue to grow in your personal photography journey!