Judging the SM Photographic Competition 2021
Regarding Procedures for Selecting Judges
In SM i Fotografi we select Judges for their skills in evaluating images of diverse styles and qualities - and not least appreciating quality comes in many forms and styles. Judges hopefully have a style of their own, but they must be able to appreciate and evaluate other styles to be good openminded judges.
In SM i Fotografi we try to establish a panel of judges with a wide variety of photographic backgrounds and with an international touch. Most judges will normally be from outside Sweden, but it is also important to have Swedish judges with a background in the Swedish World of Photography. This all to make a balanced panel of judges – in order to establish the fairest judging for all styles and photographers.
In SM i Fotografi we try to find judges with both an open mind to ways of doing photography and willing to listen to input from others, but also strong personalities who can stand by their views. This gives the best and most fair judging.
In SM i Fotografi we try to find mainly experienced judges with an established reputation for high standards in judging. We may also include a single or two less experienced judges to help build the pool of experienced judges.
By using mostly international judges we minimize the chance that a judge knows a specific Swedish Photographers images in the competition – but should that situation arise, the judge is trusted to excuse him/her self from judging that specific image – possibly after consulting the Head Judge, who will establish if the knowledge is “friendly” (and then “do not score”) or “seen the image f ex “in another competition” (so maybe OK to score).
Judges can NOT participate in any part of the competition as photographers.
Regarding the Judging process
In the 2020 edition of the digital judging we had ONE Swedish Judge. In the PRINT round we had in 2020, due to travel restrictions, we had selected 4 International and 4 Swedish judges. A judging panel is normally of 5 judges plus possibly one alternation/spare judge.
Judges normally rotate during the judging – but are always on standby in the case one or more judge(s) have to excuse themself regarding a specific image. Chance is that more often a Swedish judge in Sweden need to excuse them self – therefore we have extra spare judges. In a case with not enough judges – the Head Judge can step in, but in general the Head Judge is leading the judging without judging him-/herself.
The Head Judges role is to lead the judges in order to oversee that all goes on fair, openminded and in accordance with the rules. The Head Judge will also, on behalf the judges, look into questions a specific image follows the rules. Here the Head Judge may request to get the RAW-files/material of a specific images – if there is a question regarding the images. The Head Judge may also ask questions to the photographers participating. The result of those questions will then be relayed to person(s) asking of all judges depending on question.
The Head Judge will examine ALL scores by Judges – to ensure fairness and consistency in the judging by all individual judges. Should there be an irregularity in the Judging, the Head Judge will investigate and possibly ask the judge to reconsider a score. The Head Judge can NOT instruct a judge to make any specific score – and no-one but the individual judge van change a score. All scores are locked after the judging is done – and rank in the judging is calculated for diplomas, medals etc
Judges scores individually – and has no possible way in the software to see who the photographers are. During the mandatory brief of judges, they are incurred to keep Category Descriptions, Scoring Scale and rules at hand at all times – as a fresh reference for this specific competition. Competitions are all slightly different, so it is important they are always clear on that information.
Head Judge will examine scores for consistency by the individual judge – and study the “deviation” of scores. That is to see if the judges are “on the same road” – and if not, to look for and understand why. A standard for “accepted deviation” internationally is 10 points. That means scores where judges are within 10 point of the average of all scores – will be considered “normal” deviation. Scores where one or more judges are more than 10 points away from the average is flagged and examined. Questions can be many, bit firstly would be “is this within the normal scoring pattern of that judge” or is there any other good reason for that score. This could be that photographers with different backgrounds, f ex a reportage, social photographers, commercial photographers or from the Fine Art Museum world see and experience photography and quality different, which is NOT mistakes but rather the very good reasons they were selected as judges. Should it not be any of the good reasons…. The Head Judge should investigate the issue and react accordingly
Judges here also score individually – and are NOT informed of who photographer are. A mandatory pre-judging brief will include same as for the digital round plus procedures during the print judging. The Head Judge will re-cap category descriptions before each and all categories.
Not all images will be debated, but if they are a 2nd scoring will take place in order to take the debate into account. The last score stands
Images will be debated – if they receive a “Challenge”, which can come in 3 ways. 1. A judge may after the first scoring “request” a debate of the image. 2. The Head Judge may request a debate of the image. 3. An “automatic” challenge comes if one or more judges scores 10 points away from the average of all scores. After the 2nd scoring the result stans even if there is still a deviation of more than 10 points
This part of the judging is public – and will this year be streamed, but has earlier be with the public being in the room
After the public judging the judges meet in private to select the medal images.
Judges can off course congratulate any and all participating photographers, but as mentioned before should excuse them self from judging any image where they cannot judge fairly due to knowing the photographer on a friendly basis.
Judges can also, if they like, provide constructive feedback on images – as is scheduled online after the print-round of judging. Judges should do this in scheduled events – or directly to a photographer asking.
A competition is about doing as well as you can – but actually also about learning from what you and others do.
All in all
All in all, this is a type of judging I have had the pleasure and honour to participate in for decades as a judge – but I have also been Head Judge is many competitions on national, European and Worldwide level. During this I have seen the system work well, both in the case of “all goes fine” – but also for handling the situation if some in a very rare case does not. Improvements can and should always be made based on experience and good new ideas – but the main part is that the “System” is built to also take care of the rare case something goes wrong – that being by a participating photographer or judge.
Hope this makes the process of the competition clearer.
Regarding printing and judging
For clarification regarding printing for competitions, I strongly suggest that a participating photographer always make the best choice for printing of the work they have - also if this means the print is made by a judge.
The competition will then make sure a possible substitute judge can score the image. It is natural and according to the rules that a judge cannot score an image they have mentored, where they know the photographer of the image or otherwise feel they are possibly biased.
So again - I would strongly suggest all participants to choose the best way of printing for them, as this maximize a participants chances in the competition.
SM i Fotografi 2021