Editorial on JCC’s Print Competition Rules

I sent the following information in an email to the membership on October 10, 2022. It was suggested I put it into a Blog post as well. The following is what I sent:

If you plan to submit prints for JCC’s Print Contests, then this is for you. I know it’s long but it is worth the read.
I wanted to reiterate and amplify some of the rules as stated on the JCC website.

  1. Read these rules and become familiar with them. https://jax.jaxcameraclub.com/jcc-print-contest/
  2. Also read these guidelines that pertain to all of JCC’s contests: https://jax.jaxcameraclub.com/contest-info/#all-contest
    1. The biggest takeaway here is that all submissions should be the result of the creative effort of the maker but that the judge of that can only be the maker himself/herself. Almost everything can exist in a gray area and I’m certain most of us could invent hypothetical (or real) scenarios for exploration if only time allowed.
    2. Here’s an example. I recently attended a workshop in which participants were able to photograph models in a studio setting. I had no control over the placement of the lights but I was able to control the power to a limited extent. I, personally, would say that the creative result was not really mine and I wouldn’t be comfortable submitting any one of those portraits.
  3. The maker is responsible for complying with the rules. If a potentially non-compliant print comes in, I’ll question the maker in obvious cases, however, I’m very unlikely to catch everything.
  4. Highlighting a few of the general rules:
    1. Sizing: Prints must be at least 80 square inches but no larger than 16” x 20”. The reason for the maximum size is because that’s the largest size our shipping container reasonably holds.
    2. Construction: Mounting boards are required. Mats are not.
    3. Labels: Use the approved label (from the website) and affix it to the rear of the mounting board at the upper left. I plan to update (simplify!) the label after 2022 T3 so that the maker’s name is not included. I spend an inordinate amount of time (and masking tape) obscuring maker’s names and I intend to rectify that.
    4. Digital uploads: Please make sure the title on the label exactly matches the title that is digitally submitted. In the future after the label change, this will be the only link I have between the print and the maker. I’ll also be working to clarify the naming convention you should use when submitting your digital versions, so be looking for that. Also, please make sure your digital upload exactly matches your print including the image itself as well as the crop/aspect ratio.
  5. Regarding Print Categories:
    1. General – If you’re in doubt about whether your print qualifies under People or Nature, please consider the conservative approach and submit it under General.
    2. People – The examples given on the rules page are pretty solid. If the subject is one or more people, then it qualifies. If the subject is a horse race that just happens to have riders driving their steeds, then it probably doesn’t. I would also tend to say that photos of parts of the body in isolation (other than the head/face) would not qualify.
    3. Nature – As the rules imply, this is the most complicated category and most difficult to “police”. Please take the time to read the link to the (lengthy) PSA rules for Nature Photos at https://cdn.ymaws.com/psa-photo.site-ym.com/resource/resmgr/pdf/divisions/nd/nd-judges-guide.pdf (it is also linked to from the JCC rules page.) Here are some excerpts where I think we could do better in submitting for the Nature category:
      1. “Nature images must convey the truth of the scene that was photographed.” To me, this means highly abstract images ought to be submitted to another category.
      2. “The image must look natural”. Consider whether the amount of sharpening and saturation added in post went over the top.
      3. “Objects created by humans, and evidence of human activity, are allowed in Nature images only when they are part of the Nature story.” (Emphasis is mine, but I would tend to say that showing the “hand of man” in our competition prints rarely ends up being part of the story).
      4. “Photographs of human-created hybrid plants, cultivated plants, feral animals, domesticated animals…are not allowed.” This is a tough one. I’m not a botanist or zoologist, so the maker has to be.
      5. “…no technique that removes, adds or moves any part of the image is allowed.” (though removing dust spots is ok). Sure, it’d be easy to get away with, but why?
      6. Complete B&W conversion is allowed, toning is not.

I appreciate your patience in reading through this. These competitions only work when we’re doing our best to apply the same criteria to all images. I thank you for your time.

Tim Davis
JCC Print Chair


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