TCC Photo Competition Rules –   June 2019

Digital and print photo competitions may be held at Tidewater Camera Club (TCC) meetings throughout the club calendar year. Digital competitions are held at the business meeting, which takes place on the third Monday of each month. Photo of the Year competitions for print and digital formats are held during May and the winners announced during the annual dinner meeting in June.

A member may display one or more prints at club competition meetings for evaluation, critique and comment on the print quality only. A digital image may be submitted for the competition and also be displayed in print form so as to benefit from the print quality discussion.  Prints need not be subject to the theme requirement and are reviewed to provide opportunity for print quality education. In keeping with the goal of evaluating print quality, photo size can be no smaller than 8×10 and the print should be matted, not framed. Members who wish to submit print(s) for discussion are strongly encouraged to contact the Chief Judge in advance of the meeting.

Digital Competition Themes

Each digital competition has a theme, including “open” (all subject matter). The theme shall be reflected in the main subject of the entry. Entries that are not consistent with the theme can be disqualified by the Chief Judge prior to submitting them to the Competition Judge. In addition, the Competition Judge will be instructed to deduct points in the impact category for images that the Competition Judge deems as inconsistent with the theme.

All competitions have a time limit unless “no time limit” is specified. The time limit requires that the photo must have been taken within the approved time limit which will be published with the next year themes at the June dinner meeting. The AC will be empowered to adjust the time limit for the next club year by majority vote.  Entries that are not consistent with the time limit will be disqualified.  Every effort will be made to allow members to replace disqualified entries before the submission deadline.


Only TCC members who have paid dues for the current club year are eligible to enter the club’s photo competitions. In the case of both returning and new members, dues must be paid by the day of the competition to insure eligibility.

All images must be the personal and original body of work of the member, but members need not be present at the meetings to enter the competitions. A winning entry later can be disqualified by a majority vote of the Competition Team, should it be discovered that the member was not in good standing at the time of the competition, or that a member submitted a photo that violates the “personal and original body of work” rule.

Manipulation of images is permitted, whether performed in the camera, during film processing, during darkroom printing, or on the computer. Panoramic images and collages also are acceptable. Whether digitally manipulated or combined, all elements within the photograph must be from the photographer’s personal and original body of work, and must meet all time limit restrictions.

Members may enter a total of 2 images per month in the digital format. Original images available only in other formats (prints, slides, etc.) that are scanned into a digital image are eligible for entry. The same photo may not be entered in more than one competition, with the exception of those eligible for the Digital Photo of the Year competitions. The judge may disqualify or assign lower points to similar images submitted by the same member. Ideally, entries should not differ merely by crop or viewpoint.

Skill Sections

There are three skill sections in each digital competition: “A”, “B” and “C.” The “C” Section is intended for members who are new to the art and practice of photography, or who have not yet developed their photographic abilities. The “A” Section is intended for members who have attained advanced photographic knowledge and ability. The “B” Section is for intermediate photographers who fall in between and whose skills go beyond basic, entry or rudimentary levels. A Youth Section may be added, if needed, for TCC members under the age of 18.

Each member selects a section when s/he first joins the TCC. Changes from one section to another are made only at the beginning of the year (effective for the September meeting), and members must remain in the selected/assigned section throughout the club year. The Membership Coordinator shall keep a list of members and their respective sections.

After the initial selection, a member will advance to the next section if her/his accumulated score over the club year is in the top 10 percent of the accumulated scores of all the members in her/his current skill section.


Entry Requirements

Digital submissions are sized to a maximum of 1024 pixels wide and 683 pixels high, and saved in the jpeg (.jpg) format with a file size no larger than 350k. Therefore, whether submitting a portrait or a landscape image, the image must be sized so that the maximum width is no more than 1024 pixels and the height is no more than 683 pixels. Intermediate sizes are acceptable as long as the image is no more than 1024 pixels wide and no more than 683 pixels high.

Image files should be named as follows:

Image Title (with each word separated by a underscore) Member ID Number (underscore) Section (dot) jpg

For Example: wye_oak_123_b.jpg

This nomenclature facilitates sorting images by title so that those of one photographer do not appear together during the judging, and is necessary so that the compilers do not have to retype each file name. All entries must have distinct titles. Please avoid using similar titles such as dog 1 and dog 2.  The name must consist of only lower case letters, numerals, underscores and the “.jpg” filename extension.  The name should not begin with a numeral (0-9). Any other characters (upper case letters, symbols like ?, !, -, &, and so on) can cause serious problems when putting together the slideshow and spreadsheet for the judge.

Digital photos must be submitted by 11:45 PM WEDNESDAY after the Speaker Meeting date. Digital images should be sent to the club using the link in the TCC newsletter or sent through your email provider to the club via the e-mail address. Photos are required to be submitted as attachments to the email. Digital photos not submitted via the TCC e-mail address by the deadline may be disqualified by the Chief Judge. Entries with incomplete or incorrect files names, or those saved in inappropriate sizes, will be forwarded to the member for correction if time permits. Items returned to the TCC with corrected file names must also meet the submission deadline.  No changes will be permitted after the competition materials have been provided to the judge for that competition.

Members without Internet access must provide their submissions to an officer by the deadline, who will register the digital image for them, or they may mail the image on a CD or DVD directly to the Compiler. These submissions are also subject to the deadline.

The Compiler/Score Tabulator will send periodic reminders to the membership advising of upcoming competition deadlines.


The TCC adopts the “Judging Guidelines for Members” as a guide for the evaluation of photographs entered in its competitions.

In order to judge each competition, the Competition Team will recruit a non-club photographer or artist, a graduate of the Maryland Photography Alliance’s Judge Certification Program, a professional photographer, or a panel of TCC members with appropriate experience.


Images are rated on a 15 point scale by the judge, with a maximum of 5 in each of the three main factors: Composition; Technical Merit; Impact of the photo. Scoring guidance for the composition and technical merit categories is:

  1. Suffers, in your opinion, from serious flaws that severely damage its overall appeal
  2. Has moderate flaws that reduce its potential appeal, to you, average
  3. Good: only minor flaws that if eliminated, would improve the image’s overall impact
  4. Fine: very minor flaws that minimally affect the impact of the image
  5. Excellent: no flaws that detract from the image at all.

We have not provided any guidance for the “Impact” category since that is a more personal and subjective area.

Images are reviewed in one group and then ranked within their section. The ratings and comments of the judge will be shared with the membership.

Digital images are displayed on a projection screen or computer monitor in an order determined by the Compiler, and will be judged prior to the competition meeting to allow more time for discussion. A tabulation sheet is prepared corresponding to the order of the images and used to document the scores. No identifying data is displayed during the competition.

The Score Tabulators shall carefully check the sum of the judge’s scores. They will use a computer based system to tabulate the scores and announce the winners and their scores at the end of each competition. Places of 1st, 2nd and 3rd are awarded, and ties are permitted. Winners will be announced by name.  The Judge may be asked to select the top 3 images from those entered, and those images will be announced to the members.

The club places high value on education. Images will be discussed after each competition. The discussion will include time for the photographer to comment on his/her own image(s).

Photos of the Year

Each club year, two photos are selected as Photos of the Year (POTY), one from the digital group and one print.

Digital Photo of the Year

Members may submit their choice of any 2 images previously entered into monthly competitions that club year. The deadline for these entries will be announced to the membership after the April competition. Digital entries are submitted in accordance with the “Entry Requirements Section” above, except that the images, which are already on file with the compiler, need not be attached.

Print Photo of the Year

A Print of the Year will be selected from member prints displayed at TCC exhibits. Each displaying member may select up to two (2) qualifying prints for Print of the Year consideration. Eligible prints must have been on display in any club sponsored exhibit during the current club year and not previously submitted for the print or digital POTY. Prints entered must be the same size as displayed at the TCC exhibit and must be framed and wired for hanging. If a print sells during an exhibit, an identical copy may be entered in the print POTY.

POTY print submissions must be registered by 11:45 PM on a date determined by the Competition Team. Prints should be registered by submitting the print titles to the club via the e-mail address.

For each entry, members will provide their name, Member ID number, image title and section (“A”, “B”, or “C”) in the body of the e-mail. All entries must have distinct titles. Titles must also be identical to those used to register for an exhibit, since qualifying images must be listed in the exhibit database. The Compiler/Score Tabulator will disqualify prints not properly or incorrectly registered by the deadline.

Attach a “Print Registration” label to the back of your print(s). Any label can be used but must include member name, ID number, section and image title. A label template will be available for download on the TCC website in the “members only” section. Remember to include all of the required information on the label. Names that appear on the print or mat will be temporarily covered during the judging process.

The Competition Team shall arrange for one to three judges for these annual competitions. Every effort shall be made to obtain the services of qualified outside judges, including artists or professional photographers of merit. Prints and digital entries shall be judged separately. First, second and third place winners, and an appropriate number of honorable mentions, shall be selected for each competition.


Gift certificates, checks, or photography-related items may be used as awards for the Photo of the Year competitions. First place, second place, third place, honorable mention, People’s Choice, and high point ribbons may also be given. Other types of awards may be given at the discretion of the Advisory Committee. These awards are usually presented at the annual dinner meeting in June. In memory of Frederick A. Curtis, the club may also give an award to a 1st year member who has shown the most progress in photography or has made significant service contributions to the club. A President’s Award to a member for distinguished service during the year may also be given. Nominations for this award will come from the membership, but the President will select the winner.

At the discretion of the Advisory Committee, other competitions may be conducted and awards given for photographic excellence.

Revising the Rules

These rules will become effective on the day they are approved by the membership and may be revised in accordance with the “Bylaws.”

Prepared 21 December 2007

Approved by the Advisory Committee and the membership on 7 January 2008

Revised and approved by the Advisory Committee on 22 August 2008

Revised and approved by the Advisory Committee – June 2009

Revised and approved by the Advisory Committee – July 2009

Revised and approved by the Advisory Committee – July 2010

Revised and approved by the Advisory Committee – July 5, 2011

Revised and approved by the Advisory Committee – January 18, 2016

Revised and approved by the Advisory Committee – May 1, 2019