Monday, May 15, 2006

WPPI Photography Judging

This post is about how images are judged at WPPI (Wedding Portrait Photographers International).
People want to know how judging is done and how transparent the process is to provide a credible score and award.

Prior to the beginning of the WPPI convention two days are allocated for judging of 16x20 prints and wedding albums. Prints are displayed against a neutral background with consistent lighting that's balanced for both color and intensity. Albums entries are projected with a digital video projector from jpeg files provided by the entrant.

Each catagory of judging has a panel of 5 judges with a moderator. Each image is displayed on a turnstyle by a judging assistant and scored by the judges via a computer keyboard system. Another judging assistant can lock in the scores once all of the judges have entered their scores. Any judge can challange the result and than discussion begins with the low and high scoring judges stating their case for why they feel their score is appropriate. If there is a descrepency in judging of more than 10 points between high and low than there is an automatic challenge and rescore.

Each judge may recuse themselves when they see a possible conflict because of input they've had on the image creation or for other reasons. A backup judge than takes their place for that particular image scoring.
Scoring can be tedious and for that reason, one judge rotates out about every 20-30 minutes.

About the Judges:

Each judge is selected by the WPPI leadership with input from the moderators and other experienced judges.
They have a proven track record of not only producing winning images, but also an ability to look at the work of other photographers and photographic styles and judge it for impact, professional printing, color balance, etc.

Judging is of course subjective by nature and influenced by HOT styles and techniques that change over time, but I think there is a remarkable repeatablity of scoring for prints. As one would expect the most extrodinary images will create the most variablity on initial examination in particular images that push the judges comfort zone.

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