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A Guide for Judging

By Gerhard H. Bakker M.Photog.Crl., Hon.MPhotog. A.P.S.A.F.I.I.F; copyright 1970 Judging any art show, whether photography, painting, sculpture or graphics, is very difficult, especially for a judge who is serious and conscientious. A good judge must first be qualified by knowledge and understanding. He must try to be as objective as possible so that his judgments are based on what he knows and feels rather than only on what he likes. One cannot like everything, no matter how good it may be. The judge or judges should look at each persons work with respectful consideration.

Judging a Work of Art


1. Total, IMMDIATE IMPACT. Does it move me? There should be an emotional rather than intellectual reaction. 2. Is it well done? It should be technically satisfactory. 3. Is there a balance between the subject matter and technique? Neither should overpower the other. The technique should be adequate to the subject matter, and no more. A virtuoso technique that uses the subject matter as an excuse for a brilliant display of skill results in superficial that fools at first but has no lasting impact. Technique can be distinctive, and highly personal, but it must be used say something. It must never become a mannerism. 4. Does it have style? It should have an individuality that makes it distinguishable as the work of one certain person. 5. Does it say something? It should have meaning. If it is a portrait it should express the character and quality of the sitter as well as his physical appearance. True also of landscapes, still life and abstractions. 6. Is it well composed and well designed? Good composition is not an accident. It must be planned or it must be intuitive but without it the picture cannot be fully successful. Art implies manipulation by the artist. Successful accidents are planned accidents. 7. Is it interesting? After the first big impact of the work, the picture should provide a variety of minor impacts. 8. Does it stand out from the rest? A prize winner should have more individuality and creativity than its competitors. Sometimes the choices are very difficult. 9. Does it carry? It should have power. 10. Is the first impression lasting? If the first impression is a fleeting one, the impact is through novelty rather than solid quality.