International Judging and Scoring Systems in Photography – Part 17 – “Story Telling & Subject Matter”

PART 17 – On the subject of Story Telling and Subject Matter. The penultimate post in this series.

10. Story Telling & Subject Matter

This is definitely, after ‘Impact’ the most determining factor in the success or failure of a competition image. There is an old adage that “A picture is worth a thousand words” and although in many cases this can prove true, what happens in the case of a more passive subject? A landscape for example? In such cases a belief by the viewer that one could live within the image is a powerful emotional response. This is augmented by the ‘mood’ achieved by colour, tone, texture, depth and density.

An experienced Juror will be actively looking for clear narrative within the image. How accurate that story may be is down to personal perception as it is our nature to make up stories that suit us and our personalities. In essence, if an image has a meaning to a Juror, he or she will score it appropriately.

The subject of an image may not always be the choice of the artist. On a professionally commissioned image, the artist should demonstrate that they have made every effort to integrate the subject into an appropriate location with a mood of lighting to support the narrative. Not all images need to be manufactured for entry into image competitions and where it is clear that a properly commissioned portrait or wedding image for example has been submitted, due respect for the artist and their working conditions should be taken into account when scoring.


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