Judging / Appraisal Training

Our Level 1 Appraisal Training is a practical and professional two-day workshop allowing prospective new judges to both understand theory and to practise in a safe environment. This workshop runs approximately once a year for eight to twelve participants.

The process is founded on the following principles:

  • Judging is a separate skill from photography – just as sports coaching is very different from playing – and needs specialist training
  • That most starting judges know about photography, but they are hindered by lack of skill and practice at public speaking and coaching
  • That starting judges should be trained and then undergo a period of supported practice with a mentor, rather than be assessed at outset and deemed competent (or not)
  • That judges’ should undertake continual development to understand the craft to deeper levels and to keep pace with changes in photography


This course is aimed at photographers who would like to become a judge on the club circuit.

This is not a course about what does or does not make a good photograph – we hope you already have a good feel for that. There is one primary objective:

To develop your ability to speak confidently and intelligently to an audience about photography, whilst giving feedback to photographers about their work.

Specifically, we will cover the following aims:

  • To understand the Core Qualities and Role of a photography appraiser ;
  • To develop and practice Appraisal Skills – giving feedback confidently and positively;
  • To develop and practice Presentation skills – especially speaking and body language;
  • To be aware of how you apply your Photographic Understanding;
  • To discuss and be aware of the challenges of Marking;
  • To be aware of your own Organisation and Approach;
  • To be aware of the judging accreditation process and expenses scheme;

The underlined phrases in the list of aims are the Competencies that together make up a full set of skills for the photography appraiser. These competencies are expanded into a detailed checklist which can be used by us as judges for self-evaluation, and by assessors and clubs to guide providing feedback.

The Core Qualities are paramount and, when fully grasped, allow a growth-promoting interaction between the appraiser and the person whose photograph is being appraised. They are nothing to do with photography; they are about giving feedback in the right way always.

The Core Qualities require that we a) respect the photographer always, b) that we are empathic and c) that we own our opinions.


There are no pre-requisites for attending the course. Training is open to anyone who is keen and willing.

It does not follow that good photographers make good appraisers. Although photography competence and knowledge are important, they are not the key factors in determining who will make a good appraiser; Judging is about personal skills.

However please think carefully about the following:

  1. You should be (or commit to become) a member of a SCPF club.
    Photography expertise exists, of course, in a much broader field than just camera clubs, but it is important to know the club scene and to have a good feel for and understanding of club competitions.
  2. Having photographic distinctions is not necessary, but you should be established in your own photography and confident in your knowledge to be able to speak before an audience.
  3. You should be able to make a reasonable commitment to go out judging after the course. Although there is no obligation to be listed, it is fair to say that judging is a totally separate skill from photography, and that we cannot improve with only two or three bookings per year.
  4. This is a practical workshop with active practice in a safe environment. If you are looking mainly to understand more about how judging works, we are able to arrange overview sessions for your club or for small groups who are interested.


The course provides a mix of learning though tutor-led presentation, discussion, small group practice and full practice with both prints and PDI in a variety of styles and genres.


The course is not formally assessed, in that there is no pass or fail. We believe that you will know after the two days whether it is for you or not. However, we will provide feedback, and if the tutor team believes that you are not ready then we will advise you accordingly.

More Information

Please read this in conjunction with our document Becoming a Judge with SCPF, which has a detailed FAQ.

Next Training

The next training in SCPF takes place on 25th November and 2nd December 2018.