An analysis of the free-comment data provided in clubs’ feedback to September 2018.

SCPF Judging Feedback Analysis 2018

SCPF Judging Seminar for Clubs

Date: 3rd February 2019
Venue: Littleton Memorial Hall
Time: 10am – 5pm (arrival from 9:30)

SCPF would like to invite up to two people from your club to a Judging Seminar on 3rd February 2019. It is aimed at club Chairpersons and Competition Secretaries in particular, but anyone interested may attend.

As you may know, SCPF provides training for the photography judges who visit clubs in our region for competitions. Judging, along with competition itself, is probably the most talked about topic in the clubs. Whilst we have invested a lot of time and energy, for training purposes, in understanding what clubs and photographers like or don’t like when it comes to appraising images, there is always room for dialogue.

So this seminar has several purposes:

  • To enable us to share, with examples, the methodology we use in training
  • To enable us to hear from you what you feel the issues are around judging and competition
  • To enable you as photographers to understand how judging works

Hopefully this will engender a greater appreciation and understanding all round of what judging is about. The day will consist of discussion, presentation and some practical exercises using images. There will also be the opportunity, for those who wish, to try it in a safe environment.

There will be no charge, and refreshments will be provided, but we would ask that you bring your own lunches.

Please would you indicate your interest and names of interested attendees to the Judging Advisor – by December 31st, and we will then issue full joining instructions.

With best regards

… Ken Scott
Judging Advisor

SCPF Level 1 Judging Training 2018


AMENDED 6th September 2018 – this course is now fully subscribed. If you would like to be added to the reserve list and first on the waiting for future workshops, please contact me with the booking forms as requested below. If there is demand, we will consider running another course sooner.


Would you like to become an SCPF judge?

Competition is still a mainstay of club programmes, and it is vitally important that we maintain a good throughput of new judges to be able to support clubs in our region. Our next training event is a two-day workshop taking place on consecutive Sundays 25th November and 2nd December 2018 at Littleton. This is the first step to becoming accredited. The course will be led by experienced judges who are all SCPF Level 3 or PAGB listed.

This is a practical and professional two-day workshop allowing prospective new judges to both understand theory and to practise in a safe environment.


The 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.


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.
  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. Although not obligatory, you should have the intention to go out judging after the course. It is not possible to improve without regular practice.
  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.


There are nine places available. Please return this booking form by email by 31st October latest.

Judging Workshop Booking Form (.docx)

Judging Workshop Booking Form (.pdf)

With your booking form, please include three PDI examples of your work, sized for projection as you would normally at your club. This is to give us as tutors an idea of where you are photographically before the coursework begins.

In view of the limited places available, it is advisable to book early. We will confirm your place as soon as possible after reviewing your application.

Best regards

… Ken Scott ARPS
Judging Advisor, SCPF

The SCPF Judges’ Conference will be held on Sunday 2nd September at Overton Community Centre, 5 High St, Overton, Basingstoke RG25 3HB

Time: 9:30 – 4:30pm but subject to final confirmation

This event is intended for the sharing of judging experiences and practice for all judges in the SCPF. Please would judges indicate your attendance or not by replying to the invitation email by 22nd August. This is important as we don’t have quite the capacity at Overton as we do at other venues. Some of you have already confirmed, so I will take those as read unless I hear from you to the contrary.

We believe that investing in our continuing development is vital, and we look forward to a stimulating day.

Refreshments will be served through the day but please come with your own packed lunch.

Please also bring with you 3-4 prints (which you do not mind having shared around) for discussion during the day – see below for the types we are looking for. We may not use all or any.

We will also need a couple of print easels. If any of you is able to bring one from your club, please let me know.

Outline Timetable

09:30 – Arrival Refreshments and Networking

10:00 – Morning introduction and Keynote
Intro to the day / Presentation
– Feedback on Feedback
– Introduction to Issues

11:00 – Refreshments

11:15 – Discussion Groups
See over.

12:15 – Plenary Feedback
Feedback from the discussion groups

1:00 – Lunch

1:30 – Responding to images
Plenary practice:
1. What can we learn from Old Masters and Commercial photography?
2. The 8.5 Problem

3:00 – Refreshments

3:30 – Q&A panel
General discussion

4:30 – Close

Discussion Topics

The following topics have come up recently in communication with you and within our Judging team.

  • Marking, incoherence and the 8/8.5 problem;
    The common issue where there is nothing wrong with an image (technically) so it gets talked up and then faults are sought so as to justify a middling mark;
  • Comparing genres;
    e.g. landscape vs nature vs street vs… ;
  • Workshop Images;
    Images produced in workshops: i.e. under highly controlled or tutored conditions in the field or in clubs. How do we respond to these? What are clubs’ attitudes?
  • Value or Difficulty;
    How should we consider the value or interest of an image (e.g. for nature an image in the wild versus captive, or rare versus common), or the inherent beauty of the subject – an image of something marvellous versus a marvellous image of something ordinary.
  • Holdbacks;
    Inconsistent approach to holdbacks, especially with PDI.
    Should we have a consistent approach? What approaches are there? What benefits does holding back bring?

Please think about these topics in advance. On the morning, we will probably ask you to complete a vote for the most popular / important topics, so that we can allocate the time accordingly.

If you have any burning issues you would like to see covered, please let me know with your return confirmation.

Images Required:

To allow us to discuss these topics, we will need a variety of prints on these subjects:

  • Landscape
  • Pictorial Nature
  • Record Nature
  • Street
  • Contemporary / Abstract
  • Digital Art

Also, any images which fall into one of these criteria and has been misunderstood, or marked on several occasions with wide variance.

Looking forward to a stimulating and interesting day.

… Ken Scott
Judging Advisor

Gordon Brown LRPS, Winchester Photographic Society

Following this year’s implementation of regular judging feedback, I’m delighted to report that we have agreed six new upgrades to our accredited Level 2. Thank you to all the clubs who have completed the feedback to enable this, and especially for giving our newly trained Level 1 judges the opportunity to practice.

Congratulations to our new Level 2 Judges:

  • Gordon Brown ARPS, Winchester Photographic Society
  • Catherine Jolley LRPS ASWPP, Littlehampton & District CC
  • Andrew Mills MA (Photo) ARPS LBIPP
  • Paul O’Toole, Wothing Camera Club
  • Sue Sibley ARPS, Southampton Camera Club
  • Peter Woodhouse (picture awaited), Salisbury Camera Club
Gordon Brown LRPS, Winchester Photographic Society

Gordon Brown ARPS

Catherine Jolley, Littlehampton Camera Club

Catherine Jolley LRPS ASWPP

Andrew Mills MA (Photo) ARPS LBIPP

Andrew Mills MA (Photo) ARPS LBIPP

Paul O'Toole, Worthing Camera Club

Paul O’Toole

Sue Sibley ARPS, Southampton Camera Club

Sue Sibley ARPS

SCPF Level 1 Appraisal Workshop 2016

SCPF is always looking for new judges to come into the club community, and we are running another Level 1 training workshop on 27th November and 4th December 2016.

Note: this is now a practical two-day workshop and provides the most comprehensive training available for prospective club judges. It is the first step on the road to becoming an accredited judge.

The course is not about what does or does not make a good photograph. The main aim is to teach you to speak intelligently to an audience about photography, and to give quality feedback to the photographers whose work you are appraising.

There are no entry requirements except that you are a member of an SCPF club and an established photographer. Distinctions are not necessary, but you should feel confident in your own ability as a photographer and have a good feel for and understanding of club competitions.


  • To learn the Core Qualities of an appraiser
  • To understand the role of an appraiser
  • To understand the key elements of an appraisal and of giving feedback
  • To develop presentation skills, especially speaking and body language
  • To discuss and practise marking
  • To be aware of organisation and self-management
  • To be aware of the judging accreditation process and expenses scheme

The first day will be held at Littleton near Winchester and the second at Overton. There are max nine places available.

Please send the booking form either by email (judging@) or by post to the address indicated by October 31st latest. More detail about timing and programme will be issued then.

Whilst there are no obligations, this course is aimed at photographers who are looking to judge on the club circuit in our region. In view of the limited places, please consider this carefully before booking. If you are looking to understand more about how judging works, we are able to arrange overview sessions for your club or for small groups who are interested.

Best regards
… Ken Scott ARPS
Judging Advisor


Booking Form (.docx)

Booking Form (.pdf)

For the latest update to the Judges Directory, Stan Robinson from Boscombe CC has informed us of his intention to retire from judging. In Stan’s own words:

Hi Ken
I have decided to hang up my laser pointer at the end of the year. No real problems except just getting old, I will honour all existing judging bookings for 2016 [and] I will still be here in the case of a judge last min no show or perhaps to mentor a new judge like I’ve been doing for SAPA. I’m still getting good positive feedback but approaching 80 I feel I should quit whilst I’m ahead. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all my years in judging and still do, it all started in Kent in the late 50s. I feel very sad just like I did when I retired from professional photography due to ill health at the time.
Oh well!
Stan. Robinson.

I’d like to place on record our thanks to Stan for his many years of service and to wish him well in his retirement.

… Ken Scott
Judging Advisor

Judging Workshop Feb 2015

Following our latest training day on 15th February, seven new Level 1 judges have agreed to be listed, further expanding our pool of talented appraisers for the Federation.

Please give them an opportunity to visit. We encourage all clubs to book Level 1 judges for the appropriate level of competition so that they can gain experience in a real environment; practice really IS the only way to get better. Do bear in mind that a) we would like you to tell us whenever you book a Level 1 judge so that we can arrange support for them and b) we would appreciate your formal feedback.

Starting in 2015-16 we are introducing a new feedback process for all judges in SCPF and this will be mandatory for Level 1 judges.

Judging Workshop Feb 2015

SCPF Judging Workshop Feb 2015

Judging Workshop Feb 2015

SCPF Judging Workshop Feb 2015

Judging Workshop Feb 2015

SCPF Judging Workshop Feb 2015

SCPF Judges 201505

The full Directory can be found on the Directory page

Judging Workshop 15th February 2015

SCPF is always looking for new judges to come into the club community. Competition is still a staple of the club programme and judging takes up more discussion time than just about any other topic in club photography. Since 2012 we have been looking at how to improve our judging and the way we train new judges.

Are you a photographer who would like to give something of your expertise back?

We are running another Level 1 training day on 15th February 2015 at Littleton, near Winchester. It is the first step on the road to becoming an accredited judge. This workshop is a full day event led by judges who are all SCPF Level 3 or PAGB listed.

You will have the opportunity to:

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  • Learn the Core Principles
  • Practise in a Safe Environment
  • Understand the key elements of an appraisal
  • Become aware of speaking and body language
  • Practise the differences between judging prints and PDIs
  • Discuss marking
  • Look at some specialist disciplines, such as nature


Please note, this workshop is practical and interactive. Whilst there are no obligations afterwards, it is aimed at photographers who are looking to judge on the club circuit in our region. If you are looking to understand more about how judging works, we are able to arrange overview sessions for your club or for groups who are interested.

There are twelve places available. Please send the booking form to the address indicated by January 11th. More detail about timing and programme will be issued then.

Meanwhile please do get in touch if there is anything you would like to know.

Best regards

… Ken Scott ARPS
Judging Advisor

2015 Judging Workshop Poster (.pdf)

SPF Judging Workshop 2015 Booking Form (.docx)

High Hopes by Ken Scott ARPS

What do you call a group of more than twenty photography judges gathered in a room?

Some suggestions have included a “bracket”, an “exposure” and a “contradiction”. No this is not an invitation for more! However, it made us smile.

Our 2014 SCPF Judging Conference took place at Knowle on 8th June, an opportunity for judges to come together to discuss issues, to practise and to share ideas.

Over the last three years we have trained more than twenty new judges, and this annual event is seen as an essential in our ongoing development.

SCPF Judging Advisor, Ken Scott says

“Judging is always the most talked about subject in and around the clubs. So we owe it to ourselves and to the photographers whose work we appraise to try to improve continually. By coming together to share best practice, we can enhance our craft individually and also, hopefully, better understand the issues and continue to move judging forward.”

Expanding Horizons

Our agenda this year started with a challenge put to the audience by Ken – a critique, offered by Francis Hodgson in the Financial Times Visual Arts section of the image ‘L’accordéoniste de la Rue Mouffetard‘ by French photographer Robert Doisneau– you can read the critique here and view a version of the image here.

Whilst Ken read the critique, many of the cliché comments and crops we might commonly hear (but not want to hear) in competition were laid on the image displayed on the screen.

Ken says:

“I am continually wondering where our judging conventions and ‘rules’ in club photography have come from.

The way we typically provide critique is vastly different from the type of response we might see in the art world. I wanted to demonstrate two positions at opposite ends of the spectrum.

I am not advocating that we should all become art critics in an intellectual sense. What we must do, though, is learn to appreciate photographs of all genres and styles for both their aesthetic and technical qualities and the meanings we can draw from them; we need to give a balanced appraisal … “


Peter Walmsley gave us his experiences as a new judge on the circuit and thoughts on what he has found to be some of the more difficult styles to appraise – images with a strong story but technical faults, images where the judge might not have the assumed knowledge to ‘get the point’, and styles such as documentary / record shots of iconic locations or flowers, or still life.

Matthew White’s innovative presentation gave his own views on the key criteria of appraisal but also warned of the trap of simply applying ‘rules’ in tickbox fashion e.g. “the subject must be on the thirds …” Most notably Matthew touched on the intangible quality of art and its appeal to the emotions. Matthew’s presentation can be viewed here.

Discussion Groups

Judges told us before the event that among those topics that commonly present the most difficulty are: nature, street and contemporary styles and appraising what might be described as “competent but ordinary” images in a positive way.

These topics were discussed in three breakout groups, allowing us to share ideas and to consider the key aspects of a variety of images. These groups seem to be the most popular activity for the day, so we will be incorporating more into future events.

Marking – A Mock Competition

One of the great controversies in club competition is marking. Photographers often suggest, perhaps when our own images have been subject to a wide variation in marks, that an image should score the same each time in competition, i.e. that the marking should somehow be objective and consistent.

Readers will therefore be interested to see a summary of a mock competition, where all 20+ trained judges simultaneously marked a PDI class (assumed to be of advanced level) out of 10. Peter Walmsley very kindly crunched the numbers for us to reveal the following:

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  • Only 3 judges (15%) agreed on the top scoring image
  • No judges (yes 0%!) actually agreed on the top 3 images!
  • 13 judges (65%) agreed on the bottom scoring image
  • 5 judges (25%) agreed on the bottom 3 images


Conclusions we can draw are:

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  • Selection of the top images in a competition is very much down to an individual judge’s preference.
  • There is much more consensus in the identification of the weakest images.
  • Particularly for middle-scoring images, judges’ scoring across a wide range of marks would not be unusual.
  • Our judges showed an average consistency of +/- 1 mark at worst from the average score with some showing consistency to +/- a half mark across a competition.
  • The variance of scores in a competition about panel average scores is remarkably consistent at between 0.5-0.7 across ALL judges.
  • Across a competition season, the statistical variation between judges will start to average out but with typically only 10 ‘tests’ per season (2 images in either print to PDI) such averaging may not eliminate extreme scores.


It was also observed that five of the top six scoring images, by average marks, were what might be described as ‘in fashion’: a tern in flight, vertical ICM – intentional camera movement – in a wood, flowers treated with the ‘Fractalius’ filter, people ‘staged’ in historical context and stylised, and camargue horses running through water.

To what extent do we as judges reinforce the idea, consciously or otherwise, that photographers have to do more of the same to win? To what extent are we, as judges, influenced by trend? Questions for us to ponder.

A full summary is being issued to the attendees, and out thanks go to Peter for a very thorough and interesting piece of work.

Conference conclusions in summary:

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  1. Marking
    It is generally perceived that clubs would like to see a wider range of marks used in competitions, whilst retaining an emphasis on the quality of comment. We should issue a guidance note to judges and to clubs, especially relating to SCPF League meetings.
  2. The Story
    We have placed more emphasis in training on the “message” or meaning or “communicative quality” of an image. This was necessary to correct a perceived imbalance that biased comment towards the technical.
    Somewhere this has been misinterpreted by some judges and clubs as “we are looking only for the story”. This is not the case. Our advice is to give a balanced appraisal – using Dr. Eddy Sethna’s suggested weightings as a starting point.
  3. Judges’ Feedback
    Level 1 judges have all said that they would appreciate constructive feedback to help their development. SCPF also needs regular feedback from clubs – not just negative reports. It was agreed to draft a new process for obtaining judges’ feedback and to identify more mentors who can work with judges at all levels.
  4. Judges’ Upgrades
    The process for upgrading was reiterated. L1 to L2 may be on the basis of good club feedback and / or following a live assessment at the discretion of SCPF. L2 to L3 must always be by assessment following a minimum period of practice of three years accompanied by good club feedback.
  5. Plagiarism and what to do about it
    Various aspects of this controversial topic were discussed, from the use of third-party components such as background textures to blatant use of others’ images. It was agreed that there are processes in place through the PAGB and FIAP to sanction photographers. It is not the judge’s place to make any reference during competition, but we should raise a concern privately with the organiser if such a situation arises.
  6. Nature Definition
    The new Nature definition agreed by PAGB and FIAP was brought to judges’ attention and it was agreed to publish – See New Nature Definitions
  7. Creative Images
    Much discussion was had relating to the use of creative post-processing: recognition, interpretation, effect etc. This debate will no doubt continue.


Future Conferences

We are committed to continuing to run the conference on a regular basis. It will be expected that all judges attend at least every other year. Look out for details of the 2015 event.

Big thanks in closing to Roy Lambeth and Caroline Colegate for co-hosting, not to mention Glyn Edmunds who would have been with us but for feeling unwell on the morning. Also to all the co-presenters – Matthew White, Peter Walmsley, Jon Mitchell. To Lynn Lambeth for keeping us refreshed with tea, and to all the attendees for a successful day.

… Ken Scott
SCPF Judging Advisor