Photo Challenges and Competitions

We offer two types of photography challenge/competition opportunities:

These two types of challenges are offered in alternate months as outlined below. Regardless of competition format, members are given an opportunity to have their images and prints evaluated by a judge who is either a professional or other notable photographer. In general, both types of competitions offer club members a chance to share their photos and have them reviewed by reputable judges in a stress-free environment. Image critiques are performed anonomously, as the judge only sees the image and the image title. The photographer remains anonymous throughout the session. Only if an image is deemed to be of high merit will the photographer's name be announced. 

The TOPG judging process and rating criteria are described near the end of this page. Finally, instructions for resizing naming digital images are covered at the bottom of this page.

Note: Beginning with the August 2019 photo club meeting, the new digital photo entry deadline is now midnight on the Wednesday night before the Monday meeting (instead of Saturday noon as in the past). This 5-day period is necessary to ensure that  we have sufficient time to set up files for our meeting presenter. Also, it  will give our judges ample time to preview images before the meeting.

For submitting ditigal images to either competition, the maximum digital image resolution for competitions remains 1400 x 1280 pixels (width x height).


Print Competitions

On Print Competition nights, members have an opportunity to submit prints for review and consideration for ribbons. A total of two prints may be submitted by each club member into either of two categories: (1) a pre-announced category (Assigned) or (2) in a general one (Open). The prints are displayed in a gallery setting. At that time, they are reviewed by the judge who will identify 1st, 2nd & 3rd placements for both Assigned and Open categories. In addition, members entering the print competition may also submit digital versions of their images for review during our judged digital review session.

Club members who do not wish to submit print images for review may submit digital images alone for review during the digital review session. Please review our Print Competition guidelines to understand the process. Instructions for submitting images can be found there as well. Images should be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Digital photo entries must be received by NOON two days before the meeting in order to be eligible for judging.

2019 Print Competition Assigned Categories

      January       Hands
  March   Crystal and Glass
  April   Geometric Shapes
  June   Purple
  July   Water in Motion
  September   Bokeh
  October   Architecture



Digital Composition Challenge

The Digital Composition Challenge (DCC) was established to encourage members to expand and grow technically and creatively as photographers. Each month before a DCC, the Challenge Assignment itself is described to the membership. On DCC nights, there is no print competition and only digital images are considered. Images are projected, anonymously, and scored by the judge. If the score is 8 or 9, the image is assigned a “Merit” and the maker is acknowledged.

Instructions for submitting images for the DCC can be found in the Digital Composition Challenge Rules. Images should be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Digital photo entries must be received by NOON two days before the meeting in order to be eligible for judging.

2019 Digital Composition Challenges

     February      Using Light 
  May   Using Framing
  August   Using Point of View
  November   On the Beach (was Using Gesture, Telling a Story)



The Photo Critique -
Softly passing judgement

Images submitted to either the Digital Competition Challenge digital session of the Print Competition will be reviewed an critiqued by a judge. The purpose of the critiques to help photo group members better understand what features constitute an exceptional image or print and to help them prepare for submitting prints and images for consideration in competitions outside the TOPG. The goal is to help every TOPG member become a better photographer and be less sensitive to receiving objective crticism of their work in an anonymous setting.

Print Competitions: Prints are reviewed by the judge in a gallery setting while the general business portion of the monthly photo group meeting is being conducted. The judge will assign 1st, 2nd and 3rd place for both Assigned and Open categories. The results of the print competition and a short critique (time allowing) of each print will be presented at the end of the meeting.

Digital Review and Critiquing sessions are conducted monthly using a large screen display device. Images submitted for digital review will be displayed to the entire group according to the following procedure:

  • Each image is displayed anonymously
  • The images title announced
  • The judge has a brief moment to study the image
  • The judge evaluates the image, providing brief critique and comment.
  • Then, the judge will provide comments regarding the images artistic and technical merit, creativity, and how the image could be improved. If applicable, the judge will determine whether the image fits the assigned category.
  • The judge will grade images per club’s image scoring system and names of authors of images with score 8 or 9 will be announced.

How are images scored?

The judge may award images with exceptional impact, composition, technical quality with a “Merit” award according to the following grading scale:

9 – Images exhibiting exceptional technical skill and impact
8 – Images with very high technical skill and impact
7 – Good images, worthy of award consideration
6 – Average quality images
5 – Below average images, needing improvement
4 – Below average images with serious defects
3 – Images with multiple serious defects

Note: when images are submitted to an “assigned” category or topic, they must meet the requirement of that topic or category to receive consideration. Images that do not fit the assignment will be disqualified for rating and may not be critiqued (depending on the judge).

All judge’s decisions are final. Our image competitions and critiques are intended to be instructional. All images, even the best ones, can be improved, and the hope is that everyone will learn from the discussion.


Resizing and Renaming Images Instructions

For submitting ditigal images to either competition, the maximum digital image resolution for competitions is 1400 x 1280 pixels (width x height). All files are provided to the judges prior to our digital and print competitions. Having your images at the highest allowable resolution will be beneficial. If you are unsure about how to resize your images, read the following document:

Resizing and Renaming Images Instructions

S4C Competition Chair, Stuart Lynn, published a guide for resizing images. His guide is applicable to S4C competitions and is equally applicable to TOPG digital competition. We have reproduced the guide on our website: 

S4C Guide to Resizing Images