The 12 Elements


The Print Judging or Exhibition at PPANM is not an affiliated print judging. This means that any image receiving an 80 or above will not receive a Seal of Approval. The image can be submitted to the SWPPA Judging, an affiliate judging that does issue seals of approval. Once your image has received a seal of approval you must send it on to PPA National Judging where the image the will receive a merit and be considered for a loan image which then would receive an additional merit and be published in the Annual Loan Collection Book. Exhibition merits are very important because they are required to receive a Master of Photography Degree from PPA. To receive your Master of Photography Degree you are required to accumulate 13 exhibition merits along with 12 achievement merits.

When picking out the image you would like to enter into competition you should know that there are many elements the judges look for when rendering a score on your image.

What to look for in a photograph, the most important thing to remember when reviewing the below elements are listed in accordance to their importance.  However, each element is important and if one or more of the elements in your image is weak than that will be reflected in your score.

1.  Impact:  What you see first – what has the most impact, what creates your first impression – it could be a strong feeling of power, what commands you to look – what holds your eye? and the impact could be any of the elements list below. 

2.  Creativity:  Using your imagination, being very original or a fresh approach on a subject matter, creative cropping, creative use of subject matter, content could be very abstract, invention, design, feeling and imagination lifts the photograph into the realm of art. 

3.  Style:  The part of the photography that sets your work apart from the rest, a different way of seeing, a different way of approaching, a brand new style, very real and not contrived, experimental, individuality is obtained in many different ways. 

4.  Composition:  Good placement of subject matter, a very successful arrangement, harmonious proportions, using dynamic symmetry to place most important objects, good rhythm is created by repetition, whether it’s color, spaces, moods, or division of a the photograph.

5.  Print Presentation:  Does the presentation enhance the photograph? Good cropping can add to the composition, good color for the matting or mount can help, daring to be different, using something dynamic or being very traditional, initial impression can be obtained by using creative mounting.

6.  Color Balance:  A good technique for the photograph a good selection of color for the subject matter or objects, using a very interpretative color (maybe not normal at all), creative use of color – example: complementary colors, dark against light, strong against weak. 

7.  Center of Interest:  Dominance of objects or subject matter, a group of subject and arrangement of objects so one center of interest prevails, subject matter holds the eye with no distractions, moody or misty, strength and definition gives the center of interest; secondary points are very important to the photograph, but you must always be able to come back to the center of interest.

8.  Lighting:  A good statement of light, good portrait lighting, dynamic lighting, pattern of light can add to the enhancement. Strong mood can be created by the lighting, lighting is the art of reproducing the characteristics of the subjects or objects. 

9.  Subject Matter:  An outstanding interpretation for the subject matter, good camera angle for the subject matter, selection of the photographic model or object is important, contrast here can be very creative in selection; example: old and young, warm and cool.  All of these will complement your work. 

10.  Print Quality:  Good strong contrast, using the middle tones, good color balance, expressions and artistic lighting, the simplest statements are the strongest, good angle on the building, backgrounds in key to the subject matter.

11.  Technique:  Different technique for the subject matter, techniques is the foundation of photography, but a knowledge of the art principles are very necessary, using creative and abstract can help, and design brings abstract ideas into concrete form.

12.  Storytelling:  A good strong statement, complete story within the photograph, successful presentation, achievement of purpose, first glance has complete meaning, strong mood or emotion, using strong complementary colors next to each other, strong mood with the photograph, builds and emotional response challenging your imagination.

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