I had the privilege of judging over 87 images at the Professional Photographers of San Diego, a process that was both exhilarating and intimidating. There were so many wonderful images (and the people were super fun)! Providing constructive critique while issuing a score in the matter of minutes is definitely harder than it looks!
Judging requires a careful analysis of the 12 Elements of a Meriting Image as outlined by the Professional Photographers of America. While some of the elements are clearly subjective, others are not (as much). Whether you are competing at a local level, or hoping to compete amongst those photographers at the state level or higher, being familiar with, and applying these elements will put you a step ahead. Who wants to leave image scoring to chance?
There were a few images in the print competition I would have scored higher had they had the presentation been applied. No worries…since we all have to learn. So, in the interest of education, I put a little video together that I hope will shed some light on how to create a mat presentation for your print competition images.
The important thing is to showcase your image in a complementary style. Choose colors that are cohesive with your image and the story telling. When in doubt, choose a black background color. I favor selecting the darkest color in my image and work from there. When I fill in the background color in Photoshop, I can always readjust as needed. Hey, it’s a digital image, so nothing is destructive!
Key line strokes are, well, just that: A thin (no more than 3 pixel) line that surrounds your image. Again, choosing a complimentary mid-tone color is generally a safe bet. You want to choose a color that compliments your image, and doesn’t draw the viewers eye away.
Creating a double mat is just pure fun. Definitely not a must, but an enjoyable thing to create. If you want to learn more about how to create a double mat, there a million tutorials out there. But here is my own little process.