Events / Photo Competitions / Judging and Critiques

About the Judging Process

The International Photographic Competition is a big deal, and those who rise to the top do so by proving that they're the best at their craft.

Judging the entries into the IPC isn't an easy job. In fact, a lot of work goes into judging each year's thousands of submissions. And this work is expertly handled by a group of highly trained and skilled professionals.

IPC's 80+ judges are volunteer members of PPA who come from a wide cross section of the professional photography industry. They've put in the time to understand the ins and outs of the many qualities that make up an image that stands out among all others.

They're also highly trained in competition adjudication, with many hours of training under their belts. Judges are trained to know exactly how to give constructive advice to help you improve your photography. So when you enter into competition, know that your image is being judged in a way designed to help you learn more about your skill set and improve your craft.

See the list of Approved Jurors

There are currently around 81 jurors (typically about 4 to 6 are added per year and about 4 to 6 retire per year).

To say that the IPC judging process is rigorous is beyond an understatement. Every year, thousands of professional photographers enter the IPC seeking distinction and the education that comes with getting this kind of feedback.

What does that mean? It means judging isn't a "done-in-one" kind of process.

Judging: Round One

In round one, judges are looking to see if images are merit-worthy as they relate to the “12 Elements of a Merit Image”. Or, put another way, they look to see if your image is good enough to make the first cut. Unfortunately, not every image has what it takes to move on to round two.

However, if your images are merit-worthy, then it's on to round two.

Judging: Round Two

If your image is awesome enough to impress our judges here, then you land the chance to have your work put before the eyes of thousands of your peers.

On top of being able to earn more merits towards a PPA degree, your image can land a spot in the PPA Imaging Excellence Collection, get published in the annual Imaging Excellence Collection book, and put on display at Imaging USA.

Want to learn more about how the IPC judging process works? Great! We'd love to share that with you!

IPC Judges Workshop give you the skinny on the judging process. Get a better understanding of judging protocol; see what judges look for in a merit-worthy image and gain a firm understanding of what it takes to advance in the IPC!

Learn more about IPC Judges Workshop!

Take a behind the scenes look at how the judging works for PPA's International Photographic Competition! In this short video, you'll find out how the photographic competition judges are selected, and by what standard they judge your images: 

There’s nothing like watching something live, and the IPC judging is no exception. Live judging happens each year near PPA headquarters in Atlanta and is FREE to the public. Not only does watching the IPC judges live and in action give you a chance to peek behind the proverbial curtain, but it also gives insight into what exactly the judges are looking for. Come talk to judges, other participants, and PPA staff when you make a day of IPC live judging!

Can't make it to Atlanta? Watch the live streaming of judging online while it's happening! You don’t have to be a PPA member to watch. Just create an account and then start taking it all in.

Watch Now

(only available during judging)

The main difference is to earn you merits towards your Master of Photography degree, you must enter your image into the IPC judging.  Images entered into the District judging can only earn a “Seal of Approval.”

The other difference is that only the images entered into the IPC judging will be considered for the Loan Collection

Awards for the District Judging are given to the top images by geographic area, so you are only competing with images from your part of the country.


Seal of Approval & Merit Images:

Earn a score of 80 or above at a district competition, and you will receive a Seal of Approval. A "sealed image" is often referred to as a "merit image," but it requires an extra step to get that merit. You will earn one merit when your sealed image is entered in the next International Photographic Competition. Your image will automatically be accepted as part of the General Collection but you must enter that sealed image in the next International Photographic Competition BEFORE you can earn the merit.

Image Critques

One of the best ways to improve your work is to have your images critiqued by an official IPC juror. A critique is a video recording of a judge going through each image you've entered in competition, explaining how it stacks up against the 12 elements of a winning image, and what you could have done to take your image to the next level if you fell a little short! Critiques are ordered when you enter competition.  Now, start getting those images ready, and remember to order a critique when entering!

Learn from Watching Image Critiques!

Critiques will give you advice from qualified jurors on how to improve quality, impact, and technique in your submitted images. Participating photographers offer up their critiques for the benefit of others. 

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