2016-17 Competition Topic Definitions

The following definitions apply to 2016-17 competitions.


In open competitions, free rein is given to the choices the photographer makes in the creation of the submitted image. Images of any and all subjects or themes, created using any photographic or post-processing methods or techniques, are acceptable. The images are evaluated based upon the judge’s general assessment of their creativity, emotional and/or intellectual impact, aesthetic beauty, uniqueness of subject, and technical skill. The judge need not assign any specific weight to any single attribute of the image.


Acceptable entries are photographs that portray various aspects of natural plant and animal life; that illustrate the natural features of land, sea, and sky; or that reveal natural phenomena.  No image in this competition may show human intervention. Domestic plants (e.g., in a botanical garden) or animals (including zoo animals) may be included as long as they do not show any human intervention (e.g., collars or ear tags, gates, walls, paths, signage).


In the past, macro photographs were ordinarily defined as those created from an image on the camera’s sensor plane that was equal to life size or greater. Rather than using this traditional technical definition, however, for purposes of the competition: The term “Macro Photography” contemplates images made from close-up range, in which the subject of the photograph is very small or is a very small detail of a larger object. For this competition, however, images of the flowering portions of a plant, tree, or shrub are not acceptable. Images of non-flowering portions of a plant, tree or shrub are acceptable, and images containing objects that sit on or are near a flower are acceptable, as long as the object and not the flower constitutes the primary subject of the image.


The term “Street Photography” contemplates images that show un-posed, unmediated, chance encounters and random incidents within public places. Street photography does not require the presence of a street or even an urban environment. Though people usually feature directly, street photography might be void of people and can be of an object or environment where the image projects a decidedly human character in facsimile or aesthetic.


The term “Event Photography” contemplates images made of some aspect of a private or public gathering, whether scheduled or spontaneous, and that contain some contextual reference, explicit or implicit, to the event at which they are made. “Events” are broadly defined to include, as examples only: religious and secular life events such as weddings, bat and bar mitzvahs, baptisms and graduations; organizational fundraisers and functions; public festivals and celebrations; civic demonstrations and protests; concerts; and sports competitions.


The term “Monochrome Photography” contemplates images that use only a single color, including the full array of shades of that color. So, for example, black and white photos, with black as the single color and its multiple shades of gray, are monochrome. Other single colors and their shades are equally acceptable. Under this definition, a sepia tone photo is acceptable, but a sepia tone photo containing a red umbrella would not qualify as a monochrome. Any subject matter is acceptable. In addition, a photo is acceptable if was originally taken as a color image, as long as the image presented for the competition has been rendered into monochrome.