Power of Print

Advice from Judges on How to Place in Print Competition

April 28, 2014

By RF Staff

Today we had a little dance party in the office as we shipped the last portfolio cases from our Annual 16x20 Print, Album and Filmmaking Competition back to their owners. I’m still in awe and feel so privileged to have the opportunity to sift through all this amazing work. You guys are such a creative and outstanding bunch, and it’s been an absolute pleasure to see the growth in some of your work. You recognize the importance of this competition and it shows—I want to thank you for all for that!


This competition is a year-round process, and while the last cases depart NYC for all over the world, we enter into the first phase of 2014. Actually, we’re about halfway to the deadline for the first half competition, and it’s time to get your entries in. The first step in the process is to make sure your membership is up to date.

I also wanted to introduce you to our judges for First Half Competition, and thank them in advance for all the hard work they will be putting in. EVERY image you enter will be receiving feedback, and I can’t think of any other competition that offers you this for no additional charge. Being a member has its benefits!

I’ve also asked our judges to give us some advice and inspiration in preparing for entering. Here goes:

Christian Lalonde: Don’t be afraid to try competitions! Don’t enter tons of images, just enter your best. Be certain that what you enter is prepared as best as it can be! Accept criticism and grow from it! When choosing the competition images I want to submit, the main things I look for are: Impact, how the image makes me feel? Then I look at technique—is it high in quality, lighting technique, processing, etc.? Then I think, 'do I have another image that is stronger, have I already seen a similar image in another competition?' If so, then I pass on it and move on to the next one.”

I could not agree more with Christian's advice, especially asking yourself and what the viewer may feel. This has been one of my biggest eye openers from the judges' perspective. Keep in mind how many images a judge may come across, images that make you feel something will make them “pause." That pause usually results in good scores.

And, should you doubt your thoughts, Bambi Cantrell says: “Get a second opinion. Sometimes we are too 'precious' about our own work and because we know the back story, might select images that aren't necessarily great to others.”

Alex Pan offers some simple, yet important advice: “take a look of those previous winning images to understand what kinds of images should be entering into competition.” I’m excited to have Alex joining us a judge this year; he was a fellow judge on my panel during my trip to China, and I admired his judging style and the fresh opinions he offered.

Check back over the next few weeks, and as always, you can reach us if you have questions in the following places:

Have you joined our Facebook group?  This is the BEST place to stay up-to-date with the most current information.

Or email to ask us questions: Jason Groupp and Hillary Becker are both at your service!

Thanks, and we look forward to seeing your entries for 2014!