Meeting Sep 27th

Discussion on Judging
for the 2016-2017 Competition Cycle


As part of the Sept. 27th meeting, the Harrisburg Camera Club will be holding a discussion about judging for the 2016-2017 competition cycle.

Irene VanBuskirk, interim Vice-President, has proposed using only one judge per digital competition, compared the three judge system we have been using of the past 4-5 years.

She has taken the time to write about the pros and cons for each judging system (1 vs. 3), and it is listed below.

During the meeting, the executive board will host the discussion and invite members to participate, ask questions, and provide comments.  At the end of the meeting, a vote will be taken to determine if the club will continue with the current judging system, or make a change for the 2016-2017 competition cycle.

It is very important for members to attend and participate because this directly affects the membership.  The membership will decide which system they want in place.

If you have any questions, please reply to this email.

We look forward to seeing you at the meeting and hearing your comments on the subject.

Irene VanBuskirk
Vice-President (interim), Harrisburg Camera Club

One Judge vs. Three Judges

One of the duties of the vice president is to obtain judges for the competitions.  In the two years of which I have been an HCC member I haven’t seen an advantage to the 3 judge panel for digital competitions and I suggested a change to the HCC executive board.  I proposed that we try using one different judge for each digital competition.

Although I have talked to the executive board and different HCC members to hear the opinions of others, this is a decision that needs membership involvement.  I would like the membership to consider, discuss, and determine by vote to accept or reject the proposal to use one judge for the digital competitions for one year and then decide to either continue using only one judge or go back to the three judge panel.  We have scheduled a meeting for this conversation on September 27th. Below are the reasons for my proposal.  I have given this a great deal of thought.

Arguments for a One Judge Digital Competition
Although three judges theoretically seem like a good idea because, after all, three heads are better than one, this doesn’t seem to work in practice.  Other dynamics are at work among the threesome.   The judges may not know each other before the first competition, or even if they do, the strongest personality seems to lead the pack.  There also seems to be a hesitation to voice an opinion if it differs from a respected colleague who is on the panel.  One judge stated that he felt like he had to react to another judge’s proclamations about photography, which he considered inaccurate.  Some judges seem to feel that they need to justify their opinion to another judge.  Other judges have stated that they prefer judging alone.
In practice most of the time the judges seem to agree with a few differing opinions voiced.

There is also the time factor.   It takes three judge longer to give their opinion about the image, even if their critiques do not differ.
I believe it would be just as helpful to have one judge who could take the time to talk about the images and give his/her critique?

There is the argument that one judge may have a bias towards one aspect of photography and three judges counter and eliminate the bias.  I haven’t seen that, but I have only been part of the membership for two years. Every judge comes with a bias towards one thing or another (We all do). Some of them verbalize that during the competition, some others don’t, but all have one.  That is not going to change.  We hope for a judge who recognizes this and tries to move beyond it.  We are asking for their opinion.  We don’t have to like it or even agree, but it is still helpful to hear how an expert in the field views our work.  Most judges begin by saying something along the lines of, “Remember this is my opinion and art is subjective.”

The other component to this proposal is to have a different judge for each digital competition.  This way the club members would still hear the opinion of five different judges (4 digital competitions plus digital image of the year) who could freely express what they think without considering the impact his/her opinion may have on the other judges.

As far as scheduling, I think judges would more easily commit to one date than having to commit to four dates throughout the club year.  As a result, we would have more choices for judges.  And there is nothing to stop us from scheduling them in the beginning of the HCC photo club year.

Another consideration is the reduced cost of one judge instead of three for each competition.

As I stated earlier, these are my feelings so that you know that I have thought about this and my suggestion is not capricious.  I believe that this is a club membership decision.  I’d especially like to hear from those members who attend meetings and competitions and those who have judged competitions.  I have sat on judging panels, but not for photography.
I am proposing that we try a different judge for each digital competition for one year and see what we think.

Advantages to the Current Three Judge Panel
For several years it has been the practice of HCC to have a panel of three judges for the digital image competitions.  Before that HCC had a single judge for the digital competitions.  I have included the board’s original reasons for the change to a three judge panel.  These reasons were given to me by members of the executive board.

One reason is that scores were all over the place from one competition to the next.  It was believed that three judges would provide some consistency in judging; it was worth the added expense. In addition, scheduling three judges in the beginning of the season was easier than scheduling a different judge for each competition date.  Some members thought that three judges were important in breaking a tie in the scores.