First I would like to emphasize that the following information should not be considered as “the standard”, nor the only way of determining the validity or worth of any image, but merely a way to augment or enhance an existing way of judging and grading a large body of images such as the monthly photo competition at our club meetings, or even an exhibit with larger quantities of images to be viewed.
The first order of business is to narrow the overall pool of images to just a few. In a smaller selection of images, like you may view in our monthly photo competition consisting of 10 to 25 images, try to select only 3 to 4 that stand out from the others. With a slightly larger pool consisting of 50 to 200, you may try to narrow you initial selections between 5 to 10 that top your list.
With the field of images now narrowed down, you can move into a more detailed look at the remaining subjects you have selected as the cream of the crop. At this point, you can use a 1 to 5 point grading system in three different categories to help you make a fair and unbiased appraisal to determine which image deserves a better rating then another.
The first category is viewing the image technically. When grading an image for its technical merit, keep in mind the things that make the image technically sound. Technical merit can be achieved through sharp focus, proper use of focal length, exposure, and composition just to name a few areas to look at.
The second category is viewing the image aesthetically. Here you might look for elements that the photographer has used to make their image stronger with the use of the amount and type of lighting, elements such as forms, texture, or patterns, and the placement of the main subject matter.
The third category is to view the image for originality. We all have a good idea of what the typical sunset, scenic, architecture, portrait, commercial, wildlife, flower, etc… image is suppose to look like. The goal here is to determine which image is the strongest for surpassing the normal image we have seen a thousand times.
For further detailed reading on this and other photographic related subject(s), I suggest any of the many books and videos available for check out in our local public libraries or The Charlie Davis Memorial Library at any Virginia Beach Photography Club monthly meeting.