Competition Classes

NAPfS is an inclusive club with members of a wide range of skill levels.

Starting with the January 2019 competition, we will have three skill-based classes in order to put club members on a more level playing field and to make each class more internally competitive. The judge is able to provide more useful critiques to those in each class, providing education and inspiration to all participants. 

When submitting photos for a competition, club members select the class they believe is the best fit. Everyone will hopefully be competing with peers closest to their own image-making skill level.

For returning members who have placed in previous competitions, and new members needing a more detailed explanation of each class, with image examples, please click here to read the blog post to select your class for 2019.

The Classes

Members of NAPfS compete in one of three classes:

Class 1 (Novice)

Class 1 is for photographers who are focusing primarily on getting the technical pieces of a photo to come together. They may have a vision but still need to consciously focus on the nuts and bolts of making the photo: focus length, focus point, exposure, exposure settings or post processing. A Class 1 photographer will find, however good their vision, that they sometimes struggle to realize it due to technical limitations such as improper exposure, missed focus, less than ideal composition, not being sure what focus length to use, or how to achieve an interesting perspective. Technical details like focus, exposure and framing will often be the key to separating images that receive and award from those that do not.

Class 2 (Intermediate)

Class 2 photographers have a solid handle on fundamental technical elements of their photography. Achieving sharp (or otherwise vision appropriate) focus and proper exposure happen subconsciously. Critiques in Class 2 should focus on the impact of the image. Images in Class 2 should generally be free of straightforward technical mistakes (e.g. missed focus), but Class 2 photographers break “rules” relative to technical details, and have learned to do it in a way that works. The judge should be able to focus on the message the image presents, how it speaks to them and how compelling the photo is in general.

Class 3 (Expert)

Class 3 photographers shoot with intent and a high level of technical sophistication. Whatever their subject, their choices are intentional and technical errors are few and far between (and often subjective). Regardless of image genre, images that win in Class 3 are highly refined. Images have strong compositions, use colors in a intentional way, and may employ involved lighting, post processing or production. They may also be utterly simple but beautiful (harder to achieve than you would think).

Determining Your Class – New Members

If you still need assistance choosing your competition class, you can submit a small portfolio of images for review, and a senior club member will suggest a class for you.

Changing Classes

If you feel you are in the wrong competition class, you can petition to switch classes by emailing Let us know the class you are in and which new class you would like to be in. Members can generally move up to more advanced classes (Class 1 -> Class 2 -> Class 3). Moving back down to a lower class requires competition coordinator approval.