Competition Rules

NAPfS Competition Rules, V3,  November 13, 2018. Updated for 2019 Competitions (vf).

Monthly Competitions

The First Rule

Competitions are for fun, inspiration and education. Remember to have fun and to be respectful to the judge, competition chairs and other club members. They are all volunteers and are here to have fun, be inspired and to learn also.

The Second Rule

Be honest and take part in good faith. If you are unsure of how a rule should be interpreted, ask the competition chair or a senior club member (once we have some).

The Third Rule

The rules below are designed to be understandable, but not a legal document. They are unfortunately and necessarily vague in many cases. In situations that are ambiguous, the competition chair and/or the judge has the final and absolute power to decide. This applies to the interpretation of the rules in general, not just specific cases. The competition chair and judge will use the First Rule to make that decision, trying to make sure the most people have fun, get inspired and learn.

What is Photography

NAPfS competitions are for photography. Photography is an image made by light gathered through a lens (or lens like aperture in the case of a pinhole camera) and projected onto a light sensitive medium such as film or a digital sensor.

Image manipulation has been a part of photography since it’s beginning like it or not. Further, defining a clear, objective and enforceable rule about what is and isn’t allowed in terms of manipulation is difficult if not impossible. Adjusting the white balance and curves in post processing seems fine, but what about removing dust spots? What about removing an unwanted trash can? All of these manipulations are common in the world of photography and skill in their execution is considered part of photography.

Therefore, the club allows any image that is primarily created through photography, however manipulated. Images may be highly manipulated or even composited so long as the competition chair and judge still think of them as photography. Judging is subjective and just because an image is allowed, doesn’t mean it won’t trip one of the judges thresholds for “too much” manipulation. Like all other choices, the choice of one type of post processing or manipulation can add or detract depending on the viewer.

Club Membership

Only club members in good standing may enter the competition. Club membership runs calendar year from January 1st through December 31st. Club leadership shall exercise discretion when dealing with year to year change overs. Photos from photographers who have not paid their annual dues by 3/31 of the year will be rejected and not entered in competition. Only paid club members in good standing are eligible for the Photographer of the Year competition and People’s Choice Awards.

Being Present

Club members need not be at the meeting to enter the monthly contest. The other club members still benefit from the critique of their image. However, members submitting, but not present are encouraged to have someone take notes during their critique so they receive the benefit of it.

Photo Creator

It should go without saying, but only the creator of a photo may enter it. Enter only your own work. Plagiarism and copyright infringement will not be tolerated and may be grounds for expulsion from the club.

The creator of the photo retains all rights in the photo. Entering it in the competition does not affect this. However, by entering it in the competition, you give the club permission to share the image with the judge and show the image during the club meeting. At your option (choose during the submission process) you may also allow the club to share the photo on its social media streams and web site. You agree that you have the right to grant this permission and will hold harmless, indemnify and defend the club and it’s officers from any legal action related to images submitted by you.

Age of Photos

Unless otherwise specified for a competition images must be no more than 2 years old. Older images are not allowed in the competition. This rule exists because competitions are designed to inspire club members to go out and shoot. Photographers grow by creating new work.

Oldies Competitions are the exception. During the oldies competition, photos of any age can be entered. Dig into your archive and find something wonderful from your past photography.


Photos that have previously won any prize in NAPfS club competition may not be resubmitted. Other images that have not won when previously submitted and that meet the other rules may be resubmitted to future competitions.

Subject Matter

Photo subject matter is not restricted (excepting themed competitions). Photos of any subject, from landscape to studio portrait to abstract or wildlife (and anything else you can come up with) are allowed. Fine art nudes are allowed, but must be tasteful (and otherwise meet all applicable laws). If in doubt of the appropriateness of a photo for competition, email the competition chair ( for guidance before submitting. As with other rules, the decision of the competition chair, either before the competition or during it, is final.


Several monthly competitions have themes. See the Competition Themes page for details of the current theme months and themes. Months without a listed theme are “open”.

For themed competitions, the competition chairs will pre-screen images to ensure that they roughly adhere to theme. Images not adhering will be rejected. If in doubt about the theme appropriateness of an image, email the competition chair ( well ahead of submission and ask for a ruling.

The judge also may disqualify images for not meeting the theme, at their discretion. The judge does not necessarily have to consider theme appropriateness in awards, but may. For example, the judge may choose to bias the awards towards images she thinks fulfill the theme in the most interesting or creative way. Or she may simply judge the images ignoring the theme since all images have been accepted for the theme already.

Oldies Competition

February is Oldie Competition month. For the February competition, images of any age may be entered. The two year limitation is lifted. The competition is otherwise handled like any unthemed competition.


25% of the entrants in each class will receive awards. Awards given are 1st, 2nd, 3rd and multiple honorable mentions (as appropriate for the number of entrants). For example, if there are 20 images submitted, there there will be 5 awards: 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 2x Honorable Mentions.


Photographers should pick Class 1 – Novice, Class 2 – Intermediate, or Class 3 – Advanced, to compete in for the year. Please enter all images for the competition year in that class. Photographers consistently winning in Class 1 will be requested to move to Class 2, and Class 2 to 3.

If you placed in any competition for the previous year in one class, please submit for the next class up for the following year. This will help the competition be more fairly matched. For more information on picking your class see this blog post.

Digital Projection Competition

Submission Window

The Digital Projection Competition (DPC) requires online submission of images. Images must be submitted by the published submission deadline (see the meeting post or submission page for date). The submission deadline is generally a week and a half before the competition. Submissions received after the cutoff will be discarded. This deadline is required so the competition chair has time to prepare the competition as well as share the preview with the judge. The cut off applies regardless of any technical difficulties so please don’t wait until the last minute.

Image Format, Resolution, Color Profile and Other Restrictions

Images must fit within a 3840 x 2160 bounding box and can be either portrait or landscape orientation. In either case, one dimension should match the dimensions above (for example, a portrait will be 2160 pixels high) but will be less on the other (the portrait will be much less than 3840 wide). Landscape photos may be narrower than 3840 in many cases since 3840 x 2160 is more panoramic than most digital cameras. In all cases, the image must fit within the bounding box specified of 3840 x 2160.

Images should be submitted in JPG format, using the sRGB color profile. The display the judge views the images on is calibrated so images will be displayed to the judge in with their true colors (assuming the photographer also uses a calibrated monitor and work flow). The projector that the club views the images on is not currently calibrated so club members may not see the exact color representation.

Images must not have watermarks or other identifying marks. Competitions (and the critiques that go along with them) are anonymous. Only the winners are presented at the end. Images submitted with watermarks will be disqualified. The submitting club member will be notified and allowed to resubmit provided they have time to by the Tuesday-midnight deadline.

Images should be border-less. Do not add borders or letter boxing. Submit files that contain only and exactly your image scaled as described above. The competition software handles proper display on a dark background.

Print Competition

There is currently no print based competition. However, members may contact  the Program VP and volunteer to bring their prints to show at a monthly meeting.

Year Long Competitions

People’s Choice Awards

All winning digital projection images from the years will be collected and presented at the December end of year party. All attendees will be given ballots and asked to select their 6 favorite images from the year’s winning images. The competition coordinator will tally the votes during the meeting and the results will be announced live. The image(s) with the highest number of votes will be awarded “Peoples’ Choice Image of the Year”. The image(s) with the second highest vote count will receive “Runners Up Peoples’ Choice Image of the Year” and the image(s) with the third highest vote count will receive “2nd Runners Up People’s Choice Image of the Year”.

If multiple images receive the same number of votes in winner, runner up or 2nd runner up category, multiple images will co-receive the award.

Photographer of the Year Competition

All photographers entering monthly competitions will be included in the Photographer of the Year points competition. Photographers will receive points for entries and awards. All photographers will compete together regardless of class. The photographer with the most total points prior to the December meeting will be awarded the “Photographer of the Year” award.

Point Schedule

Each image entered will receive points based on how it places. Each image will receive only one of the categories of points below. Participation points are given to encourage photographers to enter images.

  • 1st Place: 8pt
  • 2nd Place: 6pt
  • 3rd Place: 4pt
  • Honorable Mention: 3pt
  • Image Entered but no award: 1pt

Example: John enters 2 images. 1 receives a 3nd place award and the other no award. John would earn 4 points for the 3rd place award and 1 point for the non-winning entry for a total of 4 points for that month’s competition.