Competition Rules

Sausalito by Marsha Robinson

Sausalito by Marsha Robinson

Look at those peepers by Roberto White

Look at those peepers by Roberto White

It Got Bloody by Brian Nixon

It Got Bloody by Brian Nixon

Dream Big by Michele Johnson

Dream Big by Michele Johnson

Dark Hollow by Steve Coyle

Dark Hollow by Steve Coyle

The Rules

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.

Must Not Be Present to Win

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.

By submitting photos to the competition, the submitter agrees to follow the competition rules. The submitter is responsible for ensuring his/her entries match the stated requirements.

NAPfS may share winning images in a blog post or other locations on the club web site. NAPfS may also share winning images to social media sites. By entering images in competition, the submitter accepts this condition and grants permission.

File Name Format

The file names for submitted photos must adhere to the following format: title, hyphen, and photographer's name.  For example, if Jane Doe submits a photograph named "Sunrise over the Ocean", the file name should be:

"Sunrise over the Ocean-Jane Doe.jpg"

It is important that the file name contain one and only one hyphen separating the title from the photographer's name.  The reason for this name format is that the competition software automatically parses the file name to determine the title and name.  The judge is then given the title, but not the photographer's name in order to assure impartiality.   If the file name does not follow this format, a member of the competition committee must manually change the name, and this takes time and effort.

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.

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.



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

January (2020) is Oldies Competition month. For this competition, images of any age may be entered. The two year limitation is lifted. The competition is otherwise handled like any open-themed competition.


At least 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). The number of awards is equal to the number of entrants divided by four, rounded up to the next integer. For example, if there are 17, 18, 19, or 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 submit their photos. Photographers who consistently win or place in their class are probably not competing at the right level, and are encouraged to (and could be requested to) move up to the next higher class.  This promotes fair competition and gives photographers the greatest chance to learn and grow from the competition.  For more information on picking your class see this post. 

Submission and Format Requirements

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 12:00 am (midnight central time) the Saturday prior to the meeting, which is generally on the first Thursday of the month (barring a holiday conflict).  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.

Submissions received after the cutoff will be moved to the following months competition (but might be rejected if they do not meet the theme requirements).  However, of you later submit new images for that month, they will automatically replace the prior submission - only the last submission by each member each month will be used.

Image Format, Resolution, Color Profile and Other Restrictions

Image file size cannot exceed 4 Megabytes (MB). If you are not familiar with how to resize your image, please reach out to the competition team to get guidance.

Images should ideally fit within a 3840 x 2160 bounding box and can be either portrait or landscape orientation. Your images will be displayed on a 3840 x 2160 (16:9 or 1.78:1 aspect ratio 4K TV) screen. You are free to submit an image with any dimensions you want, but be aware that the competition display software will scale it up or down to the TV screen dimensions. While generally OK, this could produce undesirable visual artifacts, and will result in black bars above/below or beside the image if it does not tightly fit the screen dimensions. To maintain the most control over the appearance of your image, we recommend that you crop and/or resize the image to fit tightly within a 3840 x 2160 bounding box before submission (so one dimension ‘touches’ the top/bottom or edges of the screen without resizing, and the other touches or is smaller). Also, note that if you submit an image which is much larger than these dimensions and then have to compress it to fit within the allowable 4 MB file size, then this will increase the jpeg compression artifacts considerably - you will be much better off to resize the image to be closer to the viewable dimensions before compression.

Images should be submitted in JPG (JPEG) format. Note that you can change the size (MB) of the final jpeg file by adjusting the jpeg quality while saving - lower quality makes the file smaller, but ... you guessed it ... makes it poorer quality due to increased compression.  For the best image overall, you should generally make the image no larger than the 3840 x 2160 bounding box in pixels, and then make it the highest quality that still results in a file less then 4 MB.

File names should have the title and photographer's name separated by a hyphen.  For example: "Sunrise over the Ocean-Jane Doe.jpg"  See "File Name Formats" above for more details.

Images should use 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.

Competitions and Points Scoring

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 current year will be collected and presented at the December end of year party. All attendees will be given ballots and asked to select their 5 favorite images from the current 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".

Ties will be honored. If multiple images receive the same number of votes in winner, 1st runner up or 2nd runner up category, multiple images will co-receive the award.

Critic's Choice Awards

All winning digital projection images from the current year will be collected and presented to a photography critic selected by the leadership team, for review, analysis, and judging. This includes all placing images, in all classes and all levels of placing, from the current year January competition through the November competition. At the December end of year party, the Critic's Choices - Winner, 1st Runner up, 2nd Runner up, will be announced.

Critic judging is at their sole discretion, according to their preference and standards. We invite the judge to briefly explain their selection criteria, but they are not required to do so (most have and enjoy to do it). There are no ties in this category.

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.