09 Oct

Behind-the-Scenes of the 2023 K12 In Focus Photography Competition: The Judging Process


The K12 In Focus Photography Competition is a celebrated platform for young photographers to showcase their talents and creativity. But have you ever wondered what happens once you submit your photograph? In this blog post, we will explore the judging process for this competition, which you can apply during your journey into competitive photography! 

The 2023 K12 In Focus Photography Competition is open to students from kindergarten through 12th grade, making it one of the most diverse and inclusive photography competitions available to students. The competition encourages young photographers to use cameras to capture stories, moments, or emotions that are important to them and/or show their unique perspective. 

The Role of Judges 

The success of any photography competition depends on the expertise of its judges. The K12 In Focus Photography Competition has a panel of experienced photographers, educators, and artists that each bring a unique perspective and set of skills to the table. The judges evaluate entries based on specific criteria: 

  1. Presentation (50%): Your submission must meet the entry and category requirements. Another important aspect of this section is emotional impact. Great photographs have the power to evoke strong emotions—judges want to feel a connection to the images they see. 
  1. Originality (25%): The judges will evaluate the artistic approach of the photo, looking for it to show creativity and imagination. Judges look for photographs that stand out. They appreciate unique angles, inventive composition, and fresh ideas that express the photographer’s point of view. 
  1. Technical Skill (25%): A well-executed photograph is a work of art. Judges evaluate elements such as color balance, composition, focus, and exposure. 

The Judging Process 

The judging process for the 2023 K12 In Focus Photography Competition was designed with the goal of being thorough, fair and transparent. 

  1. Initial Screening: The competition team will review all submitted entries to ensure they do not violate plagiarism rules and are consistent with the category requirements. 
  1. Scoring: Each judge will score the photographs independently based on the competition criteria. The process is done blindly to ensure impartiality, meaning the judges do not know the names of the photographers. 
  1. Discussion Rounds: Judges will share their thoughts on the top entries. 
  1. Final Selection: At the conclusion of the competition, the panel of judges collectively choose the winning photographs (1st, 2nd, and 3rd place) in each category (DSLR Lens Master, Smartphone Shots, and Film Photograph) and grade band (kindergarten-2nd, 3rd-5th, 6th-8th, 9th-12th). 
  1. Winners Announcement: The winners and finalists are officially announced, with their work being publicly celebrated. 

There will also be a People’s Choice winner across all categories in each grade band, determined by Public Voting (which opens on November 1st, 2023). 

Tips for Participants 

Here are some tips you can use if you are interested in participating in the competition: 

  1. Understand the Theme: Familiarizing yourself with the theme (In Focus) and aligning your submission with it is crucial. 
  1. Capture Emotion: This year’s theme is all about YOU. Everybody sees the world differently—so we want to see your best shot that captures your perspective, memories, or stories. Judges are more likely to appreciate submissions that are personal and that they can connect to on an emotional level. 
  1. Master the Basics: To gain points in the technical skills category, make sure you understand and practice using color, exposure, composition, and focus to elevate your photographs. 
  1. Be Original: Don’t be afraid to showcase your creativity and unique style! Oftentimes the best photographs aren’t the ones with perfect symmetry or outstanding lighting—they show the photographer’s creative vision. Your voice matters, so let your passion for photography and art shine through in your work! 


The 2023 K12 In Focus Photography Competition promises to be an exciting opportunity for young, aspiring photographers to practice and showcase their skills. Understanding the judging criteria and process can help you adjust your submission for success! Most importantly, remember that photography is not just about using a camera to take a picture. It’s also about evoking emotion, telling stories, and sharing your perspective with your friends, family, and the world. 

Click here to read the official rules of the competition. 

Follow this link to enter today!