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Monthy competitions & categories

SSCC has a digital photo competition every month, and the information below defines each of the monthly categories. If you are a member in good standing, you can enter up to two photos each month. For more information on the competitions and specific details, download the Member handbook and read the competition sections. 

Each of these three categories are included in every monthly competition:


1. Open (Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced levels)

This category can be interpreted liberally as that area of photography that shows the viewer a scenic vista, cityscape, pets, reflections, travel, nature, or any other image demonstrating impact, color, composition and a point of interest. Portraits, photojournalism, and nature images may also be entered in this category, at the photographer’s option, but will be judged as Open.

2. Black & White (all levels combined)

Black & White may be toned (sepia, brown, blue, or gold) but may not be hand- colored or tinted.

3. Nature (all levels combined)

A photograph depicting the wildlife of our planet, such as animals in the wild, birds in a natural environment, landscapes of natural beauty, wild and cultivated plants, etc., are all in this category. Images that show the obvious hand of man (man made patterns, rows, etc.), domesticated animals, scenes showing cultivated fields, fences, houses, telephone lines, mowed grass, etc., will be disqualified. However, images in which a man made object is part of the creature’s natural habitat, such as a stork in a roof nest, a barn swallow in its nest in a barn, as well as tagged animals in the wild, are acceptable. Cultivated plants ARE accepted in this category as long as the hand of man is not present or visible in the image.

Not acceptable are images such as birds on a fence post, or man made surfaces (decks, concrete, railings etc.). 

4. You can submit a photo from one these categories on the month to which it is assigned:

Assigned October – Action Shot

Action by its very definition and name implies that something is going on, however still photos are still. So one of the biggest questions we need to ask is how can we express motion in a still photo? We somehow need to show that the movement is happening, and we need to tell the whole story of what is going on, the movement, the speed, the height, the trick, whatever the action may be. And we need to tell it in one tiny little slice of time, one frame.

Taking a photo of something that is moving isn’t really that difficult, but taking it in a way that makes it look like it’s still moving can be. Especially if we want to freeze our subject and have it look nice and sharp. To do that we need to: 

  • Freeze our subject - Usually we try to freeze action for a crisp image.
  • Show Motion - how do we capture what is happening if it's frozen?
  • Tell the Story - how do we tell the whole story of the action in one frame?
  • Make it work - that's our ultimate goal, to have a photo that sells itself, not necessarily for money, but to the viewers.

For Tips on how to get good action shots:

Assigned November – Photojournalism

Photojournalism captures a complete story in one image, so that a viewer can immediately get the answers to who, what, when, why and where. One interpretation of the category is that it shows humankind and its world. Titles must be included, as they are an integral part of the story telling.

Assigned December – Apple Still Life

Still life photography, is used for the depiction of inanimate subject matter, typically a small group of objects, in this case with the main subject being an Apple.

This genre gives the photographer more leeway in the arrangement of design elements within a composition compared to other photographic genres, such as landscape or portrait photography. Lighting and framing are important aspects of still life photography composition.

Think outside the apple crate.

For Tips on still life photography:

Assigned January – Aesthetic Portraiture

Aesthetic Portraiture is an image which arouses sensitivity to beauty and emotion of a person or group of people. It captures the personality of a subject by using effective lighting, backdrops, and poses. An aesthetic portraiture focuses on the face, facial features and facial expressions which are made predominant in the overall image.

For Tips on portrait photography:

Assigned February – Amoré

The Italian word for Love is quite appropriate for our Valentine's Day theme. For this assignment you must capture our hearts with an image that expresses Amore, an expression of affection either between two people, a single person, animals or objects. "When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, That's amoré!"

Assigned March – Architecture

Architecture - photography involves the photographing of structures and buildings in a way that is both accurate and aesthetically pleasing. This means that it is more involved than just pointing a camera at a building and shooting away. As a building cannot convey emotions like a human subject, architectural photographers need to set a mood using ambient light. The photographer can also tell a story and make a photo more dynamic by displaying some of the building’s environment or by choosing interesting angles that show off pattern, contrast or repetition.

For Tips on architectural photography:

Assigned April – Abstract

Abstract photography concentrates on shape, form, color, pattern and texture. The viewer is often unable to see the whole object. The subject of the photo is often only a small part of the idea of the image. Viewers may only know the essence of the image subject or understand it by what is implied. Often the image will not be a literal view of the subject itself. The subject tends to come second to seeing. The abstract tends to bring out some or all of these aspects:

  • Angles, Curves
  • Proximity (closeness and distance from the subject)
  • Crop (especially of segments or parts of the whole)
  • Color and Tonal variation
  • Hard light rendering of the subject
  • Soft light rendering of the subject
  • Shape (2D), Form (3D)
  • Symmetry, Geometry
  • Perspective (especially depth of field
  • Layering and overlapping
  • Reflection
  • Highlights and darks
  • Blur (bokeh)
  • Expression of movement

For tips on abstract photography: