Technical and Artistic Criteria for Judging Photography

logo for the italian wedding awards 2016

Wedding and event organizers Daniela Corti and Camelia Lambru ingeniously came up with the idea of creating the first Italian Wedding Awards ceremony for the wedding industry in Italy. They have worked solidly and brilliantly to create this beautiful event and to create awareness in the wedding industry for many service providers and venues, especially in light of the fact that destination weddings in Italy are a booming market and one of the key places to come to get married for many Italians and foreigners.

This great idea will see many skilled providers push their limits to give better services, create new ones, generate business and attract more brides and grooms from all over the world to this beautiful country.

Inviting foreign personalities from the wedding world to participate and judge the Italian Wedding Awards will also help to give a more global awareness on all the amazing locations and services you could have as a newly engaged couple for your future wedding in Italy. I lived in Italy for many years and I love this country, it is where I made my first steps as a wedding photographer and only my curiosity and desire to travel around the world led me to leave and explore new places and locations.

I am honored to have been asked to judge the photography category of the inaugural Italian Wedding Awards. I believe that the standard of wedding photography in Italy is very high and on a global level many Italian wedding photographers are at the forefront of their profession.

Italian Wedding Awards – Judging the Photography Category

I will be judging the entries in the photography category with a broad set of criteria. I aim to not only provide criticism but also praise. Ultimately the experience of being judged should lead to encouragement and improvement not only for the participating photographers but also for myself as a judge. One of the greatest ways to improve is to be your own harshest critic. I have judged myself my entire life and this is what drives me forward. I am very careful about the responsibilities of being a judge as I truly believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Photography is semantics and so what one person likes another may dislike. However, I do believe that there are some rules, principles, and guidelines that in general should be followed. I will have to be artistically objective and technically analytical when I judge the entries.

Here is a summary of the process that I will be using to judge the photography category at the Italian Wedding Awards. I will primarily be judging contestants on their images, technique, artistic content, style, and consistency, but not exclusively. I will also consider their business presence, branding, and general communication. We live in an online world and therefore these are also important aspects that should not be ignored.

So what criteria will I use to judge the Italian Wedding Awards?

Looking at images we are in some way engaged with them. We see a photo and that image says something to us, it triggers a response, a thought, it stimulates a reaction that can be cognitive or emotive or ideally both. For a photo to be considered art it should evoke emotion, be communicative, it should stimulate a feeling with the viewer. As humans, we can experience a huge gamut of emotions including love, joy, surprise, anger, sadness, fear. A photo can be technically perfect but if it is devoid of emotional content then the glass is half empty.

If a photo is emotionally powerful but it is technically flawed this will weaken the communicative potential of the image. Basically, the photographer was present at the fundamental moment but technically the image they produced was flawed and that consequently distracts the viewers’ ability to empathize. So, when judging the entries I will first evaluate them on technical merit and then on the artistic and emotive content.

Criteria for Technical Assessment

I won’t go into details about each of these principles as that would require a whole new article. The photographers that are nominated will receive the following list of criteria so that they are aware of how I shall be judging them.


Is the image correctly exposed for subject/content. Over-exposure, under-exposure, intentional or accidental.


Overall focus, is the subject in focus, critical focus point, transition, circle of confusion, separation or lack of, bokeh. Resulting focal choices or mistakes that cause a distraction to the viewer.


Consideration of the horizon, objects, shapes, forms, lines. Spatial contextual awareness. Composition and design. Consideration and use of space, leading/horizontal/vertical/diagonal lines, silhouettes, aspect ratios, framing, dynamics, rhythm, flow, content, triangles, curves, motion, complexity and many other factors. Lighting.

Dynamic range

Areas lacking detail in blacks or whites. Hot spots and glare.


Issues with your equipment these can be evident in the images. For example, poor quality wide angle lenses deliver excessive distortion hence subjects in the corners appear warped/distorted.
Poor quality lenses deliver distracting bokeh etc.

Post Production

Coloration, black and white, saturation and contrast, vignette, creative choice. The list here is endless but ultimately the post production should enhance and not diminish the image.

Criteria for Esthetic, Artistic, Creative Assessment

Putting aside the technical aspects of the images I will consider the emotional, artistic, evocative, empathetic characteristics. A technically correct image will not distract from the viewers’ ability to connect with it. I will be looking for photos that have complexity behind their apparent subtlety. Images that draw me in and provoke my curiosity, images that make me return for continued subsequent viewing. Photos that intrigue me. A photo of unique content could be applauded and one of something commonplace should be striking. Of course, I will be judging many different styles, inherently wedding photography requires a solid understanding of many types of photography. For example, reportage must be an adroit depiction of a scene without the photographers’ interference, or a portrait should be strengthened by the photographer through their use of techniques.

In conclusion, I have a difficult task ahead, but I am excited and stimulated by it. The experience of judging the Italian Wedding Awards will help me grow as an artist, for me the path of learning and discovery is always the most interesting.

Jules Bower

Italian and destination wedding photographer Jules Bower photographs weddings in Italy, Europe and worldwide. His unique approach and expertise arrive from not only an obsession with photography but also because he owned one of the first and most successful wedding planning agencies in Italy.