Category Definitions

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Category Definition
Pictorial All photographic images are welcome in the pictorial photo category. Images will be judged only on their merits, and not on their category or the nature of their subject matter.
Abstract Images entered in the abstract category may not necessarily resemble or attempt to represent things we see and find in the world, but may instead use a visual language of form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from the literal.       

The only requirement is that a majority of the image’s content originates with a photographic image or images, so no photographic image would be disqualified, but keep in mind that entries will be judged on artistic content, originality, intellectual content, form, and color, rather than narrative content or pictorial representation.

Animals Photographs for this category should include any non-human animal or group of non-human animals.       

The subject(s) may be either wild or domestic, in captivity or in the natural environment. Pets, zoo animals, backyard insects/spiders, and safari-sighted beasts are only some of the possibilities from which to choose. Humans or other items may be included, but your image must be composed so there is no question that the subject is the animal or animals.

Architecture Architectural photography can be broadly defined to encompass views of the exteriors and interiors of domestic, commercial, religious, institutional, and engineering structures of all types. It involves the portrayal of the subjects in proper perspective and without photographic distortion.       

Unlike a landscape or cityscape which is generally depicted a significant distance away, it more likely includes and emphasizes, but is not be strictly limited to, a single or small number of structures in the image where clearly the structure is the main subject of interest.

Close-up of Nature Photos submitted in this category will combine aspects of both close-up and natureClose-up photography, or macro photography as it’s technically known, is a fascinating way of seeing your subject from a totally new viewpoint. By moving in closer you start to see new details that were just a blur of colors from a distance, and the world of nature, for one, takes on a whole new look.   

Nature photography is restricted to the use of the photographic process to depict all branches of natural history, except anthropology and archaeology, in such a fashion that a well-informed person will be able to identify the subject material and certify its honest presentation. Nature images are not permitted to include any man made object as the subject or in the background environment.

External links for inspiration/additional reference:

Directional Light While light is an obvious ingredient for all photographs, images in this category should strive to use light as an intentional or key compositional element used to illustrate the subject matter or accent the mood of the image. The source of light could be ambient or artificial but its source and direction should be evident.       

Examples in this category would include images utilizing side lighting, rim lighting, backlighting and silhouettes. Beyond just the source and direction of light, images entered in this category could also use the arrangement or treatment of light and dark to accent the subject. This is a concept/technique originating from the Art world known as Chiaroscuro.

Emotion Entries in the emotion category should portray a human being or beings visibly experiencing an emotion.       

Some examples might be a shocked bystander viewing a disaster, an exuberant competitor crossing the finish line in a race, or a laughing child at the circus. Any emotion is OK, as long as the dominant aspect of the the photograph is the person or persons experiencing it.

Food This category includes photographs of human food in any form – raw, or as prepared in a dish, being prepared or being eaten — as the main subject.       

If the food pictured is not actively being eaten, it must be clear that it is specifically intended for preparation or consumption by humans – not wheat in a field or cows in a meadow, and not a spider eating an insect or an osprey carrying a fish.

Bon appetit!

Geometry The images in this category must contain strong geometric features such as shapes and lines.       

The geometric nature of the the subject should predominate and the lines and shapes in the image should be amongst the first thing the viewer notices.

Landscape, Seascape, and Cityscape Landscapes, seascapes, and cityscapes are just what you would think: outdoor shots of wide expanses of land, sea, or city buildings.    

“Scapes” are frequently, but not always, horizontal in format. Many land and sea scapes will be nature oriented, but the nature requirements like “no hand of man” do not apply. A picture of a single building, plant, or ship would not be a “scape”, but pretty much any wide outdoor shot will qualify.

Leading Lines Leading lines are used as an effective compositional tool to direct the viewer’s eye to a particular part of a photograph. A good leading line provides a sense of flow, and creates depth in an image. Anything can act as a leading line – a fence, a road, railroad tracks, shorelines, or anything else that might guide the viewer’s attention.       

The element of leading lines should be visibly present in your image(s) for this category.

Macro and Close-up Macro photography involves creating an image in which the size of the subject in the photograph is greater than life size. A true macro photograph is one in which the size of the subject on the negative or image sensor is life size or greater.       

Typically, subjects of macro photography are very small, such as insects or flowers; larger objects may also prove useful as macro photography subjects if, for instance, you want to focus on some very specific, smaller detail of the large object in question.

Close-up photography is the act of photographing objects in close range so the subject you are photographing fills the frame. In other words, it’s the act of photographing subjects close up.

Minimalism/ Simplicity Webster dictionary defines this category as: “A style or technique that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity“.       

Artistically speaking, minimalism depends on high simplicity and involves using a minimal amount of compositional components such as shape, color, and line. This can be accomplished via negative space, contrast, leading lines or toning.

The goal of minimalist art, or photography, is to convey a concept – or an idea – provoke an emotional response, or provide a unique visual experience. Compositional elements must be kept to a minimum, and the ones that are left should be essential for conveying the overall idea, or symbolism, of the photo.

Achieving a strong compositional element to a minimalist photo is absolutely key in enhancing the impact of the shot. What you leave out is just as important as what you leave in.

External links for inspiration/additional reference:

Modes of Transportation Planes, trains, and automobiles are just some of the vehicles that carry people from one place to another. A photograph submitted for this evaluation may contain an entire fleet, one vehicle, or one or more parts of a conveyance that provides human transportation either on land, in the water, or in the air.
Motion Images submitted to the motion category should communicate the fact that the subject of the capture was moving from one location to another in physical space at the time the shutter was pressed. The movement portrayed should be a significant aspect of what the image portrays and should be visually evident to anyone viewing the image. The motion can be actual or implied by using various techniques (e.g. camera shake, zoom in- zoom out).       

Some examples of motion include:

  • linear motion (motion which follows a straight linear path),
  • rotary motion (a motion about a fixed point -e.g. Ferris wheel),
  • rolling motion (the wheel of a bicycle) and
  • time lapsed motion (e.g. progression of celestial bodies through the sky).
Nature Nature photography is restricted to the use of the photographic process to depict observations from all branches of natural history, except anthropology and archeology, in such a fashion that a well-informed person will be able to identify the subject material and to certify its honest presentation.       

The story-telling value of a photograph must be weighed more than the pictorial quality.

Human elements shall not be present, except on the rare occasion where those human elements enhance the nature story. The presence of scientific bands on wild animals is acceptable. Photographs of artificially produced hybrid plants or animals, mounted specimens, or obviously set arrangements, are ineligible, as is any form of manipulation, manual or digital, that alters the truth of the photographic statement. Makers may perform any enhancements and modifications that improve the presentation of the image that could have been done at the time the image was taken, but that do not change the truth of the original nature story. Cropping and horizontal flipping (equivalent to reversing a slide) are acceptable modifications.

Night Photography Night photography refers to photographs taken outdoors after dusk (sunset) and before dawn (sunrise), where the light of the sun is not visible.       

Night photos may be of the night sky, moon or other astrological phenomena, or other outdoor scenes that may not include the night sky in the photo, but obviously imply that it is nighttime. Photos taken inside, but clearly showing evidence of nighttime (i.e. night sky seen through a window) are permissible. Interior photos that do not show the outside, or are not affected by the outside are not, as they could be just as easily taken during the day with the lights off or shades closed.

People & Portraiture For this category, the predominant subject must be one or more humans.       

People photographs generally fall into two categories: portraits and candid. Either can be made with or without the subject’s awareness and cooperation.

A portrait is a photograph is the artistic representation of a person in which the face and its expression is predominant. The goal of a portrait is to capture the likeness, personality and even the mood of the subject. Although it does not have to be, a portrait is usually a composed image of a person in a still position.

A candid photograph is a photograph that is made either without the subject’s knowledge or explicit permission. Therefore, the subject/s is/are photographed acting naturally or spontaneously, and is/are not posed.

Pictorial – Along the Hudson From Lake Tear of the Clouds in New York’s Adirondack Mountains to its mouth at the tip of Manhattan, the majestic Hudson River flows. Bridges, marinas, and beautiful scenery abound.   Photographs submitted for this category must include some aspect that clearly depicts the Hudson River and its shores.
Square Crop Square crop photography uses an aspect ratio of 1:1. Aspect ratio is a term used to describe the ratio between the width and height of an image.       

Although all photographic images are welcome in square crop pictorial, composition, shape, design, and balance are key aspects to consider.

You can read about the square format in more detail in the following article:–photo-7947

Still Life For the purposes of this category, a still life is defined as a collection of inanimate objects arranged together in a specific way.       

This collection may typically include, but is not limited to, a small grouping of commonplace objects, either natural (food, flowers, plants, rocks, or shells) or man-made (drinking glasses, books, vases, jewelry, coins, pipes, and so on).

An effective and interesting still life may convey cultural, religious, personal or allegorical symbolism, or convey a message or concept in some other, way relating to the objects depicted.

A superior still life image will usually:

  • Invite closer study of the arrangement,
  • create a sense of intimacy or connection with the objects, and/or
  • show us a new way of looking at the ordinary objects around us.

Makers are expected to demonstrate a refined sense of lighting, coupled with compositional skills.

Street Photography At its most basic, street photography is candid photography made in public situations. In photographic terms “street” is not limited to roadways as the word might suggest. It is a stand in for any public setting. Street photography uses the techniques of straight photography in that it shows a pure vision of something, like holding up a mirror to society. Street photography often concentrates on a single human moment, caught at a decisive or poignant moment.   

The chief concern is life in general, and its reduction into frames that stand alone and visually work. This requires a careful selection of visual elements to include and exclude from the final composition, and great attention on the moment selected for exposure.

External links for inspiration/additional reference:

Textures/ Patterns Photos submitted for this category should feature as the main subject or as a main compositional element, strong use of pattern and/or texture to enhance the subject. For the purposes of this category,
Pattern will be defined as:   

  • repetition of shapes that relate to each other visually.
  • a decorative repeating design, as in wallpaper, China, textile fabrics, etc.
  • a discernible regularity in the world or in a manmade design. As such, the elements of a pattern repeat in a predictable manner.

Texture will be defined as:

  • a natural or chance marking, configuration, or design.
  • the feel, appearance, or consistency of a surface or a substance.
  • the visual and especially tactile quality of a surface.
  • the characteristic physical structure given to a material, an object, etc., by the size, shape, arrangement, and proportions of its parts.

One important point is to make sure that the texture serves a subservient role in this type of image. In other words, the texture should help to enhance the center of interest of the image by adding information to the center of interest. The texture should not overwhelm the center of interest.

External links for inspiration/additional reference:

Water, Ice, and Snow Water is the quintessential shape shifter. At room temperature, it has no definite form, but as it cools, its molecules become rigidly compact. As a liquid, water can be photographed as a drop of dew, as part of an ocean, or in any other way imaginable. Solid water presents itself in so many different ways, including delicate crystals, slick sheets, and as collections of flakes in a snowbank. 

For this evaluation, a photograph’s subject must involve liquid water, solid ice, or snow.

Windows Doors and Chairs and parts thereof Photos submitted for this category should feature as the main subject or as a main compositional element either in whole or in part, doors, windows, or chairs, or combination of these. Showing the subject(s) in an interesting and captivating way. External links for inspiration/additional reference:   

NJFCC 2019 – Definitions

Category Definition
Pictorial A competition wherein the subject matter, composition and style of the image are not Nature images.
Creative (Pictorial) An NJFCC competition sub-category of pictorial photography.       

This consists of images presented in such a manner that post processing or in-camera manipulation is obvious to the average viewer.

Pictorial Nature An NJFCC competition sub-category of pictorial photography. It consists of nature ‘type’ images that do not otherwise meet the entry requirements for NJFCC Nature Competitions.       

If an image is eligible to be entered into NJFCC Nature, it will be disqualified/excluded from this category.

Open (Pictorial) An NJFCC competition sub-category of pictorial photography.       

This includes all other images not eligible for entry elsewhere.

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