Behind-The-Scenes Look at the Best of the Best Photo Contest Judging Process

Since the launch of Junebug’s first Best of the Best photo contest over eight years ago, our contests have evolved into some of the most prestigious in the world. We’re so excited that the success of our contests has resulted in widespread recognition for the wedding photography community. Today, we’ll be sharing a behind-the-scenes look at the judging process for our Best of the Best Photo Contests.

Before we begin any judging, we blind all submissions.

Round One is judged by our 3 guest judges as well as the Junebug Weddings’ team. Each judge independently reviews every single photo submitted to our contest. Our largest contest garners over 10,000 images! Judges narrow the thousands of photos submitted down to 200-400 of their favorites.

*We typically invite 2-3 industry experts to assist in the judging of our contests. Past judges have included Ryan Brenizer, Susan Stripling, Sean Flanigan, THEUPPERMOST, Callaway Gable, Ed Peers, and more. We take the selection of our judges very seriously and try to choose two-three individuals who represent different styles and regions.

Round Two is judged by our guest judges and the Junebug Weddings’ team. Judges sort their 200-400 favorite photos into 3 folders. Definite winners in folder 1. Possible winners in folder 2. Lastly, photos that do not stand out against the rest or are potential honorable mention winners get sorted into folder 3.

Round Three is judged by the Junebug team. As a team, we review the judges selections and determine if there are any unanimous winners among the first folders.

In Round Four, as a team, we review the judges’ selections and utilize a point system to evaluate photos that appear in different folders. For example, if a photo appears in a folder 1 and also appears in another judge’s folder 3, that photo would be rated less than if it appeared in a folder 1 and then a folder 2.

In Round Five, as a team, we review the collection as a whole. Here, we look for diversity in photography style, as well as in the couples who are featured. Additionally, our goal is to showcase the best of the best images of the year, so we consider whether all 50 photos have the “wow factor” that will appeal to a wide audience.

In Round Six, as a team, we unblind the chosen 50 to fact-check and ensure that no photographer is overly represented. Having such a prestigious contest, we attract submissions from some of the best photographers in the world, but we also value the opportunity to recognize up-and-coming talent.

Round Seven is judged by the Junebug Team and the guest judges. Junebug sends the final collection to our guest judges and asks for feedback/suggestions. Once everyone agrees that this collection exceeds all standards, we prepare the collection gallery for release.

What makes a Junebug collection truly great is the standard that we, as a team, set for the final selection of images. This standard helps us to create visually stunning collections that a wide range of people can enjoy.

While we can make every attempt to run a completely objective photo contest that appeals to every person, photo contests require a certain amount of subjectivity. Some photos make you feel a thousand ways and others don’t, and those feelings change from person to person. We try our absolute best to make sure our collections speak to more than just one audience and that they represent a wide spectrum of photographic styles, cultures, etc. Over the years, time has proven that the more diverse the submission pool, the more diverse the final collection. We urge photographers everywhere to submit work that highlights diversity both in style and subject matter for future contests.

At the end of the day, our contests cannot be compared to any other wedding photo contests, because our brand is unlike any other brand running a wedding photo contest. We trust in our brand and take great care in making sure that our collections are an accurate representation of Junebug’s selection of the top wedding, engagement, and destination photos of the year.

Again, we are so incredibly humbled at the response to our collections over the past eight years. Getting to see two of our collections go viral in the past year feels incredible, and we can’t wait to see how our contests evolve in the years ahead.

Pssst! We are constantly re-evaluating our judging process in order to improve. So be sure to check back here from time to time!

***last updated February 2017


(2) comments

  1. Cool list. Thanks

  2. This is super informative and awesome! Thanks for putting so much time and effort into this guys, it means the world to know how hard you guys work!

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