Preparing Prints

Print Competition Guidelines

  1. Choose your photos and upload digital versions to the monthly entry page on our website.  The uploaded image will be projected during the competition meeting while the judge comments on your print, so make sure that the image you upload is substantially the same as the one you print.
  2. Print your labels for your pictures by using the left link on the upload hub of the PACC website. 
  3. Print your photos.
  4. Mat your photos securely (optional).  You may submit either matted or unmatted prints (if matted, see instructions below).  Please note that unmatted prints are more likely to be scratched, smudged, etc.  Although we will handle them with care, we cannot take responsibility for any damage to either matted or unmatted prints.
  5.  Attach your labels to the back side of each print or mat, on the upper-left corner when viewed from the back.   To maintain anonymity during the judging, do not put your name on the front side of the print or mat.
  6. Bring your work to the competition and place it on the table for the correct category.  If you used a plastic sleeve to protect the print during transport, remove the print from the sleeve, and keep the sleeve with you until the end of the meeting.
  7. Pick up your print at the end of the competition. Winners are announced at the competition, and they are archived on the website. See My PACC > Browse Last Competition to view winners.

Guidelines for entry

  • Enter online by the deadline. The registration and upload deadline is 11:59 PM on the Monday before the Wednesday competition. Bring your printed images to the competition. The entry link is on the top right of the Palo Alto Camera Club (PACC) website.  Don’t forget to print and attach your labels!
  • Limit 3 images per member, with no more than 2 in any one category.
    • The number of total entries per evening is limited to allow time for helpful critique and discussion. Each of your prints must be assigned a priority level online, with priority-level 1 assigned to the print you would most like to see in the competition.
    • If the entry limit is exceeded, entries will be dropped starting with priority-level 3 entries.
  • There is a non-compete option to opt out of the awards and just have your work critiqued by the judge. Select this option while registering online.
  • Make sure your subject meets the criteria for the category. Check the club calendar and category guideline page for details.
  • In post production, do not add your name, copyright, watermark, image title, URL, or any other identifying text to the image itself.
  • Members must be present to have their images presented.
  • The same image may be entered on more than one occasion (provided it has not previously received a 1st, 2nd or 3rd place award), in the same or different category.
  • Prints will be displayed on a light stand at the meeting, so the maximum allowable height of the mat (if using) or the unmatted print is 22 inches.  We suggest that you limit the width to 24 inches, so that it can be properly illuminated on the light stand, but we will accept wider panorama prints.  Unmatted prints will be supported by magnets, so leave at least a 1-inch white border on the top of the print if you’re not using a mat.
  • Awards are given for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. Honorable mentions are given at the judge’s discretion. One 1st-place image is awarded Print of the Month.
  • Judges are paid photographers selected by our Judge’s Chair.
    • They are familiar with the rules for entries and they do their best to provide an informative and constructive assessment of the pros and cons of each entry.
    • Like all of us, their assessments are to a certain extent subjective, and this may explain why good entries that meet all the rules may receive different assessments and awards.
    • Some judges are more adept at discussing the artistic merits and weaknesses of an image than others, while others are fussy about seemingly minor technical ‘flaws’.
    • We are very fortunate that these individuals take the time to travel here, often from a great distance, to spend an evening at the club to help us all improve our photographic skills and images.

How to print your photo

WHERE: Photographers have an amazing array of possibilities for printing their photos. In addition to quality home printing machines they can also choose between professional print labs, drug stores, online websites, and membership warehouses like Costco.
  • Costco is very popular and their prints are high in quality and inexpensive.
  • BayPhoto or ACI Lab does a great job, too.
  • Walgreens is very fast and the images can be uploaded 24/7 and be ready in hours. Their work is also good in quality. You can upload images using your computer or a smart phone with their handy app. To get the size you need for the competition select print for 8×10 or poster for a larger size.
SIZE: The most common sizes for printed images for our competitions are 8.5×11, 11×14, 10×15, and 12×18 with their corresponding mats going up to 16×20. The maximum allowable height of the mat (if using) or the unmatted print is 22 inches. We suggest that you limit the width to 24 inches, so that it can be properly illuminated on the light stand, but we will accept wider panorama prints. Unmatted prints will be supported by magnets, so leave at least a 1-inch white border on the top of the print if you’re not using a mat.

How to mat your photo (optional)

When your photo is matted, it will look very professional. It is very easy to mat your work yourself because mat kits are readily available from many stores, both locally and online. RULE: the bottom (back) board on which your print is mounted must be no smaller than the outer edge of the front window mat, and there should be no protrusions or sticky surfaces on this board that might cause damage to the surface of another print. If you have any questions please consult the Print Chair. You need:
  • A mat board that is cut for your print. White is not required but it is the color that most people use.
  • A back board that is the same size as your mat board (this is not required but it is recommended).
  • Double stick tape (scrapbooking tape), tape, sticky dots, or glue dots can all be used to secure your image and the mat board and back board together. Make sure your completed mounted images is secure because the Print Chair will not have time to fix them the night of the competition. If it comes apart, the print will be displayed without the mat.
  • Your label, printed from the entry page. Affix to the BACK TOP LEFT of your matted print as viewed from the back. Do not write your name on the front of the photo or mat.
  • Optional: portfolio to transport your image; remove photos before submitting in the competition bins and keep transportation materials with you. If you used a plastic sleeve to protect the print during transport, remove the print from the sleeve before putting it in the bin.
  • NOTE: your matted work should be secure and it should not contain anything sticky or sharp that can damage other work when stacked in a bin. Please remove all bags prior to inserting into competition bin.
Here is a YouTube video that will show you how to cut a mat and mat a photo:
You can start at 8:00 minutes if you just want to see how to mat an image with a mat kit versus cutting it yourself.
Choosing the right mat kit is so easy now!
  • The most popular sizes in our print competitions include: 16×20 mat with window for 11×14 photo
  • 11×14 mat with window for 8×10 photo
You can buy your mats locally at DickBlick or Michael’s. You can also buy them online. Amazon has Prime (free) shipping for mat kits from US Art Supply in sets of 25 for $33 to $39 (that is less than $2 each!). Google “mat kit” and you will find a plethora of choices.
Amazon – search “mat kits” and the ones by US Art Supply are very highly rated:
11×14 mat for 8×10 photo
16×20 for 11×14 photo×20
16×20 for 11×14 photo×20
Older articles from our archives:
Reusable mat technique:
How to present your prints:
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Print Chair.      

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