These are the twelve elements of a merit print, which our members strive for with each competition image. The twelve elements below, listed in order of importance, have been defined as necessary for the success of an art piece or image. Any image, art piece, or photograph will reveal some measure of all twelve elements, while a visually superior example will reveal obvious consideration of each one.
… is the sense one gets upon viewing an image for the first time. Compelling images evoke laughter, sadness, anger, pride, wonder or another intense emotion. There can be impact in any of these twelve elements.
… is the original, fresh, and external expression of the imagination of the maker by using the medium to convey an idea, message or thought.
… is the quality of the image itself as it is presented for viewing. Retouching, manipulation, sharpness, exposure, printing (if entering a physical print competition), mounting, and correct color are some items that speak to the qualities of both digital and physical prints.
… is important to the design of an image, bringing all of the visual elements together in concert to express the purpose of the image. Proper composition holds the viewer in the image and prompts the viewer to look where the creator intends. Effective composition can be pleasing or disturbing, depending on the intent of the image maker.
… the use and control of light—refers to how dimension, shape and roundness are defined in an image. Whether the light applied to an image is manmade or natural, proper use of it should enhance an image.
… is defined in a number of ways as it applies to a creative image. It might be defined by a specific genre or simply be recognizable as the characteristics of how a specific artist applies light to a subject. It can impact an image in a positive manner when the subject matter and the style are appropriate for each other, or it can have a negative effect when they are at odds.
… affects an image by giving it a finished look. The mats, key lines, and borders used should support and enhance the image, not distract from it.
Center of Interest
… is the point or points in the image where the maker wants the viewer to stop as they view the image. There can be primary and secondary centers of interest. Occasionally there will be no specific center of interest, when the entire scene collectively serves as the center of interest.
… should always be appropriate to the story being told in an image.
… supplies harmony to an image. An image in which the tones work together, effectively supporting the image, can enhance its emotional appeal. Color balance is not always harmonious and can be used to evoke diverse feelings for effect.
… is the approach used to create the image. Printing (when entering a physical print competition as opposed to a digital image competition), lighting, posing, capture, presentation media, and more are part of the technique applied to an image.
… refers to the image’s ability to evoke imagination. One beautiful thing about art is that each viewer brings their own experience and interpretation to read his or her own story in an image.