The Australian Photographic Judges Association 2014-2021


The need for the training of photography judges for clubs had a history going back to the 1880s and in recent history, the first training days for judges in Victoria took place under the guidance of Peter Hunter at the old Kodak plant in Elizabeth St., Coburg in 1971. Between then and until 2014  judging workshops were irregularly carried out.

In 2010 the VAPS reviewed judging under the leadership of Jim Weatherill. The team involved in the review included Adrian Smith, Robert Groom, Peter Dwyer, Rob Sloane, and Paul Robinson. Expectations of the quality of judging had risen alongside the acceptance of digital photography, this also in part caused a dramatic and general increase in the membership of clubs. The bar needed to be raised to meet more modern expectations and to point the way forward for judging; to address the need a reference manual for judges was seen to be of benefit.

Support during the writing came from various highly qualified people which included Tuck Leong, Dr. Bert Hovelling, David Robinson, Barb Butler, John Spring, Ian Bock, Adrian Smith, Peter Dwyer, Roy and Elaine Berryman, Dr. Anne Riggs, Dr. Gillian Turner, Jean-Philippe Weibel, Bruno Zielke, Sue Rocco, and Peter Kewley.

In 2012 with the support of the VAPS committee and in particular Peter Kewley, a 100-page publication “Judging Photographs” written by Paul Robinson was launched on the 19 May at the VAPS Convention at Ballarat University. The manual influenced thought about the skill of judging photographs.

As a result of the book Paul Robinson and the current APS and VAPS President at the time, Ron Speed discussed the training of judges at the 2014 VAPS Convention in Geelong and together undertook to formalise the training of judges. A Business Plan was made during July and an Advisory Board was formed comprising Peter Kewley, Tuck Leong, Jim Weatherill, Dr. Alfred Zommers, Ian Rolfe, Ron Speed, and Paul Robinson. Model Rules, Position Descriptions, Fees, and training levels were implemented and the Australian Photographic Judges Association was formed on 16 Nov 2014.

Soon after APSCON 2016, where Ron and Paul made a presentation about the APJA Ron moved to Perth, WA, and there contributed to the construction of the WA – APJA.


The APJA aims to promote the interests of photographic judging by aiding all or any of the following to continually improve the quality of the practice of photographic judging. This is carried out by conducting seminars, training workshops, group discussions, attending exhibitions, providing reference material, offering mentoring schemes, conducting and recommending personal development in the discipline, and gaining feedback about judging activities.


A website was built by Ron Cork and redevelopment took place during 2020-21 by Lyn Haywood. Training modules have been written and at least three seminars along with workshops have been conducted each year since 2015. The seminars have been conducted with guest speakers from academia, AIPP, PSA and from within the association.

Judges undergo an accreditation process comprising six levels being:
* Level 1 – Novice
* Level 2 – Intern
* Level 3 – Licentiate
* Level 4 – Associate
* Level 5 – Fellow
* Level 6 – Master

Up to Level 3 Licentiate the practicing judges must have completed the relevant seminars and in addition, L4 and above are also assessed against criteria prior to being awarded the level applied for.

The APJA has around 130 members but not all are practicing as judges owing to their ongoing training needs.

Newsletters are issued mostly on a monthly basis and are also directed at the ongoing information needs of judging skills.

What the future holds

Commencing in July 2020 a five-year strategic plan was begun and its writing is currently underway with some of the items under development, such as the website and a Dictionary of Definitions (of subjects useful for photography clubs).

The strategic plan reviews each responsibility the association carries out. This includes the accreditation process, mentoring program, training modules and overall direction, review of ‘Judging Photographs’ manual, raising a Glossary of Terms, the encourage of new members to carry out actual judging at clubs, identify technology support for members, streamlining treasury, appropriateness of badges and transition planning.