Photography Contest



  • 4-H Connect registration opens January 1, 2016
  • 4-H Connect registration closes midnight, January 31, 2016
  • Judging will take place during the month of February
  • Results will be emailed to County Extension Offices in March
  • Awards will be distributed to County Extension Offices


Each participating member is required to register on 4-H Connect and pay the district contest registration fee.  When registering on 4-H Connect, you will be assessed a $10.00 fee when you select your first entry.  Subsequent entries are an additional $0.50 per photo.


Participants must be active 4-H members enrolled in a Texas 4-H and Youth Development county program in District IV.


Age divisions are determined by a participant’s grade as of September 1 of the current 4-H year.  Age divisions for this contest are:

Junior 3rd, 4th or 5th grade (minimum age of 8)
Intermediate  6th, 7th or 8th grade
Senior  9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th grade (maximum age of 18)

Photo Categories

  • 4-H Projects
  • Farm & Ranch
  • Food
  • Leading Lines
  • Panorama
  • Shadow/Silhouette (now a combined category)
  • Water (any form)

Descriptions are outlined below.

Awards and Judging

Blue, Red, and White quality ribbons will be awarded in each age division/category.  In addition, best of age division (for juniors, intermediates, and seniors) and one best of show recognition (all age divisions combined) will be awarded.  Judges may also award honorable mentions at their discretion.

Eligibility of Photos

All photos must have been taken by the 4-H member between the dates of November 2013 and the time of entry.   Photos may be submitted only one time and in only one category.  Photos may be submitted in color or black & white (monochrome); however, there are no separate divisions between the two.

NOTE:  This is NOT the qualifying contest for the state senior contest that will be held in the spring.  The District IV photo categories are different than state, so please refer to the state rules for categories and descriptions.

Number of Entries

Each member may enter one photo per category for a maximum of 8 photos.  There are no limits on how many photos a county can enter.

Entry Process

All photos must be uploaded through 4-H Connect at the time of registration.  Please read the following submission rules carefully to avoid disqualification of entries.

Formatting the Photograph

Photographs should be taken at the highest resolution possible. Photographs must be in a .jpeg, .jpg, or .gif format.  Files submitted may not be larger than 2,048k (2MB). There is no minimum size requirement, however, your photograph must be large enough that it can be clearly evaluated for the contest (i.e. if it is too small, it can be disqualified).

Photo Optimization

All photos should accurately reflect the subject matter and the scene as it appeared.  Photos that have been digitally altered beyond standard optimization (red eye reduction, removal of dust, cropping, minor adjustments to exposure, color and contrast, etc.) will be disqualified.  Images that do not meet these requirements may or may not be judged at the judging panel’s sole discretion.

Photographs can not contain “user placed text.”  This includes such things as comments or titles.  Text or wording that is part of the photograph (i.e. photo of a street sign, etc.) is acceptable.

Copyright and Content

Photos that are deemed obscene, vulgar, sexually oriented, hateful, threatening, or otherwise violate any laws are strictly prohibited.  The Texas 4-H and Youth Development Program in District IV respects the rights related to copyright laws and intellectual property.  All photos should be based on a 4-H member’s original photograph taken by the 4-H member. Use of a photo from other sources/people without permission is not allowed and will lead to disqualification of the photo and possibility all entries by the 4-H member.  The Texas 4-H and Youth Development in District IV reserves the right to refuse inappropriate or unsuitable entries.

Model and Property Releases

Any 4-H member submitting a photograph acknowledges that they have sufficient permission of any recognizable locations or people appearing in their photograph(s).  This permission is hereby granted to both the photographer and the Texas 4-H and Youth Development Program in District IV to publish and use as needed.  Written documentation should be retained by the 4-H member and will be requested by the Texas 4-H and Youth Development Program in District IV if needed.

Disqualification of an Entry

An entry that does not follow the rules or category guidelines will automatically be disqualified.  A general notice specifying reason(s) for disqualification will be noted on the score sheet.  Reasons for disqualification:
o Extremely poor quality (resolution/size)
o Photograph file not labeled correctly to ensure identification
o Does not meet category criteria (see category descriptions)
o Inappropriate or unsuitable photograph
o Manipulation of photo beyond what is allowed
o Photograph entered into multiple categories
o Photo was NOT entered into the 4-H CONNECT system
o County did not certify entry
o Entry fee not paid or only partial fee paid

Release of Liability

The Texas 4-H and Youth Development Program, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, District IV 4-H and/or its employees/agents involved in the contest will not be held liable for missing, mislabeled, or non-displayed photographs.  By entry the 4-H member accepts this release.

Display, Future Rights Use Rights, and Retention of Photos

By submitting an entry to the contest, the 4-H member grants permission to the Texas 4-H and Youth Development Program, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, District IV 4-H, and any other public or private agency authorized by the Texas 4-H and Youth Development Program, the use, and rights associated to the use of the photographic likeness, in promotional publications, and other media, without compensation.  Certain photos maybe used for 4-H program and marketing uses.  By entry the 4-H member accepts these conditions of display and future use.  All photographs will be retained by the Texas 4-H and Youth Development Program in District IV for which they may be used in marketing and program promotion.


Category Descriptions




4-H Projects

Includes subject matter that relates to and would promote a specific 4-H project.


Farm & Ranch

Includes subject matter that you would typically find on a farm or ranch.

Barbed wire fence
Grain elevator


An image taken that captures an elongated field of view.  Defined for this contest, the photo has an aspect ratio (width to height) of 2:1 or greater.

Images in this category can be “stitched” using software.

Sporting events or venues

Leading Lines

Leading lines are lines within an image that leads the eye to another point in the image, or occasionally off the image.

Train tracks


A silhouette is an outline that appears dark (typically a single color) with little or no details against a brighter background.

Recording patterns of light and shade for a desired effect or emphasis is the definition of a shadow.  The light and shadowed areas are important to the impact of the image.

Natural Structures


The main subject of the photo must be some form of water.

Water drop(s)


A still life specialization of photography, aimed at producing attractive photographs of food for use in such items of advertisements, packaging, menus and/or cookbooks.

Thanksgiving dinner, cakes/pies, fruits and place settings, Easter eggs, sandwiches, ingredients, etc.

Not allowed:  photos of alcohol or drugs (prescribed or illegal)



The “12 Elements of a Merit Image” will be used as the judging criteria for the photography contest.  As outlined by Bob Hawkins, these twelve elements 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 consideration of each one.

The twelve elements for judging the photographs will be:

IMPACT Impact 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.
CREATIVITY Creativity is the original, fresh, and external expression of the imagination of the maker by using the medium to convey an idea, message or thought.
TECHNICAL EXCELLENCE Technical excellence is the print quality of the image itself as it is presented for viewing. Retouching, manipulation, sharpness, exposure, printing, mounting, and correct color are some items that speak to the qualities of the physical print.
COMPOSITION Composition 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.
LIGHTING Lighting – 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.
STYLE Style 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.
PRINT PRESENTATION Print Presentation affects an image by giving it a finished look. The mats and borders used should support and enhance the image, not distract from it.
CENTER OF INTEREST Center of Interest is the point or points on 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.
SUBJECT MATTER Subject Matter should always be appropriate to the story being told in an image.
COLOR BALANCE Color Balance 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.
TECHNIQUE Technique is the approach used to create the image.  Printing, lighting, posing, capture, presentation media, and more are part of the technique applied to an image.
STORY TELLING Story Telling refers to the image’s ability to evoke imagination. One beautiful thing about art is that each viewer might collect his own message or read her own story in an image.


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