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Darren’s judging style is unique, and has been developed through listening to club feedback about what they want to see from judges. Having worked professionally in the field for over 15 years Darren understands a variety of subjects, how they should be photographed and how they should be post processed, therefore the judging is well rounded and fair to all members specialisms.

Trained and Accredited as a Kent County Photographic Association (KCPA) and Federation of South London Photographic Societies (FSLPS) judge. References are available from the secretaries of Parkwood or West Wickham camera club.

The Judging Process

how I do it...

1) Introduction – Darren will introduce himself and his judging style, laying out exactly what it is he is looking for in a specific competition as this will vary depending on if it is a print, PDI or set subject competition. If time permits Darren will explain the differences in marking of the same image between different judges on different evenings and why the marks will vary.

2) First run through – For prints Darren will look through all images quickly before commenting. With DPI it is asked that a quick slideshow is shown before judging commences, then on the second run through he will comment, Hold or Mark. This is the preferred method by the judge to make sure that marks are consistent with the comments, however if the club wishes all marks to be done at the end then the judge will accommodate, please bear in mind that this style is more suited to evenings with a lower amount of imagery.

3) Firstly the technical abilities of the image will be judged, what did you do right in camera, what did you do wrong in camera and then you will be given some suggestions on how to correct this.

4) Secondly your post production ability will be judged, what did you do right in post, what did you do wrong in post and where possible you will be given some keywords to help you research methods for correction.

5) Now the technical aspects have been marked, which form a very small part of the process the judge will look at your image title. What are you trying to tell the judge of the reason you took the image? Be very careful with the titling as if you give a latin name it will be judged as a natural history shot and not pictorially. From your title you will be judged on how successful your image was to tell this story.

6) The final step is to look at the atmosphere, emotion and personal connection that the image gives. If an image is very strong in emotion or atmosphere this can outweigh that of an image which is better technically and therefore may score higher.

Presentation – For clubs that have tiered groups presentation will be marked down for the higher ability groups but not the beginner groups. On print evenings paper choice and mounting will be considered and for PDI’s borders will be considered.


Darren believes it is important to explain his judging and why a certain image attaind a certain mark. The evening becomes what is should really be called, a “Constructive Criticism” evening and not just a competition. Far too many judges are critical but do not offer suggestions technically on how to improve that image. Darren believes that you need all 4 parts to successfully judge a competition.

1) Kiss – tell them something good about their image. 
2) Slap – tell them what is wrong with their image.
3) Soothe – tell them not all is lost and offer suggestions of how to correct the image in camera or in post.
4) Kiss – finish off by saying something nice again.

The Final Decision

The final decision over the top 4 images if very close will always be down to the personal opinion of the judge. Images may receive different marks in different competitions due to the quality of the other images in that competition. If the overall quality in the first competition is low then the image will probably be marked higher, whereas in a competition where the overall quality is much higher it may receive a much lower mark.

Judging Training Download

Please find in this download a guide to judging by Darren Woolway of which was presented at the KCPA Judges Training 2016. DOWNLOAD HERE


How to book

To book Darren to judge at your club please contact him on 07849 385 331 or email studio@raidphotographic.co.uk

Below is a list of the evenings that are already booked for judging or talks:

Bookings Completed in 2016-2017 = 33
Bookings Completed in 2017-2018 = 32
Bookings Completed in 2018-2019 = 29

24th September 2019 – Lecture on Ghosts/Levitation at Eastbourne
26th September 2019 – Still Life Demo at Invicta Photographic
1st October 2019 – Malling Photographic Society, Talk TBC
4th October 2019 – Talk at Selsdon on Composites TBC
9th October 2019 – Live Demo on Levitation/Ghosts at Faversham
13th November 2019 – Talk at Sittingbourne
21st November 2019 – Judging Reflex
26th November 2019 – Aperture Woolwich Finals
28th November 2019 – Artificial and Mixed Lighting at Bromley
3rd December 2019 – Judging DPI at West Wickham
9th December 2019 – Judging prints at Gravesend CC
3rd February 2020 – Judging at Folkestone
12th February 2020 – Artificial and Mixed Lighting at Deal
1st April 2020 – Judging Street/Colour Print Finals at Faversham
12th March 2020 – Talk on My Journey at Romney Marsh St Mary’s Bay
7th April 2020 – Talk on Notting Hill Carnival at Hastings
21st April 2020 – Orpington Colour Print Final
26th May 2020 – Judging at Photofold, Billericay
3rd August 2020 – Talk on Notting Hill at Bexleyheath
24th September 2020 – Talk on Ghosts at East Grinstead
12th October 2020 – Judging prints at Battle