Photography Contest Lists Judges That Didn’t Participate


The International Photographer of the Year (IPOTY) contest is drawing attention for all the wrong reasons after 11 of the 14 judges on the panel assessing this year’s crop of photos claim to have not judged a single image.

Even though the judges didn’t get to review anyone’s work, they apparently assessed winners back in February. Another thing that is strange about this story from PetaPixel is that the other three judges mentioned on the panel cannot be contacted currently.

So what gives?

For one, the International Photographer of the Year contest is what’s called a pay-to-play game, meaning that entrants usually have to pay some kind of fee to have their work judged. This is unlike a purely merit based contest or a free-to-enter contest that doesn’t require a fee for consideration.

Image via Vladyslav Dukhin from

And to many photographers, herein lies the problem with the IPOTY.

The winner of the contest was announced via press release back in February. Drawing 4,380 entries, it is estimated that the contest brought in between $USD 65,700 and $USD 131,400 for the contest’s organizers, a hefty sum by any standard.

On March 3 some of the judges listed on the contest website contacted PetaPixel to reveal not only had they not judged any of the images but also that no one from the contest had contacted them about it.

A letter from some of the judges to the website, in an effort to elucidate the situation, stated “We discovered, by chance through contacting each other, that 11 of us, despite being listed as judges, did NOT participate in any shape or form in the judging of the competition. While some of us had agreed to be judges for the 2017 competition, others had not even given their consent.”

Some of the judges listed did participate in prior years of the contest and some even selected photos, but those that sent the letter to PetaPixel never picked a winner as was claimed by the contest.

Since running the article the International Photographer of the Year competition has removed several of the web pages listing the incorrect information but has not responded to PetaPixel for comment.

About Author

Kehl is our staff photography news writer since 2017 and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing and you can get to know him better here and follow him on Insta.

So, now, photographers entering a contest or judged show have to make sure all the judges are actually participating……….. should that be “our” responsibility?
For shame.

Unfortunately, its very difficult to trust any contest that requires a fee to enter. I look at plenty of pictures myself (as do everyone reading this) but I have never been offered a penny for saying which one I like best. So the question is, why do they need $$$ to look at the pics and say which one they like best?
Something always smells funny about these “contests”…

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