NC 4-H Congress Photography Contest

— Written By Catherine Daniels
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The statewide NC 4-H Congress Photography Contest is sponsored by the North Carolina Agricultural Communicators Network (formerly the North Carolina Farm Writers and Broadcasters Association) and coordinated by the CALS Communications at NC State University.

The purpose of this exhibition is to provide a showcase of 4-H members’ photographic accomplishments. The exhibit is unveiled at 4-H Congress in Raleigh, North Carolina each summer. The winning photos are then displayed at select meetings and events throughout the year until the next Congress.

All entries must be submitted digitally or postmarked NO LATER THAN May 27, 2016.

Judging for the NC 4-H Congress Photo Contest is performed by NC State University CALS Communications. This department is staffed by communications professionals who are accustomed to creating and/or using photographic images as part of their own work.

Below is a listing of the criteria the judges use when choosing the winners of this contest.

Relevancy to Category Topic – Is the photo an obvious illustration of the category in which it is entered? If the picture doesn’t tell us, does the information on the entry form make it clear how the subject fits the category?

Composition / Arrangement – Are the objects in the photo arranged in a meaningful, pleasing manner or are they haphazard? Did the photographer use the best angle or otherwise interesting perspective?

Focus / Sharpness – Is the object of the photo in focus? If not in sharp focus, does it appear to be an intentional effect to enhance the image in some artistic way?

Lighting – Did the photographer use proper lighting of the subject matter? Do any extremes of darkness or brightness lend to or detract from the image content?

Creativity – Does the photographer show some creative thought or original idea in the making of this image? Is the subject something unusual or is the content of the photo presented in a way we haven’t seen before?

Categories for the 2016 contest include the following:

4-H in Action: We’re looking for pictures that show us what happens at 4H events throughout the year. The key to winning this category is the action. We want to SEE what’s happening. If it’s a judging contest, we want to feel like we’re right in the middle of the action. If it’s meeting with legislators, then we want to feel like we’re so close we could shake that person’s hand. In other words, we want the photographer to get in close and show us what really happens when 4-H’ers get together for an event or activity.

Nature’s Beauty: Nature’s Beauty is always our biggest category. We had close to 100 entries last year in this category alone, so competition is fierce. Winners in this category are ultimately chosen because they exhibit superior technical skill, move in close to the subject and capture something really different. Some show beautiful things such as sunsets and flowers. Others create beauty from something unexpected (mushrooms, a turtle having a snack, a dragonfly with torn wings.) All contain strong composition, nice light and sharp focus on the subject.

Animals: Interpret this category any way you like. We’ll be looking for creativity and originality in the content of the photos, as well as good technique. We want to see visual, graphic images of the animals most important in your lives every
day, whether pets, farm animals or wildlife.

Please remember to submit your entries NO LATER THAN May 27, 2016.

How should I send my entries?

New this year, we prefer that you email your photos to Please use “NC 4-H Photo Contest 2016” as your subject, and and include the following entry information with your email:

  • Name of Photographer
  • Home Address
  • 4-H County
  • Male/Female
  • Age
  • Parent’s/Guardian’s Name(s)
  • 4-H Agent’s Name (First and Last Name)
  • Entry Division: Junior Division (Ages 9-12) OR Senior Division (Ages 13-19)
  • Category: 4-H in Action, Nature’s Beauty, Animals
  • Picture Name and Information: Please tell us any details about your image

Frequently Asked Questions

What do the winners receive as awards?

Ribbons are awarded for 1st, 2nd, 3rd Place and Honorable Mention. Each winner also receives a congratulatory letter from CALS Communications. Winning entries are displayed on the 4-H Photography Contest webpage.

Will the winners be announced in any newspapers?

Perhaps! This is up to the discretion of the individual county 4-H agents to contact their local newspapers about the 4-H’ers who have received awards in this contest.

Is there always a “Best of Show” winner?

No, “Best of Show” winners are designated as such when the judges feel that a particular 1st place photo is clearly deserving of extra recognition. It is a great honor for the photographer and a real treat for the judges when we discover such an image!

Will participants receive a written critique of their entries?

Since the judges are asked to review a very large number of photo entries, they are not required to provide written critiques. We received close to two hundred entries last year and just don’t have the staff to individually critique each one. However, we do try to provide general information about what the judges liked and why they chose certain winners in a given year.

CALS Communications reserves the rights to use any of the photographs received for educational purposes.

We’re looking forward to another great group of photographs to judge for the 2016 Contest!

NEW THIS YEAR: Please submit digital entries to

  • This exhibit is open to (and only to) all North Carolina 4-H members ages 9-19.
  • Participation is NOT limited to just those 4-H’ers enrolled in photography projects.
  • All entry photos must have been taken by the 4-H’er submitting the entry during the contest year.
  • Entrants must submit their photos within the division that applies (Junior/ages 9-12 OR Senior/ages 13-19).
  • Each entrant may submit only one photo in each of the three categories (“4-H in Action”, “Nature’s Beauty”, “Animals”). This means that each individual 4-H’er may have as many as three entries so long as they submit each entry in a different category.
  • The same image may be entered in more than one category (if it applies to each category.)
  • Photos may be in color OR black-and-white.
  • Please, please send your entries at the highest image resolution possible so that we can display high-quality images.

The following rules apply:

Please email all entries to</a, using “NC 4-H Photo Contest 2016” as the subject line.
You may attach as many as three contest entries per person to one email.

Each email containing photos must also contain the following information:

Name of Photographer
Home Address
4-H County
Parent’s/Guardian’s Name(s)
4-H Agent’s Name (First and Last Name)
Entry Division: Junior Division (Ages 9-12) OR Senior Division (Ages 13-19)
Category: 4-H in Action, Nature’s Beauty, Animals
Picture Name and Information: Please tell us any details about your image.

Please contact with any questions or concerns.

Visit: for more details.