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Documentary Category

These category rules are to be read in conjunction with the General Rules.

4.1. Specific Rules

4.1.1  These category rules are to be read in conjunction with the General Rules in Section 1.

4.1.2  Images submitted to this category must be `observed’, meaning they are not posed, fabricated, directly influenced or directed by the photographer in any way.

4.1.3  Entries for this category must consist of single-capture images, meaning no HDR, multi-exposure, panoramic stitching or similar techniques are allowed. The image should portray or provide context for an actual event or situation. 

4.1.4  Images submitted in this category should capture moments from daily life, depict the human condition, or portray newsworthy incidents with a clear narrative. They should evoke a strong emotional response and have a lasting impact on the viewer. Staged, contrived, or manipulated situations that distort reality are not permitted.

4.1.5  Basic post-production techniques, such as colour and brightness adjustments, cropping, dodging and burning, as well as conversion to monochrome are permitted. Entrants are not allowed to manipulate pixels, except for removing dust spots. Composites, or altering or adding elements within images, are prohibited. The original image content is to be retained.

4.1.6  All post-production work (essentially raw conversion) must be completed by the entrant.

4.1.7  The original Raw file may be requested by the Organisers.

4.1.8  The submission of captions is optional (see section 4.3).

4.2    Subcategories

This category has the following subcategories.

4.2.1 General. This subcategory is available for any documentary images that do not suit any of the subcategories listed below.

4.2.2  Travel. Any photograph that is of a landscape, people, customs, culture, history. Ideally the image represents a time and place in a natural state and is not restricted to international or interstate locations.


4.3.1  It is normal practise for photojournalists or documentary photographers to provide captions that meet the international journalism principles (such as those provided by Reuters) . To mirror these industry standards, for this category entrants have the option to include a caption with each submitted image.

4.3.2  If captions are provided, they must to comply with industry norms. To assist, guidance is provided as follows:

Caption Guidelines

A description or caption to provide judges with additional significant information is permitted (limited to 25 words) and will be read during judging. It is recommended that captions be correctly crafted to meet journalistic standards by `adding’ information and not simply repeating what an observer can already see.

Key points are:

  • Captions should be factual and objective with no opinions or emotive wording.
  • The first sentence is written in the present tense.
  • Consider the who, what, when and where questions.
  • If appropriate (and if there is room within your 25 words), also consider the why.

Also review the separate section “Accuracy in Captions” – an exert from “Reuters Handbook of Journalism”.  


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