Photo Competition

Pick up your camera and start shooting!  The Photo Competition is open to all NEC member club members and all convention attendees. Below is the Photo Competition Rules followed by helpful tips for new photographers.  If you've never entered a photo in this competition, this is a great time to do so.

Eligibility: The competition is open to all registered NEC Convention attendees and members of the NEC clubs.  You do not have to be present to participate.

All entries will be displayed at this year’s Annual Convention, with prizes awarded for the top three photos in each class.  

There will be a new class this year,  "Pond and Water Garden"!


  1. Individual Fish / Fish Identification –  Advanced Class*
  2. Individual Fish / Fish Identification –  Open Class
  3. Underwater Life (Group or Tank Photos) –  Advanced Class*
  4. Underwater Life (Group or Tank Photos) –  Open Class
  5. NEC Activities People Pictures
  6. Pond and Water Garden –  Open Class

*The advanced class is for anyone who has ever received a first place award in any aquarium related photo competition or who has ever been paid for any photographic aquarium related subject.  If you have previously won a first place in the NEC photo contest, you are entitled to enter in the Advanced class, but are not required to do so.

Limit of Entries: Three in either class 1 or 2, three in either class 3 or 4, 3 in class 5 and 3 in class 6 – twelve entries maximum.

Photo Format: 

All entries must be digital.  Prints or slides will not be accepted.  Images should be in jpeg format and between 1200 pixels and 2400 pixels in the greatest dimension.  Each digital file submitted should be composed of the actual photograph only.  No borders, other decorative effects or text should be added to the image.

There are no restrictions on post-exposure editing and / or image manipulation.  It is understood that that photographers may take creative liberties with digital files.  It is up to the judges to detect and determine when such manipulations are unnatural or obtrusive, and evaluate images accordingly.

File Name: The file name for each entry should include the entrant's last name, first name, species name or brief description, and class and entry number (per class) as per the following examples:

    doe_john_corydoras_sterbai_C1_E1 or doe_jane_planted_aquarium_C4_E2

Method of Delivery:  Entries should be e-mailed as file attachments to Richard Pierce e-mail by midnight April 1, 2019  Each e-mail should not exceed 2 Mb in size and may contain multiple photos.  Use several e-mails if necessary.  The body of the e-mail should include the entrant's name, address, e-mail address and phone number.  A list of files sent should also be included giving the file name, description of the photo, class and entry number.  The contest chairman will reply by e-mail within 72 hours indicating the files have been received.  If you do not hear back within 72 hours you should follow up with another e-mail or phone call to be sure that the files were received.

Entries may also be sent by snail mail on CD, DVD, SD Card, microSD card, or USB drive to Richard Pierce, PO Box 132, North Attleboro, MA 02761-0132.  The media should include a text or MS Word file with the entrant's name, address, e-mail address (if available) and phone number.  A list of files sent should also be included giving the file name, description of the photo, class and entry number.  If sending the entries by SD card, microSD card or USB drive use an inexpensive device as it will not be returned.  These devices can typically be purchased for less than $10.  Snail mail entries must be received by Noon April 1, 2019.  Postmark date is irrelevant and the contest chair is not responsible for entries that do not arrive on time.  The Chair will follow up with an e-mail or phone call to let the entrant know that the files were received and were readable.

Entries will not be accepted at the convention.

All entries will be archived, renamed and cross-referenced so that the judges will not see the entrant's name as part of the judging.  The judges' decisions will be final.

Use of Entries: The entrant agrees to allow unrestricted publication of images by the NEC whether for editorial or promotional purposes. Notwithstanding the NEC’s unrestricted use of submitted images, entrant retains ownership/copyright of submitted images, whether published or not, and merely grants the NEC permission to reproduce images.  A photo credit and/or copyright notice shall accompany any image reproduced in any context.  Pursuant to the above, the NEC stipulates that entrant claims ownership/copyright for all images submitted (i.e., entrant is presumed to own the intellectual property rights for all images he or she submits under his or her name).

Display of Entries: It is expected that all entries will be displayed on a digital picture frame or other digital device in the vendor room of the convention starting Saturday.  This display may include the entrant's name and other text on each photograph and will start after the awards have been announced.  Display of the photographs at the convention is independent of judging.  Contest personnel are not responsible for technical problems that may prevent display of the photographs at the convention.  Judges will make their decisions on unmodified photographs, not the photographs with identifying text added.

Review of Entries and Judging:  On Friday evening, the first night of the convention, there will be a public review and critique of the entries.  All convention attendees are welcome.  Refer to your convention program for the time and location of this event.  This will be the judges' first look at the photographic entries and the judges will be invited to critique the photos, pointing out the strong points and weak points of each photo.  The purpose of this session is education.  The judges will be asked to give honest constructive criticism on the photographic entries.  If you are not ready to hear such criticism of your photographs, please do not attend.  The audience is expected to remain respectful during this session.  From this session observers should get a better idea of what makes a strong photograph, in the opinion of the judges.  After all the photographs have been critiqued the public will be asked to vacate the room and the judges will make their selections for the winning photos.

Awards: Cash awards will be presented at the annual convention breakfast.

               $20 for 1st, $10 for 2nd, and $5 for 3rd.

Technical support:  If entrants have questions pertaining to preparing their photographs for submission they are welcome to contact the Contest Chair for help.  The Chair will provide help and advice in resizing, formatting and submitting the photographs only.  The Contest Chair will not give advice on artistic issues, post work, or other issues not pertaining to getting the photographs in the correct size and file format for submission.

Contest Chair:

Richard Pierce
PO Box 132
North Attleboro, MA 02761-0132
Richard Pierce cyprinodont at
phone: 508-643-4603


A Few Tips for New Photographers:

It is expected that an image editing program will be used to clean up the photo. White specs, small scratches, etc. should be removed.  Most digital photos can also use a slight boost to contrast, color correction and light sharpening, but don't overdo it. The eye of the main subject animal should be in sharp focus.

The judges generally do not like to see evidence that the fish are in an aquarium, so be careful of showing filters, heaters, airline, and the side of the aquarium.

Composition is important.  Don't be afraid to use vertical format if it suits the subject better.  You can get lots of tips on composition online.

Behavior is always interesting but doesn't supersede other factors.  A sharp, well-exposed and photo of a guppy will always do better than an out of focus, poorly exposed photo of a breeding pair of rare cichlids.

Be careful of camera phones, especially older models.  They often produce grainy photos.  We have seen photos that would have been winners, but were too noisy. If you have to use a camera phone increase the amount of light if possible.  These phones typically produce noisier photos in darker conditions.

Finally, photos taken in public aquaria, aquarium stores, other people's aquaria and in the field are all eligible for the contest.  You don't have to own the fish or aquarium, but just have taken the photo.

Photo Contest Chairperson, Richard Pierce