Call applications for the “Crystal Ball” Contest for photo documentalists from the South Caucasus

The Association of Photo Documentalists (APD), with the financial support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), is implementing the project “Documentary Photography in the South Caucasus” from November 2021 to October 2025. The project is based on a regional approach and sets the goal to support the development of documentary photography in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.
Among other activities, the project envisages the holding of the “Crystal Ball” contest for the photo documentalists from the South Caucasus from 14 November to 14 January 2023. The given contest will be followed by the annual exhibition in Tbilisi, Georgia where the best 15 projects from the South Caucasus will be presented. Throughout the lifetime of the project, five “Crystal Ball” contests for the South Caucasus photo documentalists are to be organized, with the subsequent exhibitions of the nominees and winners being held in Tbilisi.
Contest Concept topic:
The topic of the city has a long history in the world’s visual art. Consequently, it also has a big role in photography. There probably doesn’t exist a photographer who hasn’t depicted the city in some way.
The question is what is the city for us today? – Environment invented by a human, in which he/she moves, works, rests, creates a family, has fun and etc, could be one city as much as several cities. The city could also be old, newly built, or even both at the same time.
The created urban environment has a different impact on a person, his/her mood, and generally on life. The environment could be depressing or quite the opposite cozy and comfortable. The city with its sights ( history, culture and etc) or with its urban misunderstanding, a city in dynamic or in static, with its streets, buildings, transport, or decorations creating a unique environment for human existence.
It’s interesting to see a city, its inhabitants, and different generations through a south caucasian citizen’s eye, whether it is a day or night city, native or foreign.
A city –This is an endless source of inspiration, which never loses its relevance.
Contest Rules and Judging Guidelines
• Photo entry must be the entrant’s original work and must not infringe on the intellectual property or other rights of any other third party, regardless of country of residence. It is the entrant’s responsibility to clear all aspects of copyright prior to submission. APD reserves the right to disqualify from the competition any entry that infringes on the copyright or other intellectual property rights of third parties and will not be responsible or in any way be liable for any violations of copyright or any other unauthorized use of photos. Participants can submit from 12 to 15 (12 - 15) photos each.
• Each photo submitted by any person must be substantially different from any other photo submitted by that person.
• If submissions include people, the photographer is responsible for obtaining the necessary releases from the individuals depicted and must be able to provide copies of those releases to (appropriate official) upon request.
• All images should be submitted digitally via e-mail at
• Photo titles and locations must accompany all submissions, as well as the name of the photographer. Entries containing rude, unlawful, discriminatory, sexually explicit, or libellous material or material that violates any applicable law in the country where it was shot and edited will not be accepted.
• All images must have a resolution of 6 million pixels or greater (6 megapixels), to be made available upon request. Images that do not meet this standard can still be judged but may not be honoured as a finalist in the competition (at the judge’s sole discretion) if the photographer is unable or unavailable to provide the proper resolution when asked.
Resolution can be calculated by multiplying the image’s pixel width by the pixel height. For example, a photograph taken with a 6-megapixel camera set for the highest resolution and best quality produces images of approximately 2832 pixels by 2128 pixels, which is acceptable under the rules (2832 x 2128 = 6 million).
• All photographs should accurately reflect the subject matter and the scene as it appeared. Photos that have been digitally altered beyond standard optimization (removal of dust, cropping, reasonable adjustments to exposure, colour, and contrast, etc.) will be disqualified.
• Photos will be eliminated from the competition if they have date stamps or are of low technical quality (for example, have a soft focus or show camera movement).
• Images will be judged on originality, technical excellence, composition, overall impact, and artistic merit. Three judges will be from Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. The panel of judges will determine the winner’s eligibility at its sole and absolute discretion. All decisions made by the judges are final.
• The contest will be carried on in two phases, on the first phase judges will identify a long list of participants and after a short list of 5 photographers from each country Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. The winners of the prize will be nominated by judges at the final exhibition, one photographer per each country.
• By entering the competition, entrants give APD the right to use the winning entries without restriction, in whole for not-for-profit means, without any fee. Entrants agree that a condition of entry into the competition entails sharing of usage rights, including but not limited to the display, distribution, publishing, transmission, copy, reproduction, or production of derivative works during the duration of the project.
• Entrants do not waive their intellectual property rights by entering the competition and will therefore retain the right to be identified as the author/creator of their entries.
Evaluation Criteria
The following is a summary of considerations for evaluating image quality in all stages for the selection of nominees and winners of the contest. It is not intended to be comprehensive, and judges are encouraged to use their own experience, skill, and knowledge. The criteria are as follows:
Basic Technique
Is focus appropriate for the subject? Is the depth of field appropriate?
Is it exposed in a way that works for the image?
Special Techniques
Are special techniques like multiple exposures, sandwiching, panning, or cross processing used effectively?
If the image is digitally manipulated, has the manipulation altered composition or only technical issues (exposure, focus, etc.), which could be also accomplished by conventional techniques?
Is the composition skillful and dynamic?
Is the image balanced or unbalanced? Is the balance level appropriate? If there is a main center of interest, is it well placed in the frame?
Are there distracting elements in the picture that could be eliminated?
Are there too many unrelated elements? Too few elements?
Does the composition make effective use of leading lines?
Is depth used (or not used) to good advantage?
Does the composition make use of repeating forms?
Does the framing work? Mergers?
Does it show off the subject well?
Is the contrast level appropriate?
Is there lighting that would work better for the subject?
If the lighting is controlled, is it well controlled?
Does the subject have interesting connotations or associations?
Are the colors and patterns effective?
Interesting textures?
Interesting juxtapositions?
Does the image show an original subject or an original approach to a standard subject? Is it anonymous, or does it show a visual signature or convey a personal vision?
How well does the photograph capture or illustrate the city? Does the image effectively tell a story about the city or convey a mood or value?
Judging procedure
• Anyone can decide whether a photograph is appealing, but skilled judging is about more than a personal reaction: it requires a good understanding of how photographs communicate. It is not intended to be comprehensive, and judges are encouraged to use their own experience and skills.
• We estimate that the full judging procedure can be accomplished by 25 January 2022, including a preliminary examination to narrow the selections to five nominees and a selection of one winner from each country at the “Cristal ball” presentation.
During the preliminary examination images will be evaluated to determine if they meet basic requirements for resolution, size, limits of digital manipulation, clarity, meeting a contest theme, etc. Those not meeting the requirements are eliminated. Only the shortlisted candidates of five per country will be contacted.
• After the selection of five projects from each country, judges will select and score their top choices to one winner per country. The winners will be announced according to the final vote and consensus of judges at the annual “Cristal Ball” contest presentation.
The project “Documentary Photography in the South Caucasus” will award a winner with GEL3400 from Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.
The deadline for submitting your photos is from 14 November to 14 January 2023, 19:00 Georgian time. Please submit your materials with captions in English to