Watch a quick video about the competition...

What is Elevate?

Elevate is an image competition designed specifically for birth photographers.  It incorporates specific standards of excellence in 10 different elements. This competition is the first of its kind in this genre to incorporate a strict standard of excellence, to use peer judging, and to provide detailed scores for every entry. The entire purpose of the competition is to elevate the standards in our industry, provide valuable feedback to artists and allow for those achieving excellence to be recognized for their work.

Elevate is made possible through the donations of OFF-CALL and the Birth Photography Facebook Page.

Who can participate?

Anyone who has photographed a birth can participate.  While we encourage you to submit your best work, you are welcome to submit any image you wish to be scored to provide a baseline for your work.  Submitted images must be your own personal work.

Also, while the final judging will take place at the OFF-CALL Conference, it is not necessary to be present to be awarded.  However, we would totally love to have you there!

Who are the judges?

Preliminary and Semi Final Round Judges:

 Laura Paulescu

Laura Paulescu

 Victoria Berekmeri

Victoria Berekmeri

 Morag Hastings

Morag Hastings

 Sophia Gueiros Costa

Sophia Gueiros Costa

 Kirsten Lewis

Kirsten Lewis

 Jaydene Freund

Jaydene Freund

 Monet Moutrie

Monet Moutrie

Final Round Judges:

 Ceci Jane Massa

Ceci Jane Massa

 Leilani Rogers

Leilani Rogers

 Twyla Jones

Twyla Jones

 Neely Ker-Fox

Neely Ker-Fox

 Emily Robinson

Emily Robinson


Image Competition Co-Chairs:

 Elizabeth Boyce

Elizabeth Boyce

 Laura Eckert

Laura Eckert


How does the competition work?

Preliminary Round:

The preliminary round will be scored by a panel of 6 judges.  There will be two judges per image category (Labor, Birth, & Postpartum- See below).  Those two judges will score the submissions in their assigned category.  If there is a discrepancy of more than 8 points between the two judges' scores, then a third judge will be asked to score the image.  The average of the judges’ scores will determine the image’s final score to be used for ranking purposes.

Open Image Submissions (Oct. 17-Dec 1)

  • Labor- Defined as Active Labor through 10cm
  • Birth- Defined as Pushing, Crowning, Delivery and the first minute after birth
  • Postpartum- Defined as the time from 1 minute to six hours post birth

 Images moving to the Semi Finals will be announced January 1st.  This will be determined by score rank.  Any image receiving a 41 or above will automatically move on to the semi finals.

Each submission will receive:

  • Their numeric scores from the judges who score their image.

Semi-Final Round:

The semi-final round will be scored by all six judges from the first round.  The scores received by the original 2 (or 3 if a third was needed) judges will remain the same.  The additional judges who have not yet scored the image will do so.  The average of all 6 scores will determine the image’s final score to be used for ranking purposes.

Semifinalists will be scored from January 1st-February 1st by all preliminary round judges. 

The top images as determined by the judges’ scoring will move to the final round.  Finalists will be announced February 15th.

Each Semifinalist will receive:

  • Their numeric scores from all judges scoring their image
  • Commentary from at least one judge
  • Image displayed as a Semifinalist on the site
  • Semifinalist Award
  • Any image receiving a 41 or higher will be awarded the Elevate Image of Distinction Award.

Final Round:

Final judging will take place live at the OFF-CALL Conference on February 21, 2017.  There will be a panel of 5 new judges who have not previously scored any of the images.  The format will be up to 2 mins of judge discussion followed by the registering of scores which will remain hidden until the final announcement.  Judges will have time to discuss the final scores and awards in private prior to announcing the winners.

 All images in the Finals will be printed and displayed at the conference and in the OFF-CALL Print Collection. 

Each Finalist will receive:

  •  Their numeric scores from all judges scoring their image
  • Recording of the live judging of their image
  •  Printed image on display at the conference
  • Printed image added to the Off-Call Print Collection
  • Image displayed as a Finalist on the site
  • Finalist Award

How does the scoring work?

Scoring Elements:

Every image will be scored in each of the elements below.

Emotional Impact is the feeling the viewer has upon seeing the image for the first time.  Images with impact will cause the viewer to feel excitement, pain, pride, wonder or another intense emotion. There can be impact in any of these elements.

Technical excellence is the quality of the image. Retouching, sharpness, exposure, and correct color are some items that demonstrate high quality and technical excellence.

Creativity is the original and fresh vision applied to the image.  It is not necessarily that the story is fresh and new, but that the story is told in a way unique to the artist.

Style is defined in a variety of ways.  It may be represented in the way the artist portrays a story.  It may be demonstrated in a way that causes harmony or discord in the image, depending on its effectiveness.  Style can refer to the artist’s choice in lighting, angles, editing or any other way that may set the image apart.

Composition is the capturing of the scene in a purposeful way in order to be sure the arrangement or visual elements in the image will convey the desired intent of the image and hold the interest of the viewer.

Color Balance supplies harmony to an image. An image in which the tones work together, effectively supporting the image, can enhance its emotional appeal.  This is not to determine if the image is correct in color, but rather whether the color or lack of color in the image is used effectively.

The Center of Interest in a photo is the area or elements to which the viewer’s eye and mind is attracted to first.  There can be primary and secondary centers of interest that attract a viewer’s attention.  Absence of main center of interest could indicate an image in which the entire scene collectively acts as a center of interest.

Lighting is the way in which an image is sculpted and defined.  Whether the light applied to an image is manmade or natural, proper use of it should enhance an image.  The use of available light or flash is only relevant to how the light was used to tell the story.

Story Telling refers to the image’s ability to draw the viewer into the story.  Each viewer may see the story independently or may apply their own life experiences to the image’s story.  Either way, the image engages them into the moment that was captured.

Sensitivity refers to the way in which the artist chose to portray the intimate nature of birth.


Scoring Rubric:

Each of the above elements will be scored based on the rubric below.  Each element will receive a score of 1-5.

5 points: Exceptional grasp of the element being judged. Nothing could be improved.

4 points: Excellent understanding of the element and above average execution.

3 points: Understands the element and execution is average.

2 points: May understand the element but there is question on its execution.

1 point: Can not determine if element is understood or not as execution is seriously lacking

0 points: It is obvious the element is not understood at all and the execution has failed.


Overall Scores and Image of Distinction Awards:

The scores from the elements above will be totaled together to give an overall score.  This score will be used to determine your ranking in the competition and whether or not your image qualifies to receive an Elevate Image of Distinction Award.

46-50: Exceptional Image- One that you can hardly find a flaw in.  This image makes you want to keep looking at it over and over again.  The photographer is clearly a master of their craft.  Deserving an Elevate Image of Distinction Award and special recognition.

41-45: Excellent Image- One that is solidly executed and the photographer demonstrates superior knowledge and skill.  Deserving an Elevate Image of Distinction Award.

36-40: Above Average Image- One that is solid in their execution and portrays an understanding and skill in most areas. Images in the 38-40 range may be awarded on the discretion of the judges.

31-35: Average Image- One that may demonstrate areas of strength and areas of weakness, but overall, the image is solid and the photographer possesses the skills needed to produce work for clients.  

22-30: Below Average Image- One that demonstrates understanding in some areas but many that need improving.  Photographer should consider working to improve problem areas.

21 and below: Poor Image- Photographer may possess skills in certain areas, but should seek additional training and education in order to produce a solid image and bolster their scores in the future.

Are there awards or prizes for winning?

There sure are!  We are still in the early stages and working on specific prizes for the winners.  However, the following awards will be named.

Elevate Image of Distinction Award:  Any image scoring a 41 or above, or an image scoring 38-40 but voted on by the judges, will receive the Elevate Image of Distinction Award in honor of their excellent achievement.  There is no limit to the number of these awards. 

Semi-Finalist Award: Any image that moves from the Preliminary round to the Semi-Finals will receive the Semi-Finalist Award in honor of their promotion.  The number of awards named will depend on the total number of images submitted and named by the judges.

Finalist Award: Any image that moves from the Semi-Final round to the Final round will receive the Finalist Award in honor of their promotion.  The number of awards named will depend on the total number of images submitted and named by the judges.  All finalists will also have their image printed and on display in the OFF-CALL Print Collection.

Bronze in Category: One image in each of the competition's categories will be awarded the Bronze Award.  There will be three awards named in total, one in Labor, one in Birth, and one in Postpartum.

Silver in Category: One image in each of the competition's categories will be awarded the Silver Award.  There will be three awards named in total, one in Labor, one in Birth, and one in Postpartum.

Gold in Category: One image in each of the competition's categories will be awarded the Gold Award.  There will be three awards named in total, one in Labor, one in Birth, and one in Postpartum.

Best of Show: One image will be named best of show out of all the images submitted.  It is independent of any category.

We are currently working with our sponsors to determine prizes for the the winners. 

What are the Competition Rules?

Please click here to read the legal terms and rules for this competition.

  1. There is no limit to the number of images that can be entered.
  2. The date the image was created does not have to fall within any specific dates.
  3. Any image, not previously entered into the Elevate Competition, may be submitted.  Once an image is entered, it may not be entered in a future Elevate competition.  You are ofcourse, welcome to enter it in any other competitions, publications, etc.  We do not restrict it's use outside the competition. 
  4. You may not contact a judge at any point in regards to your image submission.  Doing so will forfeit your entry and all fees associated with your entry.
  5. All submitted images are anonymous when going before the judges.  They will not know whose image they are scoring.
  6. Categories are very specifically defined.  If there is question on whether an image should be within a certain category, you may be asked to provide proof via a time stamp or a subject statement of verification.
  7. You must have a signed model release in your possession before entering.  You may be asked to provide a copy if requested.
  8. You must have taken the image you submit.  This means that YOU pushed the button on the camera, not a dad or nurse or back up photographer.  If you were sub-contracted to take the image (you were the back up photographer and do not own the copyright), you must have permission from the business who contracted you.
  9. All scoring and awards are final.  If you are not happy with the score you receive, please try again next time!
  10. All entries are subject to competition fees and must be paid in full or image(s) will be disqualified.
  11. If you are found to be in violation of any rules stated here or decided in the future, your entry will be void and your fees and awards forfeited.
  12. Anyone running the competition or judging the competition is prohibited from entering in the competition in which they are participating.

What does it cost to enter?

You are welcome to enter an unlimited number of images in any and all categories.  However, we HIGHLY suggest that you select your absolute best work.  In respect of the judges' time and talent and to be sure that only your best is submitted, the following image fees are charged for your submissions:

$50 per image

What do I need to show for a model release?

You may submit anything that shows that your client is fine with you entering.  This could be an email, text, screenshot, or something as formal as a signed model release.  We do ask that EVERYONE do this since the images will be viewed by up to 13 judges/admin and shown live in the finals.  You do have the option to opt out of the online portion, but to respect the women in the images, the model release is still required.  

Will images be displayed online? Should images be watermarked?

When you enter the competition, it will ask for a watermarked web version to protect your image when it is used online AND an unwatermarked version to protect your anonymity for the judges.   Images put before the judges will never have a watermark.  Images displayed online will always have a watermark. During the registration process you may also choose NOT to have your image displayed publicly online at all.   

What size should my image be?

Fullsize files (not watermarked) may be up to 20mb in size.  Online images (watermarked) may be up to 2mb in size.  

Important Competition Dates

Competition Open to Submissions: October 17, 2016-December 1, 2016

Early Bird Pricing Ends: November 1, 2016  11:59pm CST

Competition Deadline: December 1, 2016  11:59pm CST

Preliminary Round Judging: December 1-January 1, 2017

Semi-Finalists Announced: January 1, 2017

Semi Finalist Judging: January 1- February 10, 2017

Finalists Announced: February 15, 2017

OFF-CALL Print Collection on Display: February 19-21, 2017

Finalist Judging: February 21, 2017

Awards Ceremony: February 21, 2017


Please feel free to email Elizabeth Boyce at or Laura Eckert at with any questions.