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Tips for Photo Showing

or... labeling photo backs clearly so the judge keeps their sanity.

Vikki Johnson © 2004
Originally written for the DHR/AMAHA

A neat and orderly photo back is not going to get you better placings at a photo show, but the judge will be eternally grateful for your efforts and may be willing to judge again! A judge without eyestrain is a happy judge and we want to keep the judges happy.

The hobby has had a pretty standard format for photo backs. Imagine the area divided in roughly three horizontal spaces. The horses name and information is in the upper third, on the left side. Halter pics require more information, but performance photos usually just need horses name, age or year foaled, breed and gender. The owner's name and return address occupy the bottom third of the pic. The middle portion is where the class numbers are placed.

From a judge's perspective, there are two important factors in making sorting photos so much easier. Consistency and readability.

Do stick to the hobby standard when labeling. If you have a photo that is vertical on the front [i.e. nice tight shot of a rearing stallion so you turned the camera to get all of his splendor] it FEELS natural to label the photo on the back on the vertical as well. But that makes it SO hard for the judge who is going through a pack of photos and suddenly has to stop and turn the photo. So keep the information on the back on the horizontal, and the judge will know to flip it to verticle once the class starts.

Also, try to keep your own style consistent. This makes it tons easier when it's time to get all those photos home again. If you use address labels and put your address in the bottom left, then ALWAYS put them on the bottom left, or right or center, wherever it is you prefer, just keep it consistent. If you put your class numbers label to the right on the middle horizontal, ALWAYS put it to the right, or left... you get the idea. This way your photo backs will FEEL a certain way when it's time for that final sort.

Having an identifying mark can also help the judge sort the pics home to you. A small red dot in the lower left hand corner of ALL pics... or a blue star in the lower left hand corner... think of something unique [lots of people already use dots or stars...] a blue circle with your stable initial in the bottom right hand corner... Again, helps with the consistancy.

Some people write directly on their photos, some prefer labels. As a judge, either one is fine as long as the information is clear and easy to read. As a shower, I do not like labels for one simple reason - they add weight! I'm all about saving postage money. But sticky labels, printed out from the computer if your handwriting is REALLY bad, helps the judge immensely. Or print in all caps if that makes the information easier to read.

If you are a sloppy writer, your prize stallion Ibn Ahkllar Sha Heqila might appear in the results as Ihn Akkiior Sbo Hegllo and you will be mighty confused.

NEVER USE BALL POINT PEN TO WRITE DIRECTLY ON A PHOTO BACK! Well, you can if you want to, but it often presses through and leaves indentations that show up on the front of the picture, and now your champion show horse has a lumpy bit across his eye. I love SHARPIE MARKERS! No, I don't have any affiliation with the company, but they really are great. Extra Fine Point or Ultra Fine Point and if I make a mistake, I use a Q-Tip dampened with a tiny bit of finger nail polish remover, sometimes it takes a few passes, to "erase" the error. Practice on a 'bad' photo back first - it's worked fine for me for years now, but I don't want anyone writing in that I gave bad suggestions and now Champion Ibn Arabian's halter photo is ruined! I've only had two problems with my erasing method, where the mark was gone but the area became slick and would not hold new marker. I just put a piece of SCOTCH MAGIC TAPE over the area and wrote directly on that with my sharpie.

Speaking of the best thing for the model horse hobby since postal delivery, THIS is what you want for your class numbers. Any ERASABLE clear tape will work, the 3/4" wide is the best [bigger area for numbers!] and with a pencil and erasure, you are SET. Some folks use little white labels for class numbers, but then they don't erase so well, or they use pen and white out.... and it gets REALLY hard to read the numbers. MAGIC TAPE... it's the best. And if it gets old, has been erased too many times and is smudgy, it CAN be removed, carefully and slowly, with tweezers to start the edge. Delicate work and take your time. OR just erase the first one best you can and put a new piece over top. But that adds weight and I'm all about saving postage.

Remember to leave lot's of space between numbers, commas small and unobtrusive. Some folks have a harder time processing numbers so make it easy for the judge. Use a nice looooong piece of erasable tape so you can get all class numbers in a row, or maybe just the last one or two on the second row...

GOS/POD lists:
When I saw the requirement for lists to accompany the GOS/POD entries, which wasn't in place back in 2001, I panicked. Oh no, not more paper.... more weight, more POSTAGE! Then I realized that I already DO lists of foals for the judges... on the photo back! I've done this for years to try to help the judges. Breeding stock classes are a BEAR to sort, so everything you can do to help is good. I use my trusty Sharpie Marker, write GET OF SIRE and under that SIRE OF: and under that, the stallion's foals. I've also used a piece of Magic Tape and pencil instead so I can erase faster, during a very flexible show year and a changing show string. Either way works and the LIST is RIGHT THERE! Nothing to forget, nothing to lose, nothing to be misplaced. Viola!

So... Label as if you will be the one looking at the photo back: are the number's clear? Can you read the name of the horse clearly so he will get into the results properly? Do your photo backs look like they belong together, so they will come home safe again. Yes? Well done!
... Putting the entries together.

Vikki Johnson © 2004
Originally written for the DHR/AMAHA

Here are a few tips that will help your photos make it safely to the show, assist the judge while there, and get them home again.

Manila envelopes are great. The 6" x 9" is large enough for most show strings. Address BOTH envelopes clearly, with the TO: and FROM: address. Including the return address on the return SASE saves the judge time from having to stop and include it. Affix the proper amount of postage stamps on BOTH envelopes. Never send a smaller envelope as your return SASE than the one the pics arrived in! And never put less postage on the return SASE than what it took to mail them to the show. Your horses aren't going to lose any weight at the show ... and there are results to come home.

Ziplock sandwich baggies (I use the quart size, heavy duty freezer version; any brand will do) will keep your photos safe and together both to and from the show. It's an excellent idea to put your name and address somewhere on the outside of the baggie. This way if there is a postal accident (the horrors!) and the envelope is opened/ruined, the Post Office still has a chance of getting all your pics home to you. I heard a rumor once where a girl's pictures were individually "canceled" by the Post Office and returned to her as *post cards* with postage due for each one! I don't know if that is a urban myth in our hobby, but it's a scary thought nonetheless!

Use some SCOTCH MAGIC TAPE (I love this stuff) on the outside of the Ziploc baggy and note how many photos are included. Good judges will count your entries as they come in and make sure it matches your number. If it doesn't, good judges will note any discrepancies. They will also count them again before sending them home to make sure it still matches.

Include the proper show fee! NEVER SEND CASH THROUGH THE MAIL! We all know that one and it's true, but for small amounts ($1 or so) I still risk it. Living on the edge! Write out checks (or money orders) for the proper amount, make check payable per instructions in the prize list/class list, and don't post date checks. Most judges will give the benefit of the doubt with checks and send entries back home without waiting for checks to clear - don't bounce checks on the poor judges, and if there is an oops, clear it up quickly!

Put all photos in numerical class order, even if it's not required. Judges LOVE this, they sing praises to those entrants who do it! I like to pre-sort my halter in one pile, performance in the other and then put the two together facing each other. This makes each division pre-sorted and ready for those divisions. This is a good time to make sure you have all of Ibn Arabian's foals for a Get of Sire class and if not, to correct the list. Nothing worse than the poor judge hunting for a foal that didn't even make it to that show.

Do any extra taping on your return SASE you may want. Put your show fee in the baggie along with a note (post its, love 'em) of which show these are for, your fee enclosed and making note of any extra money for donations/raffle and tickets/etc. If you prefer email results instead of paper, note that along with your email address. Put in a couple extra loose first class stamps "just in case". Judges should never use these unless it's necessary but sometimes they are needed, such as a bigger results packet than you estimated. Fold your return SASE in half, tuck the baggie in between the fold, put it into the outgoing SASE. It's helpful make sure to note in the lower left hand corner what event you are attending "AMAHA FEB POS" in case the judge is holding multiple events. Tape up any loose flaps on the envelope as needed and there you go, a perfectly executed show entry ready to mail!
HOW TO MAKE THE ENTRANTS LOVE YOU for safe and happy judging.

Vikki Johnson © 2004
Originally written for the DHR/AMAHA

So you're holding a show. Hopefully your entrants have done everything they can to make your job easier. If you are a first time judge, there are a few things to remember when hosting a show that will keep the entrants happy and eager to show under you again. Even the best judge of horseflesh (or horse plastic in this case) can lose points if they are lacking in show ring manners.

(If you are judging for a club or organization, abide by their specific guidelines of course!)

Never EVER smoke or drink or eat while judging or sorting photos! If you are a smoker, take your habit to another room or even outside so the smoke does not contaminate the photos. I am a smoker and I fully abide by this one. Wash your hands before handling the photos, and keep pets and small children away from the "show ring" at all times. A cat hair under the tape on a return envelope is cute. Mangled or sticky photos are not!

Don't hold a show for late entries. The exception is if you are confident you can still finish judging in the allotted time. Causing an entire show to be late penalizes the entrants who DID make it there on time. Many people need their photos back as soon as possible so they can enter another show. I remember years ago someone holding a show announced, via the internet or a publication, something like "I only have 3 entries for my April 10 show, so I'm extending the deadline to May 10th so more people can come, so please enter." YIKES! I was relieved that I had not entered that show and I made a mental note to never enter that persons shows in the future.

Late arrivals: It is perfectly acceptable to sort late arrivals into any classes that have not been judged yet, or to send them back to the entrant unjudged, show fees returned of course. Club guidelines and judge's choice.

Opening envelopes: Hold vertically and give the envelope a tap or two on the table before carefully opening at the top will avoid accidents.

Checking the entries: Take the time to count photos as they come in, and check against the number of photos the shower indicates were sent. If there is a discrepancy use a Post It note to advise the entrant.

Notations and such: It is fine to leave a note on a photo back for the shower (good job - check your bit - wrong class) but never write directly on the photo back! Use Post Its! (exception: no Post It's on show trains. Don't want to influence the next judge with your comments.

Moving horses: Avoid moving horses in classes, unless it's obvious, i.e. foal entered in the mare class. It's not your responsibility to correct an entrant's mistakes (tho' it is nice to let them know if you did catch one) and you may move a horse incorrectly. If you don't like a horse in a class it was entered in, simply excuse it or judge it as is and don't place it. (Example: If I feel my bay minimal sabino mare should be in Bay, please don't move her even if you believe she should be in Paint/Pinto! I would rather her not place in Bay than win in Paint/Pinto!)

Results: Type up results in a manner that is easy to read. Don't use a font that is so tiny us folks who are getting longer in the tooth can't read it. By the same token don't use a font or format that increases the size of the results from 3 pages to 10. Try to copy both front and back to save paper AND to save postage for the entrant. ALWAYS SEND OUT PAPER RESULTS!!! The exception would be if an entrant specifically requests email results and includes their email address for you. There are still a lot of folks not on the internet, or don't have a printer, or has a printer that is misbehaving at the moment. (Err, that would be me.) So please, stay old fashioned when it comes to results and stick with paper unless a shower asks otherwise.

Unexpected Delay: If something happens to throw you off schedule, above all try your darndest to finish the judging on time and get those photos back to the entrants! Include a note of explanation that results will follow separately. Work the best you can to get those results out within a week or two. Most showers include a loose stamp or two just in case of this very thing and are very understanding as long as the results get out within a few weeks. If an entrant did not include an extra loose stamp, use one of your own to mail them their results. Above all else, get the photos mailed back to all entrants quickly.

Something Really Bad Happens: If you cannot start judging or have to stop in the middle and simply can't do more, get the photos mailed back to the entrants with a note of explanation and apology and move on to taking care of yourself. I have more respect for a judge who sucks it up honestly than for someone who sits on my photos for three months in the hopes they can "get to it" eventually. Don't sit on photos. Get them back to the entrants ASAP.

What if only one entry shows up? Judge the show! That one person spent time and money to come to your show, go ahead and judge the classes.

What if only two people show up and I can't pay for awards I promised? Some people say suck it up, pay for those awards out of your own pocket. Others suggest judging the show and returning all show fees along with a note explaining and apologizing. The ONE thing I would say not to do is just send back everything unjudged. These folks showed up, judge them! And remember to add disclaimers regarding awards and number of entrants needed in future prize lists.

Tape envelopes shut: This way everything is safe on it's way home.

Sending photos home: After you do the final sort to send the photos home, take a moment and sort through each entrants pile again. Some horses seem to delight in sneaking home with someone else's herd, so a second look can catch any photos that got into the wrong pile the first time. Your eyes can go buggy by the end of a show, so do your entrants the service of double checking so everyone gets all their photos back safely. This will make your entrants love you.
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The mission of the Model Equine Photo Showers Association is to serve as an inclusive organization to promote photo showing in the model horse hobby.

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