How to...
How To: Print Competition Guidance

How To: Print Competition Guidance

A Print competition is as it sounds.

All the entered images are printed and mounted. This obviously takes a bit more planning and effort.

Rules (Annual Competition).

For 2024 there will be one print round per quarter and you can only enter two images (prints) for the category. Note there maybe additional cup rounds for Monochrome and Landscape, when again you can enter two prints.

Prints should be mounted.

The overall size, including the mount, should not exceed 20″ x 16″ (500mm x 400mm). Obviously you may choose to mount in a different aspect ratio, say square. If you have a square print, then your mount may be square. In this case though the maximum length of the sides would be 400mm.
People generally enter prints as large as they practically can. A smaller print is OK, but anything less than 12 x 8 (print size) is getting a bit small to judge.

Printing Images

Printing digital images is notoriously difficult. You may have seen this when you have tried to print out a few family snaps on your home printer. The colours never look quite right, and the print is invariably dark. To print your own images you really need to invest in a proper photo printer, photographic paper, quality inks and the equipment to calibrate your monitor. This can get expensive quite quickly.

There is a very cost-effective solution though. 🙂

There are plenty of companies online that will print your images for you. You only have to do a bit of googling and you will soon find plenty. A lot of people in the club use DS Colour Labs ( I have used them for many years without an issue. There are plenty of other companies, so please take this as a suggestion rather than a recommendation.
If you have never had prints done online before, then one word of warning. Your monitor, like mine, is probably very bright. So, when you look at your images on your monitor they probably look just how you want them. When you get your prints back though, they could be a bit dark. Shadows get very blocked out and go to black. (How many times have we heard judges say that?). What I would advise is to initially get a sample of the same image printed, each one brightened a little. So, you know which is which, make a note in the filename. DS Colour Labs put the filename on the back of the print. I did this, and now know what the ‘standard correction’ is each time I print. This does mean you will need a test run at printing, but prints are cheap. (DS Colour Labs charge about £1 for a 15″ x 10″ print).

Mounting Prints

When you get your prints back you will need to mount them. Trust me prints are lovely. Put them in a mount, and they just go to another level. There are a few solutions for mounting your prints.

1) Buy pre cut mounts, or even a picture frame with a mount in it. (You won’t need the frame for the competition). Obviously if the mount is pre cut, then you will need to make sure your print will fit. Don’t forget the print will need to be a little bit larger than the opening.

2) Buy mount board from somewhere like Hobbycraft and cut your own. An A2 sheet is not too expensive. You can cut this with a Stanley knife to make the opening, or buy a mount cutter (more expense if you want it).

3) Get a mount specifically cut for you. There is a picture framers in town. I have no idea how much this costs.

Obviously the mount is a bit of expenditure, but you can reuse them.

To mount the print stick it to the rear of the mount, then place a piece of card or thick paper over the back to cover the print. This gives it some rigidity.

The image on the right is a 15″ x 10″ print mounted in a 500mm x 400mm mount. This would be the largest permitted size for the competition.

These have white mounts, but you can use any colour you like. Coloured mounts though may not be popular with judges. Judges should be judging the printed picture, not the mount. But a bright red mount is going to have some effect to the overall aesthetic. Popular colours are white, ‘Antique’ white, black, or grey. It is your choice though.


There is usually an argument for a little bit of editing of images, at least a bit of cropping. The print on the left (above) is the standard 3 x 2 aspect ratio. To be honest, there is a little bit too much sky, in my opinion, so this could be cropped down a bit. That does mean the mount will become a bespoke size for that print, but worth it. 

There are plenty of options for photo editing. In Windows if you right click on a photo there could be/should be/might be an option that says ‘Edit In Photos’. Photos is included with the later versions of windows and gives some basic tools for editing.

That is basically it. Creating mounted prints does take a little more effort, but it is worth it.

I hope this helps – if you need more detail, then please ask and I will advise as I can.

Steve Brown

TopTip from Helen Billingham. I chose coloured mounts that I feel work well with the print. I have noticed though that the judges don’t really seem to like this and only once did it go in my favour (see image accompanying this post). So I’ll be sticking to greys, blacks and whites from now on…..probably!