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Write-off Contests: Instructions for online submission of photos

Click here for online submission directions.

Let’s start with this original image by Alicia Chuchro. It was originally 4368 pixels (horizontal) by 2912 pixels (vertical), in RGB mode and occupied 6.2MB on the hard drive.

Step by step guide

  1. Advisers register their students in the write-off contests online at jea.org.
  2. Advisers designate which students are entered in which contests.
  3. Advisers or students upload images (complete with captions) by the posted deadline.
  4. Various professionals and advisers will critique the images online
  5. On-site at the convention, judges will award students deserving of superior, excellent or honorable mention.
  6. After the convention, students and advisers will be able to review the critique of their images online


  • Photos must be no more than 2000 pixels in the long direction and no larger than 2MB saved as RGB (or grayscale), JPEG files.
  • Photos may be color (RGB) or black-and-white (grayscale) or a combination of color and black-and-white.
  • Photos need not be cropped for competition in the same manner in which they appeared in the publication.
  • Captions must be included in the Description field.
  • Contestants are responsible for attending a two-hour group critique session. Individual critiques will be provided online.

Under the File menu, in File Info, two fields need to be filled in: the Author and the Description. The online software will not allow submissions that have blank metadata.

In Adobe Bridge, fill in the Creator and Description fields.


Adobe Photoshop and most other image-editing tools allow for the inclusion of metadata, everything from aperture and shutter speed used when the image was taken and automatically included with digital images to the captions typed in after-the-fact by the photographer. Captions are required for all photographs in the JEA Write-offs.

FORM: Format the credit as follows:

EXAMPLE: Photo by Max Fowler, Lugoff-Elgin High School (Lugoff, S.C.; Jenny Proctor, adviser)

  • Adobe Photoshop — Author and Description fields
  • Adobe Lightroom — Creator and Caption
  • Apple Aperture — Credit and Caption

CAPTION: The caption should follow general rules for caption writing. In general, it should answer the questions who, what, when, where and why with the first sentence in present tense and subsequent sentences in past tense.

To check or adjust the image size, use the Image Size dialog box under the Image menu

This image was originally 4368 pixels wide by 2912 pixels tall.

With Constrain Proportions checked at the bottom to ensure that the photo is not streteched out of proportion, replace the largest value of either width or height with 2000. NOTE: If both values are already smaller than 2000 pixels, MAKE NO CHANGE.

BEFORE This file occupies 6.2MB on the hard drive. Files for submission into the contests must occupy no more than 2MB on the hard drive.

AFTER After the image was resized to be no more than 2000 pixels wide, it only occupied 1.9MB.

File size

To keep files large enough for adequate viewing while not overloading the servers or consuming all the bandwidth, the space the file occupies on the disk may be no larger than 2MB. The uploading software will block files larger than 2MB.

Just assume there are an average of 30 students in each of the six contests entering some 870 images at each convention. Even if each file is only 2MB, that’s 1.74GB of images traveling from schools across the country to our server.

All color images must be saved in RGB mode. Black-and-white images may be saved in Grayscale mode. No other color modes should be used.

While there is, technically, no minimum file size, quality of the image will be considered by the judges and they should have adequate digital information to view the image at a reasonable size. To that end, we have designated that the image be 2000 pixels in the long direction (either horizontal or vertical). You don’t have to worry about the resolution that way, only the file size both in terms of how large it is (2000 pixels max.) and how much space it occupies (2MB max.).

Color mode

Adobe Photoshop and similar programs allow for a variety of color modes, including RGB, grayscale, CMYK, Lab, Index, among others. While each of these modes serves a purpose, only two are acceptable for entries in the JEA Write-off competitions: RGB and grayscale.

Save the file as a JPEG. No other file formats are acceptable.

File format

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) has become the standard file format for sharing files transmitted over the Internet. It is also acceptable for most print media and online media. It is the ONLY format acceptable for images to be submitted in the JEA Write-off competitions.

The following file formats are NOT acceptable: PSD (Photoshop document), Raw, TIFF (Tag Image File Format), BMP (bitmap), GIF (Graphic Interchange Format). Again, ONLY JPEG files will be accepted.

JPEG is a compression scheme. To maintain the highest quality while compromising file size, file should be saved at a compression of 10, 11 or 12. Judges may consider file quality as part of the critique and the judging. Files saved using a compression of lower than 10 may have noticeably lower quality.

Save as…

One of the best troubleshooting tips for this (or any other) system is do a Save as… when all the modifications are complete, ensuring that the file info is properly written. If your files won’t upload, make sure they

  • are each 2000 pixels or less in the longest dimension.
  • have both the author and description metadata entered in the appropriate form.
  • are JPEG files.
  • are in RGB or grayscale color mode.
  • are less than 2MB each.

Then do a Save as… with a new file name and try uploading again. Historically, when all those steps are complete, every single photo has been uploaded successfully.

Once your photos are ready, click here for online submission directions.