How To Hold an Online Show
Copyright 1999, 2000 by Suzanne McAllister

Online photo showing is growing by leaps and bounds; it’s free, easy, and quicker than snail-mail for the entrants.  For the showholder, it can be either more or less difficult than snail-mail showholding, but that depends on how you do it.  In this document I’ll try to explain what I’ve found to be a simple and comfortable way of organizing and holding an online photo show.

NOTE:  This document is for Windows--all versions--only; if you have a Mac or other OS, you may want to adjust them for the programs you use.  To work with these instructions, you should be familiar with basic computer tasks such as using Windows Explorer, copying, pasting, and moving files, creating new word processor documents and folders on your hard drive, and working with image files.  You should also be familiar with judging model horses, photo or live.

First of all, decided what kind of show you’re holding. Do you want it small or large?  Specialized or open to any breed/color/gender/mold?  Novice or open showers?  For a beginner to holding an online show, I would recommend a small, limited halter show, maybe for a certain breeds or mold only.

Next, experiment to see what kind of pictures your computer can handle best and decide how you want them to be sent to you, and with what information.  At this time, also decide what programs you’ll use to judge the show; I prefer to see thumbnails of all the pictures together, then view each one close-up during the actual judging.  For this, I use a program called “Graphic Workshop Professional”, (available for Windows only, I’m sorry to say) at  I also use Microsoft Photo Editor to view pictures at full size together, but any good image viewing program (i.e., PhotoShop, Corel Draw, Paint Shop Pro) can do the same thing.

I prefer to have pictures be sent to me in .jpg format only, as they are small in actual size yet large enough to see comfortably.  Depending on what size monitor you have, you will want to pictures to be sent in a certain size.  I have a 15” NEC Trinitron monitor that runs at 800 x 600 resolution, so my best viewing size for pictures is about 400 pixels* per side.

To give an idea of sizes, here is a photo that is 300 pixels x 224 pixels at 13k:

(Photo of SLM Time After Time by Suzanne McAllister)

This one is 500 x 401 pixels at 29k:

(Photo of SLM Depeche Mode by Dawn Kuchar)

Also decide if you want the entrants to send one photo per email or, if more, how many. This may depend on whether or not your ISP allows multiple attachments, or if your mail program can handle large amounts of mail coming in at one time.  You will want to check your incoming mail at least 4 times a day, maybe more, to circumvent long downloads of show entries.  I prefer to recieve no more than five attachments per message.

Now, what information do you want to help you judge?   Being the picky grouch that I am, I always make sure that the entrants know their breeds and what colors are allowed.  If you’re not that picky, you might just want to know name, breed, and gender.  You’ll also want to have all the information sent to you in the exact same way by all the entrants, saving you a lot of work, so figure that out.  Here is how I normally ask that information be sent:

Filename – Model name, color, breed, gender.  Owner’s name and email address.  Class numbers separated by dashes.

Example of a correct entry:
BigCoolGuy.jpg - Big Cool Guy, bay Arabian stallion, OF Huckleberry Bey.  Suzy Creamcheese  1-7-13

You will want the owner’s name and email address kept with every single entry so you can identify the owner and possibly in case you want to drop them a line with a question.  It’s easier to have them together than to have to go back and look at the original message!

To lessen your own confusion, you also might want to ask that the filename and model’s name be the same.   The reason for this will be covered later in this document.

So we have decided what programs we’re using and how we want the information and pictures sent.  Now what?  Classlist, of course!

For purpose of making this document simple, let’s say we’re going to hold a small all-halter open show with a limit of two pictures per class, twenty pictures total per entrant.   Here’s our classlist, which can be separated into OF and CM:

1. Stallion
2. Mare
3. Gelding
4. Foal
5. Stock Breed
6. Gaited Breed
7. Light Breed
8. Spanish Breed
9. Draft Breed
10. Pony Breed
11. Half/Mixed
12. Other Breed
13. Bay/Brown
14. Black
15. Gray
16. Chestnut/Sorrel
17. Palo/Buck
18. Dun/Grulla
19. Roan
20. Pinto
21. Appaloosa
22. Other
23. Headstudy

This is a very simple classlist, which can be easily expanded or split if needed.

Last but not least, your final preparation should be to make folders on your hard drive.  Normally I make a folder off the root (C:\) called ONLINE SHOW.  From that, I then make the following:  OF ENTRIES, CM ENTRIES, HEADSTUDY, CLASS, & DONE.  Your folder tree should look like this:

When entries start arriving, you can copy the pictures right into the waiting folders HEADSTUDY, OF ENTRIES & CM ENTRIES.

Next, get two documents ready using a word processor (MS Word, WordPerfect, WordPad, etc).  I title one “Online Entries” and the other “Online Results”.  You’ll want two different documents, one for keeping track of the entries’ information and the other for the actual results.  If possible, make a special folder and filter in your email program to have the entries go to; it’s helpful to keep them separate from the rest of your mail.

Your “Online Entries” document should contain only the pasted entry information received via Email.  “Online Results” should have this format:

Class Name ( ) 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. HM.

…for each class that is being held.  Then you can simply paste or type in the model’s name and owner’s initials for each placing.  At the top of this document I also list the entrants’ names, initials, and email address for later reference.

(NOTE: to get an idea of what judging an online show is like, try holding a fake show with digital pictures of your own models.  This will help you figure out how you want to do it.)

Okay, you’ve got all decisions made and posted your intentions to mailing lists, and now your entries are coming in.  What do you do with them?

The first thing I do is copy each model's information from the newly-arrived entry message and paste it into the document called “Online Entries”.  Then I copy the picture that the information goes with and put it in the correct folder (HEADSTUDY, OF ENTRIES or CM ENTRIES).  If you do this with each entry as it arrives, you should have no problems with keeping track of what has arrived and been documented.

The main problem that occurs is when the model’s filename does not match the model’s name in the information.  Here’s an example:

HuckBey.jpg – Big Cool Guy, bay Arabian stallion, OF Huckleberry Bey.  Suzy Creamcheese, 1-7-13

Since the picture’s name is HuckBey.jpg, you’ll be searching your “Online Entries” document for an entry that begins with the letter “H” if you need to see this model’s information.  Well, you probably won’t find it because it begins with a “B”, and you have no way of knowing the model's real name unless you go back and find the email it was sent in.  This can cause a lot of confusion and frustration, so you have three choices. You should notice this when the picture comes in, so you can either rename the picture yourself when you copy it from the email to your hard drive, delete the entry altogether, or write the entrant and ask that they re-send it correctly.  Whichever you do is up to you.  With me, it depends on whether this is a one-time mistake or happens constantly with the same sender.

All right, let’s skip ahead.  You’ve kept track of your entries, everything is neatly catalogued, and the big day arrives—time to start judging the show!

NOTE: Don’t be afraid to backtrack if you realize you’ve messed up.  I often find OF entries in the CM folder or vice versa, entrants who’ve typed the wrong class numbers, or that you’ve missed a picture that was supposed to be entered in a particular class.  Though it can be a pain having to re-judge a class or two, you’ll feel better that you did.   It helps if you never delete any picture or email entry message until the show is through, because you may need them again.

We’ll start with judging Class #1, OF Stallions.  The first thing you need to do is a search in your “Online Entries” document for all entries that are in Class #1.  This is why I insist that class numbers be separated by dashes, i.e. 1-5-8 etc.  When doing the initial search you’ll hit on EVERY number one, which will include 11, 21, etc.  However, do your search for “ 1-“ (note the space in front of the number 1, and don’t use the quotation marks) and you’ll only get the class #1 entrants.  Then find the pictures in their folder (OF ENTRIES in this case) and move them to the folder CLASS.  When all pictures are in the CLASS folder, use Graphic Workshop (or the image viewing program of your choice) to open it and see the pictures, and begin judging.  As you place each model, look up their name and the owner’s name in the “Online Entrants” document and paste or type them into the ready-made “Online Results” document.  After you’re done judging that class, move all the photos into the DONE folder (be sure to move the photos, not copy—otherwise you’ll get confused as to which ones are done and which aren’t).  Then start over again with the next class.  When each division is done, you can move the photos back to their starting folder (again, OF ENTRIES in this case) and begin with the next.

It usually takes me about a week to judge a good-sized show, usually doing it in the evenings for a few hours at a time.   The actual judging is little different than a snail-mail photo show, as you have the same decisions to make along with problems such as that pictures will be blurry, pixilated, too dark, too light, chopped off, or the photo itself will be too small to see the model clearly.  The nicest thing is that you don't have to worry about damaging/losing someone's good photos!

When you’re all done, what next?  Normally I make a web page (or however many it takes!) for the results and post it to my website, then send an email to all entrants of the show with the URL.  I also post messages to most of the mailing lists I’m on with the address as well, just in case I missed someone.  Entrants can also receive a text copy of the results if they’d prefer.  I usually wait a week or so to make sure everyone’s gotten results and then delete everything (messages, photos, entry information) but the actual results, which I keep just in case someone ever needs them.

Most of all, have fun with this—I know I do!  I look forward to holding online shows for the challenge and enjoyment of seeing different models, and like getting results back without worrying if I’ve sent enough return postage or if my entries made it through the mail.   Computers are supposed to make our lives easier—in this case, they surely do ;-)

*Pixels are a universal unit of measurement for digital image files; they are the tiny dots that make up the screen of your monitor.

I will be glad to help if you're  holding an online show: email the author
Go to How To Enter Online Shows
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