Need advice about an exhibition I submitted to...
Hi, I don't post much, just read a lot. But I wanted to get other photographer's input on something that happened with a juried exhibition I submitted to. I'll leave out the name of the show and I am sorry for the length of this post but I want to be honest with what occurred.
I received a postcard in the mail for an open call (any subject) for a Photography show in central NJ and I had 3 brand new large framed prints (I got them from my framer for something else that didn't pan out yet) – about 40” x 50” framed (I shoot 645 film). My framer does an outstanding job and he wraps each framed print with a semi-clear plastic (more clear than bubble wrap but there’s a shine to it and a subtle pattern) and yellow masking tape.
I put these three into the car and dropped them off. I asked if I should remove the plastic wrap and I was told not to. There were many framed prints, many of great quality—I was impressed with the turn out.
I was notified that none of my photographs were selected. It happens, no big deal.
I went to pick up my framed prints and to my shock I discover that they were never taken out of the plastic!
I was mad, but I just started to take them to the car. Then in a moment of clarity I asked to see a manager. I said to the manager, “My photographs were not unwrapped, how did the juror review them?” She said, “Of course they were, they were put back in the bags.” I took her to frames to show her and I said, “No, look, the tape is clearly still on for the first time, this plastic was not removed.” She said, “Yes, you’re right, I remember, I asked the juror if he wanted me to take the plastic off and he told me that he wasn’t going to select them.” Then she said, “Maybe he thought there was too much color.” Which offended me because I don’t “photoshop” color – the scan either matches the transparency or goodbye frame! (Sorry guys, I scan film and print, please forgive me).
The story could end right there, but it didn’t. I had looked around at the photographs selected—very good stuff; but there were no landscape photographs. I asked her, “Did the juror select any landscape photographs—there was no specific subject, right?” She said, “Yes, he did, there are none down here, come with me, I’ll show you some upstairs. And the call was open for any subject matter.” We go upstairs and she’s looking and looking and mumbling about not finding any landscapes. Then she said, “wow, he didn’t pick any landscapes!”
I then said, “Maybe he does not like landscapes. The ones he did select are very nice and I don’t mean to cause trouble so I’ll take my frames and go.”
I took the frames to the car one at a time. By the third one another employee tells me that the manager wants to speak with me before I go (and that she’s upstairs).
I go upstairs and she says, “I’m truly sorry. This is the first year there aren’t any landscape photographs for this exhibition and I apologize. If it means anything, I liked your photographs.” I said, “Thank you and I am sorry for causing any trouble, the ones selected are very good.” I left.
It cost $8 a photograph for the exhibition, so the money isn’t the issue. My friends are pissed and want me to demand the money back, I’m not sure if that’s the right thing to do, but I am trying to figure out the lesson here. By the way, these are the photographs I submitted if you want to see (I’m not trying to tout myself here).
I also don’t want to make this about sour grapes, this isn’t the first juried exhibition I’ve been rejected from and it’s not going to be the last—but at least remove the wrapping so I think you’ve looked at my photographs before rejecting them out of hand. I am also miffed about the juror not selecting any landscapes--if he was locked to a subject matter, then everyone submitting landscape photographs never had a chance of being selected--which is what I assume happened with my photographs.
Again, sorry for the length of this post.
You made the right decision, now you should write to the gallery and make a formal complaint about the selector. It's very unprofessional.
That's lazy on their part. I would attend the opening (if it hasn't opened yet) and say your piece to the juror.
FWIW, those are very nice and well done landscapes. Better than most and I'm not a color guy.
Matt's Photo Site
"I invent nothing, I rediscover". Auguste Rodin
The first teacher I had when I started getting in to b/w photography pushed me to enter into some juried shows. Her first piece of advice to me was to find out who the juror was and what their interests are. Well, I didn't listen to all of her advice. I entered a couple of prints into an all media show that I shouldn't have because apparently the juror didn't consider photography as art. Sure enough, there was not one single photograph (from anyone) selected for the show.
Searching my way to perplexion
I have entered shows, and later figured out I had better credentials than the juror. Don't sweat it. Shows are all show.
That's just, like, my opinion, man...
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Take the high road and let it pass.
As these other posters have said - the juried shows can be a "stacked deck" with a "crap shoot" chaser.
FWIW, I very much liked the two color shots.
BTW: you might want to PM "naturephoto" here. He's a color landscaper here who also lives in "Joisey".
And also, "rteague" (Robert Teague) is a color landscape guy here who also runs the site that you will find in my signature space below. He "suffers" by having to live in Hawaii - but hey, not everyone has the good fortune to be able to enjoy Northeast US winters!
Oh, I think they both do larger formats than 6x4.5 but you might enjoy "talking shop" with them.
Thank you for the advice, it's sincerely appreciated. Writing this also made me feel better.
As advised, I looked up the juror for this exhibition - he's a photographer, no landscapes, just portraiture, and parts of his website do not work. I am not sure what makes him qualified to be a juror--perhaps it's who you know?
As was said, from now on I will try to determine who the juror is.
I am not naive, but galleries should specify the genre if they are locked into one, otherwise they are just looking to collect as much as they can from as many artists as possible, knowing they will never consider some of the submissions--that's unethical. But from first hand experience, many of these galleries are living hand to mouth--but that doesn't make it right.
This was a very cheap lesson, I wish they were all this inexpensive! Guys, thank you again!
Forgive the simplicity, but isn't it possible that the juror just felt that other photos were better in his eyes than the landscapes this year? I really like all your photos.. they're of high quality, but it's ultimately up to him. Someone has to make the call. The simple fact that it's a landscape among other genres doesn't qualify it for selection. It sounds like that's just how it ended up this year, not a usual practice for this exhibition as evident by her surprise.
I would be upset if I had a submission that was omitted just because the juror felt he had to make room for another genre, despite his opinion about the quality of my photo. By its nature, this sort of show is subjective.
Just another side to the coin, no offense meant!
"Technology is a big destroyer of emotion and truth. Opportunity doesn't do anything for creativity. Yeah, it makes it easier and you can get home sooner, but it doesn't make you a more creative person. That's the disease you have to fight in any creative field.. ease of use." - Jack White
I think that could be a valid point had the juror actually looked at the prints, but he didn't. As Derek made clear, they were never even unwrapped to be adjudicated.
Originally Posted by f/stopblues
Derek, you express yourself very carefully and without rancor. If you can maintain that style, I agree, making a formal complaint might be a good idea. At least the sponsoring organization may be much more alert when selecting a juror in the future.
Hmmm -- I bet I know which show this is. None of my three pieces made it either and they were in the landscape/natural element side of things. The show of which I speak hung 80 pieces out of 701 submissions, so I just assumed it's the luck of the draw (after all, I belong to APUG, surely I'm a photographic genius - it couldn't be my fault! ). Said exhibit was only partially hung when I was there and I did observe most of what was up involved people.
I am entangled in putting on some art shows for a local club near me and would say judging is always a crap shoot at best, though it does seem a bit weird to be so one-sided in selection in a show advertized as all subjects. My experience is there is usually some interest in encouraging a broad spectrum of subjects and style. If they wanted a "theme" show, they should have said so!
Anyway, I'd say you handled it decently, and they are aware of your disappointment, though it may not help them -- as I say, it's a crap shoot. My art club tries to get different judges every year, and normally gets two for our big open show. We try - sometimes hampered by availability and economics - to get two who specialize in different areas -- say a sculptor and an oil painter to possibly provide some balance. But I can tell you someone is always unhappy -- either about what happened to their own work, or looking at some other piece and mumbling "what were they thinking?!"
We normally issue a set of instructions to the judges including a list of the awards available and some comments about limiting to one cash award per artist to spread the money around better. We also usually provide an approximate number for the quantity of pieces to accept based on our prior experience at the gallery space. Some judges take the ball and run, others have been difficult, claiming to have some sort of "vision" of what they see themselves accomplishing. I just take heart that each year will be different.
Anyway, two of my declined pieces already received awards elsewhere, so phooey on 'em. I think I burned $20 worth of gas on the two round trips, now I'm debating whether to burn more to go see the final result.
You have some very fine shots Derek, try them in some other shows.