Juried Show – Behind the Scenes

Have you ever wondered what happens when you enter a juried show? Maybe you’ve wanted to enter a juried show but have been a bit tentative about submitting your work? Has fear of rejection or maybe just fear of the unknown set in? Are you feeling not quite ready to take that next step?

Last week, I participated in a 24-hour marathon for charity, the culmination of which will be, you guessed it, a juried show. The event is called “LONG SHOT” and it’s to be held in downtown Seattle in July at the Photo Center NW. Since I’m guaranteed one piece in the show, I thought it would be best to share with you the juror’s results and show a peek behind the curtain of the process.

The rules for this charity show were simple. I was to shoot my images over a specified 24 hour period. Then, after a short amount of time allocated for editing, I submitted a CD containing 10 images, 10 possible candidates for the juried show. (These were basically my 10 best candidates, as selected by me, much in the same way you would select your best pieces when entering your own work for consideration in a show.) After about a week or so, the juror will email me the selected image, which I will then print, matte, frame and send off to be included in the show. )

For my submission, since I had 10 images to play with, I decided to do two different series of work. One is more “straight” photography-these are part of the series I’ve been doing at the water gardens over the course of the last few years. I shot some new work for this series, which consists of mostly botanical, plants, fish, all shot with a 100 macro lens although not all macro images. These images highlight the natural beauty of the water gardens and they are more “traditionally” or “pretty” (if you want to be polite) images, like ones you might see on a greeting card.

The second series is a bit more artistic. I started it gradually and it evolved as part of the marathon. I’m shooting what I like to call “Suburban Pinhole” (although the name will probably change as the project evolves yet again.) These are pinhole images shot in suburban settings-actually the setting is my own neighborhood. The idea behind the series is to showcase the suburbs, a place where all of the houses are “equal” as sort of “blobs of blur.” Since most suburban houses are the typical 3 or 4 bedroom, 2 bath, 2 car garage bit, I wanted to showcase these as abstractions. So I’ve opted to include 5 images on my CD (submitted to the juror) from the “Suburban Pinhole” series.

That’s 5 images water gardens and 5 images “Suburban Pinhole.” Which series do you think will get selected? Which image do you think will be included? If you had to pick one out of the 10, which image would you pick? What do you think the juror is going to pick? Why?

It’s interesting to think about these things because, as I know is always the case, the juror is probably going to pick work that either matches what he or she likes, or work that goes with the other work people are submitting. When they “pull together a show” they actually, well, “pull together” a show and that means making a dialogue between the pieces or, in the very least, selecting pieces that compliment each other nicely. With that in mind, it’s impossible for me to know which image they will pick, although I kind of have my guesses. (This image is one I think might be on the short list, but then I’ve been wrong about these things before. I’m sorry if I’m not giving you a comfortable feeling, but it’s really a lot of guesswork sometimes. Don’t let that take away from the process for you.)

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this little “behind the scenes” look at a juried show and the juried show process. I hope you don’t let the task of deciding or the fear of rejection stand in your way. Getting that “no” back can sting sometimes, but it’s just really part of the process. Nobody, no great artist, gets into every show they try for – we work at getting into better and better shows and getting our work in front of more likely buyers each and every day. It’s a slow, more organic process, not really like flipping on a light switch, more like a slow simmering burn. Nobody really becomes an “overnight sensation” in the art world anymore. It’s a long slow slog to the top, if you must know the truth but, fact is, you’ll never get there if you don’t start off at the bottom and just start to worm your way on up.

So go ahead! Enter that juried show. Send that work out. Don’t be afraid! Do it!

To take a look at my entire set of 10 images, I’ve created a set on Flickr for you to browse. If you follow this link you should be able to browse the Flickr set containing my 10 final selections for consideration in the show.

I’ll post a follow-on sometime next week (once the juror’s selection is in!) and let you know which image made the cut. In the meantime, while we’re waiting, why don’t you go ahead and send out some of your own work. Go on, you know you want to.

Until next time…

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