Critical Mass


General Photography

One of the things that people like to ask me is how to get their photography out for people to see. Having a website is a good idea, but then how do you actually make sure there are actual visitors to the site? And how does one go about finding people who will look at one’s work? Obviously, this is quite a complex problem to tackle, and the answers are not simple and straightforward. One competition that I like to tell people about is Critical Mass, which has just opened registration for this year’s round (it’ll be open until 6 October 2008).

The basic outline of Critical Mass is simple: “The idea is simple- photographers (from anywhere) submit a 10 image portfolio for $75. This work then gets pre-screened by a committee of 25 great jurors and from there, 175 top finalists are determined. These top finalists then pay an additional submission fee and their work goes on to a jury of approximately 200 of the world’s best curators, editors, and professionals who have agreed to vote on these finalists. From these votes, two or three photographers receive book awards and once the monographs are published, everyone who enters and reviews will receive copies of the books.” (quoted from their site)

What you probably want to do when reading that is to ignore the final sentence. As nice as it would be to receive a book award, I personally don’t think that that’s the main reason why you might want to consider participating. As far as I’m concerned, the main attraction of Critical Mass is that more than 200 people will look at your work, and not just anybody. Amongst them are (see this year’s list) independent curators, gallerists, journalists, bloggers, etc. I don’t think there’s another way for you to have so many people look at your work in such a simple way. That’s the beauty.

PS: I’d be interested in getting some feedback from people who participated in Critical Mass in the past - if you want to email me about it (jmcolberg at that’s be great!