Camera Position 95 : The Juror’s Experience

This episode introduces a small set of podcasts about my recent experience of being the juror for the 2012 San Francisco International Photography Competition and Exhibition. I discuss the process a juror goes through when evaluating images for a competition.

  • Gallery Photographica – website for the 2012 San Francisco International Photography Competition and Exhibition. Find them on Facebook, too.
  • The Art List – a great source for information about arts competitions and exhibitions



5 thoughts on “Camera Position 95 : The Juror’s Experience”

  1. Enjoyed the podcast and your experience being the curator of this collection. I am looking forward to seeing the exhibit in person in a few weeks. I took a quick glance at your selections and “recognize” your taste in photographs. It is an interesting blend of your understanding of the history of photography and your work.

    Thank you from all the art lovers in San Francisco.

  2. I found this podcast very enlightening and enjoyable, but am a bit troubled by the notion that a juror should make final selection based on what works well together, as an exhibit. What you’re implying is that image quality may, in fact, be subordinate to exhibit cohesiveness.

    Not that this is the first time I’ve heard this. Last year, while attending an opening for a juried exhibit in which I had a piece, the juror informed me, while looking at my portfolio, that she very much liked two of my other entries. However, they just didn’t fit. When I reminded her it was an “open” theme, she pretty much stated the same point as this podcast.

    To be honest, I find this a rather disappointing revelation. These types of contests should be seen as learning experiences, but with the added criteria of exhibit “flow” we have no idea whether our images simply weren’t up to subjective par, or just didn’t “fit”.

  3. Thanks for listening and for your comment, Chuck.

    I don’t think, however, that “image quality is subordinate to exhibit cohesiveness,” at least not in this circumstance or at least not from my perspective. When it came down to the last few hundred images, I felt that each one was, in fact, an interesting, arresting, evocative, often beautiful image. Any choice that I could have made to select “winners” from that group would have been a subjective choice without question.

    Of course, the choices I’d made up to that point of what to have “in” and what to leave “out” were subjective choices, but they were based on my personal understanding of what makes interesting, arresting, evocative and beautiful photography. Once I eliminated the images that didn’t fit my view of what I think of as “good” (or “interesting” or… insert your favorite adjective here) then I was left with pictures that did fit that view. Once I had that group, and knowing that I could only choose a total of 40 pictures, it became visually and intellectually interesting (to me at least) to start thinking about how various pictures related to one another. There were, in fact, some really interesting ways that these images started to “speak” to one another. Pictures that appeared on the surface to have little to do with one another started to create new ideas and thoughts; things that were independent of the individual images but were created by the intersection of two or more photographs.

    In fact, I think that’s what art does… or can do, anyway. The idea that art can create new ideas for us, especially when disparate pieces of art are seen in a new context, is something that I think makes looking at and experiencing art one of life’s greatest joys. When we do things like compare Homer to Steinbeck or (one of my favorites) Richard Wagner to Phil Spector or Jeff Wall to Delacroix (OK, that one is kind of a “gimme”), we are looking at different perspectives of similar ideas. We learn things. We grow.

    I agree that the hard part of submitting to a competitive exhibition is that, when you don’t “get in,” you don’t really know what caused the “rejection” to happen. Remember, though, that the inverse is true as well. Those whose work is accepted only know that the juror “liked” it for some undisclosed reason. My hope is that the potential synergies that I tried to establish between individual images may have an instructive function for people who see the exhibit, either online or in the gallery. While it would be great to be able to have an exhibition that included all the work that ended up on the cutting room floor, it turns out that, while I “liked” a lot of the photographs submitted, only a few of them could be selected for the exhibition and those relationships between the images wound up being a great way to create a show that might help us learn things and grow.

  4. Very glad you are active on the podcast again.
    How you judged this competition had some good “inside” knowledge. I assume every judge does in it little different but your first sort technique of eliminating what you have seen before is to be remembered.l

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