• Susan Graham

    I would add one thing to your list of things to look for in a CFE, and that is a statement that the artist retains copyright in the work. I have been surprised at the number that do not clearly state this.

  • I have been involved in about 12 CFE contests and have received a couple of awards. The most revealing contest had a “Salon De Refuse”, containing the works that the jurors rejected. The Salon was the single best photographic exhibit that I have ever seen, with a diversity of styles, techniques and images that was absolutely stunning. So, you can probably imagine my anticipation in seeing the main exhibit (which I was juried into and my print was one of only two from the exhibit that sold). The main exhibit was almost exclusively B&W prints that was very similar to the work of the Jurors and was disappointing to say the least. There were only a handful of B&W prints in the Salon. There was a palpable level of rage in the room, from the crowd in general.

    My recommendation is to go to the contest exhibit that you are considering entering, evaluate the work juried in and determine whether or not you would like to participate next year in that contest. Look at the work and ask yourself some questions:
    1. Would the jurors like my work based upon what I am seeing now? Research the jurors to see if they picked work that is similar to their own. For me this is a very bad sign – the jurors will select work either because they find it safe (it is like their work and they can relate to it) or because they are challenged by it (it is not like their work and they find it asks them questions they find rewarding).
    2. Does the quality of the work (matting, framing, overall presentation) match the quality of your own work and give you confidence in the gallery?  I feel that a good gallery adds to the overall appeal and value of my work by their standards – if work that is poorly matted/framed/presented is in the exhibit, then the gallery has not established (IMO) acceptable standards for the work they sell and a savvy art collector will detect this immediately. Your work could be completely up to the highest standards, but the item hanging next to yours could be of questionable quality and may prevent yours from selling.
    3. How much time will you spend preparing your work, delivering your work, picking up rejected work, going to the exhibit, picking up accepted work after the exhibit closes, trying to collect your money after something sells etc?


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