Tuesday, January 8, 2013

3 Steps To Getting Published or Into Juried Exhibits

It's that time of year to review the professional opportunities available for the new year of 2013.  More specifically I'm talking about submitting and gaining acceptance into professional fine art publications, juried exhibits and such. Long term it's always a good idea to target a few opportunities and identify the submission deadlines.  More short term however, it's critical that you familiarize yourself with the details; one small misstep and your chances of acceptance are decreased considerably.

This is all leading to a short introduction as how to actually accomplish this; that is getting accepted into fine art publications or juried art exhibits.  Actually the process isn't rocket science but it does require some thought, and yes, attention to detail.  I've tried to reduce it to three easy steps; see for yourself.

#1:  Do Your Homework
This sounds minor, but it's such a critical step.  A mismatch here could lead you into a situation where your work would go unnoticed and land on the large pile of rejections, even if the image is magnificent.  Review the fine art photography magazines on a regular basis and you'll soon get a sense which one (or several) makes a nice fit with your particular niche.
  1. Target publications and/or juried exhibit that suits your style of photography
  2. Assess your competition; review past winners and identify what "got in"
  3. Research the juror panel for any clues to background, likes/dislikes, image preference, etc
  4. Identify any patterns among the style of winners and juror panel preferences
  5. Assess whether you have images that fit the profile

#2:  Follow the Rules
Beware of the details.  Yes it's tedious to follow the long list of specific standards and requirements but be forewarned.  Better that your work should be rejected on its own merit rather than be tossed aside because you submitted too many images, wrong file extension or resolution, to name just a few.  This is the 2nd step of 3 so you're almost there.
  1. Follow the guidelines for file format (psd, jpeg, tiff, etc)
  2. Follow the guidelines for image dimensions (sometimes specific length or width is mandated)
  3. Follow the guidelines for file naming conventions (e.g., your name, title, location, year)
  4. Follow the guidelines for resolution (dpi)
  5. Follow the guidelines for color space and bit (8 vs 16) requirement
  6. Check the required image quantity; don't exceed it
  7. Review what other items are required (money, separate image list, contact info on CD, etc)

#3:  Edit, Edit, Edit
Did I happen to mention you should edit?  Editing one's own work is next to impossible because of the myopic perspective one gets; besides it's hard to shake the emotional connection you have with your images.  So this step will definitely require several cycles before you have the "a ha" experience.  Never trust your first pass, go with your gut and seek a trusted second set of eyes.
  1. Start with a large selection of images and perform several cycles of editing
  2. Review previous winners and keep that in mind on successive edits
  3. Review the juror panel and keep that in mind on successive edits
  4. Edit and then "sit on it" for a few days before going back to do more edits
  5. Self-edit even more
  6. When you've edited down to a manageable and somewhat final selection, invite editing and comments from trusted sources; not just those people who always agree with you
  7. Take another break for a few days and then do your final edit
One final word.  Give it your best shot and submit your entries with confidence.  Photography is such a subjective business that even though you have exceptional images it might take a few attempts to break into the publication or juried exhibit circuit.  Keep in mind that the juror panel often changes from year-to-year so if you don't get accepted one year, try the following year because odds are that the panel will be composed of different people.

Overall,talent is imperative but it isn't everything.  Patience, perseverance, and resiliency are the true characteristics of a successful artist.  If you don't succeed the first time, try again until your talent is recognized.

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