Critical Mass 2013: Success Stories & Feedback

Christina Seely, Helios Arcticus (Midnight Arctic Summer Solstice Sun)

We’re still basking in the glow of another great Critical Mass. What a year! Success stories are already rolling in from photographers and reviewers alike. We thought it would be nice to share some of these stories with you. So, take a break from your turkey basting, potato mashing, and pie baking and enjoy! Have a success story you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you and help you celebrate!

Through the Critical Mass jurying process, I lost count of how many unique and exciting portfolios I discovered for the first time. I’ve already begun the process of contacting artists, not only to feature on In the In-Between, but for interviews and features for several other publications as well. When all is said and done, I think I’m going to end up publishing work from 10-15 artists I discovered through [Critical Mass]. Congratulations to the Top 50, and kudos to the many, many photographers who didn’t quite make the cut but who are still deserving of higher recognition. It was such a privilege to see so much quality work.

– Gregory Eddi Jones (juror), In the In-Between

Critical Mass was a fantastic way to be introduced to photographers I hadn’t already known and work I hadn’t previously seen. Preston Gannaway’s “Teddy Ebony” series floored me. In addition to the subject, I found Preston’s particular visual approach highly unique for this type of story. I was captivated. And, as a picture researcher and contributor to Slate’s photo blog, Behold, I am constantly on the lookout for great work. I knew Preston’s work, and this series in particular was a natural fit for Slate. And, as difficult as it is, and increasingly so, to keep up with the constant stream of good work, the first time I’d seen Preston’s work was through Critical Mass. I am so grateful I did. [See the Slate story]

– Alyssa Coppelman (juror), Slate

There are nine artists I’d like to highlight on the blog. While there wasn’t a particular theme that attracted me in this year’s pool of applicants, I was pleased to see a diverse group of artists, dealing with a variety of subjects with different photographic approaches. The work of these nine artists in particular drew me in, and then held my attention—with a sense of mystery, playfulness, considered beauty, or conceptual depth: Scott AlarioChristine OsinskiChristina SeelyMary Ellen BartleyRachel CoxMcNair EvansJoshua Dudley GreerVivian KeulardsJay Tyrrell.

– Shane Lavelette (juror), Light Work

Although I was not selected for Top 50 unfortunately, it has been such a great opportunity. Thanks for this exposure. I have already been contacted by some people on my photography work.

 – Noriko Takasugi (photographer)

I was fortunate enough to have been selected among the Top 50 in 2012. The benefits are many and well worth the investment. I received several direct contacts from gallerists and curators interested in exhibiting my work and, in two cases, offering me representation. More, I’ve been amazed by how many high-placed gatekeepers I meet who are familiar with my work. Introductions are much more fruitful when I am talking with someone who has spent time with my images as a CM judge. More, the honor is one that’s widely respected in the photo community. Whether deserved or not, Top 50 Finalist status is phenomenal validation. While winning a competition with one juror can be written off as a potential fluke, it’s difficult to dismiss the word of more than 200 industry professionals. Doors have opened for me; my work has been given more serious consideration; and countless colleagues have reached out to offer congratulations and support. In addition to fantastic web coverage, this year, finalists’ work will be shown in three high profile non-profit gallery spaces. It should not be overlooked that Photolucida has a well-deserved reputation for fairness and integrity. More importantly, Laura Moya and Laura Valenti Jelen are earnestly invested in advancing the careers of emerging artists. In all my interactions with them, they’ve been responsive, professional, and just plain kind. (That fact is pretty heartening in an industry that can at times seem competitive and even heartless.) I don’t disagree that the cost is substantial, but it is so substantially outweighed by the benefits, it’s difficult for me not to view the decision as a no-brainer.

Noah David Bau (photographer)