Barry Underwood, Critical Mass 2019

Entry Details

2023 Critical MassSubmission Details

Critical Mass Registration opens June 1 – June 30, 2023

Extended Deadline: July 7, 2023

Pre-screening Round
Early Bird Submission Fee (deadline 6/9) – $65 – (ends at noon PST)
Regular Submission Fee (deadline 6/30) – $75 

Every submission is juried by our selected Pre-Screening Panel, a group of key-industry professionals, as well as Photolucida’s Executive Director and Board Members. Through this three-week process, the 200 finalists are announced and move on to the next round of jurying.

Finalists’ Round
Photographers selected for the finalists round pay an additional $200. Their work is then sent on to the full panel of 150+ jurors.

All finalists receive a limited edition print as part of our Print Collecting Initiative. This year, Critical Mass 2022 Finalist Cody Cobb was selected for this initiative! Finalists will receive this special edition signed + numbered print titled CC2780, 2022, which is part of Cody’s SPECTRAL series.

Before you register, please read the Entry Guidelines to learn how to prepare your submission. Then, visit the Critical Mass registration page to submit your work!


Although the primary intent of Critical Mass is exposure (which is a benefit to all who enter), we are pleased to also offer awards each year. The awards for Critical Mass 2023 are:

Critical Mass 2023 Top 50 Exhibit – an exhibit of the CM23 Top 50 will be held at Colorado Photographic Arts Center‘s new gallery space in Denver from February 23 – April 13, 2024. We are delighted to announce that Daniel Boetker-Smith has agreed to curate the Critical Mass Top 50 exhibition!

Three Solo Show Awards for CM23!

 SE Center for Photography Solo Show Award – Greenville, SC.

Blue Sky Gallery Solo Show Award –  Portland, OR.

The Light Factory Solo Show Award – Charlotte, NC.

Michael Reichmann Project Development Grants – three Finalists will be awarded $1000 cash to support the development of a current or future project.

Print Collecting Initiative Award – each of the 200 Finalists will receive a special edition signed + numbered print by CM22 Finalist Cody Cobb. This award is generously sponsored by Pro Photo and Hahnemühle.

Maine Media Scholarship – a scholarship valued at $1,600 will be awarded towards one Maine Media workshop, either on campus or online. This award is generously sponsored by Maine Media.

Maine Media Lecture – an online artist lecture for a winner to speak about their work through Maine Media’s online channels.

Shutter HubShutter Hub year membership and portfolio review for one Finalist. A feature for several Top 50 Finalists on the Shutter Hub website.

Feature Articles – a winner (or winners) will be featured in Analog Forever and GUP magazines.

Projections Presentation – up to three finalists will have the opportunity to share their work and creative vision on Frank Meo’s monthly Projections webinar.

Merit-based Scholarships – selected photographers will have the entry fees to Critical Mass waived. Photolucida is pleased to offer 2023 scholarships to Ana Vallejo, German Vazquez, Mateo Ruiz Gonzalez, Roshni Khatri, Thalia Juarez, Yekaterina Gyadu, and Ukrainian artist Irina Shkoda.


Thank you to all our sponsors and collaborators!


  • All entrants will have their work seen and voted on by the pre-screening committee, a group of selected curators, publishers, and editors.
  • The top 200 finalists will have their work seen and voted on by over 150+ esteemed photography jurors. Jurors have the option of leaving comments for finalists about their work.
  • All entrants will be able to view all of the submitted work (after Critical Mass closes).
  • Awardees will be announced in the Fall of 2023.

150+ Jurors!

Our Critical Mass jurors are an international group of industry professionals representing a wide variety of photographic interests. We make a great effort to invite a wide range of professionals in the field (gallery owners, agency art buyers, curators, publishers, editors, media producers, etc.). In addition to seeing the work during the online voting process, jurors also have access to a database of the finalists’ work for future reference.

Note: Critical Mass jurors, Photolucida staff, Photolucida Board, and Photolucida Advisory Council are not allowed to submit their own work to Critical Mass.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions? Please read the Entry Guidelines carefully and make sure to check the FAQs. If you still don’t find an answer to your questions, please contact us!

Fine Print

*CM2023 Note: Throughout its history, Photolucida has welcomed creative technologies and tools in photographic image-making.  We remain committed to celebrating diverse approaches of visual storytelling. The emerging field of AI (Artificial Intelligence) – generated imagery is a new frontier for all—one that is quickly evolving in terms of authorship, intellectual property (IP), valuation issues, and more. Given that the consensus of industry-wide best practices concerning these many complex questions is still evolving, Photolucida will not accept submissions of AI-generated imagery in our 2023 open call for entry for Critical Mass.  Our goal is to continue exploring issues at the intersection of AI, creativity, and photo-based work through ongoing conversation with curators, gallerists, collectors, thought leaders, and, of course, you – our community of passionate photographers.

Photolucida reserves the right to reproduce all work submitted for Critical Mass in the materials distributed to Critical Mass jurors, participating photographers, and educators. Photographers may not pull work from Critical Mass once it has been submitted. Refunds are not extended. Photolucida reserves the right to reproduce submitted work in announcements, catalogs, websites and publications that report on or promote our programming. If your portfolio falls in the TOP 50 category, participation in the TOP 50 exhibition is expected. Any necessary permissions required to use images of people and/or property are the responsibility of the photographer. Photographers retain the copyright to their images. Submission of an entry to this program signifies acceptance of all conditions stated.