Evaluating Jurors

I just received word that 3 of my photographs will be included in this year’s California Fine Art Exhibition in Sacramento. This is the California State Fair competition and it has become one of my favorite venues. As big as this state is, the fair kind of brings it all back down to size. I like the art show, but it’s also fun to check out the kids with their livestock, and watch the horse riding demonstrations, pig races and such. Tthe carnival aspects also bring to mind a certain innocence that I find appealing.

This year’s fine art competition saw 1,474 entries. It is mixed media, so painting, drawing and sculpture were all included. Of those, only 57 photographs were selected. Of those, 3 were mine. I’ve gotten work in each of the last several years, but this is the first with multiple selects. I am assured Awards of Merit for each of the photos, and stand a good chance for the big money Award of Excellence awards. Those won’t be announced until the judges actually have the work in hand in a couple of weeks.

I thought this might be a good time to write a bit about how I choose what images I submit to the various juried exhibits I enter. This particular one was more difficult than usual. The juror this year was Kent Lacin. He is a fine art, documentary and commercial photographer in Sacramento, but he does not have a huge presence on the web. I do a lot of research on judges to find out what they like. It’s not much use showing them work they are not really interested in, so it helps to know what they might find appealing. Kent has a website that shows examples of his professional work, but the section for Art is empty. How do I choose what to submit?

There are usually plenty of references to review for the various jurors on the web. Many are museum or gallery directors, curators or really talented fine art photographers, and I can make judgements based on their own work or work they have chosen in past shows. I have a whole spreadsheet of exhibits I’ve entered, who juried them and what was chosen. But with Kent, there wasn’t a lot. Scouring the web, I happened upon an exchange he had with a friend or colleague about differences and preferences between digital and analog photography. There was a little back and forth, but what stood out to me was his statement that analog was more romantic.


That was the best description I had to go on. Of my various portfolio’s of work to choose from, I have my Contemplative Landscape work, my Marking project, and my newest work, New American Nomads. The most romantic of these would probably be the landscapes. Looking at those, I picked 6 of what I consider the grandest and/or most romantic scenes of the west. I haven’t really been pushing this work lately. In the Fine Art Photography world, contemplative landscape tends to be seen as “decorative” (said with a dismissive tone). Choosing from this group could have really backfired if all he really wanted to see were urban scenes or portraits or plastic camera images. He chose 3 of the six. A couple of other photographers got 3 prints in as well, a couple got 2 in and the rest got 1 print in. I must admit, I was shocked to get in this many. But I am quite pleased about it. There is hope for the Contemplative Landscape!

The exhibit opens on July 14th and runs until the end of the month. Check it out!

Here is a list of all photographers included:

Kim Kohler

Ronald H Musser

Michael F Corlew

Karen L Olson

Donald B Satterlee

Toni Voelker

Linda M Morrow

David L Nasater

Fletcher Oakes

Benjamin J Shaw

Judy Yemma

David J Ruderman

Susan L Bovey

Ed Bair

Jake D Lippman

David Gardner

Roger A Lieberman

Christine Tuohy

Jim Ludwig

Marilyn L MacCrakin

Ed Finkas

Donna Wilson

Melissa Billups

Shirley Timberman

Jim Klein

Kelley Richardson

Gary R Smith

Lorenzo Kristov

Clare Rickman

Marc Davis

Juliana C Mohr

Kelly M Cannon

Kenneth J Bradley

Elizabeth Welsh Abad

Michi L Adams

Michael R Reynolds

Dave van Hulsteyn

Hillary G Patrick

Ivan Sohrakoff

Kat Porter

Cecilia M Clark

Angela Casagrande

Congratulations to everyone!

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