Photography Contest

Critical Mass 2022

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Open to all

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Critical Mass began as a way to help photographers get their work into the conversation. In-person portfolio review events are a bigger expense and time commitment. We wanted to create an online platform that would make it easier and more efficient for photographers to promote their work to a wide selection of professionals in the field.

Critical Mass gets photographers’ work in front of 200 top museum curators, gallerists, publishers, editors, and media producers. That’s a lot of eyes. As an individual photographer, it’s difficult to make connections with professionals at this level – much less with 200 of them. In Critical Mass, photographers (from anywhere) submit a 10-image portfolio. The 200 finalists who proceed past the first, pre-screening round then have their work reviewed and voted on by the full panel of 200 jurors. It’s an unprecedented way to get your work in front of the right people!

We are again extending merit-based scholarships to MFA program students, after receiving suggestions from Photography program faculty. We are also working with Lia Latty, founder of Black Is Magazine on merit-based scholarship based on her recommendation. The work of these photographers will be in the finalist category of Critical Mass.

Critical Mass works.

The professionals chosen for the Critical Mass jury are continually looking for new work. Every year, we hear a flurry of success stories. Curators report back with lists of photographers they’ve given exhibitions to. Photographers email us about photo editors who have highlighted their work in the media. Museum professionals tell us about artists they’ve added to their collections. Career-building connections happen in Critical Mass.


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 2022 are:

The Critical Mass TOP 50 Exhibition – The Top 50 photographers will participate in a group exhibition at the Photographic Center Northwest in Seattle, in the spring of 2023. We are pleased that Arnika Dawkins (Arnika Dawkins Gallery, Atlanta) will be the curator for this exhibition.

The Michael Reichmann Project Grant Award – Three photographers will be selected from the Top 200 Finalists to each receive $1000 cash to go towards the development of a current or future project.

Center for Photographic Art Solo Show Award – One photographer will be chosen for a solo exhibition at the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel, California.

Print Collecting Initiative Award – Each Finalist will receive a signed limited edition fine art print – artist to be announced!