Well, this one’s a bummer.
The Photographic Society of America has a lot of different forms of recognition that you can compete for, including the “star ratings” that I’ve described before.
Another form of recognition is called “Portfolio Distinctions.” For these, you submit a set of related photos, a “portfolio,” along with a description of your photographic vision. The photo set is reviewed by judges, and if it is accepted, you get to claim a title. You start at the Bronze level, and if you’re successful there, you can next apply for a Silver and then Gold distinction.
I put together what I felt was a very strong sample of my work. Here is the “Overview Image” containing all ten of the photos together, and a link to the full set of individual photos on my website:
Statement of intent:
So much of who we are is carried in our body—our gender identity, age, race, culture, even our personal history, marked on our skin as tattoos and scars. The way others see us, and the way we see ourselves, is shaped by our body and reflected in it. This is what has made the human figure such a prominent theme throughout the history of art.
The response stings:
Thank you for submitting your Bronze Portfolio entry – Body/Identity – for assessment. Unfortunately, your application was not successful.
Problem areas in your application:
Statement of Intent – A generalization, not giving a definitive intent.
Overview Image – Lacks flow and cohesion. The inclusion of both colour and mono images does not add any value.
Overall Image Quality – Quality in terms of lighting and composition not up to the standard required for a portfolio distinction.
Ouch. Basically a fail on every level.
I can apply again, but this result does not give me confidence.
I always wonder whether my subject matter, being nude figures, contributed to less than favorable results. I suspect, but cannot prove, that this might be the case for certain judges. I can certainly show statistically that there is a vast difference between the acceptance of nude photos in photo salons hosted by various countries, and so I assume the same is true of individual judges. There is, of course, no way to know for sure. And it may simply be true at face value that my submission was sub-par. Fortunately, my work continues to improve, so between that and the hope that I’ll draw a favorable judge next time, I hope for better results in the future!