For photographers interested in having their work considered by curators, editors, publishers, dealers and writers, and collectors, Photolucida's Critical Mass offers a great opportunity. For a very fair price you can submit 10 images to be seen by a group of more than 200 reviewers, many of whom are in a position to do something substantial with your work.
Photolucida does not call Critical Mass a "competition," and for good reason. Yes, the initial pool of photographers, usually around 700 strong, is quickly edited down to a approximately 180 by a pre-screening panel and the remaining portfolios are then voted on by a second jury. At least one photographer is awarded the prize of a nicely published monograph and the top 50 vote earners can claim the label Critical Mass Top 50. Though it is competitive, no one loses at Critical Mass. The real reward here is not in the rankings, but in the simple fact that 200 influential people have committed their time and expertise for the sole purpose of taking a serious look at your work. There really is nothing else like it.
For the record, Critical Mass allows jurors the opportunity to see your ten thumbnail images online with the option to click through to enlarged images. On the same page is a link to the artist's project statement, most of which I read (not every body of work is completely self-evident in only ten images.) Also on the page is a space for reviewers to leave comments, critiques, and questions for the artist. And of course there is the ratings box. With 200 reviewers from all over the world, the odds are quite good that you will connect with someone who will be keenly interested in your work.
By the way, the "Critical Mass Top 50" label and the vote tally in general doesn't really mean much. I gave a solo exhibition this year to a Critical Mass artist who did not even make the top 50. Also, the top voter earner doesn't necessarily receive the book award. That has to go to someone with enough good work to warrant a monograph. So who cares about vote tallies? I'm just looking for great work.
So take a few moments to read more about Photolucida, the Photolucida Portfolio Reviews, and Critical Mass and see the Critical Mass monographs.
If that isn't enough, read the Photolucida blog.