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The Master Mailing List

One of the areas within the Photographic Society of America’s successful field of play today are the approved yearly international exhibitions – there currently appear to be about 1000 different shows offered each year to photographers. Most of the exhibitions are single shows, or in a growing number of cases circuits operating with a number of groups or clubs, run by camera clubs, or exhibition groups, for the production of public showings of the works of the world’s photo community. Exhibition standards are imposed and enforced by PSA for future approval of the show, and then the organizers of the shows carryout the judging’s and exhibitions associated with the submitted images.

Although these exhibitions are independent standalone activities which are ‘approved’ for a fee to PSA by the PSA under conditions advanced by PSA they nonetheless are independent of PSA, with the exception of the annual PSA sponsored exhibition each summer which is held just prior to the annual conference. Going hand in hand over the long term was the support of the shows by PSA via a number of internal offerings: The most supportive and necessary was what had been called the Master Mailing List (MML). In the last few years this list of photographers who were active entrants has been reserved only for the use of the PSA international and withheld from all other approved exhibitions – with disastrous results in a good many cases.

There may be a number of other possible reasons exhibitions shut down but this inability to use the MML is considered to be a major reason as the MML was better than general advertising of any sort developed and was easy to use. The ease of use issue became a major factor I’ve discovered as membership levels in many camera clubs and other show’s organizing groups fell hand in hand with the decline in PSA numbers.

Of the 1000 or so current photo exhibitions offered yearly worldwide via the PSA ‘system’ there are less than 15% of the exhibitions located inside the United States, and that percentage is falling at about the same rates as the long term and ongoing decline in PSA membership numbers, and of the PSA ‘style’ of camera clubs in the USA. Some years ago the percentage of shows based in the USA within the ‘system’ was over 35% due in part to the high number of entries resulting from careful use of the PSA MML.  

SO - - - What can be done to nurture the exhibitions and at the same time increase the overall membership numbers in camera clubs and the Photographic Society of America? 

The one clear action which can be taken is the return of the MML for all the shows which PSA approves and charges ever increasing fees for that approval. The current management team has stated a number of show organizers and workers the reasons they used for the withdrawal of the MML from the shows which support PSA photographers desire to compete with others in the community. The management team offers these reasons without option. The mantra so often repeated seems to be that the rules are the rules and if you don’t like it, so what?  

The easy way to create a general use MML is for there to be an option for those who WANT to be on the MML to “opt-in” to that list. This would be a choice to use the MML as a member benefit which will help everyone from the exhibitor to the shows to PSA itself. It is easily done and needs to be done as soon as possible! 

  (the Greyginn)

The Demise of the Single Photographic Exhibitions....