The first question you should ask yourself is: What is the focus or goal of the exhibition? In other words, do I fit in? Will it serve my interests as an artist?
Not surprisingly, different shows attempt to do different things. Study the call for entry. Does it have a mandate? Check: location of venue, size, time and duration of show: are they appropriate for you? Think about traffic to the area; high traffic areas and locations and times are necessary to shows geared for visibility and sales, while a prestigious location is useful in promoting legitimacy.
One of the reasons you should study or assess the show is that it hopefully clarifies two things: the organizers expectations and your own motivation for entering or applying to the show. Notice they are not necessarily the same thing!
Identifying and if possible coordinating motivations avoids compromise, conflict and disappointment. It is worth your while.
So, what do you want? To be discovered by the public, collectors, dealers and the press? Is it simply wider exposure or do you require the company of the best of your peers? Do you need to beef up your resume or are cash and awards the real motive?
How does this dovetail with the organizers' objectives? Try thinking about objectives such as: to spotlight quality work to stimulate informed discussion, to enliven the association and its image, to fulfill its membership obligations.
Meanwhile the jurors are praying that good work will be submitted, that they will pick the best pieces to form a consistent show within the mandate. Jurors do not set the mandate.
If you didn't get in (it can feel personal when your work is turned down), check to see how well your work fit the theme of the show. Ask yourself the hard question about quality of the work, how it was represented in terms of photography. Look at your written support material. Were your application complete and your ideas clear? Even a title can make a difference. Was the technique or materials a significant departure from your previous work.
Be philosophical and submit the piece someplace else.