The showcase: How to exhibit your photography (part two)

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This is part two of a two part series on exhibiting your work. You can see part one, from last week, here.

Printing and framing

Choosing a good printer is important. For my exhibition I used my local town printer. I ordered a few each week – right up to a week before the exhibition. Rather than printing them all at once, I selected the shot and printed after each shoot. This also allowed time for a change of mind on the chosen image.

My printer knew I needed more than 30 images (50cm x 90cm) for my exhibition and offered a good discount. Most of my images were 16 x 20 inch, all on matte paper at 310 GSM.

Image: Paula Heelan

The printer was also very particular when printing my work - making sure each print was a good as it could be. 

When it came to framing, I wanted to keep the cost down - not knowing if I’d be stuck with images or not after the show.

In the end, after scouting around and getting quotes, I chose frames from IKEA. These were almost the same as the ones I chose for the Head On exhibition I showed in a few years ago. They looked good and only cost about $25 each.

Image: Paula Heelan

I bought some black, some white and some natural - so prints would look better in frames that suited them. It’s worth mentioning that although the non-glass in the frames was lightweight - it wasn’t non-reflective, but I thought people could put the prints in their own frames if they didn’t like the ones I sold them in.

The flyer promoting the exhibition - which also featured the hero shot selected to promote it.
The flyer promoting the exhibition - which also featured the hero shot selected to promote it.

In the end, I loved how they looked as they were clean and uniform. I put the ‘hero’ image (more on that below) in a larger, proper glass, white wooden frame which cost nearly $200.

Choose a star image

I really recommend you choose your best image to lead your exhibition. Print and frame it larger than the others and hang it in a prominent position – perhaps near the gallery entrance.

Your lead image can also be used in media promotions and news for your exhibition.

Promote, promote, promote

Generate as much media attention as possible by sending out press releases with your lead image. Private and public galleries will most likely send media releases for you, but they will still need your help to word them.

This is the time to flood your social media with exhibition news, opening dates and times. Get the word out before and during your show and keep a guest book for comments. 

My gallery generated print and digital promotional material via online platforms including email, web, and social media, and worked with the regional council network and several media outlets to engage local, regional, and national audiences. They even provided me with a comprehensive exhibition report. 

Depending on your venue, you may like to arrange a ‘meet the artist day’ or an opening night. Attend your exhibition as often as you can during its run.

It’s extra special for both the photographer and the visitors if they can meet and talk in the gallery, and it gives you a priceless opportunity to meet your viewers in-person!

Image: Paula Heelan

Not only is the process of holding your own exhibition a cracking experience, by the end of it, you will have gained a new audience which you can then leverage for feedback, networking and patronage. 

Putting your work out there, in a public space, makes you findable. Having people view and comment on your work inspires you to carry on confidently and do more – good luck! ❂

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