You’ve spent years perfecting your craft as a photographer. Now, it’s time to show the world just what it is you do, and just what it is you are capable of. This means it’s time to get your images together and prepare for your first photography exhibition. Will you be nervous? No question. So, in order to give you a well-deserved boost, we’ve outlined 10 tips for a photography exhibit. Each of these is designed to help you make your first exhibit a most memorable and successful one.
Your Artists Statement
This is the foundation for your exhibit. The artist’s statement gives guests a sound idea of what to expect from your work. Not only that, but it is a useful tool when it comes to promoting and marketing your images. Your artist’s statement is simply a verbal description of your work, offering explanations and justifications of your work.
Find Your Theme
No doubt you’ve taken hundreds of photos during your career. A big part of creating the perfect exhibit is creating a cohesive exhibition, one in line with your artist’s statement. This may indeed be the most difficult part since you must select which images are within your theme and those which do not, are eliminated from the exhibit.
Time to Promote
The venue is the space to exhibit your pieces, it’s your responsibility to fill the room. In order to do this, utilize whatever means are at your disposal such as social media, word of mouth, snail mail, as well as using whatever type of promotion tools offered by the venue.
Selecting the Venue
Time to make one thing very clear: Your venue of choice need not be a professional gallery. Keep in mind that this is the area you will be showcasing your work. As such, begin to search areas which suit your theme. Think theme first, and then look for a space which will be the perfect backdrop to showcase your work for the public. It can be a gallery in the city or a renovated barn on the outskirts of town. Venues to consider include restaurants, cafes, renting space from an artist who has a loft, or professional galleries. As long as the venue correctly frames your theme, you should be good to go.
Framing Your Work
Once you have your artist’s statement, theme and venue selected, it’s time to think of framing. The frames must be carefully chosen in order to showcase the art, not overwhelm it. Most beginning exhibitors use standard frames they can find at department stores, or online. Don’t forget thrift shops. There are plenty of thrift stores that sell framed art for incredibly cheap prices. Even if you don’t like the painting, it’s the frame you want, and some of these can be absolutely stunning. Keep in mind that having your work professionally framed is extremely costly, so learning how to mat and frame your own artworks in your favor.
Plan Your Exhibit
Now it’s time to consider the order in which you’ll exhibit your images. This depends heavily on your statement and theme. Remember, not all of your viewers will be familiar with your photography, or even know much about the art form itself. So the way you hang them, and the order in which they’ll be viewed will help immensely. Allow your placement to aid in telling your story.
Decide on Pricing
Depending on your venue and/or contract, you’ll need to figure in the commission when pricing your work. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a newbie when it comes to exhibiting your images. Since you’ve not yet developed a name or reputation, you’ll not be able to charge as much as a seasoned professional. That being said, use some common sense when pricing your work, while taking this opportunity to get to know those who are interested in your work, as you begin to build a solid reputation as a visual artist.
Get Your Website and Business Cards Ready
It’s time to go over your online portfolio and make certain that it’s completely up to date. Create a section that celebrates your upcoming exhibition. Next, go through and update your site, removing all of the images which are not up to par, replacing them with your best work. Make sure your contact information is up to date as well. After this, it’s crucial to have professionally designed and printed business cards to hand out. At this time, you may also decide to have brochures and resumes professionally printed for those interested.
Get to Know Your Patrons
Many artists are introverts by nature. Being an introvert helps the artist to be able to spend long hours alone, as they hone their craft. Unfortunately, the downside is that they neglect to develop their social skills. When at your exhibit, it’s critical that you make yourself available to your patrons. Be responsive, engaging, and be more than willing to answer any questions they may have. Take this as a chance to begin building your reputation. Think twice before you adopt the image of the ‘aloof artist’, as it’s old hat, and can cost you sales and a bad reputation.
Don’t Forget The Guest Book and Other Extras
The guest book is much more than a place for signatures. Your guest book represents your connection to those who have attended your opening, and functions to collect contact information so you can start to build up your mailing list. It’s a way to keep in contact with your fans and to announce future shows. As for extras, these are the fun little things you can leave next to your guestbook. They include freebies such as pens which have your name and contact info on them. Finally, depending on your venue’s rules, you may be able to sell merchandise as well.