For a number of years now, taking photos has been quite the time-consuming hobby. I was never formally taught how to take pictures, nor do I see it as a ‘trade’ I would want to learn in a traditional sense. It’s just a great avenue to get away by myself, relax, and then have something to talk about with others, hang on a wall or give as a gift to someone. So, for me, the experience of taking the photos is paramount – the extra stuff is just an add-on for me.
Over time, my photo libraries have inevitably grown and people have often asked ‘are you a photographer’, ‘are you able to shoot my wedding’, ‘do you get paid for it’, ‘have you had an exhibition’, ‘what can I do to get better photographs’, ‘how much is your gear worth’, ‘what kind of photographs do you take’ and so on. Depending on who’s asking, I might give a different answer or rattle of the standard response; it’s pretty easy to spot a leading question. The one question that has stuck out for me though is the ‘have you had an exhibition?’.
Up until last night, the answer had always been no.
While I am not about New Years Resolutions, I did have a reflection on ‘where i’m at’ with a number of things in my life, and thought that I should listen to people a little more when it comes to people telling me they think i’m good at or have a knack for something. Since then, ‘thing number one’ to do was try have a photo exhibition.
Getting ‘It’ Out There
I’ve had a dedicated website with my pics for a couple years, and for a long time, i’ve put them online trying a variety of photo hosting services. All services were pretty much okay, but none of them had the uniqueness that I was after, hence I built my own site on my own domain. Inevitably, Facebook has a copy of them (at low resolution!), so many of my photos are seen by friends and family, both close and distant.
Picking the photos for the display was not too hard, but not as simple as ‘this, that, this’ etc‚Ä¶ I wanted to have certain themes, and I thought pairs would be nice. I had 8 hooks to make use of, so 4 pairs of 2. I was a bit nervous, or anxious (i don’t know!) on if my photos were suitable – the venue usually has more street-styled work; gravity, skateboard-esk stuff, more traditional paintings / stencil art. My stuff is, i feel, a little more corporate photography (ish – like i said, I didn’t study it, so I have no idea what it’s called). That said, friends are very supportive of it, and generally have nice things to say.
It’s strange; putting my photo’s on my website doesn’t feel like I am putting myself ‘out there’. They are there for anyone to see, in any (potentially) numbers. Printing a collection of photos and having them displayed in a Bar style exhibition, though, is a little more confronting.¬† They are there for a smaller number of people to see, but will most likely be absorbed with more intent than my website, given its traffic is minor. But, the fact that strangers will look and pass their own judgment is a little strange to accept when I am not even there. Is that part of the point?
To sum up the deal with the bar, it was all pretty simple. But first, some background. The venue is a little bar that has month-long displays. They have spots for around 16 large pieces, and depending on how things go, they are all from one person, but usually split between two groups. It was pretty easy to organise – just had a chat with the organiser, and it was all very friendly. So, here’s the run-down:
1) They organise an opening night and invite whoever they can get
2) I invite whoever I can get
3) The ‘works’ is arranged to their plan (for example, my work one side, other work the other)
4) I set the price – whatever I want (30×20″ glass frames, matting with luster prints for $250 each)
4) Turn up, have a drink, and show off
So, from the experience of picking them, framing them, taking them to the venue, here are a couple thoughts on what I did right, and could perhaps work on for next time.
1) Take time in framing them. Make sure there is NO dust, pictures are tight (i.e. so they down ripple) and they are straight.
2) Get good (ish frames) that are pre-made, and print according to the best you can get. If you are wanting to insist on widescreen and unorthodox aspect rations, picking up pre-made frames could be hard, and custom frames are crazy expensive.
3) Get a second opinion on the pictures you pick.
4) Don’t ‘settle’ for a photo. If you need to settle for one, are you ready to do it?
5) Don’t go too big, too formal, or too expensive. Start small. Even a small display, like mine, has its stresses, Financially, mentally and timewise.
6) You only get one first time. You are pretty much cashing in your good-will with friends, so try make it worth while. Everyone knows that guy in a band, who plays lots of gigs; you are happy to see them a couple times, but sometimes, it gets a bit all-the-same.
7) Be excited about it. This is where I fall-down a little; Everyone else is excited for you, but the pictures are nothing new to you. Just be happy, even if you’re not and only be positive.
On the last tip, I found that many people were excited for me, but to me, the pictures are a lot of hard work, and im looking for problems; dust thats settled, reflections that get in the way, rippling in the picture (Point 1!). As soon as I seemed a little down about it, people would instantly not be as enthusiastic. So, I must be more positive!
In summary, it will be interesting to see if any sell. After night 1, many people asked if I had sold any, and when the answer is ‘no’, its a little annoying to say over and over. But, you can’t expect your friends – the ones who ask the guy in the band to get on the door, or for a free wedding photographer, to fork out – and they made up some large numbers.
All good! See how we go!