Whether it’s your first exhibition or your fifteenth, displaying your photography at an exhibition can be a nerve-wracking experience. Planning for such an occasion can be a daunting, time consuming process with the potential to end up costing you more than you might earn from one.
So, what can you do to ensure that your work stands out from the rest and helps you to generate clients and recognition at a minimal cost?
Build a portfolio of your best work
Before you think about exhibiting your work, you need to take a look at your portfolio and figure out which photographs are going to sell yourself the best. The key is to remember that you’re not merely displaying photographs, but that they represent what you can do for your potential clients. With this in mind, it’s important to decide whether you’re going to use old photographs, or take new shots solely for the purpose of exhibiting them.
Once you have a plan in place, you can begin to look for galleries who might consider displaying your work.
Finding a venue to showcase your work
This can be tricky, as you’re competing with every other photographer and artist who wants to have their work showcased and gain recognition for their work. Hopefully, your portfolio alone will be enough to stand out, but it’s important for you to stand out too – and that means making a strong and immediate impression.
Early in your career, there’s no need to aim for prestigious galleries. Start with local businesses – coffee shops, small cafes, libraries, and any other spaces that will do your work justice and would be happy to showcase it. Always approach these places in person, as they’ll receive calls like this quite frequently and, as is often the case, they’ll be quick to let you go. Be presentable, personable and ready to answer any questions they might have. Even if you secure a meeting and get rejected, always ask why – as this can be valuable information to have when approaching other venues in future.
Remember: you’re a photographer, so the only way you can prove that you’re worth their time is to visit them with your best work in your hand. Have a plan prepared of the show’s theme and details of how your work and the venue tie into this central concept.
Where to get your photographs printed
After you’ve secured exhibiting space and settled on a big idea, it’s time to get your photographs printed in the highest possible quality. Find a professional photo printing lab and discuss what you need. Most of the time, they’ll be able to help you find ways of framing your work so that it effectively reflects the overarching theme.
Going social with it
The final thing to do is to get your exhibition out there. If you’ve landed a deal with a major gallery, they’ll often help out – but if this is your first show, there’s no need to splash out on marketing. Use social media to your advantage – and if you’re not sure where to start, now is the time to learn!
Create digital posters and share them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and any other platforms at your disposal – and always remember to capitalise on popular hashtags on Twitter and Facebook, networking online with groups of people who may be interested in seeing your work, as well as potential collaborators. Better yet, learn how to build a mailing list – that way, you can send direct updates to the people interested in your show and guarantee they have all the information they need.
Last but not least, build an online portfolio of your work to entice people to come to your show. Who knows? You might just be discovered by someone influential from the industry.
Author: Maz, from Digitalab