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Thread: Best Practices for Presenting Work to Local X (X = galleries, shows, clubs, etc.)

  1. #1
    dpn's Avatar
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    Best Practices for Presenting Work to Local X (X = galleries, shows, clubs, etc.)

    All,

    What is the current best practice for presenting one's portfolio to local galleries for potential sale, local shows for inclusion, or local clubs for discussion?

    I'm not comfortable lugging around a 16x20 box of matted and mounted finished prints, and so I'm wondering what the best way to leave/share my work for consideration might be? (Relatively) inexpensive custom-printed photo books seem like they'd be nice, but I'd like to show and share my hand-printed work, not scans and poor quality digital prints of the same. A portfolio binder with 8x10 prints mounted and matted to 11x14 seems like it's a good compromise between portability, cost, and image quality. A cheap Itoya plastic binder seems like it'd undermine the presentation of the work, but a nice leather screwpost binder or 11x14 museum box suggests care and quality.

    There's a lot of discussion on the internet about how to best present one's work, and there seem to be different standards for wedding photographers (a sample album), commercial photographers (a nice book or very expensive custom bound presentation binder), etc.

    My work has no commercial value (which, I gather, precludes its inclusion in galleries which need sales to keep the doors open), and I'm mostly interested in, I guess, discovering and sharing my local art community through shows, etc.

    I am an avid amateur photographer, but I'm tired of showing my work only digitally on Flickr, Facebook, Instagram, etc. I'd like to share physical prints of my work with a larger audience, perhaps a club, etc. A sale or two would be delightful, but it's not my main driver.

    In a nutshell, I feel like I'm working in digital isolation, want to connect with a flesh-and-blood art community, and want to know the best way to present myself. Squinting at little images on a phone screen (or slightly larger images on a tablet) ain't it.

    Thanks all for advice on this topic. I'm feeling lost and overwhelmed, and a lot of the info out there is either inapplicable or very dated.

  2. #2
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Best Practices for Presenting Work to Local X (X = galleries, shows, clubs, etc.)

    Last month I presented my first prints ever to a local museum, that has a regional competition. It was open to Alt, Wet and Inkjet.

    They spelled out exactly what they wanted. Of 3 submitted online they choose one. I printed and framed it exactly as specified. Rules everywhere.

    Tomorrow is the opening reception.

    Very excited.
    sin eater

  3. #3
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Best Practices for Presenting Work to Local X (X = galleries, shows, clubs, etc.)

    I suggest you first get to know the people that are responsible for showing work at the local galleries. In my experience, "who you know" is much more important than what your work looks like. This would be for "real" art galleries, not vanity galleries. For those, you pay to play. And finally, for local art shows/festivals, sign up to Zapplication and start applying. You'll probably get in regardless, unless it is a very large and selective show. Get your feet wet first with smaller local shows. Be prepared to spend some serious money getting up and running with a decent setup. Art Festivals are a different animal and there are some good threads here in this subforum I started that should help.

    I had a show in one of the larger galleries in GA and I first had to get to know the gallery director and talk about the project I was working on. Once they were interested the final decision was made by some committee made up of local rich people that gave money to the gallery. Their decision was based off of 4x6 prints I made at Wal-Mart. They didn't want anything larger.

    You live in CA so very different place. Here in GA the arts are not well funded or encouraged. So perhaps you will have better luck or a different experience. But again, I would suggest that interpersonal relationships with gallery directors or anyone related to the gallery is probably most important. And any work you show should be a completed or in-progress project that is interesting and relevant, not disparate photographs of random things.
    Bryan | Blog | YouTube | Instagram
    All comments and thoughtful critique welcome

  4. #4
    Joe O'Hara's Avatar
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    Re: Best Practices for Presenting Work to Local X (X = galleries, shows, clubs, etc.)

    I would say present your work at its best or most representative. If your personal portfolio comprises
    (say) nominal 11x14 prints matted out to 16x20, pick your best dozen or so and go with that. (I happen
    to think that that format is a good compromise between size and portability, but that's me.)

    Instead of showing up randomly, if you have no experience showing your work publicly, look for local venues
    like photo clubs, art organizations, or photo education organizations. They are often looking for members
    or contributors. You can always just visit and see what they are up to and bring your pictures another time.

    If you are not aiming at the commercial photography market (no disparagement intended) I don't see any
    reason to make photo books or binders, unless that is the format that you feel best presents your work.

    The most important thing is to meet some other photographers in non-competitive and non-commercial
    situations. Workshops can also be helpful. I would encourage you to avoid any that are overly expensive,
    especially at first. A tiny bit of feedback from an experienced worker can be very valuable when we are
    starting out.

    Enjoy the journey.
    Where are we going?
    And why are we in this handbasket?


    www.josephoharaphotography.com

  5. #5
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Best Practices for Presenting Work to Local X (X = galleries, shows, clubs, etc.)

    sin eater

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    Re: Best Practices for Presenting Work to Local X (X = galleries, shows, clubs, etc.)

    One size doesn't fit all. If there's a "best practice", it's to get to know the specific venue(s) in which you are interested. Find out what kinds of work they are interested in showing, how they prefer to be approached and what presentation formats they require. Start by reading any guidance that each venue has already posted, and tailor your approach accordingly, so that when you contact them with any further questions they will see that you have done your homework and are doing your best not to waste their time.

  7. #7
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: Best Practices for Presenting Work to Local X (X = galleries, shows, clubs, etc.)

    Always have an up-to-date resume with you when you contact places.

    Made that mistake...once...which was more than enough...
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  8. #8
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    Re: Best Practices for Presenting Work to Local X (X = galleries, shows, clubs, etc.)

    Fantastic advice, thanks all. I appreciate it a great deal.

    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk

  9. #9

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    Re: Best Practices for Presenting Work to Local X (X = galleries, shows, clubs, etc.)

    You have received some good advice. In addition, at least in my experience, a website showing your work is very important. It makes it easy for interested parties to view your work and see what you are all about. Also be patient—I submitted a proposal to a museum in 2013 and was contacted a couple weeks ago by the exhibition manager about doing a show next year or so. Galleries and museums schedule quite far in advance.

  10. #10

    Re: Best Practices for Presenting Work to Local X (X = galleries, shows, clubs, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Randy Moe View Post
    Last month I presented my first prints ever to a local museum, that has a regional competition. It was open to Alt, Wet and Inkjet.

    They spelled out exactly what they wanted. Of 3 submitted online they choose one. I printed and framed it exactly as specified. Rules everywhere.

    Tomorrow is the opening reception.

    Very excited.
    Great news Randy, good luck.
    --- Steve from Missouri ---

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