Exhibit/Review Fees and the New Depression

Discussion in 'Call for Entries' started by gbenaim, Feb 28, 2009.

  1. gbenaim

    gbenaim Member

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    Hi all,

    I'm just wondering how many of you out there are sending out work to portfolio reviews, juried exhibits, contests, etc. and are flinching at the fees these places charge to look at and show work, especially considering the state of the world economy. To what extent are you deciding where to send work relative to how much you have to pay? All the best,

    GB
     
  2. PhotoBob

    PhotoBob Subscriber

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    I have work out at four different European venues and hope the economy hasn't dampened investor/collectors too much.
    It definitely is of a concern, but having my work out there is still one of the advantages.
     
  3. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    As only a small player, so far I am just stumbling along as usual. As someone involved in mounting an upcoming local art show, I've encountered the bad economy from the other side. We had received sponsorship from a local bank, upwards of $900, in previous years; we recently learned this year we will get $250. From one viewpoint, I'm grateful we're getting anything. To pick up for the shortfall, we are dropping some frills like a color rendition of last year's best of show winner from flyers and the show program and adjusting the entry fee and the amounts and quantity of awards. Maybe by next year we can find some additional sponsors, although so far it appears the economy is still sliding downhill. More than a little bit alarming.

    DaveT
     
  4. jgcull

    jgcull Subscriber

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    I'm a small player too, but right now I'm looking at the $$$ pinch. I was asked to exhibit at a local gallery, scheduled for Aug/Sept. of this year. They wanted 30 to 40 large prints, framed larger. There was a grant I was applying for, a "folklife documentation grant", but the funding for such is just not there so there will be no bucks coming to help with this.

    I've had to settle for using frames they have left over from a project they did with school children here a couple years ago. They have that many 16x16 black frames I'm "welcome to". That means I'll be printing small and matting them. All the matting, printing work and costs paper, films & chems for it will be on me. I would back out, but I hate to do that. I hate to not keep my word, but I'm definitely feeling the pinch and also feeling a bit uninspired.

    I lost momentum because when they suggested I apply for this grant, it required a different artistic emphasis that what they'd originally asked for. That was fine, and I mentally switched tracks. I stopped what I was doing, expecting to go in a different direction to meet the criteria for the grant. Now that we've found this money isn't available, I'm back to square one with not much time left. It's a challenge I need to rise to. I do need some inspiration at this point.
     
  5. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The money for putting shows together, and submitting to juried competitions and grants can be difficult. I've spent several thousand dollars getting 25 framed prints together. Initially, I had a show scheduled at a local public gallery in my town's library. I had a year, and it gave me impetus to figure out just how I wanted to print and frame the body of work I was doing. So, I paid for prints frames a few at a time every two or so months until I had it all ready. The upside, now it's ready to go, and I've managed four solo shows this year.

    I think it's important NOT to change your style or interests to meet a grant's requirements. It can prove to be a distraction, as you say, Janet. Find grant opportunities that allow you to pursue your work... not their agenda.

    Pick juried shows that are regional... you don't want to add a boatload of shipping. Portfolio reviews may be more bang for the buck.

    I think just careful, focused submissions for grants, juried shows, and portfolio reviews are the best bets. Read the submission requirements carefully, and be sure it's a good fit for your work and budget.
     
  6. gbenaim

    gbenaim Member

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    I've noticed several of the places I've been sending work to had extensions on their deadlines, I wonder if it's due to lower than expected participation caused by money crunch.
    Suzanne, could you tell us more about the portfolio reviews you've attended, and why you think they're better bang for buck? I'm still not sure what the phoographers get out of it, other than the critiques, if they're useful.

    GB
     
  7. eddym

    eddym Member

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    This year was our art guild's 10th annual juried exhibition. We had the highest turnout ever of artists who submitted work, so our take from entry fees was pretty good. However, we did not get a single donation. Nada. Zip. We ended up in the red on the show by about $300; not a bank-breaker, but a few donations would have put us over the top, and it's the first year we have not had any at all.
     
  8. msdemanche

    msdemanche Member

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    Suzanne,
    I am interested what you get from the portfolio reviews. For entries I look at the venue and the judge to decide about the competition value. I think that writing for grants is something that one should try to do based on your work and not vice versa. Changing ideas just for perhaps money is very demoralizing.
    michel
     
  9. Valerie

    Valerie Subscriber

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    I went to Houston's Fotofest portfolio review in '92. My work was accepted into a very prestigious gallery. I was young, stupid, (and pregnant with #3!!) and never followed up after the initial show. Who knows what could have come from that review if I had just known what I was doing...

    I know of many others who go to Fotofest and get gallery representation, images added to major collections, and even a book.

    Can't speak for any other reviews, but I will willingly put down the sizeable fee to attend next time around (I am older, hopefully wiser, and the kids are almost grown!).

     
  10. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    So far, solo museum show, and I'm on the schedule this summer with a commercial gallery in Boston. Not bad.

    I have made a conscious effort to get my work out there this past year, and so far have done three review events. Two here in the Boston area, one in New Orleans, and plan to go to PhotoLucida in April. I have also done an online review called Critical Mass through PhotoLucida.

    Sometimes, a reviewer needs to see the photographs a couple of times. The gallery saw them in Boston, and again, online when she contacted me.

    All that said... you should have a cohesive body of work ready to show before making the investment in time and money for the reviews.
     
  11. PhotoBob

    PhotoBob Subscriber

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    Getting work out into exhibition venues, has sure been costly and we feel it everyday, emotionally and in the pocketbook. I've even resorted to parting with some equipment, i.e., Chamonix.
    However, the opportunity and the current recession were beyond control to keep apart.
    Working within a budget is definitely a good idea, but how much and what venues to try for are individual choices.
     
  12. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    There are still economical juried shows out there. In another thread I posted that I had been juried into the 29th annual FAVA, six state photography show in Oberlin, Ohio.
    http://www.favagallery.org/Fava gallery.html
    As in the last four years that I have gotten in, the cost was $15 for three entry images that had to be framed and matted. They would provide Plexiglas and clamps if you couldn’t afford frames and glass. I borrowed three from my still running museum show.

    There was much thanking of sponsors at the opening. The judge reviewed the six images that were given awards. He offered and gave reviews of any other images in the show, in my case remembering and comparing to the other two images I submitted. I think there is much to be gained by having your work critiqued. Judges may differ, even contradict each other, but I feel I have learned from it.

    This is why I at age 69 continue to take university photography classes which require class critique every two weeks and offer portfolio reviews by visiting artists: Lois Conner ‘04; Andrea Modica & (Chip Forelli, ME Photo Workshops) ’05; (Les McLean, Paula Chamlee, Michael Smith APUG Toronto) ’06; Thomas Roma & William E. Williams ’07; Martin Parr, Abelardo Morell ’08; Toby Jurovics ’09.

    John Powers
     
  13. gbenaim

    gbenaim Member

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    I should have made my point a little clearer. Given the economic situation, and given that there's a mutual dependency between the artists submitting work and the institutions calling for it, and given that in the best of times artists aren't a rich bunch, shouldn't said institutions lower their fees so we can keep sending out work and not have to sell our equipment in order to afford it?
     
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  15. gbenaim

    gbenaim Member

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    One more thing, how about we put together a petition by photographers asking these photo institutions to lower their fees for the duration of the current recession? How many of you would sign off on that? Any idea how I can set it up online? Thanks,

    GB
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 5, 2009
  16. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    I think the pictures will show poorly if the institutions can't afford to turn on the lights.

    John Powers
     
  17. gbenaim

    gbenaim Member

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    John,

    I want the lights on, just don't see why photographers should bear an unproportionate share of the burden. Aren't there other sources of income, other than up and coming artists? Isn't there something ultimately counterproductive and, honestly, opportunistic in requiring people to pay their way into exhibits, or rather, into being considered even for an exhibit? I think so.

    GB
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 5, 2009
  18. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    This is why good research is helpful. Here in Boston, the PRC does a juried show each year. You can submit ten images for $25. I looked at the Spider Awards once, and to submit five images cost closer to $90. Guess where I entered?

    There are venues that aren't charging an arm and a leg, and there are some that are charging much more than what it might cost them in administration. PhotoLucida, for example, has an online review process, but it actually works out to be about a $1.25 per review if you jury past the first screening. And that is with a submission of 10 pictures. The reviewers choose one or two photographs, and they publish a monograph. Everyone who participates gets a book. Not a bad deal, in my opinion. Their in person reviews every other year are expensive, but it's for four days of reviews, and a portfolio walk. So, there's a lot there... per dollar.

    There do seem to be a lot of these things cropping up, juried shows, portfolio reviews, etc., etc., and some feel like they are praying on young, desperate photographers who want to get their work out, but I think it's up to you to research and work out which venues, portfolio reviews, etc. work with your budget.

    Most venues can't operate for free. Neither can most photographers, so you have to find a way to have some income... whether from your photography or not to have the funds to market the work.
     
  19. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Speak with your feet. Nothing is louder.
     
  20. gbenaim

    gbenaim Member

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    I actually think our collective mouths, websites, blogs, forums, and whatever else are more effective. Silence is in many cases compliance, even if it's in protest.
     
  21. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

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    Do they have a web site, and if so, what is the URL?
     
  22. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Member

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    Jason is right: Just refuse to participate in shows that require entry fees. They should be charging the audience, not the artist. Paying fees to exhibit is like paying your employer to give you a job that he may or may not pay you for after you do the work.

    I won't do exhibits that have any fees, period. I used to when i was young, and I finally realized that I had spent more money on entry fees than I ever made on sales from these exhibits. Remember too that after charging you to show, these parasites take a HUGE commission if they actually sell anything for you.

    I spent 10 years exhibiting my work in the hope of selling some of it, and sold very little. In contrast, my website last year sold more sold more of my work in that one year (a year where the economy sucked!) than I sold in 10 years of showing in better economic times.
     
  23. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    http://www.photolucida.org/

    I've given this some thought today, and I'm not sure I'm comfortable signing a petition. If a juried show or portfolio review is a ripoff, then I won't submit.
     
  24. eddym

    eddym Member

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    I'm just sitting here shaking my head. Apparently none of you have ever tried to put on a show. It costs money. Get over it. If you think you can rent a facility -or run your own, paying lights, insurance, rent, utilities, and permits- then go ahead, put on a show. Advertise it (oops, that costs money, too!), find jurors, make a budget, figure out how many people are going to participate and how much you're going to have to pay out for the jurors' expenses and stipends, the prizes (if any), and the aforementioned overhead of the venue, plus wine and food for the opening cocktail, and then just sit back and rake in the cash!! If you need help spending all that money, let me know!
     
  25. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    I agree with Jason and Chris; simply refuse to enter exhibitions with ridiculous fees, and explain why if asked. Petitions and web-forum ramparts sound nice but are often an empty exercise in misplaced idealism.

    Eddy, I can see your point; no one thinks putting on an exhibit is or should be free. Whether it makes sense for you to put on an exhibit and charge fees is a market-based business decision, just as it is for an individual photographer to decide whether to pay those fees against an uncertain chance of ROI. I'm pretty sure that for many photographers, high gallery commissions and heavy exhibition entry fees are no longer part of a viable business model for selling one's work.

    This is the beauty of the marketplace: if exhibitions with high fees are good venues for moving one's work, word'll get around and demand for those display slots, and prices event organizers can charge, will reflect that market-based decision. If not, well....time for everyone--including the organizers--to rethink what makes sense.
     
  26. eddym

    eddym Member

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    Exactly. It's a personal decision that each photographer has to make. Honestly, I suspect that any kind of exhibition is rarely a good venue for selling your work; but it may be (or not) a good venue for getting your work seen by the public eye. So the question one needs to ask is whether a given exhibition venue will reach the target market, what are the chances of acceptance and/or (dare we dream?) winning a prize, and is it worth the risk of the entry fee? Balance this risk versus the other methods of reaching a target market such as advertising, personal contact, etc.
    But boycotts and petitions will impress no one, nor will they get your work seen.