Presentation quality - How important is it *really*?

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by reellis67, Nov 9, 2006.

  1. reellis67

    reellis67 Subscriber

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    Two things that I have seen in the last two days made me question how important the quality our work is when presented for viewing by others really is. Let me relate my experiences and then I would love to hear everyone's feedback on the issue.

    First example. I went to an opening at a small venue and saw two separate photographers prints displayed along with work in other media. The first photographer had very fine quality control: clean cut mats, very impressive values, very even borders, and the subjects were obviously related for all six prints. The second photographer showed two sets of three related subjects: the prints were flat (value-wise - very muddy), the mats all showed sloppy cuts at the corners, and one print even showed bubbles from using too little developer. In addition, on print had - and I apologize to the squeamish in advance - what I could only establish as a largish booger (bogey) attached to the surface of the print - under the glass.

    Second example (today). I got a book on inter-library loan that was recommended by a friend. I noticed that at least two, and possibly more, of the prints exhibited what were clearly light leaks from the film holder. The pattern was the same on each print and it extended into what many people call the rebate.

    Is it just me or do you spend quite a bit of time making sure that only your best work is presented and that it is presented in the best possible fashion? I'll be the first to admit that I have neither shown my work in a gallery or published a book of my work, but if I had done either, I really do think that I would have noticed problems like these. Has anyone else seen this type of problem or am I just be too critical of others? I'd love to hear what you all think.

    - Randy
     
  2. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Hi Randy,

    Whenever possible for Art shows I only put out my best finished work. It should be printed, matted and finished properly. On occasion, I do put one out that a problem has arisen, such as a hair has gotten inside. In instances such as that, I stipulate that I have to take the image apart and correct the problem prior to the sale or shipment of the photograph.

    For myself, I try to put out the best work possible, both in terms of printing, matting and framing. Unfortunately, I compete with many other photographers in this venue that are more interested in making as much money as possible with lesser quality prints, mats, frames, and completed presentation. I have had to be competitive in my pricing. My work is a very high end product with a moderate price point. Unfortunately sales have not been stellar, and because of this I will probably be attempting to sell much of my work through galleries and presented in Museum Glass. Since my pricing has to agree to through direct sales to the public as it is through the Gallery, the public is going to have a rude awakening as to the pricing which will have a substantial increase.

    Rich
     
  3. Travis Nunn

    Travis Nunn Member

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    I've noticed this, too, Randy. Two people I know who have displayed their prints didn't really put much effort into presentation. One of them has never changed the razor in his mat cutter, you can imagine what the cuts looked like. Neither one of them had ever heard of archival products, they just used the cheapest products they could find.

    Several photographers who display their work at the gallery where my work is displayed don't use archival materials. All of the mats have that nasty looking yellow/brown inner core. One of them said she couldn't justify the extra expense of buying archival products.
     
  4. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    I generally try to keep my bodily secretions out of the finished work.
     
  5. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

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    When purchased in bulk, I find that archival products add only a few cents per mat.
     
  6. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Hi Travis,

    That in my mind is foolish thinking. The archival products are not that much more expensive (mats, adhesives, tapes, packaging) than non archival materials. The buyer of course is the one that will benefit from less problem if the correct products are used in the long haul. So those who follow that train of reasoning are only interested in making as much money at the expense of their buyers.

    Rich
     
  7. Jerry Basierbe

    Jerry Basierbe Member

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    I recently saw an exhibit of some work from a local camera club. Most of the photographers did a nice in the presentation of their work. One photographer used some cheap mat board not cut very well and had poorly hand printed tags for the photos. This stands out in my mind more than his work and not in a good way.

    Jerry
     
  8. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

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    It is not only in the buyer's best interest, it is in the seller's best interest as well... if you are so fortunate to have gallery representation, many galleries will offer a guarantee of quality on the work - you may find yourself having to reprint at no charge an image that you made years earlier if you printed it in a non-archival method and mounted it with non-archival materials, and it yellows and ages poorly. Or worse, if the gallery doesn't exist anymore, and the customer contacts you and you say poo-poo to their request, well, all of a sudden you could find yourself without any customers at all...
     
  9. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    If your not going to display in the best light and material possible, they is no reason at all to display...period, the consumer as well as the gallery owner deserves our best possible effort, it not only makes you look professional, it enhances the Gallery owners reputation, which in itself can come back around and benefit you as well, that would be like me, just cutting my glass and sending it out with the edges rough and a scratch everyonce in a while...to not do your best possible effort is a waste of time, I know I won't and I wouldn't expect anyone who cares about their image to do so either! Not only do I care about my products, both images and glass, I care about my customers and potential customers.

    Dave
     
  10. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    As an apprentice cabinet maker, some 35 years ago now, one of the cardinal rules from my boss was "always bring in the best looking cabinet first." His theory was that everyone would be looking closely at the first one on the job. If they looked at it and were impressed, the rest would be easy. If the first thing on the job wasn't perfect, expect each and every part of each and every cabinet to be nit-picked by the architect, owner, general contractor and their friends.

    Seems to me that if you want to display prints, each one which is actually hung on the wall in a gallery should be the best possible in terms of quality. A nice print can be made to look shoddy, simply by a bad frame, mat, backing or even signature. Why not do the best we can, or why even bother? tim
     
  11. jovo

    jovo Membership Council

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    I'm shocked!...shocked I tell you that you don't recognize the inspired spark of individuality in the work of these two masters. Why it's my guess that they probably won highest honors in their BFA or MFA portfolios and are already on the road to major recognition for finding their own voices so early in their careers. It's we stick-in-the-mud traditionalists who would force these blazing individualists to conform to our stodgy old fashioned habits of clean, elegant presentations. Shame on us!! Shame!!
     
  12. roteague

    roteague Member

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    I would suspect that most on APUG recognize the need for the highest quality, otherwise we wouldn't be here - we would go with the flow of whatever is easiest.
     
  13. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    :smile:
     
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  15. reellis67

    reellis67 Subscriber

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    David,

    I'm really glad to hear that, since I have some of your prints!

    Everyone,

    I too would only present the best that I could do, and if the shortfall is due to my own abilities that is one thing, but it seems inexcusable that someone would display something that was poorly crafted or damaged <cough> in any way due to what I can only attribute to carelessness/laziness. I have never created a masterwork print, but I certainly have never shown anyone something that I created that was not the best effort I was capable of at that time.

    Mainly I just wanted to know if the standards were slipping in some way that I was not aware of, or if I was just expecting too much. This is not a student show but a showing of faculty work and as such, I would have thought that the bar would be set rather high. Perhaps not as high as a commercial gallery, but still...

    - Randy
     
  16. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    Convening a Meeting of the Codgers' Club

    I'm relieved to discover that I'm not the only old fart here.

    I've seen stuff displayed in hoity-toity galleries that was embarrassing to look at: bespeckled with dust, damaged print surfaces, unclean glass, damaged frames, and sloppily cut or even soiled mats. Not talking here about the odd dust mote that finds its way to the underside of the glass--those are one of God's little pranks I think. :tongue: Once I see that sort of slovenliness I'm inclined not to bother further with the work.

    I have a similar complaint about work of subpar technical quality. It seems I am expected to look past flaws of exposure, development, focus, and composition to "see" the artist's meaning yada yada yada. Strip away the art-school photobabble, and you're left with dreck. I always thought that mastery of technique was a given, so that nothing could stand between the artist's vision and the viewer.

    I think it's about an ethos of consistently striving to do one's best, an old-fashioned value that this codger thinks is in short supply nowadays. Craftsmanship shows pride in the work and respect for the viewer. Why should I bother with the work of a photographer who shows me no respect?

    My God I am such a codger--or is it curmudgeon? maybe both....
     
  17. Stew Squires

    Stew Squires Member

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    I guess I am amazed that someone who would go to the effort of taking the picture and then actually developing it and even printing it would not take the extra effort to properly present it. Way too much time invested not to get it right. Afterall, if you take the thing and like it enough to print it, it would only seem that you'd finish it off right with a presentation that compliments and further highlights, and will last long after you are outta here.

    I get to pick up the first of about twenty pictures I had professionally mounted, matted and framed tomorrow. (She can do it cheaper than I can buy materials it seems.) My office has generously made their entire interior wall space available to fill with my pictures. Every time someone walks around this place they'll be looking at my work. I would be embarassed beyond words if I not only didn't have them properly mounted and framed, but I will place each one at the best spot possible around the office to take advantage of lighting and wall length. Now if I could only get them to buy them and hang them permanently :D

    Stew
     
  18. Travis Nunn

    Travis Nunn Member

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    I totally agree. I have found that if I were to puchase non-archival mat board as opposed to my usual, I'd only save a few dollars per 100 boards purchased. Not that much in the grand scheme of things.

    Besides, the archival boards, in general, just look better.
     
  19. wfe

    wfe Member

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    One's DNA does not belong on one's prints.

    I have shown my work in a number of venues and always only hang what I believe to be my best workt and I am meticulous about the details. I do it for me than for others as this is how I want my work presented. If I wanted boogers on it I would show it with boogers.

    Cheers,
    Bill
     
  20. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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    Showing this sloppy work is just like shopping at Walmart..most people just don't know the difference, any old crap will do. Do your best for you, not the audience and hopefully some of them will see...EC
     
  21. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Boogers under glass=Mixed Media!
     
  22. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

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    The comments Rich made in both posts were dead on, if you don't know what I mean, perhaps you may need to re read them.

    My feelings exactly Rich!

    Charlie...............................
     
  23. Shane Knight

    Shane Knight Member

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    Presentation is everything. I have seen so many artist work so hard on their work and fall short on presentation. It seems the lack of money, time, and education is the main reason some make these poor decisions. I hope that we as artist will learn overtime that there is always room for improvement.

    No matter how well I think I did on the presentation of a piece, I always look back and see how I can do better. There is no such thing as a perfect picture, but I will keep trying.

    Shane Knight

    horse photography
     
  24. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    Randy,

    I suspect that you simply failed to notice that the bogey played a staring role. Was it wearing a spangly costume?

    I am with you entirely. Everyone has a different balance between the technical (including presentation) and other less tangible factors. You cannot ever undo your own standards and if you are one to agonise, the so be it. If it is any consolation, I am totally neurotic about presentation. I cannot bear even one tiny little bit of fluff or dust under the glass. It drives me nuts. Would anyone else have noticed? In most cases no, but I did and I could not give a stuff whether anyone else thought I was being neurotic opening the frame and removing it. If you are selling your work, your standards are part of what you are selling. If someone else does not notice things that are unacceptable to them, but are to you, thats only your problem if you were thinking of buying their work. If not, ignore what others are doing and ima for your own objectives - surely this is essential if we are to have any chance of being original? If you are like me there would be a pang of guilt if selling work that I knew had any kind of a flaw. I like to know that I have done my very best in all regards and simply could not show or sell a piece with known flaws. If I have done significant spotting, I tell my wife roughly what I have done but not precisely where. If they cannot find it, it is good to go.

    Your work is part of who you are and your work is too. The two are inseperable and you can only apply your standards. Otherwise it would be a conscious decision to apply lesser standards despite the visibility of the flaws.

    Let me tell you my 'problems':

    If you can see any overcut in the mount, it is scrap.
    If you can see any undercut and therfore 'unsharp corners' it is scrap (assuming I cannot neatly correct with a razor blade)
    If you can see any spotting or knifing, it is scrap.
    Any toning marks it is scrap.
    Any permanent marks on the mat, it is scrap.

    I see many of these aflictions in others' work (and I am not commenting on the brilliance of their work itself, which may well make mine pale) and often all of them in the same print. On balance, their work may still be qualititatively far better than mine, all flaws considered, but that does not mean I can sit back and not give a stuff. Quite the opposite. At least if presentation is as perfect as it can be you can agonise over the creative elements of your work instead! Immaculate presentation should be taken for granted....
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 10, 2006
  25. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    When I applied to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena California I was told to put together a portfolio of my work. I arranged the work and matted the photographs carefully and neatly without any of the afore mentioned errors. I gathered the portfolio cases and flew to LA and hand delivered them to the College. I was directed to an office and told to drop them off there. I went in and portfolios were scattered everywhere around the room. Nothing said and I flew home. A couple of weeks later I got a letter stating that more of my original material needed to be sent down. And they requested that it not be mounted to "cardboard" like the first ones. The cardboard was from Light Impressions and was costly. Just put what I had in a box and send it on I was told. So I did and was admitted to the College. The first day we were told that 1/3 of the students who were accepted already had a BA, BS, or BFA. I wondered how they felt about the "put it in a box and send it on". I had a BS in Photography and Graphic Design and had spent a great time and effort on the "details" of the craft.
    Everything changed when classes started though. The shooting, processing, printing, mounting and showing went though a highly filtered set of instructors that would put the space program to shame. Example; if you took a mounted photo to class the instructor would give it the "flip" test. He/she would take the board and bent it quickly to see if the photo would pop off. If it did it was a redo. There you couldn't afford many redo's due to the time factor and load. Having so much fun I went on to Brooks Institute of Photography where I resumed my practice of mounting, spotting and presenting my work in a professional manner.

    I have seen many fine photographs of the "Masters" with badly spotted prints and some with bad matts. Some times you have to decide if the content is greater than the presentation.

    What do they call used cars? Previously Owned
    What will they call used photographs? Previously Viewed?

    Can a photo with good content be remounted, reframed and spotted, and debuggered back in the good graces of society?

    When I went to the Ansel Adams showing in LV a week ago I took some mental notes about the gallery. The wall colors were very pleasing and in two colors. Different rooms within. The photographs were framed in white frames and the mounting of the photographs were pleasing to the eye. Equal space right and left and a little less on the top than the bottom. The wall color, lighting and white frames and mounts really enhanced the prints. The prints were excellent but a very careful examination can reveal spotting and some very minor wear on the paper. How this effects the over all show to me is that I see them each as a part of history. If all the minor mistakes are tossed out what will be left? I don't condone buggers and fingerprints and sloppy work in general but it would be a shame to miss a 1927 Half Dome because someone thought the small tear on the edge of the paper made it unshowable.
     
  26. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Hi Tom,

    I can appreciate your feelings regarding keeping things out from under the glass, over and under cuts on the mats etc. Sometimes, you just have to learn to leave things as they are. The more you fool with things the greater the likelihood of damaging the photo, glass, and mats if you keep trying to remove dust, etc. Unfortunately slight over and under cuts can not be avoided. We try to as much as possible. But, this comes about in many/most instances because the boards (frequently as they arrive from the mill) are not totally square. As a photographer, artist, frame shop, etc. we try to minimize the problem and correct them to be the least noticeable as possible. My friend who is a custom framer tells me that the rule of thumb is you get things as perfect as you can so that it is not visible at arms length.

    Rich