submitting a portfolio to a gallery

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by darinwc, May 25, 2006.

  1. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    I'd like to show my work in a local gallery.
    How many prints should I have in my portfolio to show a gallery?

    I've read that it is better for a photographer to concentrate on one type or style, like landscapes or portraits or something. But I have a mishmosh of different styles and themes. Do you think it would be better to present a group of similar photos?

    Any advice will be appreciated.
     
  2. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

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    No more than 20... as few as 10. This way they either won't get bored and dismiss you as having too much, or they will think. "Hey, I'd like to see more". Personally I think the fewer the better if you have many that shine. If you don't have 20 good images, don't add filler to make 20. Keep a few shiners in reserve so they can see you have depth and the ones you've shown aren't all there is.

    Yes. They're not looking at you like a potential commercial client would. They're not looking to see what you can shoot. They're looking for something YOU shoot. Unless you're God's gift, stick to what you do best. They're looking for a vision, confidence of direction, etc. Showing a mish-mash shows a lack of confidence in what you do as far as they are concerned.

    Good Luck!!

    Bill
     
  3. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    30-40 seems to be a number used around here Darin. If you can show a large number on one subject, it will show them how serious you are and give an insight into the depth of your abilities on a subject. Seems a good idea to put in a smattering of the best from other areas of interest. It could lead to further opportunities.

    Ahh .. Bill got in before me. I'd take his advice. :smile:
     
  4. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    You might not want to show more than 20, but I think you should have 40-50 before you attempt to get anyone to take you seriously. If they really like your work, they'll ask to see more and not having any "depth", as Bill put it, will probably put you in the lightweight column.

    Some other tips:

    Don't insult a gallery owner by asking them to don cotton gloves or any of that nonsense. If they don't know enough to handle your prints properly, you don't want to be represented by that gallery in the first place.

    Don't bother with interleaving any paper in between the prints. Their time is valuable. Such affectation has only nuisance value.

    Put your best foot forward. Don't show anything that isn't absolutely the best you can possibly do. Don't show anything that isn't mounted and overmatted. It's amazing how many people take good images and present them sloppily, immediately springing the trap door. A gallery owner will not show your stuff if to do so doesn't put his best foot forward.

    Galleries and museums like themes. They want the work to be "about" something. To me this is nonsense. A good photograph is only about the emotions it evokes in the viewer. But, that's not the way the gallery circuit works. They like work which "tells a story".
     
  5. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

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    Excellent point Jim. Dealers have seen so much work from so many that the least little thing can put someone off. One thing I have really noticed... if you're refused once, the chance with that particular gallery rarely comes again. Make it count.

    Bill
     
  6. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    12-20 - NO MORE. Unless you just LOVE rejection. And send them a 35mm slide page. They won't take the time generally to see your prints personally. Most gallery owners find the risk a generally unpleasant thing. Good luck.
     
  7. DirkDynamo

    DirkDynamo Member

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    so does that mean just a slide page - no actual prints just slides of prints?
     
  8. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    That's right. Most galleries refuse to look at anything else. Antiquated as it might seem. It helps to have stuff framed up first. But it really depends on the gallery. This is ABSOLUTELY de rigeur for an 'art gallery' of any kind. Though perhaps 'specialty' photo galleries may be more sensitive to your silver printing concerns. Seriously though - do a search on google. Use the terms "submission requirements" and "gallery" and I'll bet that 9 times out of 10 that's what you'll get. Your mileage may vary though. In this day and age though - I'd probably just scan the photos and have slides digitized at a lab. It'll probably look better than you could ever photograph in situ.

    J.
     
  9. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i dunno,
    galleries like to look at a page of slides,
    but if you have matted prints it is always better
    to show the real thing.

    there is nothing worse that "the squint" while looking at
    the page of slides :rolleyes: ...

    i won't send slides, only prints, and if the gallery only accepts slides, i don't bother ...

    -john
     
  10. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    Is this a gallery that you know for a fact that is looking for new submitters? if they are, it is not that difficult to give them a call to see what they are looking for and how they would like to see it, now if it is just a cold call, I would suggest visiting the galleries and looking at what they currently have hanging...I have taken slides, prints and such, and have never noticed a big difference, either they are looking or they aren't, if your doing cold calls, then your running a 50-50 chance that they will even see you, the pat answer is I am not interested! But it never hurts to try, you never know when your going to hit one that is really looking for new exhibitors...

    As has been said, your better have your ducks in a row, your images better be better that the best and you have to be ready for rejection far more often that you will get praise..also, I never take more than 15 shots with me, this seems to be about the limit that gallery curators are willing to look at.

    Good luck, let us know how it goes.

    R.
     
  11. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    To expound a little on this topic of slides:

    I entered a Members' show at a local arts center and they required slides of the work with the application. When I delivered my work to the gallery after having been selected for the show (all black and white prints) I had a chance to talk to the gallery director about slides, which (let's face it) are a royal pain for photographers.

    She said that the main reason she required them and was reluctant to accept CDs or DVDs was the fact that slides are the truest representation of the work. This director has actually reneged on acceptance of work and thrown people out of shows at delivery because the actual work was of much lower quality than the representation of it which had been submitted on the CD with the application. So she now attaches a proviso to the announcements for shows to the effect that acceptance of any work submitted digitally is entirely conditional upon approval of the actual work, which must pass muster before they'll hang it.

    I later organized a show involving the work of 5 different photographers and again submitted slides. The best ones by far were the ones submitted by Scott Killian, who as Sparky suggests scanned his prints and then sent the scans to be digitally output as slides. They were far better than my EPY photographs of my prints.

    It is often logistically impossible to show prints, especially when you are answering a call for submissions for an exhibition. If done well, slides are almost as good as the original prints and are much more convenient for everyone concerned.
     
  12. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    How much do the digitally outputted slides cost and any recommendation where to get them done?

    Jon
     
  13. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    a lab near me wants $3 each ...
     
  14. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    Many of the galleries wanted digital images on a CD, is this becoming a trend? I was surprised when I asked several of them for submission guidelines. I wanted to show my printed work.

    Art.
     
  15. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    I hesitate to post this, as it is only partially relevant, but I have in the past done print critiques/portfolio reviews/whatever you want to call them on the Leica stand at Arles and as a result of my experiences wrote a couple of free modules for the Photo School at www.rogerandfrances.com. One is about critiques, under the heading 'critique' (one of the pictures is missing and I have just contacted the web master), and the other is about Fine Art, under the heading 'art and photography'.

    These are probably aiming at a lower level than you are interested in, but as you know, Arles is the longest established and (allegedly) biggest gathering of Fine Art photographers in the world, and these pieces may be of some use to you.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  16. jknotzke

    jknotzke Member

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    I'm curious. When you display an overmatted print, I am assuming you are mounting these prints, mounting the overmat and then putting them in a presentation box?

    Thanks

    J
     
  17. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    No presentation box. But mounted and overmatted.

    I refuse to buy any presentation box not fabricated by Joe Freeman, who promises to manufacture them at some as yet unspecified future date. Every photographer I know who has seen his presentation box wants one. If you run into Joe anywhere, tell him to get busy. I'll pay dearly for it.
     
  18. jknotzke

    jknotzke Member

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    Really.. Just mounted and overmatted.

    I'm pretty new to this and had no idea people actually did this. I was always under the impression that if a print was mounted and overmatted that it was going to go into a frame.. If you aren't going to put it into a frame, it's still considered "OK" to put an overmat ?
     
  19. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    Until a print is mounted and overmatted, it's not finished. I just hinge the overmat with two small lengths of linen tape and then sign the print.

    Frames are for hanging on the wall. If you want someone to be able to hold them and look at them just give them matted prints.

    Would you really walk into a gallery with 20 framed prints to show? My God, you'd need a hand truck.