Portfolio Presentation - How Many Prints?
I have worked up to where I now have about twenty prints that I feel strong about. I have nearly completed matting all of them and am now contemplating approaching a couple regional galleries. This will be a first-time experience for me.
Is twenty prints too many? There are three general themes, two major ones and one minor one.
Should I arange the portfolio with the themes grouped together or start off with what I feel are the strongest photos overall?
Alex, I am also thinking about doing this and I was wondering what size did you make the prints?
20 prints is perfect, if you have them in themes, put them in themes with the strongest image of each theme first. In any case, it is good to first start with the "projects" and lead off with the "singles". You have no idea how tired I have gotten of the "we would like to see a project" objection. BTW, if it was me I would open with the strongest photo of the strongest theme, and close with the second strongest theme with the strongest photo last. The reason for this, you want to make a strong impression when you start and leave them with a strong impressio of your work.
Originally Posted by Alex Hawley
Before you present your work, go check the gallery and make sure your work more or less fits with what the gallery is showing or handles. By this I mean not only what is on the wall, most have bins with past shows, check those out too.
Some gallery directors will review your work while you are there, some dont, they like you to step out of their office while they do, if they ask you that, take the time to see the work they handle and dont be afraid to ask about any of the work.
If the director declines to show your work, dont be afraid to ask why and for a critique of your work, tell them the truth, that this is your first time doing this and that any help and insights they might offer will not only not offend you, but help you greatly in your work. IOW, kiss a little bit of ass...... If he/she give you a critique, ask if they would be willing to review your work again at a future date.
Goes without saying, dont take it personally if they decline. Good luck!
They are all 8x10 Kevin, mounted on 13x15 boards.
Originally Posted by kjsphoto
Last edited by Alex Hawley; 10-07-2004 at 10:02 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Jorge, thanks for those excellent tips. One thing I have done that you suggested, was check out what the galleries are showing and who they are representing. Both emphasize regional artists and regional themes. So I feel safe on that factor.
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i "audienced" at galleries in boston and new york several years ago. the advice i was given by friends who were involved in "the scene" said 15-20 images. if there are themes - group them together, and start & end with your strongest pieces. "leave them so they are wanting to see more."
Thanks John. You've got bigger cajones than me. This old country boy would be totally intimidated by just the thought of trying to sell his wares in Boston or New York.
Originally Posted by jnanian
thanks alex -
Originally Posted by Alex Hawley
at least they'll know what to think of your work <g>
the images i showed were very abstract from negatives on glass or that no longer exist and the gallery people would gather around, couldn't make heads or tails out of what i showed them. they refused to believe they were photographs ... after a few go-arounds i decided to join a co-op so i wouldn't have to explain to a gallery director what i was doing
you'll do great!
The first time I took my pictures "out there", I went for City-run gallery spaces (as opposed to private Art galleries). I applied to three such spaces and to my joyful surprise, all three accepted my exhibition proposal. My show contained 40 odd framed prints as all galleries offered me plenty of wall space. The shows went very well. I even got a great newspaper review and a morning-TV interview along with several sales not to mention an exhibition-assistance grant from the government (which paid for all my expenses). All in all, a terrrific first experience.
If there are such spaces where you live, you might want to try this approach to get your feet wet. It is not as daunting an experience as you're going to get in a private gallery and it is likely to be seen by far more people as those galleries are usually more "accessible".
IMO, 20 prints is a bit thin in number and you might want to have a few more handy just in case you find a lot of wall space available. Show them just like Jorge suggested. Investigate what grants or assistance are available out your way, too. You might be pleasantly surprised in the possibilites.
Don't take critique personnaly but do take it as a learning tool. What you feel is a strong print may be quite insignificant to others.
In any case, let us know how things turn out for you, Alex and best of luck.
I have a Panodia portfolio. The "standard" insert has twenty pages (ten double-sided leaves) ... and that is, more or less de rigueur for a portfolio.
I am constantly revising - replacing some with new work. This portfolio is 11" x 14" ... and all the photographs are printed on 11" x 14" paper with varying borders. The hardest part is selecting which - at first, no one has "enough" - then rapidly ... FAR too many.
A couple of suggestions, gleaned from observing people check my portfolio, in my *very* subjective order of importance:
1. I would strongly suggest that all images be either in "portrait" or "landscape" format ... even if it means wild mixing of images sizes. Nothing appears to be more annoying than having to turn the portfolio itself after the initial image - even once.
2. If you work in different "topics" - Nudes, Landscapes, Street Scenes, Abstractions ... It is a good idea to have a separate portfolio, or insert for each.
Saves a lot of wear and tear, and the hassle of taking photographs out and replacing them.
3. It may be advantageous to separate still further; one insert for black and white; another for color. That depends entirely on one's aesthetic preconditioning ( - translation: If it works for you).
All that applies to the portfolio. In visualizing the people who will be affected, one will do well to imagine that they are stressed - a *bunch* - and probably squeezed for time. As an "acid" test, imagine yourself in their position/ mode; Go though the pages, fairly rapidly, and try to estimate what the overall impression of your work will be - on THEM.
A Gallery exhibition is a little different ... the number of prints will depend, a great deal, on the space available. In operating a "Town Owned" gallery, I usually see a new exhibition every week. To me, the greatest "sin" is crowding - trying to stuff too many works on the walls in a "shotgun" approach. It is the hallmark of an insecure beginner (NOTHING wrong with being a "beginner" - but if you do not have confidence in your work, it is a good idea - for all intents and purposes, necessary - to fake it). I will ALWAYS advise every one to that an error toward the side of "not enough" is FAR better than having too many. Give the future viewers time - and an opportunity - to experience each image.
There is a web site that to me, is very useful in contemplating a gallery set up: [ www.demarchelier.net ] - go to "exhibitons and prtraiture. Patric Demarchelier is one of the great lights in photography, and in his site there are many views of "first water" gallery exhibitions.
Ed Sukach, FFP.