If you have been working with photography for a while, you’ve most likely considered preparing a photo exhibition of your work at some point. Showing your photographs publicly can be incredibly satisfying; it gives you a sense of accomplishment and boosts your confidence. But preparing a photo exhibition can bring a lot of work and stress, so here are a few tips for making the process easier.
Choose your photos
Before you make plans, think about which photographs you want to show. Make a selection of 20-30 of your best photos and make sure they work together as a group. Create an intriguing title for your exhibition that will spark interest. It can be totally descriptive or something more ambiguous, just remember the title is the first impression and you want it to be strong enough to pull people in.
Find a space
Finding an appropriate space for your exhibition can be tricky. Ask around at your local galleries. See if they have an open call you can apply to. If that is not an option, think about some alternative spaces. Cultural centers, youth centers and even come coffee shops, often have spaces that are free for artists to use.
Making a plan
Now that you know what and where you are going to exhibit, it’s time to get to work! It’s a good idea to take some pictures and measurements of the exhibition space beforehand, so you know the exact number of photographs you can include and what their size is going to be.
Plan out the layout
Another tool that can make planning easier it to make a model of the exhibition that is to scale. You can do this on your computer or do it old school. Make a base out of paper of cardboard, preferably white, that will represent your wall. Then cut out small prints that you can move around the base. That way you can physically play around with different sizes and placements of your photos and see how they look side by side.
Printing, mounting and framing
The opening date is getting closer, so now is the time to start printing your photos. After you’ve printed them, consider mounting and framing. Mounting is basically sticking your photo on a back board and it protects it from wrinkling. Mounted photos are then prepared for framing if that is what you choose, but you can also show them as they are. Framing prints gives them more weight and authority as objects.
On the day
You’ve been working and preparing for months and now the day of the exhibition opening is finally here! But there still one last, and most important thing to do. Setting up an exhibition usually happens on the day of the opening. It’s a good idea to find someone to help you with the hanging process, so you won’t have to do it all by yourself. Bring spare nails, a hammer, a measuring tape, gloves, window cleaner, a rag and a level. Spread your photos on the floor at first to check the layout one more time and then start placing them. Once you’re done, make sure everything is as you envisioned it and give yourself a big pat on the back! Preparing a photo exhibition was a serious undertaking, and now that it is open for the public, you can relax and enjoy the show!