Sunday, August 11, 2013

Preparing for a gallery exhibit, Part 2: choosing the images for display

If you have hundreds of photos to choose from, it becomes a daunting task to narrow them down to a handful to be exhibited. Naturally, we have our favorites and there may be a small handful that will, without a doubt, go into print. Because my exhibit will be specific to Biscayne Bay, I already have a relatively narrow focus, but I still had hundreds of images to review. I decided to create subcategories for these images and came up with about five categories (i.e, silhouettes, water, mangrove blurs). Because the gallery is quite large and I will have approximately 75 feet of horizontal wall space to work with, I could pretty much include a batch of images from each category and organize them on the walls accordingly. To help me make my choices, I asked a few people their opinion by giving them two or three to choose from at a time. This helped a great deal. Images take on a whole new look with a fresh eye.

I think, however, one of the most important factors in making my decision on which images will go into print is the goal of ultimately selling them. Seeing an image framed or wrapped hanging on a wall is much different from seeing it on a computer screen. Art fairs and galleries are the best places to show one's work, and therefore, the most likely places to help you sell your work. At least, that is my opinion. Personally, unless I have seen the artist's work in print already, I would not purchase an image if all I have to go by is what I see on a website and the artist has never shown his or her work. So with selling in mind, I chose my gallery prints.

The next step is to figure out how they will be displayed and in what sizes. For the sizes, I knew I wanted to hang images as large as 20x30, 12x36, and 16x32.  The size of the print is somewhat determined by the camera's resolution and quality of the image. Now-a-days, I use a camera with 24 mp and large prints look awesome with amazing resolution. From what I have seen in galleries, 16x20 or larger is common, but as small as 12x15 or 12x18 could work if mixed with larger images. It also depends on the type of images. For birds that fill the frame, I personally like them to be small to medium-sized (up to 16x24), and when the bird is part of a larger scene that includes other things like mangroves and grasses, a larger format (20x30 or more) can look great.

Once I figured out the sizes that I would use, I needed to work out a layout plan. Using my ipad, I downloaded a couple apps to help me with that. Photoshop on the computer also works well for this. With one app, I framed and matted some of my photos. With the other app, I drew the gallery walls with the correct dimensions, inserted the images, scaled them to size and moved them around. This was incredibly helpful to visualize the layout with the real images. I came up with several variations and went with the one I liked most.

The next step involves cost considerations, and where and how the images will be printed. That will be the next blog entry. Stay tuned.

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