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How to Maximize your Photography Exhibition experience

A Guest Post by Eva Polak

Having a group or a solo exhibition is without a doubt one of the best experiences an artist can have. Not only can you show off your work, but you also have a unique opportunity to talk to people who have come to see your photography. Apart from developing a great body of work, you need to think about promoting your exhibition. By publicizing your work you will attract the attention of potential buyers, curators, fellow artists and members of the public. With careful planning you can turn this task into a fun and easy exercise.

Image by nanda_uforians

Developing a plan

A very important first step is to think of your goals and objectives and write them down. What are you trying to accomplish and how are you going to do it? Without a plan of action and with so many different options available to you it will be difficult to keep track of your task and make sure you are heading in the right direction.

Choosing the date

Sometimes you have no control over the dates for your exhibition. But, if you can choose the dates, choose carefully! You’ll get a better turnout if you arrange to have your exhibition not to coincide with major art, music or sport events happening in your region. You obviously want people to come, so it would be easier if you didn’t have to compete not only for your audience but also for media coverage.

Time frame

You should allow six to nine months to plan your exhibition. Use a spreadsheet or a year planner, note down which activities you will do and when you will do them.

Create a Buzz

Ultimately you want to tell people about your exhibition. But to maximize your promotion efforts you need to identify your audience. In other words you must have a sense of who’d be interested in your work. When you know your audience it’s so much easier to directly target them using the right channels. If you want to get noticed in a show, it really is up to you to get to know and invite people who could be important to your future like curators, journalist, and gallery owners.

Send press releases to local press

Using press releases is a great way to get the word out to various publicity outlets. Sending a generic press release usually is not going to be enough for a journalist to write a story about you or your photography. But if you come up with interesting story or angle that will attract the target audience of the magazine or newspaper you are contacting, you increase your chances dramatically. There’s no guarantee it’ll get published… but you’ll never know until you try. Using social media Internet and social media is with out a doubt the biggest and cheapest marketing tool available to you. By using sites like Facebook, Twitter or Flickr you can easily select your target audience and measure your results. The most important aspect to remember is that these sites are a social platform first. Don’t expect people to respond to commercial messages. You need to build relationships and that takes time and commitment.

Internet

There are so many places on the Internet that you can use to advertise your exhibition for free. First should be your website, of course, then look for the websites of local newspapers, magazines, radio and TV stations. Most of them have a section called “what’s on”. You can also use on online event calendars such as Upcoming.com, Craigslist, Yahoo, etc. Research your local art and photography organizations. They can not only advertise your exhibition but also give you advice and support.

Mailing List Building and maintaining your mailing list is crucial. People who signed up for your mailing list are your audience who are interested in hearing from you. What you need to do is to simply send them the invitation.

Printed Invitation

It’s easier than ever to produce high quality invitation using digital printing. It’s quite important to have it designed professionally. After all, you want to promote your work. When your invitation looks nice, it’s more likely that the people are going to keep it and remember about your exhibition.

Before printing ask a friend to double-check your spellings and dates. You can distribute your invitation in libraries, art centers, coffee shops, information centers, photography stores, etc. – wherever you think is appropriate and will generate interest.

Tips to remember

  • There is no such thing as starting to plan too early. Allow enough time to get everything done.
  • Use only what applies to your specific goal and throw the rest out.
  • Get creative, think outside of the box.
  • Ask for help and advice.
  • Take action everyday. Continuous effort is far more effective.
  • Don’t forget to have fun.

Check out more of Eva Polak’s work at evapolak.com

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Guest Contributor This post was written by a guest contributor to DPS. Please see their details in the post above.

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  • http://jimmartinphotoblog.blogspot.com Jim Martin

    I just had my first exhibition (it is actually still hanging because it was extended a month) and must say it was a draining yet rewarding experience. We had a terrific opening. I showed my photos with an autumn theme together with a friend who had illustrated one of her Halloween stories with pastel pictures. We hung them together and she told the story every opportunity she could get.
    We got some good comments in our guest book and several jobs have come out of it. We also made a photo book to accompany it and sold some of them, too.
    It took a good year of planning and then several months of focused work, getting the pictures sorted, printed, matted, framed and hung. It wasn’t just an exhibition but also an installation. Check out the pictures on my photo blog to see the tree that Tiffany made and the way we tried to get the visitors in the mood for the exhibition even before they entered the rooms.

  • http://www.larissaphotography.com St Louis Wedding Photographer

    That’s a lot of time to dedicate to a project. For those of you guys who have done an exhibition, have you made 9 months worth of sales out of it to make up for all the prep time?

  • http://tschantz.myexpose.com/ Susan T

    Planning is very important.

    If you have access to someone in your area who has had a successful exhibition, ask them to mentor you if possible.

    And making contact with the press is very, very important. Give yourself time for this, and try to connect with at least one local reporter.

    And this is possible. They are always on the lookout for a good story.

    Think about what is unique to your work, and focus on this. And if you have something that relates to local culture, all the better.

  • http://www.bluejackingtools.com James

    I suspect a personal exhibition cannot be rewarded in terms of immeidate sales.
    But it opens a door of opputunity to many other things.
    If prep time is an issue, to a combine exhibition, or offer you photos as guest exhibits.

  • http://jimmartinphotoblog.blogspot.com Jim M.

    James is right about the door to opportunity. Not only did the exhibition (which we took down this past weekend) change other people’s thinking about my photographic ability and seriousness, it also changed my self-perception. “Hey, I can do this!”
    My next goal is to collect my best collections of photographs (street photography, portraits, landscapes/nature) and put them in portfolios or photo books. Then I’ll have a document of where I stood with my photography in 2010. I can also show the collections to others.
    Susan, thank you for your advice to get in touch with a reporter. Although I sent out press releases to all the local newspapers and magazines (several of which I subscribe to), we got no press. Next time I’ll contact the people personally and point out the unique aspect of my work!

  • AnnieV

    I am preparing for a small exhibition. Its in a low key space – not a gallery as such but rather a gallery space in a shop. I need to keep costs down and have about 20 A3 black and white wildlife images.
    1 Is is okay to hang them matted and shrink-wrapped instead of framing?
    2 Is is acceptable to put a digital signature on the image instead of signing it? my name is too long and it looks akward and messy writing on the mattboard.

Some older comments

  • Jim M.

    December 6, 2010 08:30 pm

    James is right about the door to opportunity. Not only did the exhibition (which we took down this past weekend) change other people's thinking about my photographic ability and seriousness, it also changed my self-perception. "Hey, I can do this!"
    My next goal is to collect my best collections of photographs (street photography, portraits, landscapes/nature) and put them in portfolios or photo books. Then I'll have a document of where I stood with my photography in 2010. I can also show the collections to others.
    Susan, thank you for your advice to get in touch with a reporter. Although I sent out press releases to all the local newspapers and magazines (several of which I subscribe to), we got no press. Next time I'll contact the people personally and point out the unique aspect of my work!

  • James

    December 1, 2010 04:24 pm

    I suspect a personal exhibition cannot be rewarded in terms of immeidate sales.
    But it opens a door of opputunity to many other things.
    If prep time is an issue, to a combine exhibition, or offer you photos as guest exhibits.

  • Susan T

    November 22, 2010 02:09 pm

    Planning is very important.

    If you have access to someone in your area who has had a successful exhibition, ask them to mentor you if possible.

    And making contact with the press is very, very important. Give yourself time for this, and try to connect with at least one local reporter.

    And this is possible. They are always on the lookout for a good story.

    Think about what is unique to your work, and focus on this. And if you have something that relates to local culture, all the better.

  • St Louis Wedding Photographer

    November 16, 2010 12:51 pm

    That's a lot of time to dedicate to a project. For those of you guys who have done an exhibition, have you made 9 months worth of sales out of it to make up for all the prep time?

  • Jim Martin

    November 16, 2010 07:16 am

    I just had my first exhibition (it is actually still hanging because it was extended a month) and must say it was a draining yet rewarding experience. We had a terrific opening. I showed my photos with an autumn theme together with a friend who had illustrated one of her Halloween stories with pastel pictures. We hung them together and she told the story every opportunity she could get.
    We got some good comments in our guest book and several jobs have come out of it. We also made a photo book to accompany it and sold some of them, too.
    It took a good year of planning and then several months of focused work, getting the pictures sorted, printed, matted, framed and hung. It wasn't just an exhibition but also an installation. Check out the pictures on my photo blog to see the tree that Tiffany made and the way we tried to get the visitors in the mood for the exhibition even before they entered the rooms.

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