Taking part in your first public photo exhibition
What’s it like having the opportunity to display one of your photos in an actual gallery … in front of actual people? Well thanks to Traverse I was invited to submit some photos and have just that chance! The event? – The #ThreeGallery mobile photo exhibition. The location? The Herrick Gallery in Mayfair. The date? August 1st – 2nd 2018. Now what to take photos of? We had just 2 weeks to snap away!
To make the exercise far more enjoyable we each were loaned a shiny new Samsung Galaxy S9+ with a Three SIM card, and to encourage us to be creative, compose technically better shots and professionally edit them we could choose from 4-5 photography workshop walking tours around London.
The mobile photography project – #ThreeGallery
So 1 brand new Samsung phone, 2 weeks to take a great mobile photograph, 3-4 images to submit for consideration and 4-5 workshops to pick up some killer tips. But what should I take photos of?
The organisers were looking for a whole range of images for their photo exhibition to show off the abilities of the new Samsung phones: artistic shots, skylines, portraits, low light captures, macros, landscapes … so nothing was off the table. The only specific advice was:
- Make sure to use the biggest file size possible
- Crop and edit as you want them to be displayed
- To ideally send over 2-3 images for selection
- … but just send one if that’s the one you wanted to see exhibited
My 5 photos for consideration
The torment of choice
I definitely spent far too long composing a variety of shots, although when it came down to it I simply decided to practice the tips picked up from the mobile photography workshops (like Sean Byrne’s advice to frame the intial shot better to reduce the need to do too much cropping afterwards – helping with number 1 above). I also tried experimenting with silhouettes following Tom Archer’s tips thinking that might stand out well in an art gallery.
It was very difficult to work out which one was best but I finally got it down to a shortlist of 5 images. I WhatsApped them to a group of friends to see what they thought I should choose! The lavender fields came out top but as I was still unsure I submitted all 5 photos and let fate decide. My 5 being the ones above: 2x silhouetted plane shots, 2x Hitchin lavender field shots plus a half-silhouetted sunset fountain image. I’d be happy enough for any of them to be selected.
The actual photo exhibition
The Herrick Gallery sits opposite London’s Green Park. It’s a tranquil little retreat nestled just yards from the hustle and bustle of the noisy red buses and ubuiqutous black taxis filing past. I checked out my artwork on the second day of the ThreeGallery event in advance of the evening’s VIP event – just to see what my photograph looked like and which one the Traverse team had selected. It was a hot, hot day so it was quite exciting stepping though into the relative still and cool of the gallery. Inside were 50 prints split across 2 floors and I casually tried to find my one without looking too keen to see it!
They’d chosen one of the lavender images and installed it downstairs on the bare brickwork next to a friend’s lavender print. I was chuffed that this one had “won” and wondered if it could then go on to actually win a prize.
So on to the main event. The evening’s VIP opening began after the gallery had closed to the public. We were welcomed with a glass of champagne on one of the sultriest evenings of the year. The warmth from inside spilling out onto the pavement outside. It was time to chat to our fellow photographers and see just how wide-ranging the various photos were. I’d said to a colleague weeks before that even if I saw someone standing in front of my effort uttering “Nah – I don’t like this one much” I really wouldn’t care! I had some artwork in a proper gallery!
The photo exhibition winners are …
As an added bonus the organisers announced two winners on the night. First up was the judges’ winner – decided by the 5 guys who’d lead the workshops over the previous fortnight. [Drum roll] and the winner was The Travelbunny and her picture of this delightful boat called ‘Elsie Rose’. This was in fact my favourite as it would look great on display as a canvas print at Ikea or John Lewis! Maybe she should look into that.
The Samsung representative chose the second prize. And the winnner is “Steve Biggs with his shot of the lavender fields” Wowsers! I’ve only gone and won a prize too! So maybe all that careful planning, composing, editing and submitting had paid off after all. Either way – it was nice to have it recognised. The guys at Hitchin Lavender were very pleased too as I bigged up the place on social media soon after.
And the conclusion?
So any tips to taking part in your first photo exhibition? Yes – a few:
- Enjoy it! … and everyone part of the #ThreeGallery certainly did. What a great opportunity!
- If it’s a mobile phone exhibition use some of these mobile photography tips:
- … although the composition tips at that link can be useful for all types of photography
- Use some subtle editing techniques in Snapseed, VSCO & Lens Distortion (if needed) … or Adobe’s Lightroom if you are already a pro
- Go for a variety of different locations at different times of the day
- Get your friends to decide which one of your many photos they *think* might be the best
- On the big day remember to have someone take a photo of you with your artwork on the wall
- Make sure the files you submit are a big enough size for printing! If heavily cropped they won’t print out at the required A3 size for a gallery
- If it’s an option take the print home at the end of the day. Remember the little white name tag so you can recreate the gallery feel on your own wall