I recently entered my first image into an exhibition and I thought I would share my tips and experience that I learned from my first submission. I even won a special award. This experience only applies to open exhibitions where anybody is allowed to submit.
Think out of the box.
I can pretty much guarantee that when I walk in a landscape photography exhibition I will see lots of images with stunning vista, which might be great images when they stand alone, but when you have 10 or 20 stunning vistas on the wall, they will all be competing for your views, so having an image that is visually different will attract more views and provide a more striking image.
Get your image professionally framed.
The most important lesson that I learnt from my first exhibition is that looks count and the judges are going to be based your submission on first looks, so getting that first impression is vitally important. Yes, it might be cheaper and simpler to nip down to your local hardware store and pickup a cheap frame, but that frame may be cheaply made, poorly constructed and may not be the right frame for that image. You wouldn’t want a frame to fall apart while being exhibited.
Get your image professionally printed.
This next point follows on from the previous point. You want your image to look the best, so skimping on the best paper, and printing can really let down your image. Just remember that different images look different on certain papers, and that desktop printer that you have at home, may be easier and cheaper, but it doesn’t produce the best image, and is often setup to print all different types of printing from photos to text. If you have a top quality printer and some high quality paper, then yes feel free to print the image yourself, but if you have a cheap £50 printer, then it’s definitely worth going to a printer, and it also opens up other options such as printing on acrylic and aluminium. I’ll be honest, in that I broke this rule, because my images where from an Instax SQ6 camera, and the images print straight from the camera (anybody over 30 who remembers Polaroid Cameras, will know what I mean!), but this was the main inspiration for the piece.
Seek help from others.
I’ll be honest in the fact, that I didn’t have a clue where to start when considering how to submit an image to an exhibition, so I found help from other photographers who have submitted before and some of the advice I offer in this post is gained from other photographers. I have known that the photography world can be a little stuffy and some photographers are the most helpful, but there are loads of people out there, willing to help beginners out, and when you become experienced, then don’t forget to pass that knowledge along.
I hope this help in your first exhibition. You may be asking how I got on in my first exhibition? Well I entered 1 image into the St Helens Open Art Competition, which I am extremely proud of, and I won a special “Ex Terra Lucem” award (this is the town motto and is translated to “From the Ground, Light”), which was presented in recognition of the 150 year anniversary of the formation of the town of St.Helens, Merseyside which is the town where I live.