Sharing Your Vision: Exhibitions
Now I know that some of you, younger ones especially, might be thinking that paper is old school, but paper is back! Paper is making a huge comeback all over the world, all sorts of ways, because while I love looking at photos on my smart phone, my tablet, my computer screen, I love looking at prints even more. I look at a few of Tony's prints here and I pick them up and it's paper. And I look at the image and this detail, it speaks to me.
I love it!
Oh, Peter. Hey, I'm emotional, I know.
You're such a romantic at heart.
But that side of things, when it's just a digital file, it's just a digital file. That is something, that's an object. It becomes a work of art, it's just so much more.
It brings in another sense, you know? Like one of the things with digital is you don't bring in the sense of touch, a kinesthetic connection to the image. And the thing about prints and paper, if you show somebody on your phone and you hand them something like this, they have cont...
rol over how they view it and the feel brings into play another part of the, sort of, the senses that we have. So, I'm a big fan too.
We can talk about other things, like the fact that paper is likely to last longer. Depends on how we define lasts longer because you can make lots and lots of copies of files, but we often find that people forget to make copies and backups.
But that's gets better with cloud storage and all of that, as long as the cloud storage companies stay in business, we'll be okay. But it's also a different way of speaking, a different way of communicating and talking about our art. And a screen is certainly, you've got that transmissive light coming to us. When we're looking at a print on a wall, it's reflected light, it's just, I dunno, it's different.
But it's also another opportunity for us as the artists to say, to decide or choose how we want our message conveyed. We can choose with metallic papers, we can use smooth papers, we can used textured papers of various textures, and that's a choice we get to make, whereas when the image goes out in the digital world, the person viewing it has their own choices. They look at it on their phone and we take 100 megapixel captures, we intend them to be really big prints, and someone looks at it on a phone and says, oh it's not that good.
But there's another thing too, isn't it?
When we make a print, we define the color.
Very precisely. When we send it out in the digital workflow, you hope that the world, they look at their phone, who knows what color people are seeing.
So there are a lot of reasons why I really like the idea of print. So what we're going to try and share with you is to do something with those photographs. I'm just checking where we are, okay, I'm alright now. Books.
Social media is also part of it, audio visuals, websites.
And there's a few others.
Even just the single print. And so I talk about the romance of paper.
Let's do that.
Let's talk about it. So a couple little pickies just to keep us alive. So we've got quite a few wordy slides to show to you guys and so what I do is I find that with photographers, by showing them photographs in between, I'm giving you a little bit of a break to keep you awake and excited, and then we move onto one of these where I actually get to give you the information that I want to give you. So when it comes to paper, it can just be loose prints like this, it can be matted prints, which aren't actually in a frame, but it could also be framed prints and it could also be boxes with just lots and lots of loose prints.
So there's a variation in how you can use paper to present your prints.
Lots and lots of different options there. And at the end of the segment, we're going to bring out some of our prints and show you how we work with them. But I would like to start off with dah-duh! The exhibition.
Well the exhibition's something we both love and you know that's something I have close to my heart and one of the ways I've always approached exhibitions is that it's more than just the photos, it's a whole project. It actually becomes a lifestyle for a while. And we've got some footage here, some images here, of us setting up one of the exhibitions that the indie five collaborative group did, or collective group did. This one was up in Queensland on the northeast side of Australia and, you know, people see the glamor of the exhibition opening and everyone's in a suit, even Pete wears his gold jacket and his little tie, and we all walk around and everybody looks at our pictures, but there's so much work goes into the exhibition before that. Not just capturing the images and choosing which ones you're going to use and preparing them, we'll talk a bit about that, but just setting up the exhibition, transporting all your images.
Especially big images.
And they're your babies. You've spent all of this time and even this one here when we had them transported, one of the boxes had a little bit of a crunch on the corner. (gasps) One of the kids has been hurt. So where is it going to go on the wall, are people going to see it? Because you get to this level of perfectionism, well at least I do, and I know you're close to it as well, that you put it up on the wall, and the last think you want to see is that little tiny mark when you've spent six months, 12 months. I want you to look at that and that's exactly how it should be, saying (gasps) look at that. So yeah, exhibitions are amazing to go through and it's a lot of fun.
It's fantastic fun. Very, very tiring, but it's something that, I've just got a series of photos taken from we called it the 2016 exhibition and we did it 2013. I just wanted to show you how we're ahead of the game.
But there was a good reason, Peter, let's be fair. This exhibition was about the 400 year celebration of Dirk Hartog coming to the west coast of Australia, and there was going to be a big celebration, and we were ahead of the game. And we got to just mention that we did this project because of our good friend Mark O'Fletcher. He was the one that got us in it.
He got us started and we actually had an exhibition up at, what's the town?
So we were invited to exhibit there.
Just and we had an exhibition there and invited to exhibit, so that was later on. So that was pretty cool being part of that celebration.
And on the exhibition, these were pretty cool parties. It was part of the celebrations where they brought out dignitaries from Holland.
Which, obviously, Dirk Hartog. But they ended up purchasing the entire exhibition and now is permanently in Shark Bay.
Which was very nice.
We also did a limited edition book.
Yep, I think I've got a picture.
I might have already had a picture of that.
But you can see us hanging there, and one of the interesting things, it's a bit like Pete and I working the stage together, when you're hanging an exhibition together, you're kind of all walking around
Or doing nothing sometimes.
Well Christian did do a couple of things. You'd put up a picture and everyone would be looking at it and someone else would go nah, nah, nah, swap them over and that was part of the fun of it.
They're always on tune, always pointing in the same direction.
Yeah, so you can see, you know one of (chuckles) and Christian decided to put it on the roof because that's where mine belonged and I didn't like that thought. But yeah, that's part of the fun and I gotta say there's a lot, it's a little bit like this program. There's a lot of work that's gone into it beforehand by certain people and maybe not as much by certain others but then you get to the program, you get to the point where you're delivering it, and that's part of the fun. It's almost part of the reward.
So the book that we're talking about is just here, you can see it's quite, it's a large A3 size book, which opens up, each page is hand-printed on an ink jet printer so it's not normal pre-press reproduction, it's beautiful inkjet reproduction, every print perfectly printed with a wonderful profile. And it looks even better with a glass of red wine or two. And we made a few sales. It was $1600 for the book but I think we've sold four of them altogether, so it wasn't cheap but it was wonderful. So it comes down to what are you going to exhibit? If you're going to have an exhibition, what are you going to exhibit?
Do you exhibit your family pictures?
Well, probably not family photos, no. But maybe not, but I'm not famous enough, I'm not royalty like you, Tone. So normally it's not a disparate collection. In other words, it's not a hodge-podge of different photos. It's normally going to have a theme like travel or animals or something like that.
Or in that case, that we just showed you, Shark Bay.
Which is a location, exactly right. And the other question is where are you going to exhibit? You know, for instance you can do an established gallery. They will possibly take you on, maybe they won't because they want to make money. I mean, you've got to keep that in mind, in which case can you hire a local hall? Casual lease of some retail spaces, like shops in Australia from time to time are vacant for six months and you can say to someone and pick it up for a month.
Yeah and I've done that where you get a pop-up store where there's vacant, you go in, you can rent it for a month, sometimes you can get it for nothing because instead of having a blank empty space in a shopping mall, they might let you have it for a month just to put some pictures up. It's a good way to get to work on that.
Hotel foyers, market stalls all that sort of stuff. So who are you going to exhibit with though? On your lonesome? In a group? You can share the costs there so that's a little bit better or maybe with friends. So there are a lot of things that we can think about in terms of the exhibition and what I've put together is a little step-by-step guide of the things I think you need to think about. And, as I said before, we've got a few little photographs in there to sort of keep you awake so that you know what we're talking about. So, question one. Why do you want to have an exhibition?
I want to be famous, Pete.
You want to be famous, so that's quite important. If you want to be famous, then the photos that you choose might be different than if you want to be rich.
Oh, so if I want to be rich, maybe I do an exhibition to make sales?
That's right. And so if we're going to be rich, then we've got to take photos or present photos that people want to buy. If we want to be famous, maybe that's not so important, as long as people like the photos, they don't have to want to put them up on their wall. But it's an important distinction to make. Because if you want to be rich out of being an exhibition photographer, you need to meet the market. So build a reputation, make sales, fundraise for charity, you'll sell a lot more because they know the prints are going somewhere, or maybe to sell something else. I mean, a friend of ours, David Oliver and I, we had an exhibition and we had 40 prints up and we sold nothing, but we also had a book and we sold $4,000 worth of books at the exhibition, and so we made all our money on selling books. So yeah and within the books were all the photos. And I often wondered whether that was such a good idea. Maybe people bought the book because they got all the photos, whereas if they bought just one, but anyway.
I was just going to say, when I started out in exhibitions, it was firstly just to try and get my pictures out there because there's that yearning to have your pictures seen by somebody and I ended up with places like cafes and there's a couple of bar gallery type situations. And one of the things I learned was that in those types of locations, they don't have a priority on selling your pictures. In fact, there's a negative emphasis because, if they sell one of your pictures, there's a space left on their wall so they're actually getting free decor. Secondly, they don't actually have any experienced sale staff. Their people are waitresses or waiters, barmen, bar managers, et cetera, restaurant owners, but they don't have anybody who knows how to sell. So one of the important things I've found was, in terms of the exhibition was, depending on the type of exhibition, it was important to pick the right place to show it.
Yes, very important. Okay, so what's that exhibition going to do? So when you're choosing the photographs that you're going to put up on the walls, what is it going to do? Is it going to inspire people to go to a location?
Well it certainly done that with Shark Bay.
We got a lot of people been to Shark Bay after that exhibition, we would say, certainly in Australia. Educate people about wildlife or a cause, for instance. So my exhibition down to Antarctica called Rockhopper was a little bit about that. And the albatross, I encouraged people to take a stance. So it might be a political statement or maybe it's just about offering photo decor for people so that they can put it up in the room, in which case we've probably got a better chance of making a financial success as well.
You know and exhibitions can even, as you mentioned, I think you mentioned shopping centers, you see people sometimes in shopping malls that will set up their pictures. And in a way, that's a type of exhibition, you're exhibiting your work, and I think you need to take the same philosophies and disciplines into that as you would if you were being exhibited in a major gallery.