When I think of the millions of photographers all over the world who produce images that never get into the public arena, I feel especially privileged to have been provided with an opportunity – not once, but twice to show my images to the public. It‘s no small thing for a gallery to allocate valuable wall space to an ‘aging unknown’ & I will always be grateful to The Arrowtown Gallery for the opportunities they have afforded me.
On the first occasion (Dec 2010), I think I was in a daze, alternating between the states of bewilderment & wonderment as I participated in the lead-up process to exhibiting & then watching people as they critically appraised my offerings.
Self doubt almost led to me opting out at the last minute & it was only the sage advice of a very good friend who simply said “get over yourself McLean, let the market decide” that kept me in it. I listened to that advice & am very pleased to have done so.
Now, my second exhibition is up & running & my nerves have started to subside. I have to admit to being very apprehensive about going again as I realised that I had set a level of expectation with my first showing. Obviously, my desire to was to be be much better second time around, but you never really know until your work is viewed & opinions expressed. Opening night was very satisfying & I was heartened by the large number of people who attended. Listening to comments, it would appear that I have taken another step forward in my quest to honour the term “photographer’. I’m good with that, but well aware that there is still a personal mountain to climb.
Looking back on my two exhibiting experiences, what have I done differently this time:
First, I set myself a preparation timeline, with non-negotiable deadlines, to allow plenty of time for image selection, proofing, fine tuning & framing.
Second, I opted to increase the size of my images to at least A2 & in three instances, larger.
Third, I now better understand the importance of presentation, so spent time with experienced people choosing the appropriate framing materials. Framing & lighting are hugely important & to me, the up front expense of framing should be treated as an investment.
I have gained a great deal from exhibiting & am very happy that it has spiced up a new dimension of my life. Whether or not you doubt your own ability, whether or not you can distinguish between ‘blue smoke up your bum’ & genuine praise, whether or not you can cope with indifference & rejection, ultimately, there is something immensely satisfying about someone saying ‘I’ll buy that’.