How To Present Your Work

By: Theresa Airey

  1. THINK POSITIVE.
  2. EDIT, EDIT, EDIT.
  3. Show the best six images first.

    Make yourself edit your work; and if the viewer wants to see more, he/she will ask to do so. Then get out the next six best images and so on.

  4. Never show more than 12 prints at one time.

    If the viewers likes what they see, they will ask to see more. You know exactly which images are your best work.

    I pretend that I am going to show my six best prints to another professional photographer. I will instinctively select the six best prints without thinking about it; I can just pull them out. Then once the first six are selected, I will get another six out. If you have to think about showing an image, chances are it is not good enough.

  5. Make sure your work is clean. Clean mats, clean prints.

    Never, ever say, "Well, I haven't spotted these yet, but you can see what they look like." This is a big, big no-no. It makes the viewer think you are lazy and will probably never get around to spotting, or just don't take pride in your work.

  6. Make sure your work is conveniently arranged for showing.

    The last thing you want to do is to go searching around for an image that belongs in a series or with another print. It uses up valuable time and makes you look totally unprepared. If the prints were in envelopes or in plastic bags, take them out and have them ready for viewing BEFORE you begin showing your work.

  7. If you present your work in an album, make sure that they compliment each other in content as well as color.

    Put prints of similar color and tones together to make sure they flow nicely and do not jar or cancel each other out. A shot of a lovely nude on one side and a homeless person on the other does not belong together. Of course, if you intend to compare or jar the audience with your images, that is another scenario. A color image of bright-saturated colors along side an image of subtle tones, or a monochromatic image, will cancel each other out. One image will look gaudy and the other will look washed out.

  8. If you have several different kinds of work to present, either in content or process, lay them out or place them into albums so that they are grouped.

    Also it helps to have a blank page in the album or a space in the laid out prints to break the series or the groupings.

  9. If you do many different types of processes or you have very different bodies of work, present them one at a time.

    Let the viewer appreciate each separately. It is very confusing to view extremely different bodies of work when seen all together.

  10. DO NOT EXPLAIN EVERY PRINT - LET THE PRINT SPEAK FOR ITSELF.

    If the print doesn't speak for itself, it has no right to be in the presentation. If the viewer asks a question or asks for an explanation, give it - otherwise bite your tongue and remain quiet. You can learn a lot by watching the viewer react or not react to your work. Even if the viewer didn't give you the exhibit or the job, don't leave the interview with a negative feeling. Seriously consider what she or he said about the work and use it as a learning experience. Think positive!

Theresa Airey

Theresa Airey
Theresa Airey, international photographer and author of Creative Photo Printmaking, Creative Digital Printmaking, Digital Photo Art, Beginner's Guide to Digital Photo Art, Bermuda, The Quiet Years and Bermuda, Then and Now has shown her work extensively with separate one woman exhibitions in 18 of the 50 U.S. states. Theresa holds a M.F.A. in Photography and Fine Art.