Pre Photo Show Thoughts - 12.04.00

I know I've mentioned it before in different places, but I actually graduated from college with a Bachelors degree in Art and an emphasis in photography (although it may be hard to tell) within that degree. While in college, I sort of picked up website design on the side and did some of that in my spare time. I had an old portfolio site with a bit of writing and my photography on the school system, and about 2 months after I graduated, they took it all down.

The funny thing was that I actually got a job in the field that was technically just a hobby in college (web and multimedia design) while my photography took a big backseat for nearly 3 years after graduation. It was a combination of being burnt out on it, wanting to get more reading done, and wanting to spend more of my time writing (not that it's done me a lot of good). Then, a couple months ago, I got the sudden urge again to pick up a camera and start shooting again. It was like a sudden bolt went through me and I had to start capturing images again.

Soon after this urge hit me, I started up the photography section on my website and started displaying my images again. It was nice to be taking pictures again and although I never put a lot of emphasis on the section, it started picking up in traffic and I've gotten a steady stream of comments from different people (ranging from good to bad) on the work that I've done in it. Within a couple weeks of starting, I found out that a local club that I frequent in my town also sponsors art shows and I decided that it would be a good goal for me to shoot for a time in the future to show my work again. It would give me something to work for, and I could again put my work out in public display and hopefully get some feedback on it from different people.

At the time, I didn't want to rush myself at all, so I decided that I'd go for something at the end of the year. I lined up things with the guy who coordinates the shows and scheduled myself in for the last show of the year on December 13th. At that point, I had six months of time to work with, and I put it in the back of my head for awhile and just shot what I wanted, knowing that my style would evolve and I could always kick things into high gear if I needed to after a couple months.

Instead, though, the photography that I've shot has gone through a very natural transformation without me really even putting a lot of thought into it. Of course, I've tried to cover a lot of different styles over the course of six months, but I've done everything from using toy cameras to portraits to landscapes to the dreaded double exposures (on purpose of course). Looking back over the course of 6 months of work, I can not only see how much my hair has grown, but how my style has evolved.

Now that my show is just over a week away, it's kind of fun for me to look back on the process a bit. Not only have I looked through all the pictures (averaging out at just over one roll of 24 shots per week) that I've taken in that span several times over the course of the past week, but I've again had to sort of pace myself and plan for the process of putting a show together.

As I started thinking about things about 2 months ago, I started getting more and more ideas about what I wanted to do with the show. Not only will I be showing 21 prints, but I kept coming up with different ideas about how I wanted to do the show and the promotion of it in general.

The first problem that I ran into was that since it was going to be a show with color photography, I wanted to make the promo handouts that I put out different places around town in color. After deciding that color copies would end up being far too much money (for printing the amount that I wanted), I came upon another idea. I took out my toy camera that shoots 4 frames and shot an entire roll of 36 with it (giving me roughly 150 little pictures). I then had doubles made of this roll of film, put together a file in photoshop with the information for my show in 2"x3" blocks, and bought sticky back label paper in full sheets and photocopied this information onto them.

The next part of the process was the most laborious, as I had to not only cut up all 80 pictures into 320, but cut the sticky-back paper as well and then sticky the information on the backs of the photos. After about 4 hours of work (and the generous help of a friend), I finally finished.

The next problem I ran into was actually naming the show, although this one was fairly quickly resolved. I decided on "almost cool photography: an art show" and tied my website address into the promotional fliers as well (how's that for cross promotion?). In further tying the two together, I'm going to have a laptop set up at the show with my site on it for browsing in case people want to check it out.

One other thing I plan on doing is making the show a bit more lighthearted than a typical art show. While it will by definition be less formal (since it's taking place in a club instead of a gallery), I'm also going to have nametags out for people when they come in. I'll encourage everyone to make up a name for themselves for the evening, then write that name on two nametags and put one on and one in a jar. About three-quarters of the way through the show, I'm going to draw out a name and that person will get a free photograph. It's kind of cheesy, but I wanted an element of the show to be very non-typical and that's what I came up with. I'm also going to leave a camera out for people to just take pictures of whatever they want with. We'll see what happens with that.

My final dilemma was coming up with pricing for the pieces that will be in the show. This is a point that I argued with (not too much, but some) my professors with in college and I again had disagreements with people about how much I should charge for my work. I've always been under the belief that the photography is something that I enjoy doing and that the work in itself is my real reward. Anything else on top of that is pretty much icing, so I've always tried to keep prices very low (which seems to unfortunately offend some people who think I should charge more). Not only that, but I'd rather get my work out to people instead of having to take it all home and line my walls with it. I can look at it any time, but it makes me even more happy knowing that someone out there liked something enough to put it on their walls.

With that, I'm going to end this piece. It's become more of an informative and documentary piece than anything else, but it's also an invitation and a notice. If you live anywhere in or near Lincoln, Nebraska, I welcome you to come and if you come from out-of-town I'll even give you a discount and let you stay on my couch if need be. The notice part is that I'm going to hopefully be documenting the entire thing, so if you can't make it to the show and want to check it out, just stop by the photography section sometime after that date and I should have more information up.