How to get your work noticed?
The world of photography is very competitive, so at the earliest opportunity it is important to start to get yourself known. For example, enter as many photographic competitions as possible – even if you don’t win, they can provide you with good sources of project themes, and get you used to working to deadlines.
Taking around a battered parcel of prints of all sizes to show people makes you seem amateurish, or just arrogant. At least have work mounted on thin boards matching in size, which are shown in a box or a book-style portfolio. You can also buy ring binder portfolios but the plastic sleeves in these folios are much thicker than in the book-style portfolios and so tend to make your prints appear flatter and less detailed than they really are.
Book-style portfolios are undoubtedly more professional looking, though all plastic sleeves are reflective and need to be looked at away from bright light sources. A portfolio makes it simple to change your selection and the order of pictures to suit the occasion. Many professional photographers will have more than one portfolio, each containing different images for different clients.
As much as possible, take your portfolio around to art directors, gallery curators and other potential clients. Their comments are always worth hearing, even though you may
not always agree. Think ahead too in terms of how to give intelligent answers to the sorts of question you could be asked by a curator or gallery director – it is worth writing a statement
in support of your work and your interests. For a documentary project it is essential that you provide introduction to the theme or subject of the work.
You should be prepared to talk about why you made the work, what were you trying to convey, what prior experience led you to develop the project, which images stand out for you: be prepared to openly express your thought process – it will help to prove that the work has direction and cohesion. You should also be able to discuss the work of other photographers, seen in books or on the internet, or in exhibitions – photographers who might have influenced the direction you have taken in your work.
If you are lucky enough to be offered some form of exhibition, both the standard and method of presentation become even more important – in fact the presentation really becomes a part of the work. Take care over the lighting. The same tone range degradation effect caused by viewing prints through portfolio acetate applies to photographs framed behind glass. You may be able to control this by careful positioning of spotlighting. In locations with many surrounding reflective surfaces, or having only flat frontal lighting, it may even be best to remove glass from the frames. Museum glass is reflection- free: you may only be able to find it in large city framers and it is very expensive, though beautiful to look through.
There are many ways of producing photographs to exhibit, from traditional framing with card mattes to flush mounting on board or aluminum, or even simple pinning directly to the wall. You should think carefully about the kind of presentation that will be most effective in relation to the work you are exhibiting as well as the character of the exhibition space itself and what is affordable.