5 Tips for Preparing for Your First Exhibition

First Photography Exhibition

At one point or another, each aspiring photographer is likely to have a first public exhibition. It might be at a festival, inside a gallery, at a university or even through a local arts fair. Whatever the case, it’s an exciting and important event! But it’s also one that calls for a fair amount of strategic preparation. Where that preparation is concerned, here are a few tips that might help with a first exhibition.

#1 Know Your Goal

Before you set up for your exhibition, you should do some honest reflection on what your goal is. Are you looking to sell your work? If so, give some careful consideration to pricing, try to determine which photos are most appealing to potential buyers, and think about how to set up a booth that will show off your work as a product. Are you looking to build your brand? If this is the case, consider how you can use the event to network. Think about what an article on brands building at Entrepreneur referred to as building a “tribe” — piecing together the beginnings of a loyal fan base.

Your goal can of course blend different purposes, but the better you understand what you want out of the exhibition, the better you’ll prepare for it.

#2 Save on Prints

When preparing for a first exhibition, you’re likely to obsess over the idea of quality — and that’s a good thing to do! But you shouldn’t let it steer you toward unnecessary expenses. For instance, it may be tempting to send your work to a high-end or high-res printing service to get professionally produced versions of your top photos. Or, as an alternative, you could take the same photos to the nearest Walgreens or similar store and have similarly excellent prints produced in a size of your choosing. The former can cost you quite a bit of money; the latter is quite affordable, and fortunately there are lots of coupon deals on Groupon that can provide you with substantial discounts ranging between 40-60%.

Use this as an opportunity to save a bit of money for your budding photography business. You’ll still have excellent prints that you can stage just the way you like.

#3 Save on (or Avoid) Frames

We can more or less repeat the section on prints with regard to frames. At some point, depending on the style of your photography, it may be that a frame becomes an essential part of a piece. You may even be at that point already. If not though, you can typically get away with more affordable framing options, or with your photos displayed in a way that doesn’t necessarily require frames. This will save you some money as you prepare for the exhibition, and if you happen to sell a piece you can always have some framing options in mind to discuss with the buyer.

#4 Invite Easy Sales

If you’re hoping to make sales directly from the exhibition, you should keep in mind that it’s your responsibility to make it easy for buyers to pay. Most notably, this means considering some ongoing shifts in payments methods that can very feasibly be the difference in making a sale or having an interested, would-be buyer pass. According to 
CNBC most Americans now claim not to carry cash, and three in 10 say they make zero cash purchases in the average week. Because of this, it’s wise to provide a cashless option.

The good news is that it’s gotten easier than ever before to do this. There are numerous services that allow you to use simple card scanning or swiping devices alongside mobile apps to take card payments.

#5 Convey Your Passion

Most important of all is to convey your passion! Among the ‘6 Insightful Photography Tips for Beginners’ you may have read here previously was the advice to follow your passion, and this should indeed be one of the true driving forces behind all of your efforts as a photographer. But this is also something you should consider when arranging an exhibition. Convey your passion for a certain subject, and show the photos you’re most proud of or passionate about. They’ll likely showcase your talent and your brand in an almost intangible way you can’t otherwise construct.

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Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer in the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe.