Putting together a photo show?
I've been taking pictures of nature and wildlife for a lot of years, and have built a decent collection of shots I'm not afraid to let other people see. :-) So I'm thinking about putting together a one-man photo show for a local nature center where I'm a volunteer. Their auditorium/main room has space for maybe a hundred photos total - fewer if I make some of them very large.
Thing is, I've never done anything like this before, so I'm wondering what's the best way to go about it. At the moment I'm still in the "I wonder if I can do this" stage. So I have some pretty basic beginner type questions. Such as:
How big do my images have to be in order to get good size prints - at least 8x10, and some deserve to be 11x14 or 11x17? The rule I learned when I was starting out in digital photography was "minimum 250 pixels/inch, and 300 for best quality." Is that still true?
How much is framing likely to cost? Should I try doing it myself, or just get them all framed at a shop?
-- Jon W.
I've never 'put on a (print) show' - but I have given a couple of talks to local photo clubs - so there'll be others far more experienced in this endeavour, I'm sure.
Things that come to (my) mind - re nature / wildlife pics if considering this.
Have the pics you're considering using been seen / commented on by other people - who know what they're looking at/for - I don't mean family members / friends who'll say all manner of nice words.
Don't use multiple images from the same day / setup - just because you've had a 'purple patch' on a good target rich day
Vary colours / lighting of pics - front / side / backlit etc. Sunny / overcast / dull / rain / snow etc
Have pics taken from different - but subject appropriate - viewpoints. My own particular rant topic is seeing pics of subjects taken from too high a vantage point. - ie waterfowl from anything other than waterlevel.
What makes your pics distinctive / different from all the rest of what's out there?
What's the target audience likely to be? - The feedback I got from the couple of gigs I did was that the viewers liked to see pics of common, easily seen subjects - in a way they'd not seen them before.
A bit of advice I read re what potential entrants to a world class wildlife comp should look for when considering entering was '... If all your pic does is to let the viewer identify the species - then go away and take some more / try again'
My experience was with a digital projector - might this also be a possible option worth exploring? have a free running sequence of images for punters / visitors to look at ... and depending on feedback / comments then get some printed / framed?
I used about 100 pics for a 90 min talk. 'Afaik, 300ppi is still the norm for commercial printing requirements in my neck o the woods - although I've heard that the Japanese can request upto 400ppi.
200-300 ppi is still a good guideline, but there is wiggle room. For prints where the viewers can't walk right up to it (e.g. there's furniture keeping them a few feet form the wall), the increased viewing distance means you can get away with lower ppi. Also, good sharpening and noise reduction practices when editing can eke out a few more inches of enlargement quality when you might be a little below the ideal ppi.
For an 11 x 17 we can do the math. At 300 ppi, an 11 x 17 image will be 3300 x 5100 px, or 17 megapixels. At 200 ppi an 11 x 17 is around 7.5 megapixels. Any quality image in that ballpark can potentially make a fine 11 x 17, and if your post-processing skills are really good, you might get away with an image under 10 megapixels. This also gives you some cropping leeway. You only need 7.2 megapixels for 8 x 10 inches at 300 ppi. But you'd be surprised how small an 8 x 10 looks in a big room, I never show at that size any more. I would recommend printing fewer, larger images.
Since this is a nature center and not a gallery, the audience might not be as critical as an art gallery, and compelling imagery will help them ignore resolution. But I did see a show recently where a photographer had obviously cropped a picture of flying birds so far down and enlarged that so much that it was not even close to being sharp. Don't go that far!
The price can vary a lot. If it doesn't need to be gallery quality and you aren't going to be doing this a lot, save money and go for minimal black plastic or metal frames with white mattes, of the type that can be found at IKEA or Target.
If your intention is to sell as fine art or get into a gallery, then it might be worth it to go for the whole package: Print with archival inks and paper, and put the prints in nicer Nielsen-type metal frames with archival mats and museum-quality glazing. This gets expensive fast. I save some money by cutting my own mats and ordering the components separately and assembling myself, but in terms of time and my labor, this is not anywhere close to free, and there was a learning curve for everything from properly operating a mat cutter to keeping dust out from behind the glass. Sending to a professional framer is expensive, but their experience and better equipment should give you more consistent results.
If you are seriously considering hanging around 100 photos, I would go economy on the frames (buy ready made and just slip the prints in) because the cost of sending out that many to a professional framer would be astronomical, and the time to build 100 frames and mats yourself, and do a good job, would keep you busy for days on end (cancel all social activities etc.).