Putting On A Show

For what seems like the longest time, everything I've done in photography has been geared towards my exhibition in October - photographs I took were carefully thought about as to whether they would fit into my theme. The weeks leading up to it were some of the most exciting learning curves I've had yet since taking my photographs seriously.

The theme wasn't difficult, it took two of my favourite things and combined them - black and white film photography and Edinburgh. I've shot Edinburgh for a couple of years now so I was wanted to display my favourite locations taken on various types of films and cameras.

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Once I had decided on the shots I wanted to use I headed to Still Gallery on Cockburn Street and used their digital lab. In there they have a Hasselblad Flextight X1 scanner which does a superb job of showing your negatives as sharp as they actually are...and in some cases, are not. Seeing your negatives of any size for the first time scanned in with high accuracy is something that blows your mind.

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Deciding what size the prints were going to be and what frames I would buy were decisions that relied on each other for the answers, it would definitely be the most frustrating part of the process. Due to the number of prints I wanted - thirteen - and the fact I didn't have any of them printed or framed already, the framing was going to be a costly investment and one that I needed to be sensible about. Everybody loves IKEA, it allowed us to furnish our first home with ease and it was about to save me once again. I decided on the frame style I wanted, checked the various sizes available to match my print ratios, and checked stock levels. I sat with my sketchbook and drew out scale drawings of frame and the mounts I would need and then laid out colouring pens to show me the size I could expect. The decision was made...simple, but it worked.

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In my last public outing with my prints I used a local company in Leith called Giclee UK Ltd. They did a fantastic job so I used them again knowing what to expect. I prepared the files and sent them to Chris who I had been dealing with. I was using Hahnemuehle Photo Rag which is a wonderful paper to have your photographs on and I would recommend it to everyone. It's 300+ gsm and resembles cartridge paper and has a slight velvet feel to it. It's as matt as you could want it and that was something I wanted.

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One thing that surprised me was having to learn different trades outside of photography. The first one was graphic design which, other than my website, I haven't designed much but I wanted my business cards to match my website in style. The easiest way to do that was through a PDF designed in Photoshop and uploaded to the MOO website (the company I had trusted to print them). Happy with the design I sent it off and received them five days later - they looked great. As well as that I also laid out a small brochure with information about me and the prints for sale.

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During the time I was picking frames and measuring mounts, I had decided I wanted a small border around the image before the lip of the mount so this meant custom mounts. I looked up a mount cutter and inhaled sharply at the price - it was a more than I had bargained given the money I was spending already. Lou Davis - who organised the last show I took part in - was kind enough to let me spend an afternoon at her studio to cut mounts for the prints. Lou was even kind enough to show me how to use the cutter and also measured out mounts for me to cut - a huge thanks must go out to her.

The weekend before setting up was spent assembling the prints with the mounts, and the mounts with the frames - a job that took me a lot longer than I ever thought but I wanted them to be perfect.

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On Monday morning I picked up a few last minutes items that I was going to need - easels for the window display, string to hang from the picture rails. Once that was done it was the first time in the last few weeks I had time to consider how nervous I was about the show - how it would be received, and if anyone would go.

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The guys at Tidalfire were fantastic - they showed me what I could use, what I couldn't do, and then let me get on with it. In all it took two and half hours to get set up and that was including doing one wall twice - at 6ft 5ins tall I can forget that everyone is not my height so standing back from the first wall showed that they were a little bit too high. I did the second wall slightly lower and it looked a lot better so returned to the first wall and corrected it. Once I made up my mind on height it was a simple case of repeating the process and that is where my trusty measuring tape came in - I measured everything - even now I can tell you that every frame was 32cm from the picture rail, was spaced 25cm from the next frame and the price was flush with the right edge and 1cm from the bottom. It sounds mad but having these measurements meant getting each frame perfect first time and the photos flowed around the room. It couldn't have gone better.

If you made it along to Tidalfire then I hope you enjoyed it. A big thank you to all who promoted it it through friends, family, and online - it made a huge difference. I had a blast doing this show - I made a few sales and gained a little more exposure locally so I'll definitely do it again in the future.