Friday, February 12, 2021

Exhibits - Selecting Images

Part 3: Selecting Images

I have briefly discussed image selection in a couple of updates about my upcoming Trailings exhibit, but I'll try to go into more detail here. I'm not an expert by any means, but writing about it seems to help me get things organized in my own mind.

Presumably, artists who create with paint or fabric or another medium would come up with a theme and then create their art following the theme. This might also happen in photography. But for a photographer who hasn't exhibited before, more often than not they will come up with a theme and then go through their photographs to fill out the exhibit.

I might argue that you should go through your photographs FIRST and then come up with a theme, but I didn't think about that when I was writing down my "Exhibit How To"

So...I think it's best at this point to use my own upcoming exhibit as an example. I knew my theme was "Trailings", photography inspired by walking the local trails. I had taken photographs for over one year and had accumulated over 3500 (maybe 4000) photos. Yikes. How do you organize that? 

There were obvious images to toss, and obvious images that I like more than others. I am a visual person and it helps me to actually see a collection together so I experimented in organizing the images into various books using an on demand printing company called Blurb

I tried organizing images by season, by subject matter (trees, fungi, water, leaves, reflections, etc), by style of photography (black & white, a series with white backgrounds, minimalist, etc) and just by a collection of images I liked. I had some up with a short list and asked family and a professional photographer for input. I wasn't happy with any of the combinations. 

What story was I trying to tell?

Well...I went back to a project summary that I had written when I applied for a grant, and re-read it many, many times. How did the photos I took relate to that? They didn't! That was why I wasn't satisfied with my various attempts at image selection.

Here are the first two paragraphs from my one page project summary:

Trailings creatively illustrates how trail walking can heal the mind, body, and spirit. Through observation, photographic documentation, and introspection, this project is designed to provide inspiration to others by exhibiting the project results.

Trailings strives to promote understanding of wellness through art and dialogue. Using photography and stitched art,the artist creates a visual representation of her healing journey.

My epiphany: I needed to find images that told a story of emotions.

My challenge: I wanted to accomplish this with a variety of subjects and seasons. Some summer, some winter, some water, some sky, some colour, some monochromatic...a variety.

I had printed hundreds of images, some of them pinned them to a large bulletin board. I took them all and sorted them into various piles on the floor. I sorted and resorted. I chose some images that weren't "pretty". I chose some that said "sad" to me, and some that said "happy". I believe I have pulled together a series that tells a story of emotions.

photos on the floor amidst the dog toys :)

I'm a little nervous about the exhibit, truth be told. Fingers crossed that my images convey the story I am trying to tell.

Previous Articles:

1. Selecting a theme - more difficult than it seems!

2. Applying for exhibit space - writing an exhibit statement

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