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Photography Question 
Colleen Farrell
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/13/2004
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Preparing for an art exhibit


I'm thinking about entering an art show in my small town. I've been doing some research on how to present my photos, but still have many questions.

1) Can you recommend a good, inexpensive online printing service? After looking into printing/framing services, I'm just overwhelmed with all the options and pricing schedules. I'm also confused about color profiles--some services seem to require you use *their* color profiles on your photos. I can't even figure out how to change a color profile in PS Elements 2.0 (yes, 2.0)

2) Which is more important--printing or framing? I'm very poor, so would it make sense to pay for nice printing and mounting and then frame it myself in an inexpensive frame? Or, should I go for average quality printing and spend more money on professional framing? (They will only be 8X10s, matted to 11X14 probably, with narrow black aluminum frames)

3) Given how little I'll be able to spend on preparing the photographs, it would be absurd to have a sales price of $295 (an avg price around here). But if I do get in the show, and my photo is selling for $75, wouldn't it look stupid if it's placed next to a photograph selling for $295? lol

I'd very much appreciate ANY advice, recommendations, referrals, etc. I don't have any expectations about sales--I'm mostly entering the show for the experience of it. If I even get accepted, and get to show my photos, that would be great! :D


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4/2/2007 8:49:53 AM

 
Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
  Colleen,
I participate in a monthly art show, and I've been pretty successful with sales so far, so I'll offer you my 2 cents worth.

The month before I joined the show, I went to it to do some scouting. I browsed around for a couple hours, looking to see what people had for sale, what they were charging, and what customers were buying. I had a small notepad in my pocket and took notes when no one was looking.

1) I use Mpix.com for all my printing except for quick proofs done at home on my Epson. Their prices are very good, and their customer service and quality are excellent. I have never bothered with any color profile issues with them and have never had a problem.

2) I do my own mounting & framing, but I don't frame everything. In my booth, I have a variety of my pictures displayed in frames, then I also have bins with mounted and unmounted prints in clear bags that people can browse through. Some people like framed prints, others prefer to pick out their own frames.

I think print quality is more important than framing. I've seen people displaying prints that were obviously printed on a lower-quality inkjet, or large prints made from originals that didn't have enough resolution to be printed that large. It doesn't matter how you dress them up, these prints probably won't sell.

3)Your final product price shouldn't necessarily be based on how much it cost you to produce it. There's much more to consider than just the cost of the print, mat & frame. You don't want to price so low that it's not worth your time, talent, and effort, but you also don't want to price so high that no one will buy your work.

The perfect price for an item is the highest price that a customer is willing to pay for it.

Some people may argue that my prices are a little low, but I think they are okay for my market. I see some artists at the show that obviously have a very high opinion of their work and their high prices show it. They come out month after month and rarely make a sale. I've had repeat customers come to my booth month after month because I usually have some new items. Or they bought a print, got it home, realized how much they liked it, and came back to buy something else.

If you sell 3 prints for $150 each, and the guy next door sells no prints for $300 each, who is more successful?

Not everyone will agree with me on this, but it works for me.

Good luck,
Chris A. Vedros
www.cavphotos.com


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4/2/2007 3:22:12 PM

 
Colleen Farrell
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/13/2004
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Colleen's Gallery
  Thanks so much for the info, Chris! I will check out Mpix, and I think you have good advice on pricing and printing.

I checked out your website--your work is great! (I went to Tulane Univ, so it was especially fun to see your New Orleans images!)

Thanks again for your help.


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4/2/2007 6:16:02 PM

 
John Rhodes
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/24/2005
  Colleen,Chris passed on some very good advice. I'll add a few thoughts too.

First of all, have you checked with the exhibit for the presentation standards? Often, these have very narrow, strict standards such as only white or neutral mats, no frame or glass. Some allow framing, etc. You mentioned black frames. That's all I use. I frame my artwork using archival materials (smooth white mats and backers, acid-free tape too) and frame with satin black profile 115 frames from

http://www.decor-frame.com/

I buy standard size mats and backers from www.matcutter.com. Non-standard mats, I cut at home.

I have a print service I really have had great service and quality work from:

www.prolabexpress.com

They are a small business that offer very many options at a fair price. Good customer service.

Let us know if we can provide any more info. Best of everything with the exhibit.

You're floral photography is wonderful!

John


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4/2/2007 7:20:25 PM

 
Colleen Farrell
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/13/2004
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Colleen's Gallery
  Hi John, thanks for the great info! I do have the rules for entry, and they're mostly just that it be "finished," ready for hanging and for sale. I've only been to one of the previous shows, but I remember they were all matted and framed with glass.

I figured plain black or white mats and the narrow black or silver aluminum frames would be best since people may prefer to reframe the photos themselves. Do you think it's important that each photo have the same color mat and frame?

I have to admit, it's been an eye-opening experience to realize how many "pieces" go into a finished "picture"--and how many decisions need to be made about paper, ink, archival quality, mounting, etc. (By the way, I'm assuming a backer is the same as a matboard?)

Thanks also for the compliment on my photos! Which brings up another question--as you probably noticed, I don't really have a particular style. If anything, it's "eclectic." :)

Do you think it's important that all the photos (we can enter 3) be of a particular style (say, all abstracts, or all macros) or does it matter?

Thanks again for your help--I feel a lot more prepared now!


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4/2/2007 8:33:14 PM

 
John Rhodes
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/24/2005
  Colleen, I think if you follow the track you seem to be on, you'll do just fine with your decision making on presenting your artwork.

Your question about backers: I use 4-ply backers (same as 4-ply matboard) for prints 11x14 or smaller, and archival foamcore for larger prints.

I still recommend black metal frames--black seems to be the most professional looking frame, especially against the white mat. I use the same style for all my framed and matted prints. If your work will be displayed together (bunched on the same wall) I think it is important they are all prepared the same. As to the subject of the art, if you enter 3 images, you might use a theme or go the eclectic route. That's up to you. Enter your 3 best pieces is all the advice I would give.

I am currently trying to choose 3 pieces (or think about new work yet to be shot) for a juried exhibit. I'm contemplating the same question: theme or a mix. Last year, I submitted 3 for the George Ohr juried exhibit and two were rejected. The one that was accepted won second place, all-media.

Go for it.

John


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4/3/2007 7:08:22 AM

 
Colleen Farrell
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/13/2004
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  Hi John, I just went to your website and saw your stunning winner, "Pinks and Greens"-I wish I had your eye for composition and POV!

Thanks for clarifying about the backers, and I think you're right about using the black frame and white mat.

I really appreciate your taking the time to give me suggestions and advice! :D


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4/3/2007 4:44:35 PM

 
Kathy Radford
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/2/2006
kathyradford.com
  Hi Colleen, I thought I would jump in with my two cents worth. Photography is so subjective. I've had 3 out of 5 of my photos chosen as "Artists of the Month" at the Manchester Artists Association. I know many people choose all white mats. My feeling is sometimes, not always a color mat can greatly enhance a beautiful photo or it can also may a great photo look bad if you choose the wrong one. I had one photo that was a winner with a white mat. I used white that time because It was the day of the meeting and I didn't have time to get out and get the color mat I wanted. As I said it one. I later rematted it in another colored double mat and my artist friend said she loved the original when I brought it to the meeting but couldn't belive the difference when I changed to the colored mat. She said it really made the photo pop out even more. My personal feeling is, I go with the color the photo dictates as my goal is to create a certain feeling in all my work and in most cases the colored mats enhance the feeling of the photo even more. I love to go around at exhibits and check out the colored mats people choose, and sometimes I will see a colored mat that totally destroys a great photo. I would recommend try working with colored mats to see the difference it makes and then decide if you like it better or not. It is amazing how it can change the whole mood of the shot. Good luck. Kathy in NH


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4/12/2007 1:59:58 AM

 
Colleen Farrell
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/13/2004
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Colleen's Gallery
  Kathy, thanks so much for your great advice! I just took three photos in for framing this weekend--I've never had anything professionally framed before.

I went with a white mat for all of them, but to be honest, I'm not sure it was the absolute best choice for two of them. (I haven't gotten them back yet.)

Unfortunately, it was the last day of a 50% off sale and the clerk helping me was busy, so I rushed a little bit on the choice. ;P

Next exhibition, I'll have more time to prepare, so I'll definitely give the colored mats a look!

Thanks again for your help.


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4/12/2007 8:18:58 AM

 
Kathy Radford
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/2/2006
kathyradford.com
  50% is a great sale. I do my own framing because every time I have gone in to a professional frame shop for a quote to frame my 8x10 matted to 11x14, the ones I want are all over $100. I woud have to charge too much for the photo at the shows and I don't think the people around here are willing to pay that much. If I put them in an upscale gallery that would be different but not for local arts & craft shows, I just don't think the market is there for the higher price. I usually buy my frames at Michael's when they are on sale for 40% off. They are just narrow plain black metal frames and run about $8 when on sale.

Good luck with your show and hope you have great success with it.


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4/13/2007 2:13:07 AM

 
Colleen Farrell
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/13/2004
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Colleen's Gallery
  Hi Kathy, Michael's is where the sale was! :D Fortunately, they seem to have them fairly often. I'm sure I got an inexpensive frame (plain silver metal) and mat, too. But it was just over $200 for 3 photos (two were 8X12 and one was 10X13).

By the way, I looked at your gallery and was impressed by your work! And your painting, too!! :D


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4/13/2007 7:57:02 AM

 
Kathy Radford
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/2/2006
kathyradford.com
  I had gotten estimates from a regular frame shop. They do high end framing and excellent work. I had picked out a mid priced frame and archival quality double matting. Their work is really impressive. I will probably have them do the framing if I do any exhibits in a high class gallery. But for regular arts & crafts fairs people just don't want to pay that kind of money. They tend to be looking for the real bargins so I buy the ready made frames from Michaels when they are on sale and the mats and do the framing myself. You're right, Michael's has the sales quite frequently.

Thank you for visiting my gallery, I'm glad you liked it. Kathy in NH


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4/13/2007 4:16:35 PM

 
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