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Photography Question 
Cindy Sj
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/27/2007

How to Exhibit Photos

I've finally gotten up enough gumption to approach a local coffee shop to put a few of my photos up on their walls. Well, what do I do? How do I present the photos to them? Do I frame them first? how do I decide what size to make the prints? Help! Thanks for your time in advance!!

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6/15/2007 9:02:23 AM

John Rhodes
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/24/2005
  Cindy, I've done this a number of times at coffee shops and galleries. I've yet to be turned down. I've taken in several images matted and bagged, or I have taken in my notebook computer and presented my portfolio in a slide-show format. As to the sizes, ask the retailer what will meet their needs. I use the same matting and framing for all my work - a soft-white archival matte and backed framed in black metal profile 115 frames. This has served me well in hanging for a gallery exhibit or other outlets. You might ask if you could offer images matted and bagged (unframed) as well.
Good Luck,

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6/15/2007 10:35:05 AM

Juli Schatz   Follow-up question for John R.: Do you display your images with prices with the idea to sell them, or are you displaying your work as a promotional technique? Or displaying your work for the sheer satisfaction of seeing your work displayed in a public venue? Or all three?
-- Jules

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6/20/2007 5:51:18 AM

John Rhodes
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/24/2005
  Juli, I price each item by putting a small round sticker on one of my business cards and slipping the business card into one of the lower corners of the frame.


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6/20/2007 6:03:22 AM

Juli Schatz   Thanks!

How successful have you been in selling your work?


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6/20/2007 6:16:05 AM

Bruce A. Dart   Cindy,
Like everything in photography, there are many answers to each question and they are each right (and wrong) depending on a number of factors. Gallery framing with a white mat and black frame is outstanding for its intended use: display on white walls, usually under lighting. The white mat on a white wall surrounded by a black frame puts a tremendous amount of emphasis on the image. However, in other venues that presentation draws attention away from the image and unduly to the mat. If the walls in the coffee shop are not light colored you perhaps should consider color mats that complement the image and frame. By all means add a title to your images -- it increases interest and value-- and put a price on each image. Pricing and framing are each lengthy subjects but consider the cost of replacement if you wanted another of that presentation as well as the market value. If all the work is selling for $100 (hypothetical) don't price yours at $50 because you are just starting. In the end, after all the advice, it is still YOU who has to make the final decision on pricing. Create a good product and "go for it" with the best.

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6/20/2007 6:33:36 AM

Colleen Farrell
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/13/2004
Contact Colleen
Colleen's Gallery
  Hi Cindy, I'm hoping to do the same with a local coffee shop in my town. Here are my ideas.

First, do you have a place in mind? If not, go around town and find specific places that show artwork. Then, go in and see how other artists/photographers have their work displayed. The size can vary from artist to artist. I've seen photographs at 8X10, 11X14, and larger. How large can you afford to print and frame your photos? Do you have a camera that supports printing large prints?

At "my" coffee shop, all the works have a separate card that lists the title and price. This seems to be printed by the coffee shop--you can ask them when they agree to display your work. Also, have an artist statement prepared--a few paragraphs about your approach to your work. Find examples and tips on the web. "My" coffee shop displays this artist statement on the wall with the artwork.

I suggest choosing a simple frame and white (not bright white) mat, and not worrying too much about the wall color in the coffee shop--after all, you'll hopefully be displaying your work in a variety of locations, and you just can't tailor your framing to each one. And, if you are selling your work, your customer may want to re-mat or re-frame it anyway.

I asked the guy at the counter how artists go about getting their work displayed. He told me to contact the owner, who is "always there," and that they especially want local artists. I plan to have all my work framed and ready to go when I approach him.

I'm going to have 20 or so photos printed in a hardback book (available through and other places) that I can present like a portfolio. These books are quite inexpensive and I think they would be convenient and show my photos well.

Whether you sell anything depends on the quality of your work and the location--if you're in a tourist area, you'll have more luck. But the biggest payoff, imo, is the satisfaction of seeing so many of your pieces displayed for others to enjoy!

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6/20/2007 8:35:21 AM

Sherry King   Hi. I had not thought of the coffee shops. Sounds like a great idea.

My idea is to start out by doing bazaars and festivals (we have a number of ‘Arts and Crafts’ and ‘Arts’ festivals in this area). The downside of the festivals is that you have to pay for a booth and have a fair amount of photos on-hand. The downside of the coffee shops is the time spent ‘hitting the pavement’ and making your pitch to each coffee shop.


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6/20/2007 6:24:52 PM

Sally M. Papin   Sherry,
I use to do arts and craft shows for years - and there is a down side to this - Many people coming with children just do not watch them, and your items get ruined with all the handling even if you protect items in covering. I always admired a few of my artist friends who showed prints and they used 3 sides of a ez-up and hung their nice items framed and they used a velvet rope and poles to keep people back - and the excuse was so you could see the work better! It worked well, and prints for sale were kept under their table. Maybe this might give you an idea. The shows are a great way to make contacts and if you have a small handout when you run across a business person that you think might like to have your items on display you can hand them a pre-made flier.

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7/14/2007 2:17:54 PM

Sherry King   Sally,

Arts & craft shows do indeed have the down side you pointed out. I like the idea of putting prints on display and the prints for sale under the table. While I plan to have business cards I had not thought about having a flier. Thanks for the ideas!


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7/14/2007 6:33:36 PM

Travis J. Loch
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/12/2007

I am also looking at starting to sell my photography.

My plan is similar to yours and colleens. I work at a coffee shop/gift house and my boss has told me I can sell pictures there whenever I am ready.

I plan on using a simple matting/backing frame for my pictures. They are easy to make and inexpensive to buy if you don't trust yourself making them. If you look on eBay you can find the matting/backing/bagging packages for not too expensive - around $30 + s/h. Also, they come in a variety of colors which you may want to vary depending on the picture

As for the size I plan on selling mainly 11 x 14 mats or 8 x 11 prints. I have found that these sell the best but I am still going to sell a few smaller and larger size pictures.

Another thing that you may want to look into is the theme of wherever you are going to sell the pictures. In certain places - especially gift shops - certain pictures will sell better than others. For example, if you live on the coast, you will probably have better luck selling pictures of the coast than pictures of a forest and vice versa. That doesn't necessarily mean to not include the picture at all where you are selling though, because there will always be someone who will want your picture.

Keep in mind that I am just starting this and these are just ideas i've had. It seems that John R. has the right idea in selling photography and colleen's and my ideas do not differ too much from his.

I wish you luck!

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7/23/2007 4:43:22 PM

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