Unique Ways to Exhibit Your Photographs

Imaging: Santosh D Kamble

Imaging: Santosh D Kamble

Do you want to exhibit your photographs, but in an unconventional way? Raj Lalwani discusses a few unique ideas.

How many times have you walked into an exhibition gallery and exclaimed, “Wow”? Do you dream of the day when others would walk into an exhibition space and say the same thing about your photographs? Well, you surely need great pictures to begin with, but you can try a few interesting tricks to get your exhibition to stand out, so that it remains fresh in people’s memories.

Using Mixed Media
Do you write? Or do you prefer taking a pencil and sketching the world? Or would you much rather explore videos, paintings or sculptures when you are not shooting photographs? You can always use your other interests and talents to create a multimedia exhibition.

Collaborate with artists from different media, to create works that complement your images.

With People from Other Disciplines
Even if you do not engage in other artistic activities yourself, you may know some really talented people who do. If they are interested in the same subject, you can collaborate with them for a project. For example, while you may have shot photographs of the monsoon, a poet may have written lovely poems about it and an artist may have made an abstract watercolour on the season.

Let the Prints Differentiate the Feel
Most exhibitions stick to the conventional sizes of 18 x 12-inch or 30 x 20-inch prints. If you plan the gallery layout in an interesting manner, you can play with these dimensions to make your exhibition stand out. For example, imagine walking in to a gallery that has a wall-sized print. Its sheer impact will guarantee you remember it for a long time! On the other hand, you can exhibit smaller prints too, but you will have to do this rather innovatively. For example, even 6 x 4-inch prints can be put up, but you need to collect at least 500–1000 such prints for a wholesome exhibition.

Just One Print
Most people assume that exhibitions need to have a certain number of prints. Most people assume that a set of 20–50 pictures are required to conduct an exhibition. Is that a rule? Certainly not, so why not explore the possibilities of the numbers to make your exhibition stand out? If the photograph is worth it, even a single picture can make an eyecatching exhibition. On the other hand, you can choose to fill up the gallery space completely with photographs—the more, the merrier!

An Insider’s Perspective
You may have shot some great photographs, but your perspective is, eventually, one-sided. To add some perspective to the overall exhibition, you can take permission to exhibit pictures shot by others along with your work.
For instance, if you have shot pictures of a city like Mumbai, you can request a local historian to share images of the same places, but shot several years ago. Alternatively, if you have made portraits of a girl, you can contact her friends and family to find any pictures that they have shot of her. These pictures may show a completely different point of view, and may make the exhibition more complete.

A Live Exhibit
This is the age of digital capture and also gadgets like the iPad and Android-based tablet devices. With gadgets like these, you can actually do a live exhibition wherein you immediately display pictures that have been shot a few minutes ago. The audience will be surprised, shocked, delighted and curious as to when and how some moments took place.

At the Shoot’s Location
Many photographers conduct exhibitions of images shot in Ladakh, but these are usually conducted in galleries in the metros. Imagine an exhibition of a particular place, at that place itself! This will create an unparalleled interest amongst the locals. For example, if you have a great photo series on trains, you could take permission from the Railways to put up the pictures at the railway station, or better still, inside the train itself!

You can also explore unusual exhibit venues, besides conventional photography and art galleries.

Not Just a Picture on the Wall
Most people assume that photographs are only meant to be put inside a frame and hung on the wall. To move away from this norm, you can make a photo installation.

A Gallery at Home
Imagine a set of photography enthusiasts visiting your society to appreciate pictures that have been put up in a ‘home gallery’ or even in the compound. Do not forget to take permissions from society authorities though!

At Unusual Places
With the right kind of permissions, you can consider venues where people spend a lot of time, or any place that they pass by frequently. It could be a mall, coffee house or even a subway. Consider putting up your work in the open. You can put up prints on a promenade, inside a park or even put up a slideshow on a big screen!
The sky is the limit. All you need is a great portfolio and a creative plan!

Before Conducting an Exhibition
It is great to think of unconventional ideas, but before all that, there are some vital things you need to take care of, to conduct an exhibition in the first place.

  • Is Your Work Ready?: This, obviously, is the fundamental question. Are your photographs good enough to be exhibited and do you have an end goal in mind? It may be worthwhile to take the opinions of a few peers or friends, as well.
  • Time for Planning: There are many things you need to take care of, so start planning for an exhibition at least a year in advance.
  • The Right Kind of Funds: Exhibitions are often expensive. Besides the cost of the venue, you need to spend money on prints, frames, lights and so on. Budget at the beginning and make sure you can spare that kind of cash.

This article originally appeared in the May 2014 issue of Better Photography.

Tags: Raj Lalwani, Unusual, November 2011, Quirky, columns, market sense, exhibition, photographs