My first photo show, ever

aWell, now I’ve gone and done it. Today, 12-6-09, at my very first photography exhibit, I sold my first image. I am now a professional photographer.

Putting a photo display together, especially for the first time, can be a daunting task. I’ve been taking pictures for quite a few years, so when I was asked if i’d like to show some of them at a downtown Nashville art fair I had to pick out the images I thought best represented my view of the world through photography.

If I had to guess how many photos I culled through I would guess around the two to three thousand mark. I looked at everything and anything I had ever done, going back 25 to 30 years. One never knows when one will find a gem among the mundane.

I wound up with 32 images which, I thought, was more than enough to show my photographic vision. Picking the show images was the fun part. Going through all those pictures was like going on a trip back through my life and experiences. I saw people I had totally forgotten about, places I vaguely remember but came roaring back into my head like a freight train, and I could feel, in my soul, my former life with struggles and conquests long forgotten.

After choosing the images the real work began. I had to decide how I wanted to present these images to the public. I have been to many museums and more than a few art shows. I always take note at these venues how the art/photos are displayed. I guess, after all these experiences, I’ve become a fan of the “stark, mean, simple” set. Nothing fancy. Just the pix, ma’am. No frames, simply mounted on black foam board, and stuck on the wall.

There are a few places here in Nashville where professional photographers get their printing done, mounted, sometimes wrapped, framed, etc. but I opted to do my own printing with my trusty Epson RX680 Photo Printer. This little printer can come up with some quality images. The only downside to that was the limitation in the size of the prints. 8 1/2 X 11 is the largest paper my printer will handle. I figured for my first show I didn’t need to go into debt just to get some large prints. I was wrong.

One of the things I learned this first time around was to go with your artistic instincts and make the images do what you know they can do. That is, to present them in the best light, size, etc. in order to convey the message envisioned from the outset. Since all of my images were printed on 8 1/2 X 11 paper my entire presentation became sort of hum-drum. The pix were good, I thought, but some of them needed to be larger, smaller, framed, and placed differently on the walls in order to bring each individual image into its own. At that I had failed miserably.

Connie and I got there at 8:00AM to lay out the pix and stick them up. We used a tacky kind of putty so as not to put any nail holes in the walls. When we finished we had 32 images lined up along the walls at eye level. Hunger was setting in so we left the building in search of some breakfast. Early Sunday morning in downtown Nashville gets you little to nothing in places to eat breakfast. We found an open coffee shop with espresso, my fave, and egg and cheese muffins. Filling but just plain gawd-awful. That was it for food for the entire day for me. Not a good idea.

When the show opened and people came to the 4th floor to view my images, they had to get up close and personal to see the details and “get the picture.” A few people commented about certain ones which were their favorites. I spoke with some photography lovers about the art and craft of making images. That was one of the aspects of “showing” that I was looking forward to. The discussions. But the conversations were few and far between. Turnout for the show was a disappointment to all who participated. Still, it was a good soft beginning for me.

As 6:00PM neared I was getting ready to take everything down when a couple walked in. They really liked some of my work, and Sons of Satan, they bought one. I had to call Connie immediately after they left. “Honey, I sold a print.” “I’m so proud of you. Now you are a professional photographer.”

My first sold image. Taken in 2006 on lower Broadway, Nashville, Tennessee

I had to think about her last statement. Me? A professional photographer? Well, that can be argued strongly either way. But some things are for sure. If you want to compete in the art world you: a) need a vision b) need to get that vision out to as many people as you can c) don’t compromise or “cheap-out” d) eat a bigger breakfast.

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