I'm holding an exhibition of my photography in July 2017 here in Edinburgh.
I know it seems like a long way off, but my calendar is pretty busy for most of the year with only a few weeks now and then at home. So over the past few weeks while I am here at home for the festive break I've been preparing the mats, frames and prints that will form part of the exhibition.
If you have never exhibited your work before, then I would urge you to consider doing so. It can be an enormously rewarding thing to do - just the preparation, selection of images and working out how best to display them can be hugely satisfying.
One thing that I have noticed over the past few weeks of printing, is that I have had to shake up the collection a little. It was so tempting to print all of my personal favourites, but I found after a few days that there was perhaps too much repetition of themes or perhaps colour palettes. My images from some areas of the world can be muted or almost monochromatic, while other areas such as Bolivia are very colourful. Mixing up the collection of prints to be displayed has become vital in ensuring that the viewer's experience doesn't become too one-dimensional.
Then there has been the issue of discovering that some images are lacking the presence I thought they had. Computer monitors can be extremely deceiving in letting you think the work is as optimised as it can be and even though my system is tightly calibrated and I have a very real sense of how the final print will look, viewing an image on a reflected surface (paper) compared to one that is transmitted (computer monitor), the experience may fall down. So I've found that there is an iteration of printing, evaluating the print or living with it for a few days and then finding I wish to perhaps push to upper tones a bit lighter to maximise the dynamic range of the paper I'm using.
I certainly feel that preparing the work well ahead of the event is crucial as it give me time to let the prints settle in, to notice errors or possible improvements. Plus, I think it's just sensible to be prepared in advance, so there is nothing that you've overlooked - such as frames not arriving in time, running out of ink and paper, or just finding out that the set of images you've chosen hasn't been as wise as you thought it might be.
Either way, it's a real delight to print your own work and to see a true hard copy. There is simply too much reliance these days on the images living in the electronic world of pixels. Photography should be printed and in my view, is never really complete until at least one image has been printed per image that you have finished.