Presenting Your Photos

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by Sanford, Oct 20, 2018.

  1. I used to attend a camera club where members would show their latest photo or two. Al Weber, an Ansel Adams era photographer and lecturer, couldn't take it any longer and stood up and told us: NEVER present a print that isn't properly mounted and of the highest technical quality. Made us all better. I would also ad the less you needed to explain it, the better the photograph.
    paul ron and Charles_Webster like this.
  2. The takeaway for me being that each of us gets to decide what proper presentation is, or as I like to think of it, what the DESIRED presentation is. What’s desired may vary from print to print and from occasion and location to occasion and location. Sometimes floating a print works, sometimes matting it works, sometimes a gilded frame, sometimes a simple one, sometimes no frame at all. Sometimes a more casual and other times a more formal presentation will work. Sometimes a refined look and sometimes a more rough-hewn look will work.

    Some of the most important photographers didn’t show technically great prints. Their imagery was still powerful and memorable.
    If there’s a need to explain, there may be good reason for that. If there’s a desire to explain, that can be ok, too. Since photos are often part of life and often illustrative accompaniments to events, situations, philosophies, or more verbal stories, there’s no reason a good photo can’t sometimes be supplemented with an explanation or even dependent on one. It makes no sense to me that a photo would be judged in inverse proportion to the number of words supplied with it.

    Sometimes, as we all know, explanations go too far, are off key, or seem too self-serving or pretentious. That’s not an indictment of all photo explaining.

    I deal with my own photo presentation and possible text accompaniment on a case-by-case or at least exhibition by exhibition or situation by situation basis, not according to some rule I think should always be operable.

    Presentation is one more aesthetic choice, and an important one at that.
  3. In a formal setting, yes.
    In the informality of a casual sub forum on the internet, I get ideas, views of places I will never visit, context for improvement.
    Gotta see mistakes to learn from ‘em.
  4. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    I'd guess a very small percentage of members ever display prints . The vast majority of photos are only seen on screens of various types. I make a point of printing and "displaying" very regularly. IMO anything with prints is better than nothing, I enjoy seeing prints. I have done this for years, The current crop, ready to be replaced.

    DSC_9162 (1024x1024).jpg
  5. The photo group I have belonged to for over ten years periodically has informal print previews where anyone can bring prints and share with other members. I think this is great. We also have periodical "slide slams" where a few members are chosen to present digital images that are shown on a big screen for everyone to view. I think this is great also. I often get surprised by how good some of my fellow members are and its fun to see the work of new members that show their work for the first time. If I want to see photos nicely matted and framed, I will take a jaunt to some galleries and art museums here in Milwaukee or Chicago.
  6. One of the trends in photography that used to drive me utter bonkers and has faded (but not yet entirely gone away) was the fad in the 80's and 90
    's of taking small contact prints or polaroid transfers and mounted them with a giant white matte. So, you have this little 4x5" image surrounded by five square feet of white board not to mention the frame. Pretentious and trying to draw attention is an under statement, and there was a long standing stigma that any photograph not mounted and framed with a big white matte was only good for your fridge door. Those art snobs have steadily died off, or dropped over with coronaries when they saw the first floating color 30x40 metal transfer or acrylic prints :)
    I just want to see somebody's print or digital. I'm also always the first to point out some body's work I think would look exceptional given a metal or acrylic treatment as well just knowing they'll beam when they see the final product.
    I have found I prefer to keep my B&W work more conservative and only displayed when matted and framed given I'm very meticulous about the final product and only use the best fine art printers.
  7. Huge shining prints with the finest black levels or color rendition is surely one of the approaches to display a work, but it doesn’t have to be the only way. Some works show better as small prints, Polaroids, with muted colors, to draw attention to the elements of memory, nostalgia, loneliness, bizarreness, etc. In art, one never knows what works until the specific context is presented, and IMO nothing should be off the table. I think, the best way to present a framed work is to think outside the frame, to think of alternatives to the most natural framing choices that come to mind, because the most natural can also be the most deceptive.

    BTW, large framing around small prints work well for me, again for certain works. Square format print is one that comes to mind. Such presentation works well for many other visual art forms as well, Lino prints, vegetable prints, certain watercolor works, anything that highlights the simplicity of the brush strokes or the texture and form of the print impressions and can integrate its character with that of a wide matting. I agree, there will always be pretentious people who would present everything in one way without proper understanding or feeling for the choice. Alternatively, those who think that everything should be presented as large, high res or technically perfect are biased towards their choice and addicted to their own brain pleasure center and to their audiences’ reaction. I think, an artist ought to get out of that mindset and explore not only what pleases him/her, but also what torments him or is unpleasant to him. Some people realize this early, some late, toooo late.

    — Eagles
  8. Art snobbery can work both ways, both in art's execution and in its critique.
    Seems so basic. Hard to believe how often it needs to be repeated. Except black velvet. Off the table and out the door. :eek:

    I've also seen many instances where a small print on a large white background works well, drawing the viewer in. I've done it myself. The kind of attention that a small print in the right circumstances can elicit often proves sharply focusing and decisive.
  9. IDK. I believe a box of 8X10" prints on PE paper should be enough to show you are skilled. Depending on the audience maybe pack cheap reading glasses to lend out with it.
    If you shot files, maybe buy a portable screen to show them off? - I was told there are iMac carrying bags but will most likely buy a tablet.
  10. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    :):):):D Sign me on to that with restaurant Menus as well!
    I have one of those Digital frames - it would be quite portable and a lot less expensive than a tablet or laptop. I just plug in an SDHC and run one vacation on it till bored or we've finished the next vacation. I believe it can handle music as well, a feature I've not used.
  11. Last time I tried looking them up, they were pretty low resolution. - Considering that there might be some truth in "you get what you pay for" and how spoiled average middle class folks might be by their premium smart devices by now, I guess a WiFi source radioing your work to others' iPhones would be preferable. A 10" tablet with HD screen is just 200€ and serves other purposes than brag shot presentation too.

    Whenever I lust after a Retina screened 5K iMac, I see it acting as a domestic digital frame.

    Its a slippery slope. I am carrying an achromatic linen tester with me (since I'm a press man and supposed to check print quality severely) so if you chat me up over your recent contact sheet, I might dig it out to have a look. Taking off 50mm 'crons to inspect small things through them used to be popular too. But image presentation? Where is the lower border? I think 8x10"s were considered the minimum for immersive handheld viewing? - Is running a slideshow on a living room TV doing the images involved justice or a virtual contact sheet?
  12. I would go to hi-end TV properly adjusted/calibrated, coz modern TVs have better dynamic range than printers (paper), if printed, the color temperature in the room and the lighting must be adjusted also. :mad:
  13. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Good idea, but the cheapest model of the Frame on sale U.S. $1,200. Same vendor, most expensive digital frame $300, others down to $80. I don't use TV, so the frame would be a bit over the top to view images. I'll stick to prints and the digital frames I have. I will tell you that when you hand someone a nicely done 8x10 it is still a big deal.
    Sanford likes this.
  14. I just display my images here on No Words forum :rolleyes:

    No messy inks and clogged nozzles, and the risk to the ego is pretty small.
  15. jakenan

    jakenan Guest

    YIKES !
    I think people should be able to present their work any way they please.
    I'm glad I have absolutely nothing to do with Camera Clubs.
  16. paul ron

    paul ron NYC

    the idea of such formality in a club does have an impact on the quality of the members striving for excelence. i can understand that.

    but when it becomes the main part of judging a photograph, its time to tone it a bit by deducting less points for the mount than the print itself.
  17. Would you "like" a photo here that wasn't at least technically very good?
  18. Yes. I would and I have. I’ve liked photos that weren’t all that technically good but showed a range of emotional involvement and an eye that had a unique perspective. There are some types of photos that seem to demand technical proficiency. Other types of photos would benefit from it but don’t suffer as much for the lack of it. Too often, technical achievements such as sharpness, good execution of depth of field, adept control of strong contrast seem to make up for a lack of creativity, imagination, and personal vision. I’d rather look at a technically wanting but emotionally charged photo than a technically sublime but emotionally bereft one.

    A decent camera club leader or judge would, hopefully, strike a reasonable balance and sense of emphasis on technical, aesthetic, and creative aspects of photography rather than upholding a technical standard as the one baseline of acceptability.

    And ... technical standards are not one size fits all. There may be very deliberate and well considered reasons to flout some technical traditions when making some kinds of photos.
  19. Being too lazy to clone out a few dust spots is not an artistic statement.
  20. As for presentation, for me personally a well-done print still beats all digital methods, if the scope is to present it as a still image. But there are a fair number of alternative print techniques that do leave you with prints that are probably technically inferior, but bear the clear signs of the process used. I've got (too) little hands-on experience, but I just finished preparing a number of cyanotypes for a small exhibition, and strictly, they have technical issues. But it works, at least for me. The unevenness is part of the process used, and hence in my view integral part of the final result.

    The same goes for the image itself: sure a technical very good executed photo is often worth the admiration for its technical competence. But that's far from the end-all-and-be-all, and apart from what Gary Turner mentioned above, it also tends to come a bit with specific genres and what viewers expect for that genre. Ultimately, it's about finding an aesthetic that fits what you try to bring across. That can include intentionally technically inadequate photos, or unintentional.
    For me, nothing would make me run harder from a club than one where people cannot look beyond the technique, and not discuss and evaluate the aesthetic choices made, the composition and the resulting message. One learns a lot more from that, I think. After all, m,aking a sharp photo isn't too hard, making a meaningfull photo is.

Share This Page