Momentary Collective Wrap Up 2013 – Tips on Running a Photographic Exhibition

Momentary Collective is over for another year. Two weeks at Hogan Gallery in Collingwood is usually enough to satiate my artistic appetite each year!

So Damo, I am thinking about running my own exhibition – any tips? Sure!Slide1-2

Don’t make it a Democracy

  • Opinions are like backsides – everybody has one. Get 7 or 8 arty types together and aligning on a decision is harder than herding cats. The more people you have, the less likely you are to gain a broad consensus on most issues. So don’t even try to develop one. One person needs to take the lead for organising the show and making decisions. Let participants know this right from the start, and they can decide if they want to come along for the ride. Don’t ask for input on most stuff, just make a call and communicate it.
  • Be firm but fair – establish your benevolent dictatorship, and stick to it.

Gallery Selection

  • Select a gallery that you do not have to “sit” – ie. the gallery is staffed by people who run it. Some galleries require the participating artists to staff the gallery for part or whole of the time. Whilst everyone will claim they will “pitch in” – experience would suggest this is not the case when crunch time arrives. Are you really going to take days off work to sit the gallery on a Tuesday and Wednesday? People will often gravitate towards galleries where you can reduce the overall cost by “sitting” – but will then not deliver on making a contribution.
  • Galleries with an existing bar and coffee set up is ideal. People expect to have a couple of beers on opening night, so having a bar just makes things easy. The gallery will have refrigeration, a licence, and people to serve drinks. Just put $600 or so on a bar tab and let them worry about it. Otherwise, the alternative is to go buy a bunch of wine and beer, get ice buckets, buy ice, perhaps get a liquor licence, spend time serving at opening night, make sure you have rubbish bins, clean up, and the list goes on. Get the idea?
  • Make sure the gallery is in a location with good foot traffic. “Walk ins” can deliver quite a few sales, and make it more fun.
  • Meet with the owner – if you like them, you will probably have a good exhibition. Don’t do business with people that you don’t like!
  • Expect to pay about $2000 for two weeks.

Promoting the Exhibition

  • Facebook pages seem to be the easiest way.
  • Having a theme or an idea to link the show together can be a great way to capture people’s attention. Next year, I think we need to develop a better story around the Momentary Collective.
  • Local media like MX etc are all desperate for content – Morganna wrote a great PR piece for us this year which got picked up by quite a few publications. Just goes to show that you never know until you give it a try.

Things You Think You Need, but Probably Don’t

  • We had an elaborate catalogue for the first show – price, artist profiles, method of capture etc. We printed up a bunch in lovely colour, and probably about 3 people picked them up on opening night…
  • Posters, invitation cards etc. In the digital age, just stick with PDF invitations. We had printed invitations and posters for the first exhibition, a few years back, and I can’t recall using any of my allocation at all!
  • A website – again we had one the first year, but haven’t since. Facebook page seems to do the job, and it is much easier to invite friends from there than to create a website.

Managing Participants

  • Set deadlines for payment. If a first time participant misses the deadline, just email them with a final 48 hour deadline. If no cash turns up, just cull them. Adults should not need to be babied when it comes to meeting their financial commitments.
  • Assume that if you start with 10 interested participants, you will only end up with 7 still on the books by opening night.
  • Final payments should be made at least two weeks prior to opening night to make sure people have met their commitments to the show.
  • Once a payment has been made, there are no refunds if someone pulls out.
  • The most frequent reason for someone to pull out is leaving it too late to select their images and get them framed… So regular reminders about a month out is a good idea.

Setting Up

  • The suckiest part of organising is setting up the gallery. Get to the gallery before the rest of the exhibitors. Measure out the spaces, and mark them with masking tape with people’s names. Don’t give people a choice – just allocate the spaces as you see fit.
  • Bring extra hammers and hanging hooks. Remind people to bring their own, but inevitably some will forget.
  • Golden rule – every image must be in a “ready to hang” format. No exceptions. Otherwise you will have people turn up with printed photos and blutac.
  • Do not let people have “untitled” works. It makes reconciliation of the sales at the end, and ordering extra prints for multiple sales a complete nightmare. Even better is to have a small image on the image card. It makes it easy for the gallery owner to manage sales transactions. Not being able to identify each image makes life very difficult. Image like this make life easier :Slide02
  • Make it clear each person can do whatever they like with their space. There will be a broad range of outlooks on how to hang, from finicky peeps who bring a spirit level, to the other end of the spectrum of photographers who slap stuff up anywhere. Casual hangers and precise hangers are never going to agree, so don’t try to go with one style. Just let people manage their own space, within the masking tape markups!
  • People who do not have a lot of experience will ask what to charge and what to frame. For first timers, I would always have two thoughts.
    1. Only invest in framing something you would like to put up at your home. This is the most likely outcome – stuff may not sell, so be prepared!
    2. Only charge the cost of producing the framed print. Make it as affordable as possible. Having someone buy your print is quite an experience, so make it as easy as possible for it to happen. Unless you are a “known” photographer, charge accordingly. Red dots make it all worthwhile. Finishing an exhibition without a sale is not very motivating…

What kinds of images tend to sell?

  • I have no idea. Really. I am always surprised by what sells. I sold 9 prints this year from the set below.
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Some Movie Reviews… Sci Fi

I am not a massive fan of movies that reflect everyday life. If I go to the movies, I would like a bit of escapism please!

Sitting on the couch last weekend, I managed to catch up a bit on stuff I recorded on the Foxtel IQ box.

Watched Source Code for the second time – had seen it about a year ago, but thought I would give it another try. It held up well. Despite the fact that it could have had a more satisfying ending – it felt a little bit “ending designed by focus group” the concept was interesting, being able to “download” the last 8 minutes of people’s memories post mortem.

I am not much chop at writing reviews, so check out the reviews here :

looperThe second one was Looper. Time travel this time. I enjoyed the movie as another take on time travel, without reverting to too many cliches to entertain. It also avoided the whole “normal story set in fantastic times” premise. I intensely dislike movies that take a  a simple quest storyline and just set it in the future. Yep, all the gadgets and scenes are visually fun, but the if the story could have been set in the current world, and doesn’t rely on some element of the future to drive the story, it is a bust for me. If you are going to set a movie in the future, it needs to have a reason for being set there!

Check the review here :

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Changing Perspective – Wide Angle Photography – Progress Update

Had a beer at opening night for the exhibition I am participating in (“Momentary Collective”) with Simon – the person who put me onto the Ricoh GR1V. You can see his wonderful images here.  He asked me how the wide angle photography was going. I sorta hurrumphed and claimed not to like it too much. “Just doing it as a learning activity” was my response.

One of my most popular photos at the exhibition was “intersection”.



It was shot on my lovely Ricoh GR Digital with the 28mm lens, and converted to glorious black and white in Lightroom. It sold in the first hour of opening night!

Woke up all inspired on Saturday morning after all the arty goodness of Friday Night. Sonia was somewhat less energised after a pleasant evening at the gallery.

For a change of pace, I picked up my Digital SLR and popped on the 135mm F2 Nikon DC lens. I still don’t really understand how to use the whole defocus thingy, but I normally love the focal length. R0001792

To continue my development in wide angle composition, I slipped the Nikon 35ti into my bag as well – the 35mm just feels a little bit more “me” than the 28mm on the Ricoh GR1V.

I decided to take out the megapixel wondermachine as I have been feeling a bit meh about film since the opening night. One of my photo pals develops prints from negatives – and they look super duper cool. Much nicer than my crappy scan and print photos. If only Nikon still made the Coolscan 9000…

Jumped off the train at Flinders Street and came across this young guy tying his laces. Quickly snapped the moment and continued on my way. DSC_3253

For the first time ever, I was queried by a Metro official informing me I could not take pictures on Flinders Street Station without a permit. Of course, I complied with her request, but really? I am at my wits end understanding the rationale. The whole “terrorist” thing is a bit old now – particularly in this day and age of high def video cameras like Go Pros and phone cameras. If someone wants to photograph a landmark they are going to get them regardless. From a privacy perspective, maybe? But a train station is a pretty public place? Anyway, rules is rules…

Next stop was the Degraves Street subway. There were some arty looking kids shooting a project in the subway. Young guys in fur coats without shirts screams artistic. DSC_3260Looked like they were shooting a movie poster for Twilight to me, although I am sure they would be horrified if they knew that was what I was thinking. Actually, they reminded me a bit of that kid Corey Worthington… They certainly had a very professional wardrobe for the shoot!

One I reached Degraves Street, I took a few shots I was happy with. And yes, this story is going somewhere… I kept seeing more wide angle shots than the traditional longer focal length lenses I like. Image after image revealed itself to me as I walked Melbourne’s mean streets… Luckily, I had the Nikon 35ti in my bag. I loaded it up and got back to it. For the first time, I wished I had a nice wide angle lens on my DSLR. It would seem I have been seduced by the possibilities of wide angle. Now to find a suitable lens for the SLRs…

I still got some nice shots on the 135mm, but just wished for that wider angle!

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131005 City walk digital extravaganza

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131001 Momentary Collective – Hanging Night!

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Some More GR1V Shots

Had some time to kill at the QANTAS Club Lounge recently, thanks to a 5 hour delay in taking off for Los Angeles. As luck would have it, I had the Ricoh GR1V in my bag to help pass the time.

With some Kodak 400TX loaded up, the camera performed admirably in challenging light conditions. In black and white, the lounge really takes on a very Brady feel.

Most of the shots came out sharp and correctly exposed. Check them out!

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Grand Final Summary

blog photo2Just a quick summary of my thoughts on the 2013 Grand Final.

My thoughts seem to be fairly Freo-centric – Their performance was the main contributor to the result IMHO.

1. Freo did not handle the unrelenting pressure the Hawks applied in the first half. The key symptom of this is the quick kick out of defense, supposedly to relieve the pressure. Freo were constantly kicking the ball forward without a confirmed target – they were mostly bombing out of the backline, and the ball was rebounding just as quickly. This is something teams in the bottom half of the ladder, and the local U15 sides do. If you do not have a target, don’t kick the ball except in exceptional circumstances. At least kick it to a contest… Just don’t bomb it out, straight to an opposition player.

2. Ryan Crowley wasted his Grand Final. Sure, he stopped Mitchell, but what did that matter? The Hawks were constantly on top. I like Crowley, but simply stopping one player never wins a game, particularly in a Grand Final. Lyon should have told Crowley to start getting the ball and pumping it forward. Games are often won by players you never expect, or the ones without the massive reps – like Gunston, and Lake…

3. Hayden Ballantyne was very disappointing on the MCG. I can recall one passage of play (in the 2nd?) where he took a mark on the 50m line, and there was a Freo player clear, 5 metres in front of the goal square. Ballantyne flirted with a pass, but then decided to kick. The player was still free (was it Hill?) right up until the point where he started his approach. Poor decision making and general stage fright crushed Ballantyne. He missed everything with his kick and the Hawks rebounded. Ballantyne was the player who could win it for Freo, yet went missing – slipping over, making poor decisions, and missing shots.

4. Freo missing shots – enough said. Fyfe, Pav, and co couldn’t kick a goal to save themselves. I suspect that only having played twice(?) on the MCG in 2013 badly affected their accuracy. Teams that miss shots lose grand finals. Trust me, I know…

5. Lyon is the best coach in the competition – but his game style is unsustainable, as the Saints found out. You can keep it up for a couple of years, but it eventually wears a team down. Freo might be able to sustain it for another 12 months, but that will be about it. Lyon needs work through how his game plan will evolve into the next incaranation – Clarkson has done this very successfully. Either that, or Lyon needs to find another mature, under performing team who are ready to go. Like Freo are, like the Saints list he took over.

The Hawks were dominant pretty much all day, except for a few minutes in the third quarter. Even during this period of ascendancy, I never really expected Freo to win. There were unable to apply their game plan.

Damo Telling it like it is at the 2010 replay half time.

Damo Telling it like it is at the 2010 replay half time.

I worry about the soundness of Lyon’s game plan for the big day – it is starting to feel very inflexible, and there doesn’t appear to be a plan “B”. As I said when interviewed on the big screen at the 2010 replay at half time, when you are down, you need to “do something”. There was a spot in the 2nd quarter where I would have popped Pav on a wing or similar to change things up. Get Hawthorn reacting rather than controlling. I still think he should have done the same with Riewoldt in 2010 replay – at least try something.

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