Tips for Selecting Exhibition Images

I recently participated in a Photography Exhibition.

I was very surprised by the number of prints that sold. I can only offer the following hypotheses:

Themes and consistency

For the first time, my images were visually quite consistent. Usually I just pick out a bunch of images I like, and slap them up, willy nilly on the gallery wall as quickly as possible so that I can get back to chugging a beer and talking photography shit to mates.

For this exhibition, I had enough images from two separate trips to New York that I wanted to get printed to fill my allotted space at the gallery. I had a theme by default. Sweet.

For all I know, my eye must be getting better. I kept picking up on the differences between the images, which naturally fell into four discrete sets.

1. Consistent New York Street Scenes

These images all build a story around my experience of New York. They are all shot on film, using the Hasselblad H1, mostly with the 150mm HC f3.2 lens. There is a consistency between the images which is appealing.

2. Consistent New York Street Scenes – but shot on digital

These images are street images consistent with the first set, but they were shot with on a Ricoh GR Digital point and shoot camera. I am not sure if it is my super arty brain messing with me, but these just strike me as capturing New York street scenes in a very different way due to the wide angle perspective the little Ricoh delivers. The files also look different when printed direct from digital files out of the camera vs scanning the medium format film from the H1. Or again, maybe I am overdosing on the OCD? They look awesome as a set – and all of them sold pretty quickly.

3. Space and Military

Just don’t quite work with the other images, do they? I actually hung them in a separate location in the gallery, and they sold as a pair to a single buyer. They were shot on the Hasselblad H1 again, using film, but this time using the 80mm HC f2.8 lens. There is a fair degree of consistency from pure aesthetics, but the capsule and jet fighter just don’t quite roll with the street scenes.

The images from the museums and galleries work for me, and seem OK with the street scenes, but these two just dont fit into the set without being shoved in.

4. Why Did I Even Try?

H1 fuji nyc183

Don’t get me wrong. I love this image. There is a real “power walk” trope going on here to rival Armageddon. Go on, check it out, you know you want to :

Side bar – power walk images are a strong theme for street photography.

Anyway, this image is a complete outlier. It was so different that I almost chucked it out at the gallery. It ended up in an unloved, and poorly lit area of the gallery.  Like a seat filler at the Academy Awards – it was just there to fill up a space. I kinda wish I had listened to the little voice in my head – it is a great image which deserved more attention but it was completely wrong in this situation.

Lessons Learned 

  • Stick with a camera, focal length, film type, and even the basic image proportions for an exhibition set.
  • The consistency between the set of images increases the individual appeal of each one.
  • Don’t mix digital and film shots

Maybe the legendary fussiness and attention to detail of photographers like Ansell Adams and Henri Cartier-Bresson was not just them being dickheads after all. I often looked askance at other exhibition participants, thinking, “just stick the damn photo on the wall”. Actually, I have said it out loud a couple of times too! Hmmm, maybe I need to rethink this ‘tude!



  1. Thoughts on Preparing for an Exhibition | Melbourne Street Photography - November 2, 2014

    […] You can read more about selecting images for an exhibition here. […]


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