The Exhibition Planning! part 1

I mentioned in my last blog post that I have an exhibition coming up soon. This is my first exhibition of this size so I thought I would break down the details.

The exhibition is based on a series of photo’s I made from the 2017 Cyclocross (cycling) series in Estonia . This series which this project is based off was 7 races long, but I was only able to attend 5 of the races. The races were held in very diverse parts of Estonia from beaches to forests from snow to mud. 

I didn’t start out with the idea of making an exhibition from this series but as I got closer to finishing the project, I started to think how nice it would be to see these pictures printed and hanging on walls for people to see.

So once I decided that I should try to exhibit these pictures somewhere my next question was where. My preference was to do it in Tartu as this is where I live, a town with a large population for Estonia (just under 100’000 people). There is no dedicated photography gallery in Tartu but there are a few art galleries. I don’t know anybody from any of them so I would have to be persuasive if I was going to get in there. Then there are museums, a lot of them including a sports museum. Again no contacts in any. Final option is to look for some public space like inside of shopping mall or restaurant. Here I have more connections but there is no mall or restaurant in Tartu with any significant connection to cycling. So from these options it was clear that the best place would be in the Sports Museum. As I don’t have any contacts in this museum I started by asking around and with some luck and help from friends a few days later I was sitting in a meeting with the museum. It didn’t take long before we had an agreement to do an exhibition two months later in early January!

The museum has a lot of space, more than I expected. There are 3 rooms, some with white walls and others with brick, but rails for hanging pictures throughout. My initial plan was to exhibit 20 pictures, but after reviewing the size I found I could certainly exhibit more. 

How big to print the pictures is my next question. Most of my pictures will be landscape with a few being in portrait rotation. The exhibition rooms are fairly large, but not huge, so very big prints would not be appropriate, while on the other hand A4 size I think wouldn’t do the pictures justice. I estimated that people would stand about a metre to 0.7m back from the wall to view the pictures and a size around 60cmx40cm would be optimal. Just to add some spice I thought to have one picture printed extra large, like a metre wide or larger and place this at the end of a passage way or on a far wall. I don’t own any pictures or have previous prints at this size, so I made some ‘mock-ups’ using paper and masking tape and stuck them on my wall at home. I usually don’t dwell for hours on small details so once I was happy with the sizes I moved on to next question - how to print? Without having a massive budget there are a few choices available. Photo-paper, photo-paper stuck onto foam board and canvas. I don’t like canvas prints so no to that. Photo-paper is cool and I recently saw an exhibition in Narva museum where the pictures were simply printed on photo paper and then hung with wooden dowel on top and bottom. Dowels were attached with bulldog clips. Bulldog clips doubled as hanging mounts. This was good and worked nicely in Narva. The last option I don’t have much experience in but looks smart in my opinion. The pictures are printed on photo paper and then glued onto foam. Estonians call this technique fotokapa, so I will also call it fotokapa here. fotokapa has it’s advantages and disadvantages. Good is that it is solid, looks professional especially with a white border and is lightweight. The disadvantage is that it can start to bend in moist conditions and also the edges can easily get chipped or dented, which ruins the look of the whole picture. On the other hand the price is slightly more than double than the price of plain photo paper. Both options can be framed, this helps increase their life but then the price doubles again.

So after a lot of thinking and google image searching I decided to go with fotokapa unframed.

There are a few printing companies in Estonia so I had a good choice. I calculated that I would need €600 to cover the costs of printing. The agreement with the museum was that the printing costs would be covered on my side, so i decided to launch a crowd funding campaign. I set the campaign goal to reach €600 in 4 weeks, after 2 days I reached my goal! I was really surprised and grateful with the generosity of the supporters.

So that is where we are now. I have the exhibition space booked for 6 January, funding for printing and pictures ready to be printed. Whats next is to start printing, this can take some time as a few test prints might show issues that need to be corrected but luckily I still have time still on my side with little over a month before the opening. I look forward to keeping you updated dear reader.


The final 50 and exhibition plans

It has been a few weeks now since my last blog post. Quite a lot has happened since then on the photography side.

1) I visited Fotografiska photography gallery in Stockholm

This was impressive. The gallery is located in a large facebrick building on the waterside in Stockholm. The building has been repurposed and was originally built as a customs centre. Now it acts almost as the center of the scandinavian photographic world, so a must see. The gallery typically has 4 exhibitions on going and each lasts for 3-4 months. there is no permanent exhibition. So you can keep going back monthly and there will always be new work. During my visit there was a large exhibition of Irving Penn’s early portrait work for Vogue magazine. Some of the work I have already seen last hear when I visited Tate Moderns ‘Radical eye’ exhibition. On the ground floor was the highlight for me, a carear long exhibition of the photo journalist Paul Hansen. The exhibition was from his whole carear following war zones and the plight of refugees. It was a huge body of work from around the world which spanned decades. It was hard not to get emotional and seeing the terrible conditions people have had to endure. The other two exhibitions were not so memorable to me. The place also has an amazing buffet restaurant.

2) My 365 day portrait project is now into the final 50 days! (43days at the time of writing) 

It is a great feeling to have the end nearly in sight. Just 2 weeks more of November and then it’s the home straight of December. November has been a bit more tricky because day light saving time has kicked in which means after 4pm it’s already dark. As I found in the start of the year, trying to get peoples pictures once it is dark (and cold) is not very easy because people are often in a rush to get somewhere warmer and lighter. Also the sight of some foreign bearded man asking for a photo is not a very reassuring sight. I have a few goals left, people of jobs that I would like to include so I must get organised and get their portraits before the year is up.

3) I have an exhibition coming up!

Yes! I have an exhibition and soon! The exhibition is based on a project I recently completed about the Estonian Cyclo-cross season and now it will be turned into an exhibition at the Estonian Sports Museum! I thought to write all about it here, but will instead make a new blog post in a few days giving the details as this post is getting quite long now :)


Dokfoto exhibition

Last weekend I was in Tallinn, so this gave me a chance to visit a new exhibition space in Tallinn Telliskivi creative center district called ‘Juhan Kuus Dokfoto keskus’

Here are some thoughts in bullet point:

  • It was free to get in
  • There was 5 photographers work being exhibited with 5 photo’s each
  • All were Estonian photographers although Juhan Kuus was a South African from birth who had an Estonian father.
  • I was mainly looking forward to the Juhan Kuus photo’s but sadly the 5 pictures from him were of a rural cape-coloured community living in the Klein Karoo, perhaps this small collection was interesting to the curators but for me personally it did very little and I was hoping to see some of his work about the black/white race related tensions, protests such as this or this. last year there was an exhibition in Tallinn which displayed this work, but I missed my chance to see that. I guess I will need to wait a bit longer.
  • Of the other photographers work here is a quick fire review:
  • Annika Haas - An exhibition of Old soviet era buildings and signs. I had the feeling like these pictures I had seen many times and none really jumped out at me. One accommodation building in Valga was interesting.
  • Triin Kerge - A collection of photo’s of windows looking from inside the room outside, concept was to show how the homes of people look and the environments they are in. each picture was very interesting and showed a lot about the person living their. I read also that many people had doubted she would get much positive responses from people to let her into their homes to take photo’s but they did. This reminded me of the pleasant feeling i have had to people welcoming me into their homes. Enjoyed this!
  • Birgit Püve - portraits from Kihnu island - great loved it!
  • Helen Ree - series on the mines of Kiviõli. I have seen another very similar project on this part of the world which I thought was quite excellent, so this one was a bit of a let down in comparison. 
  • From the exhibition you could also by prints, not sure how many they will sell.
  • I bought a post card for €2 of one of the pictures I was hoping would be in this exhibition but wasn’t.

So those are my thoughts, overall i was really happy and enjoyed my visit, sorry if my review seem’s negative because it’s not meant to be. I would really love to return soon and hope it becomes a regular exhibiting gallery. It would also be amazing if there was such a gallery here in Tartu.

There is a website for the gallery: https://dokfoto.ee/

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