Showing Your Work
You now have a collection of really nice images. What do you do with them? How do you show them off? In film days your only route was the printed image. For some photographers this still remains the final goal for any image. For many now though the internet is the way to show their work. In this section we will cover both print and digital ways of letting others see you work.
60 inch Design Jet and proud owner
© Juhan Sonin
Good quality home printing is quite a skilled art. You will need a good quality (and probably expensive) photographic printer, a range of suitable photographic papers, and a lot of patience.
Personally I am not a fan of home printing and I would really only recommend it for the most dedicated of photographic workers. There are some key benefits:
• Full control over the final print
• A choice of paper finishes to suit the print
• Quick turnaround (minutes or hours rather than days)
• With the right equipment very high quality prints
• The exploration of the print process.
• Better management of colour and in particular black and white prints.
If you just want a quick print, then any current inkjet printer will do a reasonable job. The colours won't be quite right; you may get a little banding or lines in the print. But for many prints this will be fine and perfectly acceptable.
You can also buy home based dye-sub printers. These are much closer to photographic prints and the quality is very good. They use technology not unlike laboratory printers. My favourite printer is a small Canon Selphy (around £80), which produces postcard prints (4 x 6 inches). These are great for quick give away prints. Larger printers suitable for 8 x 10 inch and A4 size prints are available in the £1,000-£2,000 range.
That said, I use a professional lab and I recommend you do too. You might want to use one of the high street chemists, supermarkets or camera stores. You can use one of the online options such as photobox or smugmug. These days nearly all these printing services use very similar print machines and techniques. The final quality from any of these services will be reasonably comparable. I use a professional lab because I find the results are more consistent from print to print and give me a much wider range of print options both in size and finish.
For in store printers you can take a CD, DVD, memory card or USB memory stick and select the pictures in store for printing. I suggest you use a USB memory stick and only put on the memory stick the pictures you want printed. This will reduce the time you spend messing around in the store. Stores often provide an "instant" or one-hour service.
For online web services you upload your images over the internet and the images are sent by post. Often these online services are run by the same companies that provide in-store photographs so the quality is good.
All of these companies, in-store and online, offer a variety of print sizes. You will also have a range of choices on print finish, including canvas, acrylics, framed prints and even aluminium.
Example books from Photobox, Lulu and Blurb
You can also create photo books. These are a great way of collating images from a particular event, such as a holiday trip, or on a particular theme, say a study of flowers. These are usually online services. The company will offer their own book layout software which sometimes you download to your computer, sometimes is used on their website.
The software can automatically layout your book according to a theme and then you can adjust the images as you need. You can also layout your book entirely by hand. Finish it off with an attractive cover and you have a very fine collection of work.
Using software online for book layout. Images can be resized, re-positioned and titled.
Not enough photographers produce books in my opinion. To collect a series of photographs together and make them easily accessible through a book is a terrific way to show off your work. The act of collating the images forces you into selecting the best and producing a coherent and connected series.
Costs are surprisingly low, normal prices start at around £20 for a 20 page book, with many special offers through the year. If you are on a tight budget you might want to prepare a book in advance and wait for a good deal to come through.
Everybody posts photographs on social media sites like FaceBook, Google+ and Twitter all the time. Tens of thousands a minute in fact! But these sites are a great way to show off your work, particularlu while you are excited about it. The final quality of presentation won't be ideal - often the images will only be shown relatively small and may have been processed (or over-processed) by the social media site. But they are great for sharing.
If you have been photographing an event and want to share pictures with the family or friends that attended then this is really quick and easy to do through social sites. You can also send personal photographs to individuals.
There are many websites dedicated just to showing off photography. The most widely used of these is Flickr.com Flickr allows anyone to post photographs online, so the quality of images posted is very variable! However there are a large number of Flickr groups dedicated to particular styles or themes of photography. Usually these groups maintain a higher level of quality. Your work may well be appreciated there.
Sites such as 500px.com are aimed more firmly at "better" photographers. They are not there to share a photograph of someone's breakfast. As a photographer you will find this type of site more rewarding.
Many of these sites allow voting and commenting. Whether you ask for it or not expect to get feedback on your photography. My rule is never get upset by a negative comment. The internet is full of negative people. However, think about both the good and bad comments and see how you can use that to improve your photography.
Registering your own domain name with hosting space is cheap and easy.
Building your own personal website is not terribly difficult if you have a little confidence around a computer. There are many options both free and paid for hosting websites. If you want a really quick and easy way to show your work then use blogging software like Wordpress. Literally millions of users are using this software to show off images, put up albums and collections of work and talk about their photography.
Software companies like Adobe Photoshop also offer a range of free and premium services for showing photographs.
If you are remotely serious about showing your work by this method I would recommend you purchase a domain name. Something like "fredbloggs.me" - which is a personal domain - costs around £5 a year.
This is not a sales pitch, but we can offer you a complete Wordpress hosted website with your own domain and unlimited picture space for £50 a year.
TV And Tablets
As we move to digital TV we now have another option, showing our pictures on screen. Personal Video Recorders (PVRs) and lots of TVs have a simple option of being able to plug in a USB memory stick and display pictures directly.
© James Fraleigh
Tablets are great portfolio devices. Smartphones are OK and at least you have it with you.
© Vernon Chan
Tablets like the iPad are a great way of carrying around a portfolio and galleries to show at a moment's notice. The display quality of good tablets is astounding. Because tablets are hand held at a fairly close distance then images look great, with a lot of detail, even on a small device.
As I am writing this there are a whole collection of technologies coming together to allow simple "streaming" of images from your tablet or computer directly to your TV. I expect this to be commonplace by next year.
A slight variation on the tablet is the photo frame. Essentially a small screen dedicated to showing pictures from a memory card. Quality is quite variable with these devices but the good ones are very good. One option I particularly like are photo frames that you can email pictures to. Imagine grandparents having one in their home and you can email pictures of the grandchildren at any time for an instant update.
There is a lot of really good slideshow software available, some of it free, some of it built into general imaging software and some of it specialist. These let you create your own slideshows that can be watched on the internet, on your computer or your TV. The slideshows can be saved onto DVD for posting to others.
This is a slideshow for a wedding.
The slideshow was created using Proshow Producer - a very sophisticated package available for Windows.
Digital slideshows are a completely different thing to the old-fashioned "magic lantern" approach. Now you can have pictures move, zoom, fade and spin. You can add music, titles, graphics and voiceovers.
The software is pretty easy to use with only a small amount of computer skill. Most packages have the means to automatically create a slideshow for you. You can then edit it afterwards if you wish or create your slideshow by hand.
There are some software options available online to do this as well.
This slideshow - which mixes both stills and video clips was created using the online service Animoto.com
Many photographic organisations run exhibitions every year. Some are physical exhibitions of prints. Some are digital only with images displayed online. They are partly competitions in the sense that all pictures are reviewed by a panel of judges. Only pictures which are good enough will be accepted. The top pictures will receive an award (not usually prize money though).
You can also go the whole way and run your own exhibition. There are many community centres, libraries and some galleries which are happy to show photographic exhibitions, often for a very small fee. However, do not under estimate how expensive and time consuming it will be to put on an exhibition.
All your images will need to be printed, mounted and framed - usually quite large. Costs per picture will range from £60 upwards. You will normally be responsible for hanging the pictures as well. Don't forget all the work ahead of the exhibition selecting the images you want to show, working on final corrections, tweaks and touch-ups.
The task of creating your own exhibition is not trivial. But there is an enormous amount of self-pride and reward that goes with having your own exhibition.
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Assignment: Get Your Pictures Online
Join at least one photo sharing and critique site, put up some pictures and see what people have to say about them.
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Simon Q. Walden | uLearn.TV Ltd
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