Tuesday, 12 March 2013


There are many good things about having an exhibition, but it's not something to be undertaken lightly and is always more time-consuming and more expensive than you anticipate.  Printing aside, the main consumers of your time and money are generally the same thing -- in a word, framing.

I've been lucky with my shows, in that I've either managed to secure funding to cover framing, or the gallery has generously footed the bill.  This is not normally the case, however, and even if you do the work yourself using reasonably cheap "off the peg" frames, you're looking at a minimum of £20 each, and considerably more if you like to print larger than A4 / 8" x 10".  Do the arithmetic.

I don't have a lot of my work framed at home, there are maybe six pieces of various sizes hanging on walls around the house, and another 10 just hanging around.  Mainly, they're items of sentimental importance, or leftovers from old shows.  It would feel a bit egocentric to fill your house with your own pictures.  But framing anything is always an aesthetic challenge: the classic white window-mount in a plain frame works well in a gallery, but looks a little cold at home.

I have several large Tom Phillips prints, for example, stored in tubes, which will some day demand the full-on treatment from a talented specialist (insert advert here for Bron Janulis, frequent flyer on this blog and expert framewrangler).  Or not. They're quite safe in those tubes, after all...

There are alternatives, of course.  I print all of my potential "keepers" as small 5" x 7" proof prints, which are then attached to a large bulletin board with powerful little magnets, and may stay on view there for months.  The better ones migrate into handy free-standing clear plastic frames which can sit on my bookshelves until I get bored with them.  It's a good way of identifying the images with "legs", the ones that will reward viewing over a long period.

A while ago I came across a new product, the so-called Fracture.  If you've got photographs to display, but don't want to go to the trouble of framing them, this could be an interesting alternative.  In essence, you upload your digital image to the people at Fracture (based in Florida), who print it directly onto a sheet of glass, which is then backed with foam for hanging.  Sounds mad, but it works, and is a very effective, unfussy and contemporary-looking way of showing photographs.  I've had a couple made and, despite the modest price, it's a quality product delivered in Apple-standard bespoke packaging.

They're clearly targeting the "utter amateur using a digicam" market, which I think is a mistake.  There's surely far more money to be made from all the cash-rich, time-poor "prosumers" out there.  For example, their working assumption is that you want a borderless rendering of a 4:3 ratio image, which speaks volumes.  But square and custom sizes are available, and it's easy enough to subvert the "full bleed" approach when using the upload wizard and to put a border around your image. Actually, I think a rectangular image well-placed on a square Fracture with a white or black surround could look very good, though I haven't tried that myself.

It could be a very classy, eye-catching way of putting on a relatively inexpensive exhibition.

Der Widergänger, Fotoforum Innsbruck, 2010
photo  ©  Louise Barrett