On Submitting to Photography Shows

How to Prepare for and Submit to Photography Shows

Having your photographs chosen to be part of a group show or being offered your own solo photography show can be a dream come true, a dream that oftentimes takes years to prepare for. But it’s much more than that. Being offered that opportunity is one thing. Making it a reality, is another, and it often requires collaborating with curators and/or gallery owners, vision, and lots planning, scheduling, photographing, editing and printing, matting and framing, in order to put together the actual show.

So, where to start?

First off, decide if you want to submit to an online show or to an actual, brick-and-mortar gallery. For the sake of this post, let’s look at the latter, because oftentimes it requires a lot of work, planning, and preparation.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

[Above: a few of my images featured in Of the Mind show, at Casa Colombo, 2014]

If you’re offered your own photography show, congratulations are in order. Drink to it, and then get to work, because you’re on a deadline now.

But how to prepare for a solo photography show?

Talk to the curator or gallery owner, even better, meet at the gallery to be able to glance at the space and have a chance to envision your images in that place.

Of the Mind - Vampires in NY show
Snapshot of Of the Mind – Vampires in NY show at Casa Colombo, in Jersey City, October 2014

When talking with the curator or gallery owner, discuss and decide on a few things, in addition to the artist agreement:

  • subject or theme for your solo photography show
  • number of images, print size(s) of images, medium (photo paper, metal, canvas, etc), how the images will be displayed, etc.
  • gallery opening hours/duration of the actual show
  • artwork drop off/pick up date for the artwork
  • additional materials to submit with the artwork: signed agreement, image list (with details on submitted images, including image title, caption, size, price), artist statement, any promotional material, etc.
  • your role, as an exhibiting artist, in promoting the show online and off-line
Backbone solo show (opening 08/08/08 at 32 Jones Gallery, Jersey City, NJ)

Once that’s settled, get to work and start photographing with the show in mind. Keep in mind your deadlines, plan and prepare your photo shoots.

When you’re done photographing for the show, the post-production work starts.

Select images that could be included in the show. Make sure they hold together as a body of work–display a certain mood, look, feel, flow; tell a story; allow the artist’s voice to be heard.

Repeat the above step until you come up with a final selection of images for your show.

Edit (and/or retouch) as needed.

In the metadata, include the title, caption, medium, size, etc. It makes it easier for when putting together the shot list.

If you print the images yourself, prepare the photo paper (size, type, etc) you want to use.

Prepare the images to be printed out. Make sure you include margins, etc. Think: consistency.

Before printing out the images, run a proof by the gallery curator and/or owner. Make sure you’re all still on the same page.

Buy other art supplies as/if needed.

Print out the images (or sent them out to a printer). Have your images ready for hanging, as specified in the artist agreement. Drop off the artwork together with a printout of the shot/artwork list and (signed) artist statement, as well as business cards. (also email these documents to the curator and/or gallery owner. In addition, (again) the artist agreement should be read, understood and signed by both parties, before the show’s opening.)

Deliver the artwork on time, as agreed. Sometimes, as an exhibiting artist, you might end up hanging your own artwork and/or helping out in the gallery space.

Attend the opening. Talk to those who took the time to stop by. Answer their questions about your work, etc.

If you’re invited to participate in a group photography show, also congrats! How to prepare for a group photo show?

Yours truly testing out the art installation before the show at Casa Colombo.

The idea is similar to preparing for a solo show. What’s different is that as part of a group show, your images need to hold together as a mini body of work, and also be part of the overall (group) show.

The 2014 Of the Mind show featured three artists, including yours truly. Within that show, we each had our own show. When  trying to decide what kind of work to show, our wonderful curator took time to meet with me and look through some of my bodies of work, and, in the end, decided to show images about New York City and vampires, while the opening was in October, and to my show Vampires in New York. Here’s a behind-the-scenes shot showing a glimpse into our behind-the-scenes work, preparing for and setting up the show.

It’s also a good idea to participate in juried competitions. Here are three images that won a B&H juried competition and were showcased at SoHo Photo Gallery, in New York City.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’ve also had the chance to participate in group shows hosted by Leslie-Lohman Museum, Visual AIDS and others. Here are a few examples:

Identity: AIDS Day 2007 event at Our Youth
Identity. Photo by Alina Oswald. Fresh Fruit Festival. Leslie-Lohman Museum.

Here’s an image, “Solitude,” featured in Woman to Woman show, in Jersey City, NJ.

Woman to Woman photography show.
Solitude. Photo by Alina Oswald. Woman to Woman show, Jersey City, NJ. #tbt


La Vie Galerie grand opening Oct 5, 2018, 6-9 pm

Recently I was invited to be part of the La Vie Galerie opening exhibition, in Garden State. Check out the La Vie Galerie LLC invite for more details. Opening night is October 5, 2018. Also, read more about La Vie Galerie in my article, A Celebration of Life, published in Out IN Jersey Magazine.

Hope to see you at the grand opening!

Until then and as always, thanks for stopping by!

Alina Oswald


1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.