Are You Ready for Your Own Exhibition? Part III

This is the third and final part in a three-part post to help you through the challenges of your first solo exhibition. It’s written by Kevin A. Gilligan and just like his images, he exceeded all expectations when I asked him to consider a guest post about his first photography show. It also includes a great little podcast, which I’ve chosen to share with each post, just in case you’re tuning in late.

Kevin is a Tamron Image Master  and has an incredibly diverse background, but when there’s a camera in his hands, it’s all about the big picture, the landscape. All of the images shared in each of these three posts are all thanks to Kevin’s creative eye put together with Tamron’s outstanding glass!

This is going to sound sappy, but I’m a sappy guy. I couldn’t be more proud to consider Kevin a friend or Tamron as a supporter of not only SCU, but our industry. Every day they’re helping thousands of photographers raise the bar on the quality of their images and in turn their business or hobby. Both Kevin and Tamron have a very special common denominator, they always work to exceed our expectations!

What I Learned From My First Solo Photography Show – Part III

by Kevin A. Gilligan
Tip #11 Test Prints
This will be obvious to some, but test prints are critical.  You need to know how your image will look on the particular medium that you are using. Half of my images were printed on metal for this show. I ordered several metal prints (dye fused on metal) from several print labs before the show.  I experimented with several different finishes on the metal as well i.e. glossy, matte, etc.  The paper prints were even more complicated.  Each paper has a different print quality, price and displays the ink differently. “HELP”….my head was spinning. I spent many hours working with a printer to get each shot right. Finding the right framer, at the right price, can also be challenging. Your network can be invaluable here.

Tip #12 Installation/Hanging Your Images
Hanging images can be very challenging. Honestly, I hate doing it. Give yourself enough time. At least a day. If you have done your model (tip #10), then this will be much easier, you already know which images go together as a group, and where specifically each will go. Ask for help, bring a friend who has done this already if you can.  Keep in mind that some galleries will hang images with wires and some galleries only want “D” rings. You should ask the gallery how they want the images before you frame them, assuming the gallery is going to help you hang the images.

Tip #13 Create a Catalog
Create a catalog of your work for the show. Include your artist statement, pictures of the images, the size of the images, the medium, and the price. I made 250 copies of the catalog, and it was well worth it. Hand it out at the show and let people take it home. This will help with your follow-up sales.

Tip #14 Sign-In Book
Purchase a nice leather bound book for the show and have people sign in and provide their name and email address so you can thank them for coming and invite them to future events.

Tip #15 Follow-Up
Follow up with your prospective purchasers after the show. Thank those who came to the show and especially those who purchased an image. 

Tip #16 Hire a Photographer
Hire a photographer for the day, so you get images (with you in them for a change) and you can relax. You’ll be happy to have the images of your friends and for use in future marketing and social media efforts. 
Having a solo exhibition is a landmark in your professional photography career. It says you are serious about your photography and willing to put in much more time and effort than the average photographer. Give yourself lots of time, six-nine months and enjoy the learning process.

Nearly 250 people attended my exhibit, I sold a third of my images during the show, and even more after the show. I met collectors and I’m building my mailing list. It was an exhilarating and somewhat exhausting experience. I couldn’t be happier I did it.  I hope you do it too. 

Email me at: and tell me about your exhibit. You can see my work on my site:

To catch up on your reading, if you missed the first two parts, here are the links.


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