Exhaustion! The feeling that you must keep pushing forward and a million things are on your to do list, but you just want to sleep. While sitting in class listening to the teacher talk about introductions, my limbs feel super heavy and my eyes are fighting to keep open. The constant running around and going non-stop is necessary to complete our final term in the Digital Photography Program. One of the requirements is to execute and host a final gallery of images to display to the public for the duration of two weeks. This is what has stolen all of my energy and time. Stolen like a mother’s time when she holds her newborn child to only blink and see them running off to college. I have no time for work, friends, even my family; this is what destroys me the most, knowing that I cannot talk to my little girl about her day or help her with her homework.
January 11, 2016 was the beginning of the end, the final term in a two-year program at Lambton College. It was the first week back to school after a nice winter vacation and we were given our main assignment for the final term: to create, execute and host a gallery of our images. With our criteria handed to us it was time to start designing! What kind of theme was I going to do? Did I want thick of thin frames? Where was I going to host it? Did I want snacks and music or not? With an abundance of questions in my head, I began writing every question I had down to begin the planning process. With a notebook and pen in hand, I began the design.
Poisoned Apple won 1st Place in the Unclassified Category and was shot during my first year at Lambton College and was the inspiration for the entire gallery. With this in mind, I began playing with the idea of fog, steam and anything that was really smoke related. During my session with my instructor, David Chidley, I was told to be creative with my idea and to think outside the box. Unsure of what he was saying, I asked for clarification. “Use puns,” he told me “take a spin off of the words and do things that people normally wouldn’t think of.” With his words of wisdom and great advice, I was off to my handy note-book again and ‘Up In Smoke’ was born! Although, before I even picked up a camera, I wanted to make sure I had each detail planned out for the gallery. Each shot, angle, and design I had to have specifically drawn out for the 10 minimum images I was required to shoot, all before I touched my camera.
When given the assignment, I had no idea how to host a gallery or how I was even going to pull it off, and to be honest, I didn’t know what I was going to do complete the assignment. I decided to follow the graduates lead and start with a location. When looking for a location, you want something that has a good flow of people through the location; so you want what is called a high traffic area. I contacted Mike Service from Bayside Mall in Sarnia, ON. After meeting with Mike, we discovered that the spot for my gallery would be perfect close to the old art gallery in the food court at the mall. The unit was deep and well lit with tracks to allow us to customize and move the lighting onto the images. After discussing how the gallery would be set up, we agreed upon the unit and left the mall happy knowing the location was determined.
The next step was to figure out if I was hosting the gallery space with someone and how we would split the space and costs. I partnered up with Sarah Schieble, from SS Photography, and we made sure that our galleries were different but unique in a way that would make the collaboration work. Sarah’s gallery was titled “Meraki”, which describes “doing something with soul, creativity, or love” (Moore, 2005) and showcased 10 images from around London, ON. We discussed where the images would go and on what walls, but then we hit a road block. The one wall in our gallery had a hideous thermostat on it that we didn’t want to have our gallery images surrounding, so we had to figure something to go on that wall. The final thing that Sarah and I had to collaborate on was splitting the costs of supplies and food for the event. It was pretty easy to decide that we were going to split the costs 50/50 and that we would each be responsible for individual costs for our galleries.
We made all our decisions for the details of the gallery and by focusing on our separate events and just sharing costs and space this allowed for less collaboration and more individuality for each of us. I chose to advertise by creating posters to go around to the local businesses, creating a Facebook event to invite friends and family to, sent out an email with all the details of the gallery on it, and also created little postcards to hand out to people and clients that I had met up with or saw in public while I was out doing shopping for the gallery. Advertising your event is CRUCIAL for it to be successful. If you do not advertise to the public then nobody will know that your event is happening. Depending on your budget you can choose to go big(banners, radio ads, newspaper articles, flyers) or small (posters, social media events) with your advertising. The amount of money you put into the gallery is all dependent on how extravagant that you wish it to be.
By focusing on the main parts of creating a gallery, you can fill in the gaps of it with your own creative spin. I chose a public mall for my location with high traffic to pull in more people to my gallery during their hours, the smaller side of advertising with posters and a social media event being made, music being played off my laptop for some ambient noise in the background, and then finally beautifully hung and straight colorful images. One piece of advice I have is to make sure to choose frames and matting that match your style of gallery. After the gallery opening we chose to have hours that we were open for the duration of the two weeks and I was there everyday during opening hours.
Between final assignments for term, full hours at the gallery hoping for purchases or business, planning my own wedding, and keeping a home tidy and clean I am exhausted. I feel as if there is barely any time to sleep and with deadlines approaching I am terrified! However, the end of the two weeks has drawn to an end and I tore down the gallery this morning with a saddened heart. Seeing my work hung on the walls for people to come in and see made me feel such pride and the fact that the images came down this morning symbolize not only the end of the gallery, but also the end of my final term. What’s next for the gallery and where will the images go now? Nobody knows. What I do know is that the amount of information I learned from seeing what previous graduates did, and just learning from my own mistakes has made this gallery an event that I will never forget.
My final words of wisdom for those wanting to host a gallery is this…don’t sweat the small stuff. Enjoy your event and be proud of the images you have hung for the public. The people who walk through won’t remember the food, the punch, the music, the décor or anything like that. The guests that come through your gallery will remember your images, those beautiful pieces of art that are displayed proudly with your name under them are what your guests will remember.