I have recently visited a photography exhibition for one of my favourite photographers, Sue Flood at the Grosvenor Museum in Chester. This was not a planned arrangement as I was unaware of the showing of Flood’s photographs. I follow her work through her Facebook page, where I saw her post about the open evening for the launch of the exhibition. I realised that it local, in Chester which I found very exciting and fortunate. I then proceeded in visiting the museum two days later where I found her presented in one of the gallery rooms on the ground floor of the museum.
Sue Flood is a wildlife and travel photographer and videographer born in North Wales and went to a private school in Chester. I find it more interesting and inspiring to see such a local photographer gain much appreciation worldwide and become a successful wildlife photographer. Wildlife photography is my favourite application of photography, making this visit more inspiring and enjoyable.
It was convenient to have the gallery close to where I live and on the day I was the only person at the time visiting the gallery, making it more of a personal experience. I found it beneficial to view a professional display of work in order to understand how to showcase work and the kind of material and style print she uses. The large prints made the images dominate the room and create a cold, arctic feel to the environment. This was also created through the extra statues and ornaments placed in the middle of the room. It made the room feel less empty and created the atmosphere that her images capture. A stuffed polar bear was present with examples of the type of clothing she would have to wear in the arctic. This provided an insight into how challenging the environment is to live and work and the effort behind each photograph.
My reaction to the display of work consisted of enjoyment from seeing the hard work she has put into each photograph and being able to see an exhibition dedicated to her photographs. It made me want to continue working and learning new skills to be able to take photographs that will be appreciated and remembered.
Now looking back on the experience I can see that I must learn more techniques and practise with landscape photography, harsh lighting conditions and difficult environmental conditions. I also need to practice with being able to capture fast movements that will be applied to moving animals. I find it currently difficult to either capture a fast moving animal in the frame or without blur. Sue Flood captures animals in action, presenting sharp and clear images. Her landscape photographs present bold tones with effective lighting that makes the image appear striking.
During the visit, I was focusing my attention on the work itself, but now in reflection, I now understand that the way she has displayed her work and how it was printed affects the way in which the work appears together in the gallery and what people think of it. The high-quality prints make a statement that she is proud of her work and follows a professional manner. The prints were different sizes which made emphasis on particular prints that were larger than the rest. This then led the viewer’s eye around the room. The largest print was of a family of penguins that was at the back of the room opposite the main entrance. This immediately caught my attention and made the print feel grand and empowering.
From this experience, I will now visit more galleries because I will be able to gain a greater understanding of the high expectations for professional photographers. It will enable me to have an insight to the quality of work created, which I can then compare to my own. This will allow me to understand the areas that need to be most improved and have an idea where my work could stand in the industry. For example, I could continue with photography without any reflection upon my own work but find it difficult to find employment or to be noticed. This could then be due to the large difference in quality between my work and work from photographers already working successfully in the industry. Viewing and analysing professional work create the motivation to strive for photographs that meet their level and higher.
From visiting galleries, I am also able to gain research into the ways of displaying photographs and the types of print material available. For example, The way the photographs are placed around the room in this exhibit has been deliberately done in order to present the work in a pleasing way to the viewer’s eye. Even though the images are impacting there is still importance with how they are displayed as this can make the images as a whole appear effective or not. For example, many images that are placed randomly around the room could create a cluttered outcome that makes it difficult for the viewer to concentrate on a single image and then be led around the room.
This becomes relevant to my own professional development as I will be able to gain knowledge on the best ways to display my work in exhibitions as a freelance photographer and even employed under a company using other print based mediums, such as magazines and posters. The presentation is also relevant wth digital displays, such as on websites. Not only is it important to present my work effectively to a public audience but also being able to target a specific audience in a way that will be suitable. For example, the way my work is shown either print or digitally to possible employers will impact the way they view my capabilities. If I present my work in a disorganised way it will appear that I do not have much care or appreciation with my own work, becoming unlikely to be hired.
The presentation of print based work is also affected by the medium it is printed on. For example, if my work was printed on general use paper or photography paper it will appear as though I have not put much thought or effort into my work. Even if I managed to capture an image that appears impacting and shows time and effort put into capturing the image, this will be still be affected by the material it is printed on, making the difference between a professional or unprofessional display.