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If you're a fellow photographer considering or planning an exhibition, this is the guide I wish I had access to when I started to plan mine.

For those who don't know me, my name is Micaela and I'm an Argentinean portrait photographer who has switched from the nomadic lifestyle of traveling around the world to settling in Sydney. For now at least :) From July 2020 till today, I've evolved from just having myself and my camera to connecting with a vast network of stylists, make up artists and models from all over Sydney. By November I had an extensive body of work which I actively promoted on social media. Lucky for me, it turned out not only my family and friends where paying attention.


One day in November 2019, I received an e-mail that turned my world upside down: I was being invited to showcase at RAW Australia's Premiere exhibition the following February. Apparently one of the recruiters had found my Instagram and liked what she saw. If I accepted, my work would be exhibited alongside some of Sydney's top musicians, photographers, fashion designers and painters. The exhibition was expected to have over 700 people attending and all sorts of benefits were promised to those joining the RAW community. I literally started to jump up and down: all that hard work I had put in for months had finally been noticed. But before committing to anything, a bit of investigation needed to be done.


RAW: Natural Born Artists, is an independent arts organization that focuses on showcasing up and coming artists in several cities of the United States, Australia, Canada and Mexico. "We believe that we are stronger together than we are apart" says Heidi Luerra, Founder & CEO on their website.

RAW has about 6 yearly showcases in each of its cities, and artists are welcomed to apply through their website if they desire to be featured at the next showcase. During the event, artists are encouraged to promote and sell their work commission free.

Luckily no participation fee needs to be payed, but instead each participant has the responsibility of selling 20 tickets up to one week before the show. If you fail to sell these tickets, you'll have to purchase them yourself or you won't be allowed to participate. However, the RAW team is available 24/7 to contact for support and they bombard you with suggestions and reminders to help you reach those sales.


Don't get me wrong, I was dying of excitement from this proposal, but I also understood the the responsibilities it implied. It takes no genius to figure out an exhibition means a lot of hard work and a big investment. It means facing people's reactions to the work you've poured your heart into and learning all sorts of new things you're currently clueless about. By saying yes I was committing to printing and framing my works, something I had never done before and which would obviously cost money. It also meant having to commit to selling 20 tickets, or even accepting that I might have to end up buying some of these tickets myself.

However, all of these issues were nothing but obstacles, and nothing in life worth having comes without a few of those. None of this couldn't be solved if one had the will to do it, and I had it. So I signed up, and the road to RAW began.


Before rushing yourself to the printing store it's always important to set clear goals and understand what your budget is. I decided my goal for that night was to show my work to the public in the best quality possible, network for future photoshoots and eventually re-use those same works for future exhibitions. This affected every decision I took, from the size of the works to the quality and eventually the price I settled on. (If my goals would've been different, such as for example "to sell as much as possible", my decisions would've changed. Maybe I would've aimed for smaller works at more affordable prices, or offered postcards for as little as 5AUS as part of the stand). So remember to set your goals before you start to print or design anything.



When the time to start printing came, I did look into the possibility of buying a printer. It's true that today we have quite affordable photo printers in the market, but turns out these machines require a lot of maintenance. Some users spoke about having to run the printer every single day in order for the ink flows not to get clogged. Furthermore, the cost of ink and paper also needs to be considered.

Because The Garage Photo Studio is in constant expansion, I do plan on eventually investing in our own printers and mastering the art, but at the time it seemed that by doing this I was going to triple the amount of work that needed to be done. This is why I decided to find a printing place instead.


Choosing where to print my works was not a one day task. I initially looked into popular retail shops where everyday people print their photos, such as Officeworks and The Camera Shop. The quality was good and the staff was helpful, but they couldn't assist me with color correcting issues. It turns out cameras, computers and printers don't speak the same language when it comes to color, so something that looks fine on your laptop might look different when you decide to print it. Photos will also look darker once they go onto paper, as they no longer have the backlight any electronic device has to brighten them up, which is also something to keep in mind. I wouldn't hesitate to use their services in normal circumstances, but because it was for an exhibition I decided I would aim for a higher quality of printing these stores couldn't offer.

I moved on to specialized printing shops, and that's how I ended up at Sydney Picture Frames in West Ryde. This small shop is ran by Mark and his wife, which both have over ten years of experience printing and framing photos and other types of art. They provided me with a higher selection of paper, offered color correction services and to create custom made mats and frames. Overall, the printing cost was not significantly different to what was offered at the retail shops I had visited before, so I decided to print with them.


Deciding where to print my photos was the first of many decisions that suddenly needed to be made, and I would be lying if I said that at times I didn't feel overwhelmed. If you've already selected the body of work you're going to print, the next step is to choose the paper and the size you'll be printing it in. Keep in mind, each of these decisions will affect your final cost.

Because of the amount of detail each of my portraits have, I decided to go for an A3 size, slightly bigger in fact. After Mark helped me with the calculations, I was asked to crop my photos to 30cmx47.4cm using Photoshop before sending them to print. You can easily google how to do this process or pay the store to do it for you.

If I was to re print my photos today, I would choose to do them at a standard A3 size, instead of a customized one. These measurements had the advantage of being slightly bigger, but implied having to had custom mats made for them instead of just taking advantage of the free mats frames usually come with.


For the paper, I knew I wanted a glossy finish to pop up the color in my portraits. Mark ran a test print in both metallic pearl and normal gloss for me to make an educated choice. This test print was free and absolutely necessary: once the decision is made there is no turning back, specially if you're trying to print a large number of photos. Metallic pearl is a type of paper that can hold 80% more ink than regular gloss paper. This means the colors are richer and the photos look almost 3D. Naturally, it's a bit more expensive, but it was hard to turn back after seeing the difference.

Even though it's obvious, I want to clarify something: this is what worked for me, but the work of every photographer is completely different. Maybe your photos would look better with a mate finish, maybe you want your prints to be smaller, maybe you want your prints to be bigger. There is no right or wrong answer, but it's essential to figure out what YOU want before pressing the printing button.


Lastly, that test print didn't just help me decide which finish I wanted but also how accurate the colors were turning up. Remember how I told you the camera, computer and printer don't speak the same language? This is where being at a specialized shop had its advantages. In my case, photos were turning up a bit too green and dark. Mark created a color profile that added more magenta and brightened the photos, making them look exactly as I originally intended them to. We ran another printing test to check if I was happy with the results.

Seeing my photo at such a large size also revealed a few unwanted elements, such as specks of dust or cat hair on the model's clothes. These small details might have not mattered on Instagram, but they do when a photo is printed at such a large scale. For this reason, I was asked to go back to each of the works I had already selected and zoom in on 100% to see if any final polishing needed to be done.


Remember nobody is making you frame your photos. In fact there are many creative ways of hanging them in a minimalist ways. You could also decide to put them in a folder and make your visitors look through them or print them on a book format to begin with. However, I did decide to frame mine, and with that decision came the following considerations.

In an ideal world I would've had Sydney Picture Frames or some online company custom make each of my frames. This would mean each photo would have a beautiful wooden frame around it and a glass protecting it, but there is no way around the cost that this implies. On the other hand, the cheapest option was to buy some frames at Officeworks or IKEA for about 8 or 12AUD. These frames are made of cheap plastic. My main concern was the material used to replace glass, as I needed something that wouldn't opaque the quality of the photos I had already committed to. Finally, I found some middle range frames online at The French Knot which I easily ordered and got delivered to my home in 3 days.


About a month before the big day, the RAW team asked us to come to The Orion Center where the exhibition was to be held. This was a chance for them to show us the space, answer our questions and check how our ticket sales were going. We got given a bunch of suggestions, but probably getting business cards was the best one. The process for getting these done is very easy and far from expensive. I ordered and designed mine with Visaprint online and I'll be repeating the process once these finish up.


As you remember, one of the requirements for RAW is to sell 20 tickets. Although this is achievable, it can be pretty stressful, specially if you leave it till the last minute. If you don't have experience selling things, you'll probably feel uncomfortable with the level of insistence it takes to get people to spend 22AUD. Also, keep in mind most people leave purchasing till the last minute (let's be honest, you would do the same), while as an artist you need to meet your quota one week before the show.

My advice is to start to promote your exhibition from the moment you sign up, and step up the intensity on the last month leading up to it. Post on social media, but also message people individually. The RAW team suggested us to offer free stuff to those attending and to be honest about how your spot at the event depends on the selling of these thickets. You can also ask people overseas to purchase tickets as a sign of support.


Two things to keep in mind if you're showcasing at RAW or another exhibition with a similar format: how are you going display you works and how are you going to light them.

I personally went for a very basic minimalist style, but the possibilities are endless: some people brought electronic screens, others printed massive banners and others even brought their own walls to increase their space.

At RAW, each participant is provided with a metal stand that has squared fencing all over it and a table. I chose to hang my works using plastic cable tires and bring one of my cotton backdrops to use as a tablecloth on the table.

For lighting, everyone is provided with two lamps of very low intensity. If your intention is to showcase photos or art, I highly recommend bringing some extra lighting. I decided to bring one of my continuous light stands with a soft-box from the studio and it made all the difference. Not to exaggerate, but it was the only stand where things could be seen in full detail and I was thanked multiple times by my neighbors who got their works lighted up as a consequence.

Lastly, a few more essential things you'll want to bring with you are: a permanent marker (to sign those prints you sell with a personalized message), a small sign with your contact details (I bought a small board and wrote on it) and an extension cable (you're provided with one, but you'll be sharing it, so having your own is not a bad idea).


When the big day arrives, you will not regret bringing some people to help you set up. It's not just about helping you carry your things, but about brainstorming suggestions and enjoying the most out of the whole process. I had the best team somebody could ask for: my dad (who was visiting from Argentina) and my fiancé. It had been raining all week and it rained that day as well, but little did we care: the big day was finally here and nothing was going to ruin it.

After you finish setting up, take your time to walk around the place and say hi to all the other artists: you won't get a chance to do this once the doors open.


I can't explain this feeling to you: I had been working on this for months, yet somehow when I suddenly had to smile at all those strangers who started to stare at my photos everything began to feel so surreal. It felt even weirder when my actual friends started to show up: I suddenly had a team constantly cheering for me, the very same team that had made most of these photos possible. I wanted to cry, to leap of joy, to run away, to stay in that moment forever all at the same time.

I realized this moment was important, it marked a before and after in my career. I knew I would be reaping the fruits of that night for the rest of the year. But I also had some practical realizations through the course of the night and I would like to share them so you can learn from them the same way I did.

  • There is a big difference between being a good artist and a business person, and no matter how good your art is it won't sell unless you push customers in the correct way. Ask some questions, let them do the talking, listen to them and then adapt your pitch to what they're looking for. Avoiding talking too much is a must, as people will only retain a small percentage of what you say: mystery is always better than nervous blabber. If they ask for the price, tell them but also ask them how much would they be willing to pay, maybe you can make a deal that works for the both of you.

  • People liked the stories behind the photos more than the actual photos. I started to tell each person that walked into my stand the story behind one of the photos that they were staring at. As the night went on, I saw some of those same people dragging their friends over and pointing at the photo I had talked to them about, probably repeating the same story to them.

  • People will like your art for different reasons that you like it, and they'll pay attention to details you probably ignore while ignoring the details you love the most.

  • You'll be asked to come to the stage at one point of the night and speak about one of your works. Planning what you're going to say is not a bad idea. I decided to improvise, but naturally I came up with much better things I could've said after the show ended.


It's been a few months after this beautiful event took place, and I don't regret any of it. In fact, I miss it. Accepting that RAW invitation started a thrilling journey that taught me so much and made me grow times a million in my profession. I now have the possibility of showcasing once again in any of their shows, this time without the ticket selling component, and I will be happy to take that opportunity as a way of visiting Melbourne or other of Australia's beautiful cities. I've been left with a body of work (minus what got sold) that I can use for other exhibitions and I've learned so much about the art business, the printing business and myself. It's also been such an amazing first experience in a journey that will hopefully soon lead me to organizing my own exhibition, but for now all I got to say is I'm proud to be a part of the RAW community and I recommend it to any other artists out there who are looking for the next step on their journeys.


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