Photographing artwork for a gallery submission... : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I've just stumbled into a job photographing nine paintings for a local artist who'll be sending the resulting transparencies to a gallery for review. This is potentially a big break for her and she wants to make sure everything is done perfectly.

Unfortunately, money's quite tight at the moment and because she wants several duplicates of each image in addition to the original, I'd like to shoot it on 120 instead of 4x5. I have done this in the past for a few friends and they were happy enough but she is concerned there is a de facto industry standard that requires her to submit 4x5s. Is this true? If so, it'll mean doing the job for materials cost only, which I'd obviously rather avoid. (I suggested that she call the gallery to clarify this but she's reluctant because she's concerned about giving them the impression that she's new to all this, which, of course, she is.)

Any input or advice will be greatly appreciated.

-- Jeffrey Goggin (, July 28, 2001



My experience in making gallery submissions indicates that there really is no industry standard. However, many galleries that I have submitted to prefer 35mm so that they can be viewed using their slide projector. Others prefer a larger format for viewing on a lightbox. Therefore, I would advise that the particular gallery be contacted to determine their "submission guidelines." Doing so will show the gallery that she is not a tyro.

-- Ken Burns (, July 28, 2001.

Jeffrey, I submit slides to galleries and museums all the time and I would say that the "industry standard" is definitely 35mm. Lately, some artists are starting to send digital prints (8x10), sometimes in addition to the slides, because they are easy to look at quickly. I don't know anybody who sends larger format transparencies although I'm sure there are some who do. She should make her submission as easy to look at as possible -- no complicated, taped-up packaging, and very little additional material. Just a resume, the slides, and maybe one or two previous reviews (optional). And a cover letter and SASE.

-- Sandy Sorlien (, July 28, 2001.

Jeffrey, Let me add this --- for good-looking slides, do not neglect careful masking. Either place the paintings against a light-absorbent b;lack background or mask them later with black or silver slide masking tape. Get your lab to use plastic reusable mounts so you can remove each piece of film, mask it neatly, and return it to the mount. Label each mount with title, medium, date of work, and artist's name.

-- Sandy Sorlien (, July 28, 2001.

I've done a lot of copying for museums, with large format and cross polarization. The biggest caution I would give you is choose your film carefully. These days there are two kinds of transparency film. One that reproduced reasonably accurate colors and the other bunch that wildly amplifies colors. Make sure you get as accurate a film as you can. One to consider is Professional Ektachrome E-200. Your artist/client will appreciate an accurate portrayl of her palette when she painted the original, and not some re-creation of her original with some amplified "gee-whiz, wild" color scheme.

-- Richard Boulware (, July 28, 2001.

I have done this two or three times for friends, artists, and what I did was: I shot on Astia with a Pentax 67, scanned and printed at 5x7 on glossy 8x10 on my Epson. They get usually bowled over when they see the outputs, and make series of copies on a good laser color copier to send them all over. Would they need the highest quality, original Epson prints would be perfect. But the easy way would be to shoot as many originals as needed, 135, 6x6, and send them over. Much cheaper than duplicates.

-- Paul Schilliger (, July 28, 2001.

I agree with Paul when it comes to shooting the slides as originals. Have your light setup as aa psuedo permanent setup. Shoot one or two with bracketing and send to the lab. After you get the results back, take your perfect exposure and shoot everything as original instead of paying for dupes ($1.00 + each).

-- Scott Walton (, July 31, 2001.

If the artist can't afford to have it done right maybe she should wait? Have her find out the format required by the gallery & shoot what is needed. Nothing makes both of you look worse than sending in the wrong format. If they want 35mm slides & you send in prints or 4x5 chromes you reduce the chances of even getting looked at. Don't try to go cheap as the results will show it. Do it right or don't do it. It does cost a bit to do it right but in the end it is the most economical method. When done right her work has a much better chance of being accepted. Do it wrong & it many not even be looked at.

-- Dan Smith (, July 31, 2001.

I once did my own slide-making for a submission and next time I'll have it done right (by someone else) for a few dollars more. Much to my amazement, one of my lousy slides was selected. If I'd had them done right they might all have been.

-- Wayne (, August 01, 2001.

Thanks for the input. I ended up shooting the job on 35mm Astia and I really missed my view camera since it was a bear trying to line up the image properly with such a small viewfinder. It was also difficult to work around the reflections from the polished stones that were mounted on the canvas ... the artist had mentioned something about rocks to me during our first conversation but this was something else entirely. I dropped the film off at the lab last night and have my fingers crossed...

-- Jeffrey Goggin (, August 03, 2001.

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