Monday, 3 October 2016

Another proto-Instagram feed - markets and more

Last time I wrote about my photo books and how they came about, and ended up comparing them to an analogue version of my Instagram feed.

It's a fair comparison, but one of the most fun and insightful parts of my Instagram experience is watching the Likes and comments come in, finding out which images are chiming with my followers and the Instagram community at large. While the books look very nice sitting on a shelf here at home, they're definitely not putting images out there for viewing around the world 24/7. However, there is another experience I had in the years before I started on Instagram that does compare nicely with those Likes.

Once I started showing again in 2011, I had some great exhibition opportunities and gallery shows. All these came with private views, which offer a fleeting chance to discuss your photography with art lovers who have never met you or your work before. It's an exciting and interesting experience, but it is fleeting, and only limited to what's on the wall. I've always been fairly prolific as a photographer and found it somewhat frustrating to only be able to show a small amount of images each time. 

Of course, my Instagram account @paulcliffordartist has helped me to solve that problem of late, but back then I wanted to free more of my images from those books, get them seen by the outside world. I wanted to sell them too, not to make money (although that is nice) or get the self-validation that comes from someone else enjoying your work (nice too). What was most exciting to me when I sold from a gallery show was that the image was leaving me to go and have an existence somewhere else, hopefully to be loved and looked at by lots of new eyes.

The cost and process of producing larger prints, plus the nice frames I felt they needed to go in, plus gallery commission, meant the prices for my work were prohibitively high for some. I knew from talking to people at the shows that if the work was more affordable they would love to take one home.

So I got to thinking how I could resolve this. An opportunity arose at the London Photomonth Photofair, where I had some framed gallery prints on show, but I also brought over 100 different images for sale as postcard sized prints in small white frames, racked in boxes and arrayed on the tabletop. I wrote a blog post about it at the time - here.

At an exhibition I had early the next year, I was able to leave a box of the small framed images, and over the next few years I took them to various photographic fairs and art and craft markets. Sales of these little affordable items went well, getting hundreds of my images out into the world, and I kept a note of which ones sold each time. And that's where the Likes came from back then.

So, by that standard, to finish with a picture, here is the best Liked image from all those stalls, fairs and markets combined - from Venice in 2009 - my best seller!

3183 - Venice, Italy, 2009

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