Friday, November 20, 2009

How to display your photos: Ideas from Paris Photo (part 1)

Paris Photo is a massive 4-day event happening right now through Sunday in the Carrousel du Louvre. The show features 89 galleries and 13 editors from all over the world. I went last night and found it to be at once heavenly and torturous. Heavenly, because the scale of the show and the variety of major photographers on display outshone any photography museum I have ever seen. Torturous, because I couldn't take it all in (much less take any of it home). Want to buy a Klein? A bargain at 9,000 euros. A signed Cartier-Bresson will run you about 25,000 euros. A passport-sized Lartigue (and I mention the size because I overheard some Americans talking about prices in the cliché "size matters" way) costs 30,000. Although most of the prices were on display, I think it's safe to say that the "Well, if you have to ask, you can't afford it" rule applied to everything.

If you budget is like mine, the only things you can take away from the show are the memories, maybe a catalog, and some inspiration. Since I can't give you the first two, let me help out with the third, specifically, some inspiration for photo displays.

How do the galleries display their photos? In the next couple of posts, I'll give a few examples (also, let me give a disclaimer that my photos of the displays are quick snapshots). In this post, we'll look at the most common methods of display: the grid and the classic line.

Simple, modern, and elegant. A line of photos gives a classic look similar to what you might see in a museum. However, many museums would put more space between the frames for the practical reason of filling the space and of allowing more room for visitors to look at the photos.

A variation on the straight line that I love is this symmetrical display with a round photo and frame in the middle.

Larger spacing in this six photo grid of Duane Michals photos (being photographed by a woman who looks exactly like the one in the photos), is a safe choice.

Large photos arranged in a triptych work especially well if the center photo draws the most attention.

A long two-line grid of photos with identical matting and with no spaces makes a bold statement.

A vertical version of the two-line grid takes a more innovative approach by playing with the colors of the frames (but keeping a sophisticated black, white, gray palette).

A dramatic three-line grid of large color unmatted photos and minimal spacing makes a strong, modern statement.

Closely spaced grids sometimes use large matting to let the photos breathe and give a more classic look.

In my opinion, the wide black frames and black matting in this grid borders on overpowering the photos themselves.

No spacing between frames, small mattes, and color photos on a unified theme (painted trucks).

Photos of different sizes are cropped here to fit in a grid of identical frames.

Getting inspired for displaying your own photos? I know I am.

Tomorrow, I'll go beyond the line and the grid for more inspiration.


michelle said...

Interesting to see the frames with no space in between. I agree on the black frames and mattes overwhelming the photos.

Also interesting to me is the painted truck series. It looks great as a series, but does anyone really want one photo of a painted truck on their wall? To each his own.