Planning your gallery show: LAYOUT

By February 8, 2013Blog, Gallery Shows, Photography

This is Part 2 of my Planning Your Gallery Show presentation. For my ‘The Spaces Within‘ gallery show, I chose to rent a week’s worth of space in PrairieView Gallery (which is housed in the PrairieView School of Photography). Once I had my space booked, my photos short-listed and my theme decided, I moved on to planning the layout.


First I went to scout the location, photographing every available hanging space and taking measurements. At first I thought I would start my show from outside the gallery, slowly leading visitors in. However I ultimately decided to focus my efforts on the main gallery space. This reduced the number of photos that I needed to print and helped to keep my costs down.


One of the reasons that I chose PrairieView Gallery is that it’s walls are covered in magnet board (meaning no need for framing or mounting). There are two larger boards, plus a number of smaller board scattered around the space. I wanted to go with varying sizes of photographs, and chose to lay them out in a random grid pattern. I also chose to mix my genres of photography together (landscapes beside self-portraits beside nature, etc.).


I didn’t want any surprises with print costs, so I planned my layout in a very detailed way, designing the space with proportionally sized picture boxes in InDesign and then importing my photos in to see which worked best beside each other. That allowed me to figure out exactly how many photos and at what size they were required. It made it easy to request quotes and when it came down to setting up the show, very easy. I did end up making a few adjustments once I saw the photos hanging in the space, but for the most part, my layout remained the same.


Aside from figuring out the layout of the various spaces/walls within the gallery, I also thought about what story I wanted to tell as people wandered through the space. I considered which of my photos had the most impact, which I wanted to be seen right away and which I wanted to be discovered slowly. I took a similar approach to putting a portfolio together — strong to start, strong in the middle and strong at the end.

If you missed Part 1 (Theme), you can read it here. Part 3 will be posted in a week or so.

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