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Les Slesnick
juror and consultant
former art show photographer

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The Booth Slide
I think that thereís more and more emphasis being placed on the booth slide. The booth slide is a real good indicator of what youíre going to see at the show if the artist is honest.
There are two types of BS; buy and sell and bait and switch. Photographers are guilty of the bait and switch. There are a fair number of photographers whose booth slides are terribly misleading and not representative of the actual booth. When a photographer juries with five framed pieces in the booth and no browse boxes and has at least twenty five on the panels at the show plus the interior of the booth is 50-60% taken up with browse boxes, that to me is misrepresentative. And what Iíve done with those guys is Iíve given them a high score if theyíve deserved it. Iíve also annotated that the booth shot was misrepresented and is not what youíll see at the show. Iím not saying that should rule them out of the show. I am saying it should be in the booth slide.
One of the things Iím suggesting to shows I communicate with is to change the booth slide rule so that everything that is visible from the front of the booth at a show needs to be in the booth slide. Whether itís browse boxes or what. If you keep it behind the booth and itís not visible, you donít have to show it in the booth slide. I have no objection to browse bins because thatís where most of us are going to make a decent living. If itís visible from the street I want to see it in the booth slide because thatís the biggest indicator of misrepresentation to get into the show.
Iím also seeing a lot of booth slides only showing two of the panels of a three-walled booth. I want to see all three walls and enough of the canopy that I can identify the manufacturer so I know if itís a professional grade booth. I was burned at a show I recently juried. I only saw two walls in a jewelerís booth in their booth shot, and those two walls were as represented at the show. But in the part that I didnít see, there was no third wall, only a table of buy sell garbage from overseas.
 If I see racks of note cards in the front right and left corners, thatís strike one and two together. I also prefer to see a booth of professional design, caliber, and strength for two reasons: It gives the show an overall more professional appearance, and such a booth is more likely to withstand higher winds and less likely to damage neighboring booths and art work in the event of a "blow-over." But it also depends on the showís philosophy or vision. If itís a South Florida show in a community that only gets a crowd of about 2,500 or 3,000 its fine, but if itís a Fort Worth or Cherry Creek itís not fine.
I want to see the work from the art slides in the booth shot. I do think the applicant should remove the glare and reflection from the glass if thereís glass on the art. And I think it should be crisp and sharp and not fuzzy. Youíd be amazed at some of the most horrible booth shots Iíve seen by artists who have been in the business for a long time. Iíve actually spoken up at juries and explained that this person is having trouble with their booth slide. I remember a painter I made a comment about at the Fort Worth jury this past November. He paints with oils and picked up a lot of reflections from specular highlights in the oils and then on top of that he overexposed it and you missed much of the detail. So I made a comment that I know the guy and I think his work is well received and he puts on a professional appearance but I have to tell the other members of the jury that these are not good booth slides and told them why.
The latest thing with the booth slide is the studio shot booth slide. I urge all professional artists who do this for a living to take their booth into a studio with a photographer who knows what he is doing. Do not shoot the booth slide out on the street anymore. You take it into the studio. Set up the camera on a tripod dead center with perfect lighting, no distractions, no lane markings in the street, no trees behind it or sun streaks coming in at an angle. I donít want to see whatís on either side of the booth so do a nice tight front. And if itís framed art just change the images from year to year. Studio shot booths stand out head and shoulders above even the best outside shot booth shots.
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On Cropping Square for ZAPP
What you see in the art shots but you donít see in the booth shot is a red flag to me. For example, if everything in the art shots is in a square format but then you only see large rectangular framed pieces (and not a single square) in the booth slide. And then if you create panoramics, youíre at a clear disadvantage. I suggest to the panoramic people to crop the ends off but only so far because youíve got to keep them looking panoramic so it doesnít misrepresent the work.
The Artist Statement
Painters may just say ďdone with oilsĒ and photographers may say ďtype c prints from negativesĒ. That's not enough.Tell the jury panel what makes it unique. I suggest that photographers say something like ďshot totally on locationĒ so the jury panel knows what makes it unique. Use up all 100 characters and donít just tell us what we already know by seeing the work. Use common abbreviations whenever possible, like ďb+wĒ means black and white. Just be sure to use abbreviations that everyone knows, as Iíve heard abbreviations read aloud without being expanded so the words didnít make any sense. Thereís not much that you can say in a hundred characters but itís important enough that you should make the best you can of it and assume it will be read. You should also use up all 100 characters. That will help ensure your images stay on screen as long as possible and you want as much screen time as you can get.
Apply Early
Artists applying to ZAPP shows should know that most shows typically sort the applicants by medium in the order in which the application is received, although they can also be sorted alphabetically. If indeed the applicants are sorted by date and time of application, it absolutely behooves the applicant to apply as early in the game as possible. The reason is quite simple. In a show that receives a large number of applicants, like the hundreds that typically apply to shows such as Cherry Creek, Saint Louis or Fort Worth, etc., those who waited until the last day or evening to apply are clearly at a disadvantage. They're at the very end of the jurying procedure for their respective categories. And unless the work is truly a stand-out success with a stand-out difference, in many cases "it's already been seen before" by the jurors and the applicants will quite possibly receive a lower score than he or she would have received had he or she been seen at or near the beginning of the category.
Les Slesnick

Les Slesnick is from the Orlando area and has been a well respected photographer on the circuit for years. Though not doing art shows anymore, he continues his unique series of photographic projects, as can be seen on his web site.

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