There is no such thing as an ordinary face - and if you think there is, you aren't looking close enough.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

How to stick photos to a wall

I was in a considerably better frame of mind on Wednesday (the fact it was a beautifully sunny day certainly helped), which is more than could be said for Adrian, the Festival Director.

I didn’t find out the details, but when he arrived at The Hut this morning, he’d clearly had a run in with someone not long before. However, I give him full credit for being up for the idea of allowing that grievance to barrel straight down the lens of the camera.

To avoid the fixed-grin camera-face most people have as soon as the camera appears, I’ve been asking people to stare intensely into the lens, as it nearly always makes for a much more interesting photo. Some really struggle, but most get there in the end. And every now and then you catch someone who has all the emotion right at their fingertips.

Festival Director, Adrian

I’m now over halfway through the Festival and what has become clear is I miscalculated how many photos I thought I would be able to get. Partly I underestimated the amount of wall space available in The Hut, and partly I overestimated how much time it would take to chat to people, warm them up, get them on board, get them to fill out a form, take the photos, edit the photos, print the photos, get the photos stuck to the wall of The Hut, convert the photos to web-sized images with my watermark on them, and finally upload them to Facebook and Flickr.

The actual amount of time I spend lining up the camera and going ‘click’ 3 or 4 times is only about 15 seconds. Everything else probably averages out at about 20 to 25 minutes per person.

Back during Spring Fling, at my peak I managed about 50 portraits in a day. However, everyone was coming to me (I wasn’t having to go out and recruit), and I had an assistant to explain to visitors what was going on, convert them to the cause, fill in the paperwork and stick the photos to the walls.

Now I’m managing about 15 per day. However, accumulatively this now means I have about 90 photos on the walls and it’s starting to look good.

Another problem I was faced with was how to stick the photos to the walls.

I began with the idea of drawing pins (thumbtacks), but the board density is too high – it took so much pressure to push one in, by the time I’d stuck one image to the wall, my thumbs were sore.

From then on I started using blu-tack. The problem here is I know from experience it has a wall-life of about a week or so, and then the photos will start peeling off.

A few days ago I tried using panel pins with a hammer, but the boards wobbled so much, I feared they would break before I could successfully hammer them in. Someone mentioned using a photo-mount spray, but then someone else said that didn’t have a particularly long wall life either.

However, writer-in-residence, Robert Twigger, immediately suggested a staple gun as soon as I told him of my difficulties. Perfect. Why didn’t I think of that before?

So last night, David and Jennifer – a couple of the Interns at the Festival – helped take down all the blu-tacked photos and I stapled them all back on the wall.

This also gave me the excuse to spread them out a little more, as I’d been over optimistic when I began and started overlapping them when putting them up. This would have resulted in barely covering one wall, which would have seriously dented the impact of the exhibition.

My favourite hang-out during the Festival when I’m not in The Hut, is The Writer’s Retreat - which is a sort of Green Room for visiting authors. As well as being comfy, it’s quite a good place to recruit faces for the project. Not only can I talk them into it, I can use the natural light from the large Georgian windows to take their portraits. The one of Rab Wilson in the last post being a good example.

Writer’s Retreat (devoid of writers at that precise moment…)

Don't forget, to see the latest portraits, visit the Facebook or Flickr photo collections.


  1. Brilliant photographs Kim. You must be exhausted. Your heart and soul seems to be in each picture alongside the "sitter". Fantastic work. Em :)

  2. Thanks Em - I go through waves of enthusiasm, excitement and exhaustion, but I try to make a connection with each person I photograph :)

  3. You're obviously connecting! :)


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