The Print Swap

Why do we want to share our work?

Or perhaps the question might be,
Why do we need to show and share our work?

For most of us, it’s not fame or fortune that drives us to seek an audience. After all, very few of us can expect such an outcome.

But there are other explanations for our desire to be known. There is something deeply affirming about sharing what we do, what we love, and who we are – especially when that show-and-tell is staged against a backdrop of compassion. We need feedback and critics to grow and learn. We need encouragement that we are on the right track. We need to connect with our community – the people who get us.

The need to belong is as essential to us as the need to breathe.

Understanding this need to be known, I was intrigued by The Print Swap.

From The Print Swap website, here’s How It Works.

Photographers from around the world and across all genres are invited to submit images via Instagram to be considered for the print swap. To submit, please hashtag your images #theprintswap. If your photo is chosen, you will get to swap your photo, which we will have professionally printed, with another photographer who is also in the swap.
The photographers involved will each give and receive a print. Part of the fun is that the print everyone gets are chosen at random, which means the print you receive in the mail will be a total surprise.
There is no submission fee to enter; however, if your image is chosen, there is a one-time cost of $40, which will be paid via Submittable at the same time you upload your high res file for print. There are no additional costs beyond that, and we will take care of everything else, including printing and shipping the selected images.
All images submitted must be able to be printed at 8.5x11 inches. All prints will be beautifully printed in Brooklyn by our friends at Skink Ink in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
The print swap is a fun new way to add some photography to your own walls AND have your work seen by other photographers around the world.

Initially, I was hesitant about the whole spend $40 and get a random print. After all, I could just go shopping for a print from a favorite artist. But the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. On some level, I was just tickled that my photograph was accepted – a little validation that my photograph was worthy. Beyond that, I came to see the swap not only as a way of collecting amazing photography, but also as a means of engaging with photographers around the world. A way to know others and be known. Another means of building community.

In a recent post, David duChemin delves into this question of being known, and he asks thoughtful questions.

Why do I want an audience? To what end? What will having 20K or 1M followers give me that I don’t have now? What opportunities am I really looking for? It’s probably not about the followers but about what having those followers means to you, what it can give you.
What do I want to be known for?
Am I creating work right now that reflects that? Am I really ready? You have one shot at making a first impression – don’t rush it.

I’m thrilled with the print I received – “London,” by photographer Dan Gaba (@dangaba). Curious to know more about Dan, I found a great interview on PhotoVoice.

What is your greatest achievement as a photographer?
If I could take a candid pic and help the subject feel good about themselves, help them see themselves as they would like to be seen, in a way they didn’t know they could be seen, that would be good. Whenever I do that, I’ve achieved something.

Doesn't he sound like a person you'd want to know? I think so.

I'm looking forward to meeting more amazing photographers through the next Print Swap.

Join in the fun; I'd love to meet you.