The secret to Shutter Hub's unconventional photography exhibitions

Shutter Hub OPEN 2018 PV

If you found yourself picking up a camera again (or for the first time) during lockdown, you may be looking for a way to share your images beyond Instagram.

Meet Shutter Hub.

The UK-based organisation supports photographers at all stages of their careers, from leading professionals to those just starting out. Through their website and creative exhibitions, Shutter Hub provides a platform for photographers to promote their work and make connections in the industry.

Shutter Hub OPEN 2018, The Old Truman Brewery

Shutter Hub OPEN 2018 at The Old Truman Brewery, London. Photograph by Jayne Lloyd.

We’ve been working with Shutter Hub since 2018, when they came to us with an idea for something unique: 220 posters printed on newsprint for an exhibition at London Photomonth. It was a huge success and since then we’ve worked together to share work from Shutter Hub members in unconventional spaces — from a community centre in Camden to a street art festival in Rotterdam

Below, Shutter Hub’s projects director Jayne Lloyd tells us how using newsprint has made their exhibitions more accessible and helped to grow their community.

EVERYDAY DELIGHT

Shutter Hub's EVERYDAY DELIGHT exhibition at Free Space Project, Kentish Town Health Centre, London. Photograph by Jayne Lloyd.

The challenge

Shutter Hub has been holding exhibitions since 2014 and for a long time these consisted of framed works supplied by the photographers taking part. This type of exhibition involves all sorts of considerations and costs:

    • The photographer has to get the work printed and framed, and framing choices are often limited by the resources of the photographer. 
    • The organiser has to be at the venue on a set day ready to collect the work, then attach the work to the wall. Some venues have fixings in place for this, while others charge you for every nail you put in the wall. There can also be additional insurance costs. 
    • At the end of the exhibition, the photographer has to arrange to collect or courier their work back to them. Proximity to the venue often limited which photographers could take part. 

We knew there had to be a better way. 

What if everyone submitted their images online and Shutter Hub organised the printing?

What if we used a print format that could be attached to the walls without damaging them – and once the exhibition was finished, the prints could easily be recycled so there was as little waste as possible?

We’d only have to charge a small entry fee to cover the costs, so there’d be no further expense to the photographers and they could enter from anywhere in the world. 

Newsprint seemed to tick all the boxes. We were big fans of Newspaper Club and wondered if they could produce single sheet posters that we could exhibit. Shutter Hub founder Karen Harvey met with their wonderful team to discuss whether it might be possible. They were up for the challenge so we set up the call for entries for our 2018 OPEN taking this approach to see what happened.

Shutter Hub OPEN 2018, The Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane © Jay

Shutter Hub OPEN 2018 at The Old Truman Brewery, London. Photograph by Jayne Lloyd.

Making exhibitions more accessible

The Shutter Hub OPEN 2018 was held at the Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, London (pictured above). We brought all the prints on the train in a suitcase and with a laser level and electrical tape set about plastering the walls with 220 images by 150 photographers.

It was a corker, and we’ve never looked back! Over 500 people came to see the private view, with many thousands of visitors throughout the week and lots of wonderful connections made. 

Many of the photographers we showcased shared the same question: “Will it look any good?” And the answer turned out to be, "Yes, better than you could have ever imagined!"

STREET / FORM

Shutter Hub exhibition with POW! WOW! Rotterdam. Photograph by Jayne Lloyd.

The feedback was amazing and we were invited to take the show for an encore in Amsterdam. Since then we’ve used newsprint for exhibitions at the University of Cambridge, Free Space London and POW! WOW! Rotterdam in the Netherlands (pictured above).

Newsprint is not for all situations and it won’t suit everyone, but at Shutter Hub our aim is to give high quality exhibition opportunities to as many photographers as possible, and punchy, democratic newspaper does that beautifully! 

EVERYDAY DELIGHT

Shutter Hub's EVERYDAY DELIGHT exhibition at Free Space Project, Kentish Town Health Centre, London. Photograph by Jayne Lloyd.

Supporting the photography community

Like everyone, we’ve had to make big changes to our plans this year due to coronavirus. We were due to tour our Postcards from Great Britain exhibition in mainland Europe and hold the OPEN 2020 in Amsterdam, to name just two, but as a primarily online organisation we’ve found ways to adapt and provide extra support and opportunities to photographers. 

We set up 20 Shutter Hub membership bursaries available to photographers looking for more support at this difficult time. We also found a way to hold pop-up exhibitions, including our popular EVERYDAY DELIGHT exhibition with an online edition and an exciting Windows Edition with beautiful newsprint posters going on display in windows across the UK.

We also thought a lot about all of the cancelled degree shows and what we could do to help photographers who are missing the opportunities those shows lead to. We came up with a plan and launched YEARBOOK – a degree show for all photographers, not just graduates. Over 200 photographers entered and each of them had at least one image included in a beautiful online exhibition. 

shutter-hub-YEARBOOK

Photographs includes in Shutter Hub's YEARBOOK online exhibition.

We’re selecting 100 images to publish in a print edition of YEARBOOK 2020, which we are of course printing as a newspaper with the fantastic Newspaper Club. We’ll be sending copies to industry experts and making it available to buy.

It has been an absolute pleasure to partner with Newspaper Club on these projects, and we’re delighted that they have come on board as a Shutter Hub sponsor too, supporting many more exciting exhibitions as we go forward.


Learn more about Shutter Hub and how you can get involved on their website.

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