Viewing of slides

Here’s a silly question: when a gallery or jury is viewing slides as
submissions, do the majority of them view the slides projected on a
large screen? A handheld viewer? A lightbox with a loupe? I’d just
like to try to view mine in the same manner as they do. Thanks.

well …well… it isn’t a silly question, you may think that there
is a protocol for all galleries to follow, sort of an unspoken rule,
but to my horror I had found out that one gallery in NYC in the 90’s
had so many portfolios to check that the director would stand over a
trash can and start opening the mail to check slides/sheets holding
them up to the light ,each person had between 3 to 6 seconds to make
an impression if you didn’t pass ;out you went, or down you went, I
had heard similar stories from different artist friends ,that the
Galleries had so many to chose from that they wanted to spend the
least amount of time spent sifting through slides, I have a gallery
owner friend in Philadelphia who was showing me his desk, a foot high
of portfolios stacked ,adding and this is just this week ,every week
it’s the same, my advice would be always call before you send
anything and check if they have any time to look and what means are
they using to view the imagery. the other side of this topic is ,I
had a photographer friend trying the same as any to get in the door
of galleries ,he after a while figured is better off sending in 2x2
slides or 4x5 transparencies ,so that way they wouldn’t need any
equipment, and the color and image is much more saturated and clear.
he did get in. good luck Hratch

When a gallery or jury is viewing slides as submissions, do the
majority of them view the slides projected on a large screen? A
handheld viewer? A lightbox with a loupe? 

Hi Alan, It’s not a silly question at all but there isn’t one
answer. It all depends on the particular circumstance. If a show is
juried by the promoter – what I call self-juried – then chances are
the images are viewed on a light box.

If it’s what I call a panel jury – where professionals from outside
the organization do the viewing – then chances are the slides are
projected simultaneously on a large screen. This is how
organizations like ACC do it for instance. There is a trend in
today’s technological age, however, for panel juries to view images
on a computer. I believe it’s the Smithsonian Craft Show that began
this year to require electronic image submission.

As for galleries, I expect most view slides on a light box, though
it wouldn’t surprise me if some used a handheld viewer (or even their
hands to hold the slides up to a light!). Unless slides are
requested (some galleries publish submission guidelines), I always
send prints to galleries myself. It makes viewing a lot easier.

My guess is that in a few years, we’ll all be submitting images
electronically but until that time comes, you need to be prepared
for all contingencies and variables. So view your slides every way
you can. A slide that looks good projected on a screen will most
likely look fine on a light box but it’s not always true the other
way around.


When I helped out at an art festival five slides were all projected
onto screens side by side at the same time. Some art fairs will let
you view the jurying process. It’s very educational. It’s rare to
have enough equipment to view slides in this manner. You will notice
things that you might not have otherwise. KPK

I have helped curate some juried shows, and the slides are projected
on a screen. I have also discovered that I have to project my slides
for a critical review, as I once used a slide that looked fine in a
handheld viewer, but was washed out when projected. I was accepted to
the show - it must have been on faith alone- but my work was not
reproduced in the catalogue. Alana Clearlake

Alan, You can pretty much bet that slides viewed by a gallery
director, manager, owner, etc. are held up, in a group, in their
slide jacket, to a flourescent ceiling fixture or a window-- whatever
convenient light source is immediately at hand. If the work is
interesting to them it might be placed on a slide table and then
louped; but rarely, except in the case of juried exhibitions and
calls for entry, would an image be projected. Bear this in mind when
choosing slides for submission. (I’m sure that there are a few
galleries who do project slides and would find fault w/ my

Galleries receive many slide submissions and in the course of a busy
day must weed out what they consider to be worth more of their time.
It is crucial that images of an artist’s work be professional in
composition and technique, w/ uncluttered backgrounds and well lit.
Never underestimate the power of a good slide!

At the large shows, such as ACE shows, all five slides are projected
simultaneously. This info is available, as is the exact arrangement,
on some applications. I don’t know how galleries do it. Jan

when a gallery or jury is viewing slides as submissions, do the
majority of them view the slides projected on a large screen? A
handheld viewer? A lightbox with a loupe? 

dear agolden - when possible i like to attend potential shows that
have sent applications to me before actually applying & considering
the quality of some of the work i’ve seen at ‘fine art’ shows they
could well have been viewed projected onto a dirty wall while
backlit by small candle. advice: check out your slides through all
of the possible slide viewing permutations.


In the art fair source book they tell you (when the is
available) the pattern in which the slides are projected at the
show. i.e. Five in a straight row, or 3 on top and 2 on the bottom.
I have been at slide viewings where the judges had about 3-5 seconds
to judge each set of slides…thus the reason subtlety tends to fall
by the wayside in the slides you pick for the jury process. Some flip
through all the slides quickly first to give the judges an idea of
over all quality before they go back more slowly and jury.

I have been to 3 galleries in the past 6 months with my slides, I
made appointments first although not all galleries will see you this
way. One held them up to the light, and two had those fuzzy slide
viewers with 4" screens where it would be difficult to judge quality.