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From Cyber Space to the Real World – The Print Swap Holiday Exhibition


The Print Swap began as an idea on Instagram, an easy way for photographers to collect prints from other photographers. As with other Instagram innovations, The Print Swap has crossed the cyberspace bridge into the real world. This year The Print Swap has held exhibitions at the Indian Photography Festival in Hyderabad, Photoville in New York and the London Art Fair. Now The Print Swap returns for its second holiday exhibition and party at Root Studios in Brooklyn for one day only on 13 December.

Founder Australian Alison Zavos, who is also behind Feature Shoot, says The Print Swap was started “to bring photographers together, from all different backgrounds, in a tangible way. I just thought it would be a cool experience for say a photographer in Dubai to open their mailbox and find a surprise print from a photographer in Costa Rica”.

Collecting prints is an anonymous process in as much as the person receiving the photograph doesn’t know which picture they will receive until it arrives. All prints are fully credited and come with a bio on the photographer whose print they receive. In addition, they discover where in the world their own print is going.

By using Instagram to promote the collecting of physical photographs The Print Swap is tapping into the phenomenal popularity of the platform and also challenging it. Zavos says the tangible nature of the printed image can be transformative creating “a real connection to photography. We are so accustomed to “liking” images and then moving on quickly to the next bright, shiny thing posted. Seeing a printed image is a totally different, and much more meaningful experience than seeing it online”.

Zavos says the exhibitions are more about exposure than revenue. “(We want) to get the work of participating Print Swap photographers seen by a wider audience. Sometimes we sell work at shows and sometimes not, it really depends on the venue and audience”.

Photographers at all levels of experience are welcome to hashtag their images #theprintswap on Instagram for consideration. “We make no distinction between amateur and professional. We look at only the image when deciding whether or not to include a particular photographer, not a CV”.

Once an image has been selected by The Print Swap curators, the photographer pays $40 to participate, which covers the printing and shipping of the 8×10” print. The Print Swap covers all exhibition costs.

Most of the exhibitions are curated by professionals and include gallerists, photographers and photo editors. “I like to choose curators that have some sort of a connection to the place where we are holding the exhibition and we leave it open for the curators to choose the imagery that they resonate with the most. They don’t curate from Instagram, so they are not influenced by the “likes” or lack thereof”.

The images chosen for this year’s holiday exhibition, which is The Print Swap’s 9threal world outing, are an exception. This is the first time that everyphotographer who submitted during the open call will be included. Expect to see a lot of photos!

Alison Stieven-Taylor


Root Studios

6-8pm December 13 – a one day only event

131 North 14th Street, Brooklyn

Instagram @theprintswap


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