As an act of self-promotion, I mounted the world’s shortest photo exhibit and invited people to make off with my art
The majority of content creators live in over-saturated media landscapes and that is a huge problem for professional photographers. Whether we like it or not, we are contributing to the noise. Currently, the supply of images far outweighs demand. The world won’t see you if you’re not waving. I didn’t want to bore or spam people with my self-promotion so I tried to conjure something that would be different and fun. Most importantly, it had to be something that people could take part in and gain something from. My aim with this story is to inspire you to think differently.
Some call it “The World’s Shortest Photo Exhibition” but I call it Steal My Photograph! (SMP). It’s a travelling, interactive exhibition where I literally encourage an audience to steal my framed photographs in a public environment. Above is the official video containing highlights from SMP London. Below it is the online teaser video for the SMP London -event.
Teaser video, SMP London (2013).
SMP marked my first attempt at breaking through the attention barrier. To my amazement the art thieves nabbed all of the art in 30 seconds! We filmed the whole thing. As a marketing strategy, it was nothing if not fresh. This got me press! I also shared conversations with the participants and the dialogue continued to simmer on social media.
Some examples of the photos that I've happily received from participants of "Steal My Photograph" (2012-2014). It brings a wide smile to my face, knowing that my framed photos found caring homes thanks to their new owners.
Brilliant ideas can spread like wildfire over the Internet but brilliant ideas needn’t be in service of a BIG production. Modest and memorable works just as well. What matters is that your idea is original. Sometimes you don’t have to be the biggest and best, if you are the first. This video shows unexpected art thefts taking place in Barcelona (2013).
On occasion I coordinated SMP events to coincide with local art festivals and local volunteers helped me organise more thefts. SMP showed at “Infecting The City” in Cape Town and at “The Night of The Arts” in Helsinki, both with great response.
In the video highlights you’ll see audience-members react to being permitted to steal art. This moment and this realisation is an emotional turn, and I think that helps the event — and my name behind it — stay in the memory. The goal to marketing is to embed in people’s memory, and I think SMP does a fine job in this department.