BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Kim S. Huazano

showing work at a gallery

I have a decent sized body of work and I wanted to know what exactly one does to get a show at a gallery? How do I start making contact? What do I need to have ready other than mounted/framed work?

To love this question, log in above
8/2/2002 3:45:50 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001

Do you have any galleries in mind? Do they show photographs? Have you been to one or more gallery show opening receptions, especially ones that show fine art photography? If you haven't done this, start now.

You may have superb photographs, but you don't have a "name" within fine art circles; other artists, gallery owners/directors, or fine art patrons. You need to becom "known" to them by face and name. Likewise, you also need to know who most of them are. It's done through basic "networking."

Target galleries that show photographers' works. Get your name on their mailing lists so you will know when show openings occur. Mix with people at the openings, read the Artists' Statements and talk to the artists for a few minutes (as well as others who are there). Show interest in their work and ask a few questions about it. Most are more than happy to discuss some of the technical details about how and why they create what they do. It's not a time to talk about getting your own show there, but to network socially so your face and name become recognizable with artists, gallery owners and those who patronize the fine arts.

It's also an opportunity to look at how works are presented; general framing, matting and glazing. Each artist has their own specific style, but there's a common thread. Fine art photographs are presented very differently compared to how most people would frame a photograph for display. It must be done using the best archival and conservation materials, and methods (you may already be saavy to this).

You should have a portfolio of your work prepared to show a gallery owner or director. This is the person who makes decisions about who to show and when and you need to find out who that is. It's not difficult, just go to the gallery at a time *other* than an opening reception and ask (opening receptions are a special time for the artist whose show is opening). Be ready to make an appointment to show your portfolio. If you have works already suitably mounted and framed, be certain to mention that. Shows are normally scheduled far in advance. As an "unknown" they will undoubtedly want to see your finished works (ready to hang) to ensure you are up to their presentation standards. Showing a portfolio is not unlike a job interview. Be prepared to discuss the gist of an Artist's Statement about your portfolio; why you made your photographs and what you intend to convey to their viewers through them. *Real* fine art has a purpose of some type. It need not be intensely profound, but there should be something. Although I'm a firm believer that art should stand strong enough on its own that a viewer intuitively derives its intended "message" I will title works to nudge viewers in the intended direction.

Hope this helps you get started, and good luck.

-- John

To love this comment, log in above
8/4/2002 11:36:43 PM

Log in to respond or ask your own question.