We live in a photographic world where it is very easy to keep our images to ourselves. I know I am at fault for this a lot! I will go out, shoot a ton of pictures, come home, post process them and that’s it, I’m done. Maybe I will post some on my blog, maybe I will put some on social media, but I rarely print my images. It is not because I don’t like them, it is because I rarely have a place to put them.
15 years ago if we even wanted to see our photographs we had to print them out. The digital photo was not very accessible unless you had a huge budget. Even then the prints were not that great as the best digital cameras of the time were only 1 megapixel at best. So we used film, we got that film developed and we looked at physical prints. Now we have elaborate digital cameras that make brilliant images, but where do we put them?
In some cases I will print out my images in various mediums; aluminum, canvas, metallic paper, etc. I may even buy a frame and hang them in my house. I often get the itch to show my work on a larger scale to a much wider audience than my family. Local galleries can be difficult to get into as they already have a well-established artist list. So where do I show my work?
Last year, I had a gig at a local restaurant, The Cashew. They wanted to join in on the First Friday festivities. It was only one night, but it sure was a great way to get out there and show some work!
This year I am showing in another restaurant, however, it is a 3 month opportunity. Lidia’s Italian Restaurant in Kansas City always has fresh art on their walls, it is no surprise as they are only a block away from most of the First Friday action. When I first went into Lidia’s it was not to ask them if I could show my work there, it was a meeting with a potential client that I was going to do some photo and video work for.
I was introduced to the General Manager who quickly found out I was a photographer. I mentioned the great work on the walls and he said something to the effect of:
“There is always fresh local art on the walls, I need an artist for October through December. Are you interested?” … Of course I was interested!
The Opening Reception will be on October 2nd from 4-6 PM in Lidia’s Italian Restaurant in Kansas City.
6 Tips for showing your photos outside the gallery:
- First and foremost, pay attention to the walls in local establishments; restaurants, bars, coffee shops. If you see art hanging on the walls, especially if it has a tag that looks like the one below, ask to speak with the Manager. Many times the Manager will have the final say as to what goes on the wall, but if they do not, they know the person that does! When you find the person who has that say, just ask if they will be interested in displaying your work. It never hurts to ask!
- Always carry a sample of your work with you wherever you go! I am not saying you have to carry a print or a photo book with you, that is way too bulky and cumbersome. I always have my 10 best images on my phone and my tablet. It is one thing to have an updated online gallery, but you may not always have internet access. Make sure those digital copies are in a folder in your phone’s gallery so they can be accessed without an internet connection. It is like having your art show in a live preview, accessible anywhere. You can show potential venues your work with the click of a button or two.
- Carry a Photography Business Card with you wherever you go. I know this can be a pain, especially if you have a full time job with another business card that identifies you. Think of it this way though, you want to have something that shows your style of work and leaves the potential ‘gallery’ with an impression of you, but more importantly your ART. If you hand them a card for your Insurance Sales business it won’t have a lasting effect. This is my Photography Business Card below. While it is minimal it shows my work, my websites, my name and email. If they want to see more, they can always go to the websites.
- Price your work to sell. Many galleries have a monthly fee or take a percentage of the sale (sometimes both). I was in a gallery once that required $400 per month and they also withheld 40% of the sale for their display charge. Many venues that show art outside from galleries do not charge to display your images on the wall. Keep this factor in mind when you price your images. Certainly you will want to cover the cost of the print, the time it took you to create the image and maybe even factor in the mileage to hang the images.
- Scope out the venue for logistics. Whether you do this before or after you have gotten the go ahead to display your work, it is a great idea to know the size of the walls (to make the proper prints) and what the walls are made of (for hanging logistics). Lidia’s is pretty much entirely brick and mortar. It would have been very challenging if I walked in there with a hammer and some nails. I knew what I was up against beforehand so I brought my drill and some anchors and screws. Prior to hanging the work I discussed the option to drill into the mortar with the Manager.
- Always Follow-Up! This one may seem self-explanatory, but it could be the difference between your work being displayed at the local venue or sitting in your basement. As soon as I went home after meeting the GM of Lidia’s I sent him an email reminding him who I was, what my work looked like (in an attachment) and where he could find more of my images. I also thanked him for the opportunity and mentioned I was looking forward to hearing from him.