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guyatou
26-Dec-2013, 14:31
Hello all --

I've shot for years, but mostly as a photojournalist. In that industry, it's easy to get your work seen by hundreds of thousands (or millions) of people each day.

However, I'd like to gather a collection of my medium format and 4x5 work, and shop it around to some local galleries in Oklahoma City. Ultimately, I'd like to do a small gallery, and offer the photos for sale to the public. Several restaurants, bars (and even the salon where I get coiffed) offer their walls for monthly gallery installations, and there are several independent galleries in the city as well.

The question is, what's the best way to present the work to the gallery owners? Should I print and mat the photos? Should I bring frames? Or is that putting the cart before the horse? Perhaps I should just direct them to a Web site with scans.

Also, the print sizes would have to fit within the space offered, and that would vary by location. But what do you all use for framing? Just standard black 2" frames with a 2" mat? Any good recommendations for affordable mats and frames? Is 16x20 about the standard print size, or should I aim for something smaller?

My goal is to not go broke while putting together an exhibition where things may -- or may not -- sell!

Cheers,

MD

Mike Putnam
18-Feb-2014, 15:06
MD,
I struggled with the same questions and came to the conclusion that the only economical solution for me was to make my own frames. Here's some info on how I make mine. Fine Art Framing. (http://www.mikeputnamphoto.com/framing-my-fine-art-landscape-photographs-a-little-bit-of-blue-collar-bliss) It is pretty time consuming but it saves a lot of money. I don't know if the type of frames I make would go over well in OKC or not but they seem to here in Central Oregon. You might snoop around some of the busier galleries in your area and see what they are doing in terms of framing.
Best Of Luck,
Mike
Oregon Landscape Photography (http://www.mikeputnamphoto.com/)

ROL
18-Feb-2014, 16:20
It used to be that proper presentation (when approaching galleries) was a mark of professionalism. Not so much anymore. It's doubtful anyone will go to your site if they don't know you. IMO, you indeed are putting the cart before the horse. You should be developing relationships with the people you seek to show with. I'll avoid being obviously, though pragmatically, rude here, except to say that the second best way might be to frame works in the arms of a SI bikini model.

Drew Wiley
18-Feb-2014, 17:01
The tales I could tell.... I walked into one of the better-known West Coast photography galleries (no longer around) a number of time, portfolio case in hand, and
they had no time for me. I was fairly young then, but dressed neatly and all that. So then I changed my strategy and put on some torn up old jeans and smeared
green dye into my uncombed hair... Walked into the same gallery... didn't recognize me at all... The owner (a rich 60-ish man in a business suit) asked me if I was
interested in anything. I answered him very rudely and told him to stop bugging me. The ruder I got the more intrigued he was, and I finally admitted I was a photographer. Once he came to the conclusion I was really weird, he offered me an exhibition without even actually seeing a single print! (Airhead! I thought to myself) Posturing, stereotypical role playing... you name it. Not somewhere I personally wanted to do business, esp after I saw a whole stack of vintage prints by somebody famous ruined by mishandling in their back room. But at least I got back there, and scratched that gallery off my list.

Drew Wiley
18-Feb-2014, 17:07
OK ... that was a bit of an off-topic indulgence, but yeah, it's pretty hard to juggle the economics unless you mount and frame your own work... just depends whether the galleries you intend to court go to that trouble themselves, or are more the thumbtack crowd. I always did high-quality frames simply because I enjoyed
making them, and they made my prints look special... just don't go ga-ga over the top. Nothing worse than a photo in a frilly oil painting frame or hyper colored mat
job, unless you're catering to people with no taste to begin with. I've seen it all done, but somehow, the extremes don't appeal to most. Some amt of framing does
help protect from mishandling. I've seen a lot of very expensive prints ruined in very expensive galleries, so don't take anything for granted.

ROL
18-Feb-2014, 19:01
It used to be that proper presentation (when approaching galleries) was a mark of professionalism.

At the last gallery show I "attended", Time Space Gallery, unrolled their large Chinese inkjet (scuzé, pigment) prints and push pinned them to the wall. Some had visible water stains on them. Still, as images, I thought they were quite beautiful.



Hey, now I'm quoting myself – weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

ROL
18-Feb-2014, 19:14
Also, the print sizes would have to fit within the space offered, and that would vary by location. But what do you all use for framing? Just standard black 2" frames with a 2" mat? Any good recommendations for affordable mats and frames? Is 16x20 about the standard print size, or should I aim for something smaller?

If you choose to show around matted prints you probably want to stay small, no larger than 11x14, as that mats well to 16x20, the largest size you probably get on an ordinary table or desk – unless your forté is very large prints.


Just standard black 2" frames with a 2" mat?

??? – You may find this (http://www.rangeoflightphotography.com/pages/Fine%20Art%20Print%20Presentation) of some value.

AtlantaTerry
18-Feb-2014, 19:27
Perhaps I should just direct them to a Web site with scans.

I, too, come from a photojournalism background. When I lived in Pittsburgh in the '70s, I convinced the bank branch that was just down the street from my studio to allow me to hang some of my framed portrait work on the walls behind the tellers. I figured that would put my work in front of people with money. :)

Do you want to make some money? If so, may I suggest you hang some large format portraits of children in the hair salon. Not to be sexist, but very likely the women clients will be looking at your work and will want their kids photographed to hang on their walls.

As for most of your questions I can't give you good answers but I would like to say something about showing your work as scans on your website. I don't think that is a good idea because then all people are going to want are the scans. And then you can't say they don't exist. (Is this a result of people owning smart phones and tablets then sharing their images, I dunno.)

I am currently having a problem with this scan stuff myself. I am creating B&W character portraits with my 4x5 cameras of actors in period motion pictures and also people who dress up as fantasy characters to participate in LARP (Live Action Role Playing) on weekends. Plus, I just quoted someone who wanted "unique" B&W portraits. To a person, none of these potential customers are interested in buying large prints "suitable for framing". They want scans. Of course, that means I will miss out on the traditional profits we photographers made/can make with enlargements and framing. Also, it runs the danger that the clients will have crappy drugstore prints made that have my name attached then when the prints fade in a couple years who are they going to blame?

John Kasaian
18-Feb-2014, 20:20
Try hanging an exhibition at juvenile hall. Guaranteed you'll get some free publicity from the local media---maybe interest a gallery or two. Of course you'll probably get your prints ripped off in the process :rolleyes:

Lenny Eiger
19-Feb-2014, 00:12
MD,
I struggled with the same questions and came to the conclusion that the only economical solution for me was to make my own frames. Here's some info on how I make mine. Fine Art Framing. (http://www.mikeputnamphoto.com/framing-my-fine-art-landscape-photographs-a-little-bit-of-blue-collar-bliss) It is pretty time consuming but it saves a lot of money. I don't know if the type of frames I make would go over well in OKC or not but they seem to here in Central Oregon. You might snoop around some of the busier galleries in your area and see what they are doing in terms of framing.
Best Of Luck,
Mike
Oregon Landscape Photography (http://www.mikeputnamphoto.com/)

Beautiful frames. I am an amateur woodworker myself... I like the lighter woods, especially maple... The last set I made were out of spalted maple. I've been making them vertically and it's hard. I think I need a shaper... I find it also takes a long time to polish and coat them. Days of repeated coats.... if only the folks that buy my prints would pay me for all the effort...

Lenny

ShannonG
19-Feb-2014, 17:22
Up untill a year ago when we moved to our new studio,we had a studio/art gallery for 8 years in a busy downtown art district.We had a lot of different mediums including photography and my own paintings,sculpture and photography.We are out of the gallery biz now and just focus on our own art(thank goodness) But anyway to answer your question about getting into a gallery and presentation. Ive had photographers bring in flash drives or disks to view there work,I never looked at those. Gallery's need to see prints in different sizes.dont go high end with frames,(ive learned that the hard way with my own work showing in gallery's).The costumer usually changes the frame anyway to match there room decor..Manny of my customers inquirer to ware to get the frame switched out.Mount and matted prints shrink wrapped always sells best. If one insists on framing there work for a gallery showing just use cheap rail type frames as the print usually ends up in a different frame and the one you put on it ends up in their closet.Al so,really big prints dont sell well in a small gallery seting.start with small mounted and matted prints to test the market.

Kirk Gittings
19-Feb-2014, 19:41
I've been at this since my first show in 72 and going on my hundredth show next year. IMHO there is some pretty odd ideas being floated here. "Mount and matted prints shrink wrapped always sells best." Really? I have never had a show that was not framed properly. No place I show would even allow me to hang prints that were shrink wrapped. "don't go high end with frames. The costumer usually changes the frame anyway to match there room decor." Hang it properly in a good frame and offer it for sale framed or unframed-that is an obvious choice at any gallery. "I would like to say something about showing your work as scans on your website. I don't think that is a good idea because then all people are going to want are the scans. And then you can't say they don't exist." What? How else would you show work on your website-take pictures of your framed prints hanging on a wall? Who does that? No one who has ever bought one of my b&w images via my website has ever asked for a scan (except for my commercial work).

If you are interested in showing somewhere go to that gallery for a couple of shows and see how they want things done BEFORE you approach them. Learn from that and then approach them. Don't bother with galleries that don't present their artists professionally. Such galleries don't get decent prices for their art anyway-a waste of time in terms of generating sales. If you do traditional work don't go to galleries that are cutting edge with very un-traditional ways of presentation-they won't be interested in your work anyway. Learn from what works at the better galleries that show your kind of work. All else is a waste of time if your interest is sales.

ROL
19-Feb-2014, 20:32
Yeah, I'd say there are some odd notions here – not all the responsibility of the responders. As evidenced by my own somewhat unusual multi–quoted responses, the OP was nebulous, and not especially logical in his phrasing and intent. So, I chock up some of the responses to various tangential interpretations of the OPs intent.


ShannonG, I ran (owned) a gallery also, but no longer. I experienced the opposite of you regarding framing. I prefer to offer(ed) my own work unframed (i.e., matted and windowed, ready for framing), but will frame if the customer wants it. The problem for me is that customers almost always want it framed. WYSIWYG possibly, but more likely they just don't want to mess with framing (i.e., ready to hang). I almost never look(ed) at photo websites, but they are a necessary evil. Ya' gotta have one. They are the internet equivalent of a business card. (FYI: making my own something more than a personal gallery site is a challenge I work continually on.)


In any case, my interpretation of the OP was that he basically wanted know the best and various ways to approach galleries for representation. Hauling around a bunch of framed pieces doesn't seem practical to me. The idea is to get your foot in the door any way you can. If interested in your work, I'm sure you'll be welcomed back with your 40"x60" cherry wood framed murals. Galleries love large pieces since they can charge more per wall real estate and compete with digital. But if your already famous, I'm equally sure they will show your jewel-like (:D) 35mm contact prints.

Greg Davis
20-Feb-2014, 06:45
Some of the image links are broken in this article, but it may help. And follow the link within to the other part of it. http://crusadeforart.org/how-to-submit-to-a-gallery/

ShannonG
20-Feb-2014, 07:14
Yes I agree websites are necessary I have 2 of my own and show on 3 other "sale sites". I guess i was just frustrated that my designer framed prints didnt sell much (im talking $400.00 frames with 2 big ones at $700.00,,yup i still have those and switch out prints in them some are at my studio and some at my home,and still take them to art shows)but the prints on the racks sold well.This was the case in my area anyway,,but then agian we sold alot more unframed paintings than photos.and the pottery sold the most.We represented 42 artists,8 of them were photographers. We got into that space becouse we need a studio after movin back from the east coast ware we also had a studio,the land lord wanted retail in the space so we put up a wall and had a gallery in front and studio in the back.Im glad im out of the gallery bizz.Im much happier with my current studio.

AtlantaTerry
20-Feb-2014, 11:08
"I would like to say something about showing your work as scans on your website. I don't think that is a good idea because then all people are going to want are the scans. And then you can't say they don't exist."

What?

How else would you show work on your website-take pictures of your framed prints hanging on a wall? Who does that? No one who has ever bought one of my b&w images via my website has ever asked for a scan (except for my commercial work).

I think there are two differences. A scan of your negative is your working file. A photo of your finished work in a frame on a wall is entirely something different.

My point was that people I am in contact with want my working file.

I think what I may do is merge my scans into frames so the fake images look like finished work. Somewhere around here I think I have an inexpensive piece of software that does that.

Drew Wiley
20-Feb-2014, 11:17
The problem with framing (returning to this sub-topic) is that it's really difficult to make it profitable if you are paying yourself. Most frame shops are better equipped by comparison, and don't pay very well at all, but then they necessarily have to mark up the ingredients pretty high if they're going to survive. So the nice thing about drifting into retirement from my day job is that my shop gear is all paid for, and I'll officially become a bum who can make nice frames at my leisure, and the public dole ends up paying for my labor! Maybe I'll be like the woodworker up the street, who all the hardwood dealers and custom furniture guys give their fancy scraps to. For big prints, however, I prefer metal mouldings just for their linear consistency. Got all that gear too, and I buy all the moulding lengths wholesale. Would like a new Speedmat cutter, however... a lot nicer on my arthritis than my old Logan.

guyatou
20-Feb-2014, 12:12
Wow! This thread has really lit up in the last few days. Glad the dialogue is ongoing. I'm the original poster, and probably should clarify a few things.

First of all, I really appreciate everybody's input. It's a testament to the various ways we can be successful -- there's no one way to do a gallery.

In Oklahoma City (which is not as backwoods as some might think), things probably work a little different than on the coasts. While we have dozens of great museums, we don't have many high-end galleries, and most of my local gallery options are much more relaxed than you might find elsewhere. The gallery I submitted to online this month (Independent Artists of Oklahoma), takes submissions only through their Web site. They tend to focus on more edgy works, so I don't hold out a lot of hope for being accepted at this time. However, just applying was a good exercise, as I haven't done that before.

As far as the salon goes, I'm scheduled to have the month of March to display my work. I'm targeting matted prints in the $100 range, as I don't have any name recognition, and I'm not sure what our market here will bear. I was considering cheap frames just to get the work on the wall. (Hobby Lobby is based in Oklahoma City, and always have cheap options.) But I will prefer selling the prints mounted, matted and shrink-wrapped. If they sell well, I'll up my target price at the next show.

I also have a few 4x5 Rockland dry-plate tintypes to display, I'm trying to come up with a good framing options for that. I will price them a little higher, as they are in-camera originals.

Sadly, I work out of my very small house, and don't have a dedicated workshop/studio space where I could build my own frames -- at least not yet. Also, none of the photo printers around here optically print 4x5 negatives anymore, and sending them out to Dallas or Houston would cause my print prices to skyrocket. At one point I did make RA4 prints at home, but it was way too time consuming (as I was self-taught by trial and error).

Thanks to everybody who has posted with these great responses so far, and I look forward to the other wisdom you all have to share!

Cheers,

MD

jp
20-Feb-2014, 13:28
I have not found cheap store frames to be worth dealing with. Usually get poorly aligned wood/metal, damaged glass, etc... The cheap metal internet/mail-order (niesen style) are much better.

If you can offer some framing options to go with your $100 experimental price, that will help you determine what the market can bear. Honestly, I wouldn't personally be interested in making photos that sell for less than their frames, but that's me and I'm not into photography for business.It's kind of like buying something online and spending more to ship it than it's worth. If people will buy $300 frames to go with the $100 photos, I'd sell $300 photos in $100 frames, at least in my mind.