Last night, I had my very first gallery exhibit. In describing the experience on my blog, I keep repeating words like “amazing.” “Exhilarating.” “Humbling.” It was one of my goals for 2009, and I have to say, I’ve now been bitten by the bug: I want more! More! For those of you who’ve ever dreamt of attending a gallery opening of your own work, I highly recommend it.
This morning, I was trying to think of how this opportunity came to me (and how I can make it happen again), and admittedly, there was a great deal of luck involved. But I did do a few things that I think helped the luck along, so I thought I’d share them here with you, in case you’re ever of the mind to pursue a gallery opportunity. And so, in no particular order:
1. Join an organization. As soon as I quit my job to pursue writing and photography full time, one of the first thing I did was join the American Society for Media Photographers as well as a local organization, Spacetaker. At the time, my motivation to join these organization was mostly to connect with other photographers, and hopefully find a mentor; however, I admit that I have yet to attend one local meeting. Still, I think the gallery where my work is currently being exhibited contacted one of these organizations and got their e-mail list, which is how I managed to receive an e-mail (along with countless other local photographers, I imagine), informing us of their upcoming photography show, and inviting us to submit. It turns out that joining a local organization is a great way to “get your name out there.”
2. Shoot with projects in mind. One of the things I’ve done recently is to shoot with projects in mind: if I come up with an idea for a project, or I’m about to experience something new, I don’t just shoot one image, but I shoot a series of images. For example, the work that appeared in the show last night was the result of a series of shots I did when visiting a friend’s ranch for the first time (and using my Kodak Duaflex viewfinder for the shots, to give them a special effect). When the gallery contacted me, I therefore had a body of work ready to go to pitch to them as an idea for an exhibit. Happily, they accepted.
3. Group your projects together, and get them up on a website. On my particular website, I have a section entitled “Projects” where the projects of which I’m most proud live. Admittedly, my website is pretty fancy, but I don’t think it has to be. Many blogging software programs have “gallery” options for photographs, and there are some great websites that are designed just for photographers (SmugMug comes to mind). The point is to put your projects somewhere where you can send a potential gallery a link for them to look through the images at their leisure.
And that’s pretty much what I did — again, in my case, serendipity had a lot to do with it. I’d love to hear what those of you who are more seasoned did to get your first gallery showing — please share in the comments. And for those of you who’ve never shown your work publicly, is this something you dream of doing? What additional tips might you all have to share?