Like most photographers who are passionate about what they capture through the lens, we are exposed to some amazing treats and visual landscapes across all spheres from street photography to portraiture, from abstract to fine art. We share similar dreams and goals to be on the walls of a famous and credible gallery where like-minded critics and art consumers appreciate and commend you on your work. Follow the right steps and plan properly and you could be one of the fortunate people to reach their dreams.

In a nutshell, it takes planning, money and a lot of sweat and hard work. In today’s economy the market has shrunk, there is an abundance of great photographers out there with similar goals which adds to these factors. Believe in yourself and your work and anything is possible. Remember photography and style is personal and you have your own signature as a brand. There will be those out there who love your work and those that don’t. If you answer to failure and criticism you might as well not waste your time trying, but for those with the passion and drive to achieve this, it is certainly possible, like everything in life, you have to work for it and its about what you put into it.

Here are some guidelines to assist you:

Have a theme in mind

It is important that you decide on the body of work you are wanting to exhibit… and stick to a theme. Many photographers will see this as an opportunity to exhibit and display many genres of their work. This seldom proves successful as too greater a variety of work results in people losing track of the “main attraction,” and the ability to focus on a theme is limited and obscured by too many thoughts. Your work will tend to flow towards a direction of entertainment, rather than the experience that you are anticipating.

How to proceed in finding the appropriate space

Do some investigation and research. Start by shortlisting a selection of galleries that fit your style and will attract your demographic. If this is your first time, the larger more established galleries might be reluctant to accommodate you until such time as you are more established in the “photographic world”. The larger more established galleries also come at a price and demand large commissions on your sales and rely on the critics from their selected database and demographic.

It is often a better idea to start small in order to build a data base and establish a name. Personal and smaller styled boutique exhibitions provide a platform to establish relationships and build a loyal database. People get to know and understand you and your style. These informal smaller exhibitions are the trend, not only are they more cost effective, but the competition as well as the number of exhibitors is less. This provides great opportunities to market yourself and identify your target market.

Build relationships with your suppliers

As I am sure you are aware, there are many costs involved that need to be considered. Your work needs to be “spot on” in terms of presentation. Framing and choice of paper is key, and this certainly comes at a cost, not to mention the quality of the print. It definitely helps to establish sound relationships to equip you with what you will need to spend to achieve the look and feel you desire. There are no short cuts here, you need to go that extra mile in order to impress and make a name for yourself, remember the entirety is all about visual expectations. Your intention is to provide 110% and sell your work.

The Gallery of Choice

Location is important, make sure it is situated in an area that attracts this type of market, arty of trendy, and of course will not be frequented by the “cheap wine and peanut” brigade that are just looking for something to do to fill their day.

Ensure that the gallery has a footprint which provides a good flow within the space, that it has an atmosphere that fits your work and that people will feel comfortable and welcomed when they attend your exhibition.

Very importantly is the gallery space located for your work, make sure it has high foot traffic ensuring your work will not be missed or neglected by your invited guests. Gallery lighting is also key. A credible gallery will support good lighting, your images will need to be well lit, positioning and colour temperature is important as you cannot afford to have shadows or glare. Even light at the correct temperature and positioned properly, is what you looking for before you commit to any space or location.

Be very clear with the owner of the gallery regards to your needs and expectations and scrutinize the contact before signing. Remember, the gallery also needs to generate a profit, so read and understand the “small print”.

Marketing your Photography Exhibition

Initially, once you have chosen your work and costed the occasion, you will need to have your work professionally photographed for online and print exposure through your relevant groups and platforms.  It is about quality of reach, not about how many people I can reach. Be specific in your choice of media, as advertising can be costly and should be part of the budget. Ask your gallery how they are going to assist in this regard, as they also want “buyers”, focus on your specific sector, there location, interests, age, income group etc …

Finally, the catering. A good drinking wine, along with a variety of easy to consume snacks is all you need as well as an experienced barman who is able to facilitate and keep guest happy. Keep your introduction short, yet personal, let people get to know what you are about and make them feel welcome, so mingle.

The rest is up to you, just know the show is not over once everyone goes home, you need to allocate precious time and effort into after sales service by thanking all for attending. This will help build a data base which is important for further exhibitions and commissioned work that follows.

Now go do it.