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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Getting Into Galleries

How to catch the eye of a curator and get your work exhibited

Labels: How-To
Do's And Don'ts For Submitting Your Work To A Gallery


1. Follow the gallery's protocol, i.e., read and respect the application process.
2. Treat the staff as you would treat the curator, director and owners. Galleries are a small family, and everything you do is noticed and shared within that family.
3. Resubmit annually. Your work is constantly changing and evolving, as is what the gallery is looking for. In addition, the curator will watch your work grow and this may spark their interest.
4. Have clear projects that you're working on and evolving. Doing the same thing over and over again is a great practice to work out your style and vision, but once you have a sense of style in your imagery, it's time to apply it to a bigger picture or concept.
5. Maintain a current website, and keep up with technology. Everything is digital now. Submitting actual prints typically is no longer accepted.
6. Edit your work, and ask strangers to edit your work. This is key. Friends, family and colleagues have a vested interest in you; strangers are unbiased.
7. Be prepared for rejection. It's part of the job.


1. Call and harass gallery staff as to the review of your portfolio.
2. Show up at another artist's reception and monopolize the curator or staff in trying to show them your work. (This happens more than you can imagine.)
3. Try to connect with galleries that have a specific theme or subject that doesn't fit with your work.
4. Get attached to specific images because of how you felt when you captured them.
5. Expect to make sales.
6. Let the rejection get you down.

Jolene Hanson Of The G2 Gallery On...

...Prints Vs. Digital Submissions
I only accept a digital submission for two reasons: That's the way of the future, and we try to be as environmentally friendly as possible, therefore, (we) want very little paper coming in and going out. Some older galleries require print, but I do not. We do not accept anything in print. Check with what the gallery is asking for. Each gallery has its own protocol. For me, it's digital.

...Attending Portfolio Reviews
Portfolio reviews are a great way to learn from a professional what's working and what isn't in your portfolio; it gives the reviewer the opportunity to show you visually (as photographers are visual) the flow and how the image plays a crucial role in it. Few galleries have portfolio review days anymore, but it's a great way to be seen and to get feedback if you can find one.

...Being Unique
More of the same. One of the challenges, especially in the digital age, is that a lot of photographers are shooting the same locations and the same iconic images, and they're doing it just like or very similar to how it has been done before. This is normal and necessary for student photographers, but once someone moves into professionalism, they need to have worked out their own vision and style, a new way of seeing and presenting these common subjects.

David Muench and Ansel Adams have influenced millions of photographers. They both show unique views of the natural world, and there's a desire to copy it. It's important to remember that they have already done it this way; now you need to do it your way.

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