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08/26/2011 09:06:27 PM · #1
I have an opportunity to put my pictures in a Gallery Opening. I know nothing about this and would like to ask some questions as to what is the best way to do this. I would love to do this but it has an enormous learning curve for me. (but then I am teachable...this site is evidence of that!!!)

There is a local cafe here that is willing to let artist display their work (or a collective group of artists). They do not charge hanging fees. They ask that you (I) pick a charity of my choice to donate 10% of my proceeds to (in lieu of the hanging fees). Your work will be displayed for 3/3.5 wks. You promote your gallery opening (first Thursday of the month)...the more the merrier. You print, hang, display.

I feel that a WEBSITE is essential to the success of this. So people can access your work in the future. Obviously a logo is key as well, I have something in mind...but of course don't know how to get it from the brain to the WEB/paper. And Finally, what types of sizing do you display...

So here are some of my questions

WEBSITE:

1) What criteria did you use in designing/locating you WEBSITE. What would you do different. What do you like best about your site. What features does your site give you that other's don't. What is the hardest to deal with. Did you design your website or did you go with a WEB design company...and why. and now for the biggie.....HOW MUCH???

PRODUCT:

2) How do you choose your product sizing? What size sells the best? Do you stay with "local" scenery....how much do you mix your work? Is there a particular subject that sells better? Which sells better, canvas/prints/metal???

BACKLASH:

Have you had problems doing these kind of shows? What happened? What did you learn from your experience.... what kind of advice can you give me one this...

Thank you for your help and guidance....

Janine
08/27/2011 05:04:14 AM · #2
First, congrats on the opportunity!

Next, you'll want to find the fine balance between planning and not over-thinking it - otherwise you can find yourself in a mad dash to be throwing a lot more money into things than you are likely to make back in the short-run. The key is to develop a boot-strapping plan with a 2-3 year time frame. A lot of what you need is going to require more intensive research than what you're going to get here. I can give you a few summary suggestions, and there are others here that will be able to chip in some advice, but a few long visits to a Barnes & Nobles and/or your local library are what you really need.

When it comes to websites, there are three key elements to it working out for you. 1) It needs to dovetail with your business plan and marketing plan. It doesn't need to do anything more than represent who you are and what you are trying to do. 2) It needs to be simple, easy to navigate, and easy to understand. If you are selling photography, let your images speak for themselves. 3) It needs to be FOUND! There are a bazillion canned packages and a gazillion web-slingers. You can get a ton of stuff for free, you can spend a small fortune getting something customized. However, it doesn't matter what you do if nobody can easily find you! You have to do your own research into SEO (search engine optimization) so that you can understand what it is well enough to either handle it yourself (yes, it is possible), or to have intelligent conversations with whoever is helping you with your site...and, if they don't understand everything about it as well as they should, you are talking to the wrong person. Let me stress this: I don't care who wants to do what for you, if they aren't well-versed in SEO, they are wasting your time and money - regardless of how cool a site they can build for you.

As for how much money, that is totally up to you and your budget. There are some very simple things you can do for yourself that might run you a couple hundred bucks. You might decide that it's worth it to spend a couple thousand. If you look at some of the better sites of some of the most successful photographers, it becomes readily apparent that they did not cobble and hack their sites by themselves and they didn't have their uncle Bob or their neighbor's whiz-kid son build it. No, they paid professionals to build them the best site they could afford to pay for. There's nothing wrong with boot-strapping and saving some coin here and there, but do start with a base vision and a longer term plan.

Picking your product will take more research. You can get some good feedback here, but you have to realize that there is no one-size-fits-all. A lot of what works varies from one market to the next. You need to talk to other artists and vendors that sell where you are going to be selling to find out what people are typically buying year-in and year-out.

It's good that you recognize that there could be downsides to doing something like this, because there can be. I can give you one, and hopefully others can chime in with theirs. The biggest thing is to have unrealistic expectations of the payoff compounded by putting too much money into the effort. For example, if you want to hang twenty canvases, you're looking at close to $2,500 just in inventory. Rush out and get glossy two-sided business cards and some postcards and you might spend another $250. Get crazy with the website and spend another $500. Enjoy your opening and make a single sale during the course of three weeks that nets you $150 and then explain that to your family...

On the other hand, if you plan it out and don't rush into it madly, you can make it work. Do your research and start building the inventory that you would like to hang. Build your marketing plan and then start pulling together the supporting pieces (the website, the business cards, the postcards, etc). Take advantage of deals and offers, but don't cut corners for the sake of getting something done. Look at gallery shows and hangings as an opportunity to be seen and to get visibility, but don't expect to make sales that will pay for the effort. The key is to use the event to increase exposure for your works and to develop contacts for work that does pay.

Good luck, and have fun! Keep in mind, building this thing is just part of the adventure...

08/27/2011 03:51:49 PM · #3
1)

To parallel ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/31.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/31.gif', '/') + 1) . ' Skip's SEO a bit. Think of how users are going to find you when they search for you. Most people are going to search by location, they want someone close. A "Los Angeles" photographer. A "Los Angeles Portrait" photographer. key-words. The problem with many, many, many photographer templates is that they aren't really optimized for search engines. As much of a pain as it is, your site should have information about yourself and your business -- Google doesn't know whether you're from Idaho, or California. Research into SEO practices.

When you're deciding on what features your website needs to have, not everything is going to run you the same amount. As a designer myself, I'm not really fond of paying a premium price for a template that thousands of other photographers have. When building your brand recognition, it hurts you a bit when any of your elements are generic or don't speak about your particular product. Do you really want to be associated with that really bad photographer because your website looks the same?

Things to be considered:

Are you selling from your website, or is it just an entryway into the products and services that you offer?
How frequently is it updated? Are you doing those updates yourself?
Is the site based on a more difficult language (PHP/MYSQL/PERL...) ((wordpress+ the like)

Basically, anything that takes more time is going to cost more money. These are just some base figures pulled out of my ass without knowing what the project really requires. (copywriting, logo, graphic style, etc). These all assume that you're getting the host, otherwise add around $200.

---------------
~5 page website ~~around $600
design, design + code, CSS + HTML + SEO (all meeting the current web standards). For most designers, this would include a meeting (even if it's only verbal/email), and 1-2 rounds of revisions.

things that drive up the cost considerably would be: shopping carts/print ordering. private customer galleries.

---------------
~5 page website based on wordpress (or other auto-updating/blog feature) ~~around $1000 (if modifying a template) or $2-2500 for a one-off (would have to be outsourced to a developer to be coded)

---------------

I guess what I'm trying to say is simple, and that's that you need to talk to local designers and ask for quotes. Make a list of 3-5 sites that you like, or a list of features that you want, and ask for a quote. Think about what you want your customers to see your business as: playful? traditional? If you speak to a designer that doesn't ask you these things, it's a good idea to walk away, as they're not really tailoring the solution to what you want.

good luck. (and I need my morning coffee, so sorry this is all a bit A.D.D. and scattered)
08/30/2011 11:25:25 AM · #4
Hi Janine- congratulations on this opportunity!

I have only done one coffeehouse show a few years back, but it was a good experience and I think you can make yours a good one too. It really is a thrill to see all walls covered with your work, and in a coffeehouse it is easy to just grab a cup and sit back like a fly on the wall and watch customers come in and browse your work. It's very cool to see their reactions to your images anonymously. And it is great to hear about what offices, penthouses, etc. your sold pieces will be going to. The most rewarding image sale to me was to a best man who was giving the image to a couple as a wedding gift. I shot it in the exact spot in Paris where they got engaged :)

Same as James I am in need of more coffee, but maybe I can offer just a little insight from my limited experience.

You don't have to spend a lot of money getting your inventory together. You want everything to look nice and professional, but there are ways you can keep costs down.

I went with a local pro lab for my prints. They did a great job and I liked keeping things local, but I could still have gotten high quality prints online from some place like Bay Photo Lab for quite a bit less. If you have a good local lab and want to support them that is great (I do still support my local lab some), but if you want to keep costs down consider other alternatives.

Consider getting pre-made frames on sale at a place like Aaron Brothers. The mattes they come with are likely not acid-free and useless, but the frames can be economical and nice.

When picking out what images to print and processing them, consider making them a generic size if you can so you can go with pre-cut mattes. I did fifteen 16" X 20" images for my show. A few years ago anyway, I could not find and pre-cut mattes in that size. Custom cut mattes are expensive, if you can make your images fit a standard size matte without compromising your vision you can save probably 70% or more on the cost of mattes.

For my next show I will likely not even frame my prints but will have them printed on aluminum sheets by Bay Photo. I have done them up to 30" X 45" and they look great. They certainly cost a lot to print, but then there is no further cost for framing. They really show off your images well, but they maybe aren't appropriate for all genres. And if you like the idea of these, Bay Photo gives you 25% off on your first order (no matter how big) so you could print the whole show at once for quite a savings.

I'll quickly say regarding a website, you might want to consider using a Smugmug Pro account to keep costs down. It's easy to setup commerce with Smugmug. If you don't mind spending more I am sure there are designers that would appreciate your business and do a great job for you though :)

I'm not so sure you "need" a logo for your photography business if you want to save that cost. Again, I am sure there are designers that would be happy for your business and could do a great job for you- but maybe it isn't a necessary thing.

Hope that little bit helps- good luck!

08/30/2011 03:34:09 PM · #5
I've seen prints on aluminum, and they do look great and need no framing. Another option is canvas. You'd have to try one print to see if you like the effect. If so, the canvas prints can be hung without the cost of framing. These two options may require standard aspect ration images, and for me, that can be a problem.

I use PhotoDeck for my website, because they have an automatic fulfillment process for licensing, and they are getting into the printing side of things too. For now, I put my prints on DPCPrints and link to them from PhotoDeck. I found the website quite easy to setup. I don't know how professional it looks, but you can decide for yourself: Julianne Bockius Photography.
08/30/2011 04:07:26 PM · #6
Congrats, Janine!!! We're both in the same boat. Best of luck with yours :-)
08/30/2011 06:40:03 PM · #7
wow, such great information and such a HUGE learning curve I will be on...I want to re-read your posts and comment back on them to ask more questions...but right at this moment I'm super crazy busy....Thank you so much...

I was surprised to have some answers back...a couple of people referred to the thread but I thought it had gone to the thread graveyard...

You have all pointed out things that I had NO idea about...so maybe this is bigger than what I can do NOW...but as Skip said...I need a plan...and that's what I'm going to try to formulate....
08/31/2011 07:11:59 AM · #8
What kind of document I should get from a model so I can sell a print of her?
I have some good model photos which would probably sell as prints, but I'm not sure the model release that I use for stock photography is enough to ensure that I can sell prints.
Do you have this kind of release? Do you mind sharing it?
I'm not on my computer now, but I can surelly share my model release document, if anybody cares.

Thanks!
10/11/2011 08:51:18 PM · #9
I find that it helps to sell your photography with frames. I use frames4less.com, what i do is i upload my images to the site and design a frame for it, then i print screen with my image in the frame and post that on my site. This way, when my art sells, i just order the frame after.

My 2c
10/11/2011 09:20:42 PM · #10
Originally posted by marcusvdt:

...t I'm not sure the model release that I use for stock photography is enough to ensure that I can sell prints.

Typically the release for stock use is the most expansive release around; it will usually specify something along the line of "any and all uses ..."

If you are selling individual, "fine art" prints you don't need any kind of release; if you want to include the picture in a calendar, book, greeting card or coffee mug you need the same one as the stock release.
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