You might be thinking you're living in the photography dead zone but look a little closer and you might be surprised. Your local galleries maybe more then just pictures hanging on the wall. They can be a wealth of information beyond picture gazing. We have a few galleries in the LA area and since I started attending some of the lectures, I discovered they can be really helpful in expanding my artistic and business horizons.
Once I realized how to find these events I started attending them on a regular basis and as with anything there were some good and some bad. Many photographers have heard of the Annenberg Space for Photography especially if you live in the LA area. If not, you need to go. But what you may not know is the annex called Skylight Studios located next to the main gallery.
Along with the ongoing specialized exhibits regarding photography, they have lectures from various photographers and others involved in the industry. I've attended a few consisting of famous and not so famous photographers and their fun adventures. In addition, if you pay close attention they have people speaking on related subjects like Daniel Miller. Daniel is the director of the Duncan Miller Gallery in Santa Monica. He does a fantastic talk on getting represented by galleries and promoting your work in various ways.
This is not a blog about the Annenberg, Duncan Miller or any other gallery specifically but rather to let you know that there are usually other things going on at galleries if you get on their email lists. And that seems to be the key. From what I've found, many galleries are not all that great about getting the word out. So you have to did. Google your local area for galleries and get on the mailing list. You may have to do a little digging but you could find some gold.
This is my second time attending this talk with Daniel, the first being some years ago when I was REALLY REALLY new to the photography game. To be honest, I almost did not go since the Philadelphia Eagles were playing Dallas and I was having a party at my place that afternoon. But even though this was a redo for me it was still valuable. Why??? I relearned what I had forgotten, got motivated to do a book and met up with some other likeminded photographers. I can't tell you how interesting it was to hear him talk about his end of the business; something most of us know nothing about but should. It's important to keep up with people in your photography community and help promote the industry as a whole. Networking is alive and well and a great way to do it. But it doesn't happen on the couch.
Here is a perfect example that actually got me into a gallery. I attended a local photography club meeting at the Canon Learning Center to hear a different gallery director talk about "getting into photography galleries". They all have different ideas so it's your job to filter them out according to your photography goals. After the talk, I walked up and introduced myself and just said, "I really enjoyed your talk and wanted to introduce myself as I will be contacting you for a review!" Shook her hand and walked away. I DID NOT BOTHER HER THERE! If you say something like that you better follow through as they might just remember you. A month later I went to her portfolio review and she did just that...remembered me. She commented that I was not a pain in the butt like most after her talk with a bunch of crazy questions, did not give her my card or tell her how my amazing photography was going to change her gallery. Lesson here...be on your best behavior as you never know if you will be forming a business relationship at a later date. Instead of a 20-40 minute meeting my portfolio review lasted two plus hours. That year I ended up in the gallery and now I'm in conversations to do a solo show in 2018.
If you have not herd of it, try Meetup.com. If you are unfamiliar, this is a site that has become a great way to disseminate information about the goings on around your area for like minded groups. I've been to some great Meetups from large professional camera clubs to people just getting together for a coffee talk about photography. Many groups use Meetup.com as their calendar now. Just go to these with a little grain of salt so to speak as some are a weak or maybe just getting started so give them a chance. But here are two great examples. LA Photo Gang and PPLAC.
My point here is that there is so much more to photography than just picking up a camera but you really have to go out and get involved in your community. Getting to know people and shaking hands can be just as important as knowing the right f-stop and definitely more fun. Sure you will hit some dud meetings or talks but we also have taken plenty of dud photographs...right? I have a trashcan full.
So grab a good glass of wine or tea and start Googling your local area for galleries and clubs. Most areas also have art walks or second Fridays. Don't just walk around and look at images but shake some hands. Art fairs are great places to visit and meet people and most exhibitors are willing to talk. But don't monopolize their time...they pay for the booths and are there to make money. Take a card and contact them afterwards.
Simply put, not every outing will be a great one but you never know unless you give it a try.
Below are a few links regarding the this blog. And if you haven't already please follow my links...hope it helps.
All the best, Rusty
- Rusty Nelson Facebook
- My Instagram (@rustysimages)
- Skylight Studios at the AnnenbergIris Nights Lectures
- Annenberg Space for Photography
- The Getty Lectures
- Duncan Miller Gallery Santa Monica, CA
- G2 Gallery Santa Monica, CA
- Bergamot Station Group of galleries in Santa Monica CA
- Meetup a place to find like minded groups
- Canon Learning Center Leactures. Costa Mesa, CA
- Philadelphia Photo Arts Center Philadelphia, PA.