The cut throat world of galleries can be an intimidating place to conduct business. Many up-and-coming photographers are intimidated by the process because they do not know how to actually secure a gallery show. So Resource thought it was vital to create ten easy steps for getting gallery shows. Now, we all know, like any plan, this is not full-proof, however, as long as you thoroughly follow each step, then your chances will increase drastically.

1. Create an online portfolio/website to show off examples of your style. 

One of the easiest ways to get some type of exposure is to create an online portfolio or a website. By doing this, you are creating a one stop place to see your latest and greatest. Resource just reported on the 25 Photography Tools You Can Use to Show Off Your Work Online, so head over there to find countless products that will make your online experience easier.

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2. Create a portable Resume and an Artist’s Statement.

Even though you have established an online portfolio, it is still important to have a portable resume; whether it is a hard copy or on a memory stick, it is important to have something to present to a gallery owner. Along with the resume, you’ll need to create an artist’s statement—which is basically a brief summary of your work. Gallery Owners are busy and sometimes they will not actually look at your portfolio/resume; however, a detailed but brief artist’s statement could be the difference between getting a gig and not.

3. Apply for grants and anything that gets your photo’s judged.

As anyone could guess, the most important thing to progress your career is to get more exposure. And most professional photographers claim that applying for grants or free contests are probably the easiest way. First off, the people who approve grants or judge competitions are probably high-ranking people in the industry; so even if you fail, your work is still getting seen by the best of the best. A great site to look at for competitions is Viewbug, but if you think you are especially skilled, apply for heavy weight competitions like the APA Awards.

4. Go to galleries that coincide with your style.

It is extremely important to go out and find galleries that coincide with your particular style. Yes, this step implies that you have to do research, but why waste your time with galleries that do not cater to your needs. Most galleries have been conducting business for years and even if you are a good salesman, they probably will not change their minds. There are hundreds of galleries in the five boroughs, it is necessary to put the time and effort to research every single one.

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© Thomas Hawk via Flickr Commons


5. Go to galleries to network and talk to people.

Once you find the galleries that coincide with your style, it is necessary to go out to their shows and network. Networking and people skills are probably the most important skills to have as a photographer. Who knows what could happen at one of these galleries: you could meet a friend of the owner or perhaps even the owner.

6. Through networking attempt to establish connections to potential gallery owners and workers.

And if you do meet an owner or a worker, it is important to befriend them. While I am not saying to lie about your intentions, it is important to create friendships that could benefit you now and twenty years from now.

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© Chris Potter via Flickr Commons

7. Be realistic.

It is important to understand that you are not the hottest commodity; for every one of you, there are hundreds of people doing the same thing. So first of all, it is important to remain humble and nice. Second, do not ask for a ridiculous percentage of the purchases; more money will come as you build up your exposure. So, be reasonable with your suggestions and it is quite possible the owner will be reasonable with you.

8. When submitting photos to a gallery, keep a common theme or thread among the photos (most importantly, make sure it is your best work).

This one is quite simple; keep a common thread among your photos and make sure they also coincide with your artist’s statement. It is extremely vital for you to remain organized, but this does not mean you should include a terrible photo because it shares a common thread. Good gallery shows are one in a million for up and comers, so be sure to present the best your portfolio has to offer.

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© 401(K) 2012 via Flickr Commons

9. Make sure to discuss every aspect of business.

As previously said, an important aspect of the gallery is discussing the realistic money split. How much will the gallery take from potential sales? While this may be infuriating to talk about, it is absolutely necessary. Do not leave any questions peculating in your brain, and make sure to talk about every angle of the show in order to ensure the smoothest experience.

10. If rejected, repeat.

Persistence is a word that you need to become thoroughly acquainted with; thousands of people have talent, but persistence is how you will separate yourself. Yes, you may have a beautiful portfolio, but what good is that if you quit after a single rejection? There are countless success stories about people working their ass off after being rejected: do not become one of the ‘what could have been’ cautionary tales.