The overwhelming message from Francesca was about forming relationships, keeping the gallery informed of on-going work and working as a partnership over the long-term. Galleries will research those photographers that have a present profile – ie those winning awards and generally having a lot of air-time. Relationships may be forged through private views or exhibitions.
How do you establish contact and start a conversation?
It is fine to e-mail but do not expect an immediate response moving the relationship on to a “portfolio review”. Ensure you produce a personal e-mail and ensure you have done your research about the gallery, understand its current body of photographers and have an idea how your work might fit in. You should demonstrate that your e-mail contact is as a result of informed selection. It is helpful to attach a pdf document featuring your work together with an Artists’ Statement. People viewing the work will like to see a project – perhaps stick to one. Websites also need to be up-to-date. You may not get an immediate response but galleries may keep your work on file for future reference. Even if they love the work they may not have an immediate need to engage, and progress may depend on other photographers currently on their books.
What about Pricing and Editioning?
When taking on a new artist the process of determining price and an editioning strategy will take time but remember that you cannot reduce your price but you can increase it. Price ranges for work are wide and vary from £1,000-£9,000 for a print and editions tend to range from 1-15. “Open Editions” have a place and artists previously working in the open edition market can change to limited editions as they become more well-known. Those photographers that work in the editioning market tend to be working on projects. Pricing and editioning will vary from project to project and depend upon the level of publicity and other marketing activity.
How does the relationship work between Gallery and Photographer?
There will be a contract setting out the gallery and photographer responsibilities but they will be individual, based on a generic template. The artist will be expected to keep the gallery informed about practice, publications and new projects whereas the gallery will be responsible for introducing a new artist and the press and marketing to support them. There needs to be an on-going dialogue between artist and gallery. Some photographers will have a finished body of work while others will still be work in progress. Galleries will edit work and advise on pricing etc including exhibitions and book publications.
The relationship between Gallery and Artists needs to be based on more than the financial aspects. The photographers need to demonstrate ambition for their project.
So, there is much to think about for me as I consider whether I wish to pursue relationships with galleries, and if so, when. I will have a significant amount of work to build relationships and networks on Skye, develop my personal gallery and negotiate opportunities to show my work in various artist co-operatives on the Island.