Whenever I am out and about, I can’t help but notice artwork that is hung on display. Sometimes it has a price tag on it, other times it doesn’t, but it’s someone art nonetheless.
Those kinds of displays are often how most aspiring photographers get their start. The easiest places to start looking are right around the corner!
Small neighborhood cafes are usually owned by local residents, and they are often more than happy to display local artists’ work. Start at a café that you frequent. Get to know the owner and ask about what they look for in the art they choose to display. Who decides what goes on the walls? How long will they leave it up? Will they let you put a price tag on it?
Don’t be afraid to ask around at the corporate coffee houses as well. The Starbucks in my town has a local photographer’s work hanging on its walls. He was even allowed to put a price tag next to it, along with some business cards in a holder on the wall. The manager told me the artist is one of their regulars, so he was allowed to hang his stuff up.
Local Art Galleries
Most towns, no matter how big or small, will have some sort of art gallery. Even the town I live in has two galleries. One of the galleries displays mostly fine art from more established artists, while the other one specializes in supporting local artists. Galleries often have events to kick off new work and these are great places to network and start to get your name out in the artists and photographers communities.
Doctors, dentists, or any business that has a lobby where its clients wait are great places to check out. Before you start talking to the business owners about your work, look around at the décor and make sure your work fits the image they are portraying to their clients. If you are a client of theirs, you probably have a good chance of talking to the owner and getting a shot at selling yourself and your work as a photographer. If you aren’t, don’t let that discourage you. You never know who will let you hang your work unless you ask!
Keep your eyes on local museums. Get to know the curators and find out what they have coming up. Last year, a nearby museum had a photography exhibit, and they wanted pictures of their town by local photographers. I submitted a few pictures I had taken for a photography class, and three of them were chosen! They were up for the two months that the exhibit ran.
Street fairs are great places to meet other photographers and artists and to talk to people interested in art. Some are easy to get into – sometimes it’s as easy as paying for a booth – while others that are more upscale, with specific requirements you need to meet before they will allow you in. Because street fair season usually starts around May, this is a good time to start researching your options, even though some fairs require you to apply a year in advance. You should also have prints and other products ready to sell during the fair.
Getting your images hung wherever you can is a great way to start to get your name known in the community. It helps build your reputation as a photographer. It also looks good on your resume and on your website.
Start out at the places you frequent the most. Make sure you use the opportunities to help promote local businesses that help promote you. Send them business. Tell your friends about them. Give them a plug on your website, on Facebook, on Twitter. They will appreciate your commitment to building a business relationship with them.
Business is made by networking with others and making long-lasting connections. The more visible you become in your own community, the easier it will be to start branching out to other cities nearby. Take some time and ask around. You don’t want to miss out on a great opportunity to get your images out in public and to start to get your name known!