Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide

Lesson 99/138 - Working with Galleries


Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide


Lesson Info

Working with Galleries

We're talking about galleries right now. And I decided that we needed an entire segment just on galleries because there's a lot to think about in terms of the relationship between artist and gallery, what galleries expect from an artist, what you wanna have prepared for your gallery, and a whole bunch of things in between that. And I'm very excited about this particular topic because we get to actually speak to one of my gallery representatives today and hear from their perspective what they're looking for from artists, which I think is just really neat to be able to hear about that straight from the horse's mouth, as it were. Not that she's a horse. She is a gallery owner and we're gonna hear it straight from the gallery owner's mouth. And I think it's gonna be really helpful just to get some questions answered and figure everything out. So the first thing that I wanna talk about is artist versus gallery. But not in a combative way, just what you can expect the artist to have to do ve...

rsus what you can expect the gallery to do for the artist. So here we have a few different things. First of all, the artist pays for prints. The artist is the one to go to their printer, give them the file, something comes out of the machine, you pay that person money and then you bring the prints to the gallery. It's really unlikely that the gallery is going to say to the artist, I'll pay for your prints. Because, just as a general standard, those things are separated into artist versus gallery. Galleries don't pay for prints generally speaking. Then we have artist pays for shipping and artist pays for framing. And all of this might be a little bit, I don't know, maybe it's not second nature to you to think that. Maybe you would think that the gallery would have to do that. But the fact is that the artist really has to incur all the costs leading up to the exhibition. So if there's framing to be done, if there's shipping to be done, if there's prints to be made, that's usually the artist's territory. And if it is not, then you have a very special relationship with your gallery. So something to keep in mind before you approach a gallery you'll want to know that you're going to have to incur these costs. Now that's not to say that if you can't incur these costs that you shouldn't ask the gallery what options there are. Because a lot of the times a gallery will work with you to say, okay well if you can't pay for this then I'll help you out with this, maybe we'll split this framing or shipping or something like that. Or just come up with easier ways of doing it. I mentioned earlier that I often say to my galleries, if they want framed prints, I don't have the budget to ship you my framed prints. So can I ship you my flat prints and then you can frame them there? It's a good option. So just something to remember. I just recently had an opening in New York City. And for that opening I had these really large-scale prints and I had to get them from California where I print my work all the way to New York City. And I just kept thinking, wow it's already gonna be very expensive to ship these huge prints whether they're rolled or flat, it's gonna be expensive. So if I have to frame them in California and ship them, it would've been thousands more dollars on my end. So I decided, nope. So I asked my gallery in Mew York City and I said, if I ship these prints straight to the framers can I just deal with them there? Are you okay with that? They said, of course. So that's one option. The artist ensures the delivery of works. So you have to make sure that the art is safely getting from you to the place it's trying to go and that's not something that you can claim that the gallery should've taken care of. That's all on you. The artist earns 50% of the sale price. And I'm not saying that this is standard all across the board. There are certain times when the gallery will take a lot less, or maybe even slightly more. But I would be wary of a gallery who wants to take more than 50% of the sale price. In my experience, galleries are either in a really acceptable range or way off. And then you know that you're kind of getting scammed. So if a gallery comes to you and says, we take 80% of the sale price, I would have a lot of questions regarding what exactly they're doing to earn 80% of the sale price of an image. Typically it's 50/50. And oftentimes less as well. So the gallery will take a smaller percentage depending on the type of gallery it is. For example, if you're just starting out as an artist and you are maybe doing juried shows, you pay to have your work get into those galleries, things like that. They'll often take more like 25% of the sale price because they don't expect to sell a lot of work. So those galleries that take a lot less than 50% are not generally making their money off of their artists. They're making their money off of people paying to come to openings, for example, $5 at the door. Maybe they'll sell alcohol at the event, things like that. They have artists who pay, let's say $25, $50, $ to submit their work for juried shows. And then they keep all the money from the submitted artists and if you get in you get in, and you bring your work for that. So 50% of the sale price. And I believe that this is a really perfect split, not just because it's right down the middle, but because a gallery has a lot to offer an artist and an artist has a lot to offer a gallery. And I think it's important to remember both of those things. That without the artist, the gallery would not exist. They would have no income, nothing. But on the flip side, the gallery is offering a lot to an artist. And some of those things would be promotion of their work, putting their work in magazines, maybe local maybe international, helping to get grants and things like that, depending on the gallery. Galleries will take the work to art fairs, which we discussed earlier the importance of art fairs and how incredibly expensive it is for a gallery to do that. So if I were to just look at one of my galleries and total up in my mind all of the prices that they have to pay to bring me different places and do different things with me. They're probably taking me, let's just say, to one art fair a year that costs $10, for them to get into. So my work is going to one art fair for $10,000. And then they might place ads throughout the year in their local magazines to get people interested in their exhibitions. So that's probably, let's say $2,000 per ad that they're placing in these magazines that are local. So we've got $10,000 for the art fair, we've got maybe let's say $6,000 for ads. And then on top of that they have to rent that space or buy the space that they're showing the work in, which is really expensive in a lot of places. I have a gallery in Laguna Beach and I am sure that that oceanfront property is extremely expensive to rent. And then there I am, their little photographer artist, making almost no money for them in comparison to the painters who are selling their works for $25,000. My price point is way below that. So when I think about all they're doing for me, it's a pretty fair split in my estimation. And the thing is that you have to feel that way too. You have to feel like your relationship is an equal split. And sometimes it's not. Sometimes the gallery won't keep up their end of the bargain and you sometimes come out of it with a bad deal. But the good thing is that we have contracts for these things and you can write into a contract and say, you know what I need you to advertise three times a year for me in some magazine. Or maybe your contract is that you have to have a certain number of exhibitions per year with you. Otherwise it's not worth it to have any exclusivity with that gallery. But we'll talk about that in a second because that's getting a little bit ahead. So first of all, the gallery pays for the gallery space. Always true, unless the artist is paying to hang their work on the wall. In which case you might consider that the artist really is helping to pay for their gallery space. Galleries pay for advertising, always good to remember. They pay for art fairs. The gallery insures the prints. So when the prints are in their space, those prints are insured. I had a gallery once where they had flooding and they had to make sure that all their prints were insured because there were some that were sitting on the floor in the back room, for example. So that's up to the gallery to make sure that everything is good. And then they earn 50%, which is pretty easy math.

Class Description

Creating a great photo for a client is one thing - but turning your passion and ideas into a series that is shared, shown, and sold is a whole different business. If you do it right, you’ll be shooting what you love all the time. Learn how to choose which ideas to create, how to turn your concept into a production, and steps to getting your work seen and even sold in Fine Art Photography: A Complete Guide with Award-Winning Photographer, Brooke Shaden.

This is an all-inclusive workshop that provides the tools you need to run a successful and creative business as a fine art photographer. You’ll learn creative exercises to find and develop your ideas, how to create an original narrative, how to produce your own photo series, post production techniques and skills for compositing and retouching, how to write about your work, ways to pitch to galleries and agents, and how to print your pieces so they look like art.

This workshop will take you on location with Brooke as she creates a photo series from scratch. She’ll walk through every step for her photo shoots including set design and location scouting, she’ll cover techniques in the field for capturing your artistic vision, post-production and compositing techniques, as well as printing and framing essentials.

She’ll round out this experience by discussing all of the details that will help make your career a success like licensing, commissions, artists statements, social media plans, gallery prep, and pricing your work.

This comprehensive course is a powerful look into the world of fine art photography led by one of the world’s most talented photographers, Brooke Shaden. Included with purchase is exclusive access to bonus material that gives exercises and downloads for all of the lessons.


1Class Introduction 2Storytelling & Ideas 3Universal Symbols in Stories 4Create Interactive Characters 5The Story is in The Details 6Giving Your Audience Feelings 7Guided Daydream Exercise 8Elements of Imagery 9The Death Scenario 10Associations with Objects 11Three Writing Exercises 12Connection Through Art 13Break Through Imposter Syndrome 14Layering Inspiration 15Creating an Original Narrative 16Analyze an Image 17Translate Emotion into Images 18Finding Parts in Images 19Finding Your Target Audience 20Where Do You Want Your Images to Live? 21Create a Series That Targets Your Audience 22Formatting Your Work 23Additional Materials to Attract Clients 24Which Social Media Platforms Will be Useful? 25How to Make Money from Your Target Audience 26Circle of Focus 27The Pillars of Branding 28Planning Your Photoshoot 29Choose Every Element for The Series 30Write a Descriptive Paragraph 31Sketch Your Ideas 32Choose Your Gear 33How to Utilize Costumes, Props & Locations 34What Tells a Story in a Series? 35Set Design Overview 36Color Theory 37Lighting for the Scene 38Props, Wardrobe & Time Period for Set Design 39Locations 40Subject Within the Scene 41Set Design Arrangement 42Fine Art Compositing 43Plan The Composite Before Shooting 44Checklist for Composite Shooting 45Analyze Composite Mistakes 46Shoot: Black Backdrop for White Clothing 47Shoot: Black Backdrop for Color Clothing 48Shoot: Black Backdrop for Accessories 49Shoot: Miniature Scene 50Editing Workflow Overview 51Add Fabric to Make a Big Dress 52Edit Details of Images 53Add Smoke & Texture 54Blend Multiple Images Into One Composite 55Put Subject Into a Miniature Scenario 56Location Scouting & Test Photoshoot 57Self Portrait Test Shoots 58Shoot for Edit 59Shoot Extra Stock Images 60Practice the Shoot 61Introduction to Shooting Photo Series 62Shoot: Vine Image 63Shoot: Sand Image 64Shoot: End Table Image 65Shoot: Bed Image 66Shoot: Wall Paper Image 67Shoot: Chair Image 68Shoot: Mirror Image 69Shoot: Moss Image 70Shoot: Tree Image 71Shoot: Fish Tank Image 72Shoot: Feather Image 73View Photo Series for Cohesion & Advanced Compositing 74Edit Multiple Images to Show Cohesion 75Edit Images with Advanced Compositing 76Decide How to Start the Composite 77Organize Final Images 78Choosing Images for Your Portfolio 79Order the Images in Your Portfolio 80Why do Some Images Sell More Than Others? 81Analyze Student Portfolio Image Order 82Framing, Sizing, Editioning & Pricing 83Determine Sizes for Prints 84How to Choose Paper 85How to Choose Editions 86Pricing Strategies 87How to Present Your Images 88Example Pricing Exercise 89Print Examples 90Licensing, Commissions & Contracts 91How to Keep Licensing Organized 92How to Prepare Files for Licensing 93Pricing Your Licensed Images 94Contract Terms for Licensing 95Where to Sell Images 96Commission Pricing Structure 97Contract for Commissions 98Questions for a Commission Shoot 99Working with Galleries 100Benefits of Galleries 101Contracts for Galleries 102How to Find Galleries 103Choose Images to Show 104Hanging the Images 105Importance of Proofing Prints 106Interview with Soren Christensen Gallery 107Press Package Overview 108Artist Statement for Your Series 109Write Your 'About Me' Page 110Importance of Your Headshot 111Create a Leave Behind & Elevator Pitch 112Writing For Fine Art 113Define Your Writing Style 114Find Your Genre 115What Sets You Apart? 116Write to Different Audiences 117Write for Blogging 118Speak About Your Work 119Branding for Video 120Clearly Define Video Talking Points 121Types of Video Content 122Interview Practice 123Diversifying Social Media Content 124Create an Intentional Social Media Persona 125Monetize Your Social Media Presence 126Social Media Posting Plan 127Choose Networks to Use & Invest 128Presentation of Final Images 129Printing Your Series 130How to Work With a Print Lab 131Proofing Your Prints 132Bad Vs. Good Prints 133Find Confidence to Print 134Why Critique? 135Critiquing Your Own Portfolio 136Critique of Brooke's Series 137Critique of Student Series 138Yours is a Story Worth Telling


April S.

I tuned in for most of Brooke's lessons in this course and watched some of them more than once as they were rebroadcast. First I want to say that Brooke is a very good instructor. Her easy-going, friendly, down-to-earth, somewhat quirky manner cannot be mistaken for unprofessional. She is very prepared, she speaks well (not a bunch of hemming and hawing), she is thoughtful, she is thorough, she is very relatable and at ease, and she is definitely professional in her presentation. I really thought when I first tuned in that it would mostly be background noise while I was at work, sound to keep me company. Not because I didn't like Brooke but I really didn't think I was into fine art photography nor did I think I cared about the business side of things much. Not now anyhow. I was really wrong. Brooke sparked a deep interest in me to delve into fine art photography, to consider creating images for myself, from my imagination. In fact, I realized that this was something I'd been thinking about for a couple of years though I hadn't put a name to it (the idea of creating pre-conceived images based on my own creative goals). I gleaned many little treasures from her about image sizes, working with printers, different types of paper, selling, interacting with galleries, and so much more. I may not need all of what she taught right now because I'm definitely headed in another direction at the moment, but she planted ideas and information in my head that I know will be useful at some point. Things I may not have thought of on my own, but that seed is in my head now so when the time comes, I'll know. I'd really like to buy her course but at the moment, with the holidays right around the corner, it's not in my personal budget. I'm grateful to have caught the live and rebroadcast lessons though, and her course is on my list to own. I think it's a great reference to be consulted over and over again, not watched once and forgotten. Kudos Brooke for really putting together an excellent course.

Ron Landis

I'm retired now, but spent decades in the people and training business. Brooke is extraordinary! Even though this course is extremely well organized and she's left nothing unattended, she moves through it with friendly conversational manners and without a sense of it being stilted. It's as though we are all her friends, not students, as she shares her heart and passion with us. What a joy it is to listen to her. And what a clear, unambiguous command of her subject. Wow! She explains it with such ease using explanations and techniques that won't overwhelm artists just starting their portfolio or the Photoshop-squeamish among us; but despite its simplicity her resulting art is breathtaking and beyond original. I wish more of my professors at school were as engaging. This was by far my best buy at Creative Live yet.

a Creativelive Student

What an amazing 20 days this is going to be! Brooke is so enthusiastic and has such a lovely manner. What a bargain for all of the information Brooke will be sharing with us. So excited. Thanks Brooke and Creative Live. :)