Hi Dave. I am a former Respiratory Therapist trying to change career, photography is my passion. I would like to start a photo art gallery, landscape art is my calling. I would like to get a business up and running and what I need is good financial advise and help getting started. Any suggestions would be great.
First off, I will suggest that more than financial advice, you need to understand that the best strategy for opening up a gallery is to start by gaining visibility and reputation in the local art community, so rather than talk about financial matters, let’s talk about how you can get to the point where you can open up an art gallery.
Just like anything else, I think the key to running a gallery is to get visibility, and perhaps the best way to do that is to start by asking all your friends to view your favorite 25 photos and pick their favorite 5. Boil that down to the ten most popular, then go to a local café and ask if you can hang your photos on their wall for 30 days in return for them getting, say, 20% of any sale. Here in Colorado most cafés and coffeeshops seem to do this sort of deal and while I don’t know if anything is sold, it is a good first step towards visibility.
Then, while you have your work hanging, go to some local galleries that have landscape photographs and invite them to review your work at the café. You should also have at least an attractive business card and probably a nice 11×16 portfolio to show them. If one will agree to hang even one of your pieces, even for 50% or more of the potential sale price, I’d do it in a flash.
Then you can go to other gallery owners and talk about how you’re already at “gallery x” but would prefer to hang your work at their gallery, and with a bit of luck, you could end up with a small exhibit at a fashionable gallery. Sell a few of those, have signup cards for people interested in learning more about your works, and now you have a mailing list you can notify of new showings and, eventually, invite to your gallery opening.
I would also encourage you to have a very attractive Web site that is simple, elegant, and features nice big versions of your images. If people download them and use them as desktop images, great! You might also look into the various programs that let you convert a set of photos into a full-blown screensaver and offer that as a free download. A blog is a good addition too, where you can talk about how you find landscapes you think are interesting and the process by which you create a top-notch photograph. People like to know the “back story” so talk about your gear and challenges you face too. Think of the old pics of Ansel Adams struggling through the rocky terrain at Yosemite for just the right photograph…
Finally, once you know your art is “sellable”, you can look into opening up your own gallery, and then you’ll be in the driver’s seat and can review other photographic work to blend it with your own.
It’s a long road, I’m sure it’ll take at least 18 months to be in a position to ascertain whether your works really are marketable in your community, but I believe that this roadmap would be a viable way to proceed.
Good luck and I hope you find it a successful path. If you’re curious about my photographic work, by the way, I encourage you to pop over and see my nascent site Colorado Portraits.com.