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by Dean McLeod on Sun Jul 12, 2020 8:56 pm
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Dean McLeod
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Location: Saskatchewan, Canada
Hello all! I would love to hear from any gallery owners who are selling their own prints. 

I am hoping to open a gallery location in the next couple of years and would love to receive any feedback in regards to your experiences running your operation from day to day.

Rent your space? Own?

Staff or go it alone? How do you balance operating while putting time aside to shoot in the field?

Print yourself or outsource? Which mediums sell well? Sizes? Subject matter?

Anything from pitfalls you've encountered to successes from unique marketing strategies, I'd love to chat with you.

Thanks everyone!
 

by Richard B. on Sun Jul 12, 2020 11:07 pm
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Phew, you are brave, but your work is beautiful and I wish you well.

I'm not a gallery owner, but I did run a small business for 35 years and I have observed a number of galleries and spoken with the owners where ever I find them. I'm going to drag out an old cliche, and I am not real estate broker, but location, location, location. Honestly in my opinion, the other business stuff is secondary.

One of the examples that most sticks in my mind as a successful wildlife gallery was in Jackson Hole. The location was prime but I think it worked because Jackson Hole funneled many (probably most) of the tourists who visited Yellowstone or the Tetons into town at some point. Having recently experienced the animals and scenery in the wild, there was a strong motivation to buy a representation of what they had just seen. It worked because this was a relatively compact area into which a lot of people found their way.

Consider where are you going to go, that you can come in contact with the type of clients who want your style of work and come in the numbers of people year round to be your client base and frankly have the means to afford your work at a profitable price?

I have a friend who sells large prints through a gallery on consignment as a side gig. Sure they take a large chunk of the sales price but they have the location, the clients looking for better quality work, the reputation as a quality source in an area that is quite well off financially. I'm not talking New York or anything like that but the Boston suburbs in a high traffic retail / decor kind of area.

Plus and this is huge, he doesn't have to put up with the bs and expense of running a business. Rule of thumb, the business eats about 2/3 of gross sales. And last some of the photography gallery owners with whom I have spoken, admit that they don't have the time they want to shoot anymore.

Some of us used to say, "I don't own a small business, it owns me".

Just my $.02 and I wish you the best.

Richard
 
 

by signgrap on Mon Jul 13, 2020 8:26 am
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Richard B. wrote:
Snip . . .
Some of us used to say, "I don't own a small business, it owns me".
. . . Snip
Richard
 

I agree with everything Richard wrote.  
I'm retired now but I use to own a small sign business.  The above statement is so true.  When I wasn't actively working on designing signs, making signs and or dealing with customers, I was dealing with all the paper work and number crunching necessary to run a business.  It was a two person business myself and my wife ran.  The moment you hire someone the costs dramatically increase and your profits have a tendency to decrease.  Running your own business leaves little time for photography.  Opening a business in this new world of Covid-19 is a risky proposition IMO.  So many small businesses are currently closing because of lack of customers.  Remember you only pay a commission once you've sold a print (assuming you're selling on consignment) the gallery is taking all the risk and you can spend your time doing photography which I assume is what you love to do.  Your images are great.
Dick Ludwig
 

by Dean McLeod on Mon Jul 13, 2020 12:31 pm
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Location: Saskatchewan, Canada
Richard B. wrote:
Phew, you are brave, but your work is beautiful and I wish you well.

I'm not a gallery owner, but I did run a small business for 35 years and I have observed a number of galleries and spoken with the owners where ever I find them. I'm going to drag out an old cliche, and I am not real estate broker, but location, location, location. Honestly in my opinion, the other business stuff is secondary.

One of the examples that most sticks in my mind as a successful wildlife gallery was in Jackson Hole. The location was prime but I think it worked because Jackson Hole funneled many (probably most) of the tourists who visited Yellowstone or the Tetons into town at some point. Having recently experienced the animals and scenery in the wild, there was a strong motivation to buy a representation of what they had just seen. It worked because this was a relatively compact area into which a lot of people found their way.

Consider where are you going to go, that you can come in contact with the type of clients who want your style of work and come in the numbers of people year round to be your client base and frankly have the means to afford your work at a profitable price?

I have a friend who sells large prints through a gallery on consignment as a side gig. Sure they take a large chunk of the sales price but they have the location, the clients looking for better quality work, the reputation as a quality source in an area that is quite well off financially. I'm not talking New York or anything like that but the Boston suburbs in a high traffic retail / decor kind of area.

Plus and this is huge, he doesn't have to put up with the bs and expense of running a business. Rule of thumb, the business eats about 2/3 of gross sales. And last some of the photography gallery owners with whom I have spoken, admit that they don't have the time they want to shoot anymore.

Some of us used to say, "I don't own a small business, it owns me".

Just my $.02 and I wish you the best.

Richard
 


Hello Richard,

Thank you for the feedback and thoughtful comments. It is much appreciated.

I am also a small business owner as a denturist making false teeth in private practice for almost 30 years now. I agree with much of your sentiment. I am planning on selling and relocating to a small town in the Canadian Rockies, a short drive away from Banff National Park which receives over 4 million visitors per year from all over the world. The foot traffic is definitely there as well as affluent locals.

With the right location and a small sales staff, I'm hoping to make a go of it. 

Thank you for the good wishes!

Dean
 

by Dean McLeod on Mon Jul 13, 2020 12:42 pm
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Location: Saskatchewan, Canada
signgrap wrote:
Richard B. wrote:
Snip . . .
Some of us used to say, "I don't own a small business, it owns me".
. . . Snip
Richard
 

I agree with everything Richard wrote.  
I'm retired now but I use to own a small sign business.  The above statement is so true.  When I wasn't actively working on designing signs, making signs and or dealing with customers, I was dealing with all the paper work and number crunching necessary to run a business.  It was a two person business myself and my wife ran.  The moment you hire someone the costs dramatically increase and your profits have a tendency to decrease.  Running your own business leaves little time for photography.  Opening a business in this new world of Covid-19 is a risky proposition IMO.  So many small businesses are currently closing because of lack of customers.  Remember you only pay a commission once you've sold a print (assuming you're selling on consignment) the gallery is taking all the risk and you can spend your time doing photography which I assume is what you love to do.  Your images are great.


Hi Dick,

Thanks for your input and engagement.

I agree with everything you have mentioned, as I have experienced it all myself running my small business since the early 90's.

My plan won't be happening for at least a couple of years, and I hope that COVID is a distant (but learned from) memory by then.

I also plan on supplementing my income in different ways other than a gallery. My eCommerce website sales, teaching workshops and investing in a couple revenue properties will hopefully keep things floating. As I mentioned to Richard, the location is a worldwide tourist destination in the Canadian Rockies so it is literally packed all year around with tourists from skiers in the winter, to hikers in the summer and all that wish to visit for the scenery and wildlife.

Thanks for the kind comments on my work, it is much appreciated.

Dean
 

by Richard B. on Mon Jul 13, 2020 4:40 pm
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Joined: 14 Feb 2004
Location: Central Massachusetts
Member #:01199
Hi Dean,

You have obviously given a lot of thought to this. I have not been to Banff, but it certainly sounds like the right kind of place. Also you have planned on diverse income sources which is great. Just a couple of thoughts. Echoing Dick, (and as you most likely have experienced), once you have employees everything gets much more complicated. Secondly and I feel this way also, nobody is going to be as good at selling your work as you are. People love to talk to the artist and get to know the person behind the work. Plus you will be able to make suggestions and upsell that will be much better received by clients. And they'll brag about it at home.

Look forward to hearing about it as the adventure goes on.

Richard
 

by Dean McLeod on Mon Jul 13, 2020 6:00 pm
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Location: Saskatchewan, Canada
Richard B. wrote:
Hi Dean,

You have obviously given a lot of thought to this. I have not been to Banff, but it certainly sounds like the right kind of place. Also you have planned on diverse income sources which is great. Just a couple of thoughts. Echoing Dick, (and as you most likely have experienced), once you have employees everything gets much more complicated. Secondly and I feel this way also, nobody is going to be as good at selling your work as you are. People love to talk to the artist and get to know the person behind the work. Plus you will be able to make suggestions and upsell that will be much better received by clients. And they'll brag about it at home.

Look forward to hearing about it as the adventure goes on.

Richard



That is definitely important to be available for customers I agree. People love to connect to the artist as much as the work, and I would plan to be present as much as possible, especially during high traffic periods.

I have a friend who runs six successful galleries (two in the area where I'd like to be) and employs some highly trained sales staff who are fluent in the stories behind the prints, as well as the print process. The right people are hard to come by, but when they do, we treat them well and reward good performance so they stick around.

I'll try to give updates as the story unfolds, lol!

Thanks, Richard!

Dean
 

by SantaFeJoe on Tue Jul 14, 2020 10:08 am
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I agree with Dick, your images on the website are great, as verified by the Editors Picks here! I really like the way your website presents an image and then how it will look mounted on a wall in a typical scenario.

Joe
Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.  -Pablo Picasso
 

by signgrap on Tue Jul 14, 2020 10:57 am
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Dean now that I more completely understand your plans for the future I see that you are going about your research the right way. I just tried to find contact info for Les Voorhis who was a long time contributor to NSN. He had Focus West Gallery in Spearfish SD and did his own printing for his gallery. Les gave great info about printing and ran photo workshops. He shared his wisdom and expertise freely, unfortunately I can't find any recent posts so I'm uncertain he's still with us. It might be worth your time trying to locate him as I think his insights about gallery ownership and the types of images that sell would be very beneficial to you.
Dick Ludwig
 

by Dean McLeod on Tue Jul 14, 2020 11:02 am
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Dean McLeod
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Location: Saskatchewan, Canada
SantaFeJoe wrote:
I agree with Dick, your images on the website are great, as verified by the Editors Picks here! I really like the way your website presents an image and then how it will look mounted on a wall in a typical scenario.

Joe


Thanks very much Joe! As visual beings, it really seems to help people with perspective for sure.

Have a great day!

Dean
 

by Dean McLeod on Tue Jul 14, 2020 11:05 am
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Dean McLeod
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Posts: 64
Joined: 11 Jul 2020
Location: Saskatchewan, Canada
signgrap wrote:
Dean now that I more completely understand your plans for the future I see that you are going about your research the right way.  I just tried to find contact info for Les Voorhis who was a long time contributor to NSN.  He had Focus West Gallery in Spearfish SD and did his own printing for his gallery. Les gave great info about printing and ran photo workshops.  He shared his wisdom and expertise freely, unfortunately I can't find any recent posts so I'm uncertain he's still with us.  It might be worth your time trying to locate him as I think his insights about gallery ownership and the types of images that sell would be very beneficial to you.



Thanks Dick! That would be great if I could chat with him. Thanks for the tip and I'll see if I can do some fishing.

Have a great day!

Dean
 

by Jeff Colburn on Thu Jul 16, 2020 3:07 pm
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Hi,

While this site is geared toward photographers selling work at art shows, you'll find some useful information here. They also have a Facebook Group.

http://artshowphoto.com/

Have Fun,
Jeff
Fine Art Prints and Stock Photography of Arizona www.JeffColburn.com See my ebooks in the NatureScapes Store 25 Places To Sell Your Photographs And Photography Skills and The Vanishing Old West - Jerome
 

by Dean McLeod on Fri Jul 17, 2020 9:02 am
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Dean McLeod
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Posts: 64
Joined: 11 Jul 2020
Location: Saskatchewan, Canada
Jeff Colburn wrote:
Hi,

While this site is geared toward photographers selling work at art shows, you'll find some useful information here. They also have a Facebook Group.

http://artshowphoto.com/

Have Fun,
Jeff

Thanks Jeff!
 

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