Becoming A Fine Art Photographer

This post is Day 19 of 30 Ways In 30 Days To Redesign Your Life With Photography. This series seeks to provide you with practical steps to get you from wherever you are today, to exactly where you want to be – this year! If your goal has always been to take your photography to a whole new level, hang on and start enjoying a new lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of.

Have you ever walked into a gallery of fine art photography, and thought, “I could do that.” How great would it be to have a huge gallery that inspired millions from around the world?

Fine art means many things to different people.

  • Fine art might be selling a few images at a local craft fair.
  • Fine art might be selling your art as calendars, journals and books.
  • Fine art might be selling your work at art exhibits.
  • Fine art might mean ending up in a museum.

And of course how one views a work of art is completely subjective. We’ve all stared at a work of art and said, “Really?”

My definition of fine art photography may be different than others. I view fine art as:

A photograph created by an artist, and sold to an individual for the appreciation of the work itself.

I tend to look at things from a business perspective, so to me, if you can’t sell your work, and maintain an income stream from what you do, you can never be a full fledged fine art photographer. I don’t value the money itself; instead I look at money as a way to continue to work at your art in the best way possible.

So the first thing I do is look for support systems, resources and successful photographers to begin to follow.

Build Your Support Systems

So you want to be a fine art photographer? Let’s get started.

First, let me ask you what that means to you? Do you want to be in a gallery? Do you want to open up your own gallery? Do you want to sell books? Do you want to travel?

Start by defining what it means to you. Imagine yourself in a year, fully supported by what you make as a photographer. What does your life look like? How are you generating income?

Now lets work backwards. With that in mind, it’s easier to find the support systems already in place that you can build around.

If you want to be in a gallery, find a gallery that represents photographers. With a quick search I found Fifty One Fine Art Photography. I also found an Art Support resource that lists dozens and dozens of galleries throughout the United States – just pick your state and find out what’s around you.

Or maybe you have the desire to display your work at arts festivals. It’s a great way to travel to different cities and states, display your work, talk with potential clients, and experience a different lifestyle. I’ve found some great resources that can help you find an art festival, and apply for multiple locations in an easy manner.

With just a little bit of research, you can find a ton of resources that can begin to build up a plan for how to move forward.

Its Who You Know

When you walk into a gallery, it’s easy to wish for something. But because you have no idea how they got there, it will always remain a wish until you do something about it.

People don’t become famous by wishing. They become famous by doing. They find a person to ask a question or two, and then they take that information to heart. They start building one step at a time by acting on what they learn.

If you love what an artist is currently doing, ask him or her a question. If they are simply too large and unavailable, do the next best thing. Learn from their story. Buy their books. Visit their galleries. Read about them on their website. Follow them on Facebook.

You’ll quickly be amazed at how much information you can pick up just by reading.

You may learn of associations and groups they belong to.

By studying one site, I came across a great resource – The Association of International Photography Art Dealers. How much knowledge do you think you could gain from attending their upcoming show in New York? It’s March 17-20, still plenty of time to make your reservations and go.

Before I wrote my first book, I found out about the Book Expo America – a huge event that takes place annually, and has amazing classes, and row after row of publishers, authors and dealers. So off to New York I flew, and just absorbed for a few days. Yes, I was completely overwhelmed. But the notes and books and resources I took away from there were invaluable.
The key to remember in becoming a fine art photographer, or really any type of photographer, is you have to do things one step at a time. You won’t be on the top collector list the first week you try. It may take years. But imagine all of the fun you’ll have along the way. All the people you’ll meet. And all the things you’ll learn.

And that’s really the most important thing of all: the journey.

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