The Business Side Of Fine Art Photography; An Interview With Raymond Meeks Page 2
SB: What techniques do you think best market your fine art photography?
RM: Exhibitions are very important to marketing fine art photography. Some galleries are more commercial fine art and do more print sales than others. These are the galleries I have come to work with. Most of the connections have been word of mouth from collectors and other photographers.
Publishing a book is still an effective way to create interest and reach a broader audience. If you’re fortunate, as I have been, to have a publisher such as Nazraeli Press publish your work, then there’s also a level of credibility and inherent support of your work, even as the editions they publish tend to be small.
There are collectors and subscribers who purchase every book Nazraeli publishes. For photographers starting out, a venue such as photo-eye (www.photoeye.com), an online photography bookstore featuring fine art photography books, is a great place to submit unpublished work. They have a broad Internet presence and a small jury who decides what is presented in their online galleries and do announcements via e-mail. Also, www.americansuburbx.com is a really great reference tool for fine art photographers and http://5b4.blogspot.com does fine art profiles on art books and photographers to get insights into what makes a body of work worthy to become a published book.
SB: How do you feel about Internet marketing?
RM: Having a strong Internet presence helps, too. But this requires a lot of maintenance to encourage repeated visits by those interested in your work. My website was designed first to feature both my commercial and fine art. Now I think it is a good idea to separate them and have two sites or two portals. Quite a few photographers have begun blogs to establish a dialog or have a conversation with an audience who might be interested in their work or the work of similar artists. This could be your own blog or another blog talking about your work where your work is acknowledged by other photographers. This creates links that increase your Internet search potential.
SB: What advice can you offer photographers looking for some success in fine art? For example, do you feel that having a strong theme is important?
RM: I’d say, get a job…something outside of photography both to pay the rent and create a portal into stories. I’d follow the same advice most writers hear when they’re starting out, “write what you know” and learn a trade or find a job that allows you a portal into storytelling, something outside yourself. You then get paid to do the early research into your subject. There’s absolutely no substitute for doing the work, doing the research, and taking risks. For the most part, successful photographers aren’t simply lucky; they work hard and long at following their instinct and intuition. It still boils down to what you have to say and how relevant or important that is to the current landscape.
Themes aren’t really important. I believe the subject is still most important. For me, Robert Adams understands the dedication to his subject, photographing landscapes such as the American West. His work serves as a social document while also inspiring hope and remarkable beauty in an unsentimental way. He works hard and is completely committed to his subject. I admire him deeply and respect his work.
If you are trying to achieve financial stability or success, if this is your primary objective, I don’t believe it is likely to happen for you. You have to see it all the way through, you have to spend time with your chosen subject, to have patience. There are no shortcuts to the dedication and commitment it takes to be successful.