Starting a Photo Gallery; David Schultz tells you how

All photos by David Schultz

According to nature photographer David Schultz, "Spring and Fall are my busy times for picture-taking." Aspen and maple trees adorned in fall colors are big sellers at West Light Images, Schultz' photo gallery located in Park City, Utah. People also enjoy decorating their walls with spring wildflowers, he observes.

David Schultz' striking nature images are sold as fine art at his photo gallery. Above: A view of Mount McKinley and Reflection Pond, Alaska.

Owning your own photo gallery in a beautiful part of the country and selling your images as fine art may sound like a dream job. If you've ever considered doing this, read on. Even more than with most businesses, Schultz points out, it's very rewarding and extremely hard work.

Shifting Gears
A native of Michigan, Schultz is a self-taught photographer--"I was never one to sit in a classroom." After high school, he hit the road and traveled throughout the U.S. and Canada. He later moved to Dallas, Texas, where he specialized in shooting fashion and lifestyle images for seven years. His clientele included the Dallas Apparel Mart, Neiman Marcus, and designer Bill Blass. "It was a good way to learn marketing and the business end of photography," he says of the experience. His lifestyle images also lent themselves well to the stock files of Tony Stone. However, once he moved to Utah, "I found myself shooting more landscapes than anything else. I'd think, `let's see, do I want to shoot nuclear waste sites or beautiful mountains?' There was no contest."

"Powder Day"; horses running in a snowy Heber Valley, Utah.

He decided to switch gears after an assignment to photograph resorts took him first to New Mexico, and then to the Heber Valley in Utah. Schultz planned to be on location for about 10 days, but his photo shoot ended short of that time. His client invited him to see the southeastern part of the state near Moab, where "we took a whirlwind tour in about two days." Among the Utah natural wonders they visited were Dead Horse Point State Park, and Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef National Parks.

Within a month after that visit, Schultz decided to close his Dallas studio, and he relocated to the Wasatch Mountains of Utah to pursue nature photography. For a while, he sold photo notecards to the gift shop at Robert Redford's Sundance Resort near Cedar City. Then he inquired about selling some of his photos as large, framed pieces on easels on an outdoor deck at the resort. This proved to be a very lucrative idea, one that really "took off" in terms of sales.

Sol Duc Falls, Olympic National Park, Washington.

Backlit Cottonwood leaves in Utah's Wasatch Mountains.

Schultz alternated between selling his work at Snowbird in a hotel lobby during ski season, and at Sundance during the spring months. "I decided that my type of product would be high-end--museum-quality matting and mounting, and Ilfochrome prints." Today, many of his images are also printed on Fuji Crystal Archive paper, and he enlists a lab to do some digital printing. He's found his niche in creating limited-edition, fine-art photos, ranging from the more-affordable 4x6 up to 30x40 inches, and sometimes larger.