Enthusiasm for the Possibilities…

Portrait of Sarah Nude, by Window. From "The Sessions on West Hall Street"

In the last couple of posts made since I returned from my ‘vacation,’ I’ve talked about some of the changes I want to bring to the work. I’m becoming more aware this is a direct result of my time away from it, a goal achieved, but surprisingly, I find I’m making decisions more easily and am openly embracing the new ideas and changes they bring.

One of these changes is to do less – much less – in the way of gallery shows and exhibitions. Actually, doing less would be difficult. I’ve not done a solo gallery show since 2009. In November of that year, I opened COURSE, a retrospective of nearly a decade of work with the figure. The show was well received and attended, but only one print sold – and that was on the day when the gallery staff was dismantling and readying the work for my pick-up. For the sake of comparison, COURSE consisted of 15 pieces; my previous show, hung 18 months earlier in the same gallery, sold nearly all of the work. Of the 17 pieces in that show, I brought five out on closing day and three more sold by mail a week afterwards.

We’re all aware how things have changed in the art marketplace. This is especially true for Savannah. Reaching out to other larger and more nude friendly markets has been something I’ve seriously considered doing. However, exhibitions are expensive enough to do locally; the expense of putting together and executing a show outside of Savannah would be absolutely tremendous.

My gallery representation is now exclusively with Horizon Gallery in Savannah, GA. Sales there have been so dismal the gallery has become little more than a storage space for the inventory, although it is storage where the work can still be seen. Regardless, when the infrequent but occasional inquiry comes along to do a show, I politely turn them away. And unlike past shows where success was not an absolute given, the reality is a near complete lack of success now seems guaranteed in the current local marketplace.

Sadly, this is not limited to photography. Many painter friends are closing their Savannah studios, moving to other markets or shutting down altogether. The online communities of artists, at places such as Etsy, are growing. I may be joining them.

Of course, I prefer the work to be seen and hopefully appreciated in person. In the past, this was achieved through gallery sales and sales from my own exhibitions and shows. As that seems to be no longer reliable or even viable, I’m looking for other ways to get the printed, touchable, and non-virtual work out there.

There are calls for entries and juried shows. I’ve written before about exploring these as possibilities, but have been hesitant to do so. For one, it’s still a gallery show, and if the exhibition is in a distant city, there are significant costs in getting the work (and possibly myself) to the location should my work be selected for hanging. Secondly, and this applies equally to my current representation, if the work were to sell, commissions would have to be paid. Still, I may consider applying for entry to a few to see what, if anything may happen.

The route which I find most appealing to get printed work in front of those wanting to see it is that of putting the work into print; a book or calendar, perhaps both. Large format ‘coffee table’ art books sell well, regardless of subject matter or medium. I own several myself from a variety of artists; works of Weston, Cunningham, Penn, and Adams; Monet, Reuben, Van Gogh, as well as several others. With the many print-on-demand services available, going to print is an appealing option as an alternative to gallery shows and exhibitions.

Doing a book or annual calendar is something I’m just now considering with great interest but tempered enthusiasm. I’ll keep you posted.

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I’m delighted to report my search for new and interesting locations is going well. I’ve found many interesting spots, and even better, I’m finding that interest in my local landscape is developing. (In the post which precedes this one, I wrote that I found my local landscape to be uninspiring. Change can happen when change is sought with passion and heart.) I’m also set to scout a friend’s family farm, situated west of Savannah in the next week or two.

Also, over this past weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting a brand new model from the Savannah area. And just yesterday, I reconnected with a model I met this past summer, also from Savannah. We’re making plans to work together in the coming weeks. I’m excited to have new work with new models to show. Of course, I’m eager to shoot those models with which I already have a long history in some of the new locations. New work, regardless of its source and origin, is always good and invigorating.

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With reference to my interest in producing a book or calendar, I know several friends of this blog have experience working with print on demand companies. If you’re feeling in a generous mood for the holidays, and are willing to share information and experiences, good and bad, I welcome any input and suggestion you may have.

I hope all of my friends stateside had a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday. I’m sure you’re all out spending money, Christmas shopping, contributing to your local economies by shopping locally owned and not big-box. For me, I’ve done my part; I enjoyed a cup of coffee in a local coffee-house as I wrote today’s entry.

I’m sure many of you are traveling for the holiday to be with family and friends as my wife and I have done. Safe homeward travels to you all and I’ll see you again soon.

This entry was posted in Black & White, Entries, Fine Art, Nude Figure and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Enthusiasm for the Possibilities…

  1. Dave Rudin says:

    I’m glad to read that you’re getting back into things, Bill.

    Regarding galleries, I guess everybody’s going through a rough period with sales now. I myself have been photographing nudes for 16 years, and even though many people have told me that my work is very good, I’ve only sold a handful of prints during that entire time. As I’ve written on my blog, I’m now just working on a TFP basis to try to keep costs down.

    I’m thinking of putting together a book of my work, too, though doing so will require a great deal of time. I have made some calendars over the past few years, but as the cost of buying one for myself greatly exceeds the income I derive from sales (only one sold last time), don’t expect it to be much of a money maker. (I’m sorry to rain on that idea, but those are the facts.)

    Still, good luck with it all. I hope you have better success than I’ve had.

    Dave

  2. Bill Ballard says:

    Dave –

    I’ve had good luck in galleries, when the overall economy was much better. Like you, I’ve been doing photography for a long time and nudes have only been a part of my work for 12 years or so. My ‘golden years’ were from about 2004 through 2008; then, it was as if the tap was closed. Even so, collections of work – packets of note cards for example – always sold better than individual pieces. It’s that aspect of it that i hope will come through in books and calendars.

    I’m not looking to make loads of money from my figure photography; to do so would be nice, but I hold no great expectations for it. If money were the object, I would have stuck with the commercial side of things. Now, I just want the work to be seen and appreciated. If it sells, then all the better.

  3. Charles says:

    Bill I am slowly getting into shooting photos with models. Do you normally pay them? I belong to a modeling site and I believe that is what most photographers do. Any help and info is appreciated. Great work by you. All the best.

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