Yesterday I went to one of the Career Development Workshops organised by Redeye. This one was entitled Getting Seen: Exhibiting & print sales. It was not really a workshop, but two talks with the opportunity to ask questions. The first speaker was Anne McNeill, Director of Impressions Gallery in Bradford. She was in a good mood as Second Division Bradford City had ensured a trip to Wembley for the League Cup Final, by beating Premiership side Aston Villa over two legs. She told us about the way publicly funded galleries, of which there only a few, choose photographers to exhibit. The recent cuts to the arts budgets has made it much more difficult to show work. The Impression Gallery, for instance, used to have eight exhibition a year and now there only funding for four. The programme is organised two to three years in advance and they receive very many applications and requests. This does not mean someone with no reputation does not stand any chance, as in the end it comes down to the strength of the work. She said that the gallery is interested in having a relationship with photographers and discuss the work and show, rather than just put on what the photographer submit. This also means that they might tell you that your work is not suitable yet, but they might be interested in helping you develop through portfolio reviews and would look forward to see more work in future.
The second speaker was Laura Noble, who wrote a book about collecting prints (The Art of Collecting Photography) and runs L A Noble Gallery. She has a reputation for discovering and supporting emerging talent. Laura talked about getting an ‘in’ into the world of commercial galleries and about editioning your prints. Whether or not a photographer should limit the number of prints he or she makes of a certain image is a much discussed topic and there are people with outspoken views on both side of the spectrum. Laura clearly feels it is very important for a photographer to do it, not surprising with her background in collecting prints. The value of a print is directly related to its scarcity. Laura was very clear about the fact that if you want to sell a print you are entering a marketplace and you have to accept that value is not determined by how good you think the picture is, unless you are one of the market makers like Laura, of course! She advised photographers to limit editions to a maximum of 15 and offering only two sizes.
A useful day spent it the arctic temperature of the big hall of the Instituto Cervantes.