How can I show my work in restaurants or shops?

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Q. I have a passion for photographing horses, and would dearly love to exhibit these, or abstracts, but have no idea how to set about this… and I don’t seem to be able to get people to book photo shoots of their horses… feeling very lost… Fiona Firth, Dursley UK

A. Hi Fiona, I’m not surprised you feel lost, it’s not your fault, it’s the way our industry has changed forever. Everyone can now take photos themselves so many people don’t feel they need to pay for someone else to do it, even though that person may produce much better results.

Many top photographers are feeling the pinch at the moment, and having to radically rethink how they market their businesses.

I honestly don’t think it’s a good idea right now to set up a full time business in photography. Far better, in my opinion, to enjoy it and do it for fun, or alongside a part time job as supplementary income – that way you can shoot pictures, exhibit your work and enjoy revelling in the glory it brings you, without the stress of worrying about paying the mortgage.

Photography Exhibitions

Creating an exhibition can be an exhilarating experience and lots of fun, and here are some ideas to help you.

It is unlikely that someone will suddenly ask you to do an exhibition, so you have to work out how to get your pictures seen, and approach people about doing this.

Try local cafes/restaurants who look like they might need a facelift! Or check out those who already have exhibitions and ask them how they choose their artists.

Start going to one regularly and do your emails in there, drink coffee and strike up conversations with the owner, during quiet times – basically start to develop a relationship and eventually you can bring up the subject of your horse pictures. As you are working from there, you will have your laptop so you can show a few images straight away. Show just two or three, not a whole slideshow, so you leave them wanting more, and then suggest you could do an exhibition.

Perhaps you have a local saddler, where you might be able to exhibit. If you can get some of your pictures in there, then they are naturally going to be seen by people who ride horses – and possibly lead to bookings. Work with the owner on a promotion – when people spend ‘x’ amount in the shop, they get a complimentary photo shoot of their horse (pictures would be extra). The best way to do this is to offer to photograph the owner and his or her horse for free to show them the sort of thing you do – that way this person will become your number one promoter because they can tell people how much fun the shoot was, and actually show them their pictures – and if you use their pictures in your promotion, then they will mean so much more to them than advertising shots of someone else’s horse.

Note: It is quite expensive to put on an exhibition – don’t underestimate the cost. If a cafe really needs a facelift, perhaps you can talk to the owner about supplying the prints for free if they pay for the frames, and they get to keep them on the walls for as long as they like. Remember, this is a “shop window” for your work, so it’s worth it.

Go to moo.com and get some postcards printed. They do sets of 50 with a different shot on each one or you can have 10 copies of your five best shots for example. Put your contact details on the back of the cards, and display them prominently in the cafe. You may be able to put one on each table, as people often read things while they are waiting – particularly if they are attractive.

Good luck and I hope this helps.

Annabel x


Check out: “I am that Someone” Exhibition and Should you turn your passion into your job?

Images below:  Fiona Firth

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