Is Owning a Gallery a Good Idea?

In Today’s Post

  • Costly Home Printing.
  • Why I Don’t Sell Prints.
  • Is It a Good Idea to Own a Gallery?
  • Video of the Week.

Read Time: 4 Minutes

I finally updated my printer’s (Canon Pro 1000) firmware so it can now take a roll of paper. 

This extends its printing capabilities far beyond the previous limitations of A2 and I can now print panoramic prints up to 120cm long.

For context, this print is 150cm, so I can’t go as big as the Canon Pro 2100, but 120cm is big enough. Watch how I made that print here.

This is exciting because I am keen for printing to be a bigger part of my workflow. 

I have been saying this to myself for a long time and I am constantly disappointed by my own lack of action.

The result of this inaction is a feeling of unfulfillment. 

Wouldn’t it be nice to set out with your camera, not to make an image, but to make a print?

The main barrier to entry when it comes to home printing is cost. 

Here’s how much I spent this week on a few relatively minor supplies:

Maintenance Cartridge:                        £17.95

Chroma Optimizer Ink Tank:                £50.40

Black Ink Tank:                                    £50.40

17” Roll of Baryta Paper:                      £148.00

Fine Art Textured Paper Test Pack:     £14.99

VAT                                                      £47.79

*My Printer takes 12 cartridges in total (£50.40+VAT per cartridge).

* approximately 12 panoramic prints from a 17” roll.

Why I Struggle to Sell Prints

An obvious solution to the costly printing problem is to sell my prints. 

Yes, this is something I would like to do, but something I have always struggled with.

My problem is twofold: 

(1) I find it difficult to value my own prints. The cost of materials, the time, the costs involved with capturing the actual image (travel, accommodation, food etc), the intrinsic value of the art itself… quantifying all of this is a struggle. 

(2) I do not wish to list all of my photos for sale as prints, only the absolute best. But, in the past when I have listed prints for sale, I will get just as many requests for bespoke prints as I do sales for the prints I have listed. This is because images are so personal.

Making a print is more than File>Print. It takes time, testing, image prep, paper selection etc. This is why it can be troublesome, costly and time consuming to offer ‘print on demand’. 

I am still working on a solution to ‘Selling Prints’. Maybe I should stop overthinking everything and just be grateful that anybody wants to buy a print in the first place.

If you are interested in a particular print, please don’t be afraid of reaching out.

Does a good image make a good print? 

Not necessarily. Firstly, what is a print?

To me, a print is more than a photograph. It is a ‘Piece’. Therefore, it should be special in some way or another. 

It must be more than just a colourful sunset, or pretty reflection. A banger for Instagram might be a migraine if printed.

Bruce Barnbaum, when asked about what he looks for in a print, stated in an interview with Elements Magazine: “I look for one of two things: either the photograph is something I’ve never seen before, or it’s something I’ve seen a million times, but I’ve never seen it like that!

How important is paper choice? 

Well, you might have noticed that in my itemised list of printing supplies, there was a test pack of textured papers. 

Textured Matte Papers

For me, the paper choice is vital and can serve to amplify the qualities of the photograph which is to be printed. Gloss will suite high contrast, vibrant images. Textured matte will suite less detailed black and whites, for example. 

The trap I am trying to avoid is that of overthinking the vast paper choice for each image. 

I would like 3 ‘Go To’ papers that will work across all of my images: Lustre, Matte and a Heavy Textured Matte.

Should one of our goals be to own our own gallery?

There is no doubt that many of us have had the fantasy of owning our own gallery. But, is it a realistic/sensible goal?

I had to think about this for some time and concluded that I was in no position to say whether it is a good idea to open your own gallery. 

This would be a monumental business decision and a subject I am not qualified to discuss. 

So, I asked Norman McCloskey, who runs an incredibly successful landscape photography gallery in Kerry, Ireland.

Norman told me that, like many photographers, it was his dream to own his own gallery in Kerry.

This was a dream that took Norman 20 years to realise, so it is certainly not something he rushed in to.

Norman told me he was daunted by the scale of the undertaking, leaving a well-paid job to become a self-employed artist/shopkeeper.

Thankfully, Norman’s risk paid off and his gallery was a success from the start and continues to be a success 9 years later, seeing his prints shipped all over the world. 

How did Norman succeed where so many others fail?

Norman explained that he already had a published book under his belt, a strong body of work and had built a reputation, so opening a gallery as a mature photographer certainly gave him a head start. 

I would say this is a valuable insight, that opening a gallery should not be rushed in to and must sit on a foundation of reputation and excellence, which takes many years to build. 

If you’re ever in Kerry, please go and check out Norman’s gallery.

This week, I shall be playing with home printed panoramic images, testing different paper types and no doubt draining my almost criminally overpriced ink cartridges. 

Keep an eye on my YouTube channel. I plan to take my 6 x 17 panoramic film camera with the sole intention of shooting an image to print.

Christmas is creeping ever closer, so if you haven’t picked one up yet, my Landscape Photography Books are available. Give a great gift and help support the channel.

Video of the Week

Selling Prints | Improving a Best Seller by Stuart McGlennon

Stuart is a fantastic photographer and runs a gallery in the Lake District. He recently uploaded a video discussing the commercial side to taking a photograph, specifially, taking a photograph to sell as a print. Well worth a watch.