Here's a long one... :)
Brian, You said you have been at this 4 years… at least from the time you closed your studio… and that you just decided you were going to be an art photographer. We even had dinner once (about the time you were embarking on your new career) where you discussed your plan. You wanted to do everything you could in as quick a time possible because you didn’t think you’d be able to do it when you got old. You would make your money then off the work you do while still relatively young. I don’t know... although logical, I just saw that as na´ve I guess because I don’t believe it works that way. It is not the type of career that you can just throw a bunch of money at and succeed. I’ve had gallery representation for nearly 15 years, have met many in the “business” and can honestly say I never met any like that who have made it as yet. There are a lot that have the means and do try, but they are not really making a living at it. You may do so and I wish you well as you have certainly made some beautiful work since beginning on your quest. But in general it isn’t going to happen for most. This is why I play the counterpoint to many of your posts. I am no expert, but I know the reality Brian. Fame does not match the bank account in most that I know. I know the numbers and I have spoken to you before about that. I know for a fact that they do not add up. If you can honestly say that in 4 years you make a comfortable living off your work, you should be teaching classes in it my friend because you are truly an oddity. Past accomplishments and monetary rewards in photography aside as I too had that and it goes away fast. You’ve got to sell a boatload of prints a year to even make a modest living. I just want people that are thinking of cashing it in and “becoming an artist” to have a balanced view to base their decisions upon. There is no real glory in dealing with many a gallery owner. On the contrary.. many dealings can be quite degrading. Especially when they are living off money they are holding back on paying you.
Now… back to the original thread. Another thing I notice about eBay and online selling via one’s own website (or a gallery with an active online presence) when compared to the traditional brick and mortar gallery world is depth of clientele. I’ve talked to many photographers that get a new gallery, sell like gangbusters at first only to have it dwindle to almost nothing in a very short period. They think they are the new star only to have it all go away overnight. This is because many galleries only have a select few collectors that bring business to them. Once the novelty of the new guy wears off, it is almost done for them there until they can muster a healthy amount of new work to get the cash flowing again. Online, you have an unlimited number of potential clients and it is my experience now that many more know of my work from the Internet and bookstores than do from galleries. There are of course many repeat buyers online as well, but there always seems to be many more new ones coming from this as opposed to the traditional gallery that serves a specific geographic region. Online sales also translate into rapid payment for the photographer whereas traditional galleries tend to be extremely slow in paying their artists, another sad fact about the glorious gallery world.
It has been fun contributing to this thread and I think it has been a great one so far. I thank all for your PMs as well. You are all very kind. As I said before, the book is still be written on this. I just try to be honest and call it as it appears to me. I may live to eat my words, but I think the gallery system is in for a serious shake-up that has already begun. They can no longer hide behind false facades as the rent is due every month and the trust funds are running out. They will continue to close or go exclusively online and can no longer hold photographers hostage in this exclusive world where all a photographer needs is a well developed eye and a good sense of business to promote themselves beyond the capapbility of many galleries. The good thing is that it will keep the ones that survive on their toes.