Last Spring I drove around the country in a VW bus (Lady Blue!) for the Crusade for Collecting Tour. I was fortunate to meet photographer Adam Smith, who gallantly offered to help me around Seattle, a city I had never been to before. We spent a day together, and he even got to experience a Lady Blue break-down first hand. Over an amazing dinner of burgers (the key to my heart!), we began discussing his work. He told me he had an opportunity to exhibit his photography at an apartment gallery called Vignettes, run by Sierra Stinson (apartment galleries are when an arts-minded person transforms their apartment/home/sleeping porch into a gallery for a night). We talked for a long time about how to price and edition the work (one of my favorite subjects!), and we talked even longer about what he hoped to get out of the exhibition.
Adam had two goals - to engage in meaningful conversations with people about the work and themselves and to not end up with a bunch of photographs to bring home at the end of the night. While he did not want to give the work away, the price was not the primary concern. So we thought and talked and thought and talked and came up with this idea - what if he bartered the images? And barter he did.
Each image was available for $30 plus a barter of any type. We felt the barter component would be the piece that facilitated the conversation and engagement with Adam and the work. What were you able to offer? Why were you drawn to that photograph enough to want to trade something for it? The barter would also provide another connecting point with Adam after the event.
After the event, Adam wrote me, "Turnout was great, a steady stream of people over the course of the three hour event. The exhibit consisted of 10 pieces, 11x14, digital C-print, edition of three. I ended up selling out of two images and sold the first print from two other pieces for a total of 8 prints sold. Some of the items bartered: A tattoo, bottles of wine, tutoring & babysitting for my son, a painting, home cooked meals, farm fresh egg delivery, $150 and so on..."
This is a great example of how powerful it can be to work backwards. If you spend the time to figure out your goals, you will be in a much better position to leverage your opportunities in your favor. Be thoughtful and proactive, and make it happen.