I often get asked how to submit work to a gallery in a way that will be effective (seen by the gallery owner or director) and how to follow-up without being pushy. And a while back, I posted this picture on facebook as an example of how not to submit to a gallery.
Just a few days later, I received this submission, which made me long for the origami-style wrapping of the former. The cd just rolled out of the envelope onto my desk. I was concerned I may be getting punked with a computer virus.
So if these fall solidly into the category of how not to submit, what is going to make your submission stand out in a good way?
Think backwards. What is the end result you are looking for? You want the gallery to be impressed with your work and want to feature it in a show or better yet, represent you. So let me ask you this – with all of the amazing photography out there, would a gallery want to work with someone who is professional, thoughtful and organized or someone who sharpies their name on a cd and throws it into a cardboard mailer?
I am looking for a great working relationship with my photographers. I am also looking for people who live and breathe their work. I want you to want it, and I want you to sell it to me. That’s the only way I can sell you to someone else.
Be thoughtful. Put together a package that will impress the gallery with its presentation as much as its content. I would love to read a letter, see an artist statement and bio and possibly a small print before I ever put a disc into my computer. This example below was fun (which fit the work) and didn’t include a disc, just a link to her website (which I went right to and even tweeted about that day).
As for follow-up, I think touching base a month later by email to see if the gallery has had a chance to review the work you sent is appropriate. If you met with the gallery in person either at a portfolio review or in their physical space (always preferred, always more impactful and memorable), a hand-written thank you note right after the meeting is appreciated and shows you respect their time and insight.
After the initial contact, many photographers add me to their newsletter mailing list, which is a good way to keep people abreast of new things that are happening with your work. One photographer I reviewed at a portfolio review a year and a half ago sends me a beautiful card with a small print inside (her latest, typically) every 4-6 months to touch base. It is thoughtful, professional, and shows she is committed to her work. And ultimately, I ended up working with her. Now that’s how to submit to a gallery.
Looking for help getting a submission packet together? Read more here.