Why Nobody Came to Your Art Show

The Truth About Why Nobody Came to Your Art Show

Guest Post by Alyson Stanfield/Art Biz Blog
It doesn’t take a genius to understand why nobody came to your art show.

Let’s set aside the bad weather, natural disaster, flu epidemic, or major tragedy in the community. And not count people who are out of town or live too far away, or those who have tickets to the theater or a sick child.

We’re going to focus on those able people on your mailing list who would be most inclined to come out and support you.

The reason they didn’t come is because you assumed too much.


Let’s look at 4 ways this might have played out.

1. You didn’t tell them about it.

You assumed the venue would get the word out.

Oops! You’ll never do that again. Venues, regardless of the type of venue, have an entire program of artists and exhibitions lined up. You are a small fish in their big pond.

What’s important to you isn’t always critical to them.

You can’t rely on the venue to get people to your exhibition.

2. You told your list about it, but didn’t cover your bases.

You assumed that a single email would do the trick – and that they would actually read the missive you sent.

People don’t usually hop on board until they have seen an invitation multiple times. You can’t post an invitation once or twice to Facebook and expect results (especially these days).

You must have a variety of touch points scheduled for the people on your list:

  • Send a postcard.
  • Place stacks of postcards in strategic venues.
  • Mention your event in your newsletter.
  • Blab about it on social media.
  • Post flyers.

What’s missing from the above list is personal contact. Nothing – nothing! – moves people to action like a personal invitation. This could be an email or a phone call, but it is sent only to them and comes from the heart.

Never underestimate the value of personal invitations.

3. You were afraid to send email reminders.

You assumed that people would write it down and remember.

Most of my students and members admit to being “afraid to bother people” with an extra email. They reconsider when I share the statistics of how much these last-minute emails increase the sign-ups for my programs.

In fact, the highest percentage of registrations comes when I send the “starts tomorrow” email.

4. You let your list get cold.

You assumed you could count on certain people.

This is so critical that I want to jump up and down and shout it from the rooftop. But not jump off the rooftop.

So imagine me doing one or the other as you’re reading this . . .

The reason you have a strategy for staying in touch with your list on a regular basis is so that they know you care about your relationship with them. So that, when you ask something of them, they remember you and are familiar with what you’ve been up to.

It’s not just impolite to them, it’s downright uncomfortable for you to contact people only when you want something from them.

Stop assuming so much. There are plenty of people out there who want to show up for you.

Make sure they hear from you and know that they are appreciated and needed.

Thanks, Alyson!

Approaching galleries for exhibition

Gallery-frontThis is most assuredly one the questions I am presented with the most: What do I have to do to get representation/exhibition in a gallery?

I am also sure many of you are faced with the same dilemma. While I do have some answers that may help I must also tell you there is no tried and true method. Each and every gallery you approach will have a different “personality.”

Just like most things, in order to accomplish your goal of representation you will need a plan. You will need to be sure you have the time and dedication to do this properly and professionally. It won’t work to show up at a gallery and simply ask them if they would be interested in showing your work. OK. I know you are all much smarter than that, but I have heard from more than a few gallerists about that same scenario happening.You can’t take this lightly.

So, with that in mind, I would suggest that you select a local gallery that shows work that would complement yours. Take some time to visit the gallery and chat with the staff. See if you feel comfortable with them. Then, shortly afterward, go back in with a physical portfolio that should consist of the following items:

• 10-15 of your best hard-copy images
• A CD of that same work, plus a few more of your best images
• A business card with ALL your info on it: email address, phone, web address
• All contained in a simple, inexpensive presentation folder

By having all that in hand it makes you look professional and they will take you more seriously than if you simply walked in and asked for a card.

Approach one of the staff and ask them if they are accepting submissions. If they are tell them you have been in the gallery on several occasions and that you think your work would fit in well with their current inventory, and that you would like to leave a portfolio of your current work for their consideration. Rather than calling first to see if you can make and appointment, if you are there in person it is more difficult for them to say no if you are standing right in front of them.

Happy WomanEven if they aren’t accepting submissions (at this time) at least you will have made a physical impression. You will have let them know you are serious. Few will reject the portfolio if you have it in hand. It may go on a slush pile to be viewed by an intern or you may get lucky and it may get tossed on to the desk of the gallery director (wishful thinking, here!).

This will be a good trial run for you. Odds are the person you talk to will accept the portfolio, say thank you, and turn to talk to someone else. At this time, you can go outside, jump up and click your heels together! You’ve done it.

Granted, however, this will only be the first step in what could very well be a long journey, but you will have done the most important thing in this process: You have taken the first step.

Processing nude images with Facebook in mind

It’s been quite a while, but at the time I had a few of my nude images removed from Facebook. I had received no notice or indication that my new portfolio of work was in the process of being removed. It was not until I went to my page and saw that they had been removed. I was ****** (just in case the Facebook militia is watching)!

Since that time I have refrained from posting images that had any hint of nudity or even moderately revealing nudity. I have now taken the stance that photographer Renée Jacobs has and have decided to post nude images on Facebook with selective squares and rectangles, as you can see in the composite, below.

Nyika x 2

As you can see by the image on the left of one of my favorite models, Nyika, it is much too revealing. But rather than utilizing simple black “no-no” bars, I decided to be a bit creative and use selected bars from the same image. I think I can live with this. Or, maybe I should just “erase” the offending parts and forget about being creative

The more I use Facebook, which now is only once or twice a week, the more I am dismayed at its limitations, even though there is a lot to be said about the “community.” I have recently discovered that Facebook only displays a certain amount of your Friends to be “seen” at any given time. I don’t even want to know what I don’t know!

Oh well, not before too long Facebook may become what so many other businesses become once they arrive at the “corporate” level and forget who got them there. Don’t worry, Red Dog will never get to the corporate level or forget you, its ever-faithful readers, even when I am rolling in greenbacks!

Red Dog News: 2014 Updates

Coffee Cup-2Well, thanks for your patience if you tried to access RedDogNews.com this past Wednesday. I was in and out of it on many occasions doing some back-end cleanup in an effort to make the site cleaner and much more user friendly.

Most of the work had to do with downloading a new WordPress theme and working on the Red Dog News Galleries. Over the next few weeks I will be doing additional maintenance, but that will be behind the scenes and you shouldn’t “feel” a thing.

During the last part of 2013, I contemplated releasing an online magazine. I did a lot of preliminary work and research. Even though the results of such research was very positive, I decided against the project at this time. I really didn’t want to dive into something else that would take away time from my primary projects at this time.

I also want to devote more time to Red Dog News, the newsletter as well as the site. So much more can be done to enhance them both in an effort to create much more value to readers. Some of the projects that I will be incorporating in 2014 include:
• More timely book reviews
• Weekly updates on great affiliate offers
• Periodic guest essays on the status of photography from industry leaders
• More selected guest posts (like the previous post from Karin Hillmer)
• Much more promotion in an effort to add readers to the free issue of Red Dog News
• Incorporate a paid subscription section with valuable and timely exclusive content

As always, if you have anything to add to the mix be sure and contact me, here.

Fantasy and the Photography of Karin Hillmer

Photography and Storytelling (Guest post by Karin Hillmer)
I love books. Growing up in Germany I enjoyed reading my parents’ Brockhaus, the multi-volume German encyclopedia. These volumes were similar to what Google is for us today, a source of endless discovery to stimulate the imagination. In my photography, which is all about storytelling, I combine my thoughts, fears, hopes and fantasies with the external world around me. Books as visual objects and as a source of discovery—as well as words—have always been important to me and have informed my art. The transitional space between sleeping and waking serves as fertile ground to retrieve thoughts and emotions from the past, question the soul, and weave them into visual impressions and fragments of our material world. It is in this conceptual collage process that I unify these magical worlds to visualize my stories in photographs.


Dreamlike Imagery
Three artists who have most influenced my work and who incorporated dreamlike imagery, actual collage fragments and multi-faceted contemporary material are Max Ernst, Joseph Cornell and Robert Rauschenberg. I was first introduced to their work during my undergraduate studies in art history when I also studied drawing, painting and photography. From the outset, my camera was searching for staged scenes or theatrical set ups and found objects. Sun and daylight are my favorite sources of light as it best describes the tones in my color that I seek.


Jorge Luis Borges
My series of photographs Infinity & Dreams, which were published as a book under the same name, are inspired by the short stories of the great South American writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges. When I initially read his story, “The Book of Sand,” comprised in Collected Fictions, I interpreted the infinite book that Borges describes as analogous to the Internet which grows infinitely; where today’s first page is no longer tomorrow’s.

TimAnderson-RedDogNews-HillmerSIn this series of photographs, I weave Borges’ narrative into my personal enigmatic imagery, riddles and universal symbols. I combine my fascination with Time with my interest in our present technological world. I explore a moment inspired by memory and fantasy. Each photograph represents a point on a continuum in time with the image titles and symbols often hinting at other dimensions along this path.



I have a copy of this book, and I want to tell you it is one of the best visual books I have seen in quite while. Even though the pictures are quite compelling by themselves, the poetic captions alone are well worth the price of Infinity & Dreams. (ed.)


Red Dog tries Mailpoet

MailpoetA couple of years ago, I signed up for a free email campaign, Mailpoet, with which to send newsletter, notices, etc. It worked fine, but I just didn’t want to have the logo emblazened on the header of whatever product I was announcing, which is usually the case with free product.

I also wanted a platform that worked within WordPress, since that product is my main choice for websites, blogs, etc. I already use Benchmark for my bi-weekly newsletter, Red Dog News, which is, understandably, “all about photography, all the time.” While I will likely continue to utilize Benchmark in the email campaign mix, I want something else for information I choose to release in a more timely manner than every-other-week.

I just popped for the $99 annual fee for the “Pro” version, so we will see what happens. You can see here what Mailpoet (formerly WYSIJA) has to offer.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress…

Red Dog News 2013 Survey Results

RDN-laptopA couple of weeks ago I sent out the Red Dog News 2013 Survey to see what Red Dog News readers liked best about the almost six year-old, bi-weekly publication that is read in more than 125 countries. More than 150 people have responded to date, which gave Red Dog News about a 13% response rate, which is very high for this type of survey.


Here are some of the results:
• 45% have been subscribers for more than three years
• 47% like the variety of content offered
• 41% like to read general photography news and tips
• 33% do not have a favorite online photography magazine
Lens Culture was voted the most popular online magazine
• 95% like Red Dog News just the way it is


A few of you listed things you didn’t like about Red Dog News
• Too long (I’m working on that)
• Too many ads (I need the money!)
• Confusion between Red Dog News and RedDogNews.com
(Red Dog News is the newsletter, and RedDogNews.com is the website)
• The layout ( a change is under consideration)
• Not being able to read it offline ( I fixed that)


As we slide into 2014 I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for a great 2013, and I look forward to an even better 2014! I would especially like to thank all the respondents to the Red Dog News 2013 Survey, especially those who voiced their ideas for an even better Red Dog News in 2014.

Be well, and have a great one!

Red Dog News: Year End Review

Thank you!

Well, here we are at the end of yet another year (#5), and it has been a good one for Red Dog News. We have gained readership and are read by people in more than 150 countries.

Here is a list of the Top Ten “visiting” countries: United Kingdom, Canada, India, Australia, France, Germany, Mexico, Italy, Sweden, Netherlands. I am very pleased to be read in so many countries, and I look forward to getting closer to 200 countries next year.

Moser-Precious ObjectsIn another category on the RedDogNews.com site, my stats tell me that the top link visited, besides the Home page, was my review of the Epson Stylus Pro 3880 inkjet printer. The Color It Red 2012/2013 photo contest follows behind, with Helen K. Garber’s review of the Ricoh GR Digital IV camera following. The three highest view getters in the Red Dog News Gallery were Kat Moser (pictured, left), Dan McCormick, and Josephine Sacabo; each garnering more than 1,500 views. Baron Wolman’s “Every Picture Tells a Story, The Rolling Story Years,” was the most visited book review, with my post, “Photographic Inspiration Comes From Many Sources,” ranking as the most viewed/read post.

For Red Dog News, the newsletter you receive in the inbox every other week during the year, the top ten clicked-through items were (in order of highest number of click-throughs):
1. reddognews.com/for-sale
2. reddognews.com/inm-2013-gallery-show
3. therichest.org/nation/the-top-ten-richest-photographers-in-the-world
4. reddognews.com/red-dog-news-color-it-red-2013-results
5. luminous-landscape.com/essays/adobe_cc.shtml (adobe cloud)
6. photographytalk.com/photography-articles/3220-7-tips-to-help-you-create-incredible-black-and-white-image
7. acameradiary.blogspot.com/2012/11/debate-with-myself-on-nude-photography.html
8. slrlounge.com/traditional-40s-pinup-photos-models-wearing-high-speed-milk
9. windowonphotography.com/articles/creative_development/competitions_improve_your_odds.html
10. photographyconcentrate.com/6-bad-photography-habits-to-break

SONY DSCThe first item in the above list was a link to a page on RedDogNews.com that announced the sale of a used, vintage 1952 Leica camera (pictured, left). We received two click-throughs within a few minutes of publishing that issue before the item was sold. Several links were related to photography contests, with a couple even suggesting how you might do better when you enter same competitions. Nude photography (as usual) was very popular, as was photography tips. And readers are always interested in who makes the most money. Weren’t you? And then there was the high-speed milk link (pictured, below). Milk image-1Oh, well. What the results do show is that you (Red Dog readers) are a diverse group, with eclectic interests. Why should I be surprised, especially when I know that on order to be a good photographer, variety of interests is a key to our success.

What’s up for next year? I am making plans for some significant changes to Red Dog News, but I will need your help. Within the next week I will be sending out a survey asking what you like, what you don’t like, what would you like to see, etc., in Red Dog News for the future. This is a very important survey, so if you are selected to receive it please read and answer the question as best you can. There will be a random drawing where five people will win selected camera bags from Think Tank.

Happy Holidays to all, and to all a very good night!



Red Dog News offers a gift solution

Man Carrying TreeAfter many years of fretting what I was going to buy my partner, Ann, I decided quite a few months ago to start shopping early in the year for Christmas. I don’t know about your partner, but shopping for mine is a definite challenge. Previously, we used to exchange ideas for gifts around Thanksgiving.

So, this year around Thanksgiving as we were settled in one evening, she asked me for my list, which I handed her. She then asked if I wanted her list. I smiled and said, “Not this year, I’m good.” She gave me a quizzical look.

For the first time in my life, I wasn’t challenged to find items in a short amount of time. I didn’t have to carve away time. As 2013 progressed, wheneverMistletoe Kiss I either spotted something I knew she would like, or I thought of making something for her, I picked it up or created the item almost immediately. A couple of the items are totally off-the-wall, and and don’t have much material value, but I am absolutely certain she will be very happy and suitably surprised.

I know you won’t be able to follow my plan this year, but there is always next year! Save yourself a bunch of anxiety, nerve shattering deadlines, and having to empty your wallet or max your card all at once. When you choose to follow the “pay-as-you-go” plan, the economic bite is spaced out, even though Ann and I place financial limits on gifts. I bet you feel better already, don’t you. The results could be VERY surprising!

The Thinking Photographer

Too many times, we as photographers spend way too much time thinking before we act. If you don’t, much more power to you! Because we delve in the creative world, we can come up with ideas for this and that, ideas that can add to our bottom line. But, more times than not, we hold back.

Poke the Box-GodinI just received a book, Poke the Box, by Seth Godin (left). It’s not a big book, at only about 84 pages, but it is definitely a winner. Godin has written many books that use basic intelligence, but he “twists” the words to make it digestible for you and I, much like Malcolm Gladwell, who takes unintelligible business precepts and enables you and I to understand what the hell he is talking about, and how we can use the resulting parables in our lives.

“The job isn’t to catch up to the status quo; the job is to invent the status quo,” Godin writes. The bottom line is that if you don’t start something, if you don’t jump out of the box, nothing gets done.

Do you have some ideas that need pushing? Do you have ideas that you know will add to your bottom line? What other money-making areas of photography would you like to pursue?

Just last week, I knew I needed to do something to generate another area of income. Someone recently told me about gumroad.com. This is a site that distributes a variety of material: videos, PDFs, etc. He had been using it to distribute back issues of a magazine he used to publish.

100 Figure StudiesSo, I took some time to think about what I had that I could turn into into a PDF, in short order. I knew a video or a podcast was out of the question, at least for the near future. It had to be something that was already in the works, and something that my audience would want (hopefully). Even though there was some trepidation on my part I decided to take one book I had previously published, and I another that I had already created as a PDF-only title (left).

Godin likes to refer to this process as “shipping it,” which is taking an idea and turning into a product, and then putting it out “there” to let the marketplace decide what happens next. We no longer have the benefit of waiting for things to come to market. We no longer need to wait for someone else to get “it” out there. At this point in time, “they” are you and I.

To finish up with my newer products, I reformatted them and placed them on gumroad.com, and waited for the money to flow. Well, it may not have flowed as freely as I would have liked, but I did realize a few sales. Granted, I didn’t exactly break the bank, but a few days have passed since I placed them on the site, and the sales are trickling in.

One of the products is “Frame of Mind,” a poetry book I recently published, and the other product is “100 Figure Studies.” I shipped them both and let the marketplace decide their fate. And they are both only $5 each.

If you could do absolutely anything in photography, that you aren’t already doing for whatever reason, what would that be? Think about it, then do it. No more thinking, just doing! Turn your thoughts into something that can add a bit more to your bottom line.