We Simplify The Technical!

Photographer and gallery owner Bonnie Tate-Woodby gives us some insights on what it takes to run a gallery and tips on how to get recognized as an artist.


Please scroll down for show notes.

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Understand Photography General Notes


Upcoming Trips:
Evergaldes 4 day Photo Adventure – January 31 – February 3, 2019 Only 2 openings left!!
St. Augustine – April 11-14, 2019
Florida’s Forgotten Coast – May 13-17,  2019
Ladies Only Trips:
Mt. Dora – December 5-7, 2018
Cuba – February 2 – 9, 2019

Check our Meetup site for more information.

New Book!  Peggy Farren and Joe Fitzpatrick have published a book highlighting Florida’s best photo spots!

Florida Photo Spots: Naples and Collier County by [Farren, Peggy, Fitzpatrick, Joe]

Understand Photography is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

August 10th is our 100th Episode!

The Understand Photography Show will be featuring Bird Photography Specialist Artie Morris.  We will have a LIVE Q&A session!  You can send in your questions ahead of time to be sure they are answered via [email protected]

Running an Art Gallery with Bonnie Tate-Woodby

About Bonnie

  • She studied photography in college and has worked for others as a portrait and wedding photographer.
  • Bonnie had her own portrait photography business and enjoys teaching photography classes.
  • She has also worked in other galleries and as a curator at a local art center.
  • Bonnie took inspiration from Photography Center Northwest (pcnw.org) in Tacoma, WA.  A center catering to education, creation, and exhibition of fine art photography.

About the Gallery

  • The Light Room Gallery is a multi-use space housing a fine art photo gallery, a small studio space that can be rented out, and space for a variety of classes.
  • Location is key!  The gallery is located in the old downtown area of Panama City, Florida, near the art center and several other galleries as well as quaint coffee shops and restaurants. The area is working hard at revitalization.  

Finding Artists

  • Some artists come to her and ask for exhibit space.
    • Make an appointment and show off your portfolio in person. Being able to view the physical prints can make a bigger impression on the gallery owner.
    • Email the gallery with a link to your website or portfolio.
    • Call and follow up with an email.
  • Other artists are photographers that are locally known to Bonnie, found by word of mouth, or friends of friends.
  • The gallery has shown images from a mix of new artists and seasoned photographers.
  • Shows can be from a single artist or a group of 2, 3, or 4 people.

 The Shows

  • The toughest step is figuring out pricing.  How much was the base cost?  Printing, framing, and other associated fees need to be calculated before adding in the artistic worth. The gallery also takes a 30% commission for any work sold at the show. (Most galleries take 50%.) 
  • Advertising for the show is a collaborative effort between the gallery and the artist.
    • The gallery sends out postcards to their mailing list and gives them to other local businesses as well as the artist to hand out.
    • The show is promoted online through the gallery newsletter, and social media.  The artist should promote heavily on their own social media accounts.
    • Bonnie also enlists the local newspaper, as well as the local TV station to help spread the word for the opening of a new exhibit.
  • Most shows run between 1-2 months.  
  • The gallery hosts an opening night celebration with food and drink and is experimenting with a closing reception as well.

Classes at The Light Room

  • The Gallery doesn’t make enough on it’s own to pay the bills, so the space has other uses.
  • Classes range from beginner photography through specialized topics and even include kid’s photography camps for middle and high school age children.
  • Classes are taught by Bonnie, as well as other local photographers. 
  • Special workshops are also held here with visiting photographers.
  • Classes are advertised via social media, emailed newsletters, and Facebook and Google ads.

Becoming a “Professional Artist”

  1. Work on making your images something you are REALLY proud of and would be happy to show to people.
  2. Find your unique style, something that’s different, something that stands out.  Work on a series (10-12 images) with the intention of finding your style.  What can YOU photograph that others don’t have access to?
  3. Listen to feedback from other people.  Friends and family are a good start, but feedback can be more useful from instructors and other photographers.  What do others think you’re really good at?  It might surprise you to find that their ideas differ from yours.
  4. Find a mentor. (Check out this interview from Shutterbug Life with Peggy speaking on this topic.)
  5. Join the local Art Association and meet and talk with other artists.
  6. Look at the history of photography.  Study the masters of your niche.

Market Your Work

  • Start with friends and family.  Let them know what you’re working on or trying to do.
  • Make local contacts.  Introduce yourself to local businesses, people, blogs, magazines, or the Art & Culture department of the newspaper, that you’d like to be recognized by.  
    • Send an email or go through the proper channels for submissions.
      If they are slow to respond or give no response, keep emailing and submitting your work. Eventually you will catch someone’s eye.
  • Send out a newsletter.  Short and snappy works well – we are all overburdened with emails.
    • Share whatever is happening with you; classes you took, projects you’re working on, recent successful images, new experiments, and behind the scenes images.

Finding Bonnie

Website:  TheLightRoomPC.com




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