Gary Jones Photos | Blog | From Amateur to Pro|Am – Part 1
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From Amateur to Pro|Am – Part 1

From Amateur to Pro|Am – Part 1

No one ever told us how to create a public show of our work or how to tell when we were ready to do them.  There’s a lot to developing awareness of your work and creating a business around your work in any area of photography – and that is what I hope to help others learn.  For those wanting to move from being an amateur photographer to a Pro|Am photographer, at some point you have to organize your work and get it in front of the public and present it in a marketable way.


Everyone who goes beyond taking images with a point and shoot camera to making use of a DSLR with interchangeable lenses usually reaches a point that they begin daydreaming about seeing their work hanging in galleries and people buying their work. Daydreaming is great, but you have to  take action to achieve your dreams and that’s the difference between those who remain amateurs and those who move up to the Pro|Am level and beyond. Moving past amateur status takes action.


When Christine and I got to the point where we had some images we thought were “show-able” we decided to create a showing in our home with another photographer friend, Mark Morgan.  We organized it like you would a party and had finger foods, beverages – alcohol and otherwise – and proceeded to invite all of our friends to a showing.  Not a sales event as such mind you, but an opportunity to see what kinds of reactions we got about our images.  We each matted our handful of prints and hung them on the walls around the house.  As people moved around the house as the party progressed we mingled and talked about the story behind images and fielded questions about everything from our camera gear to what would one cost to buy.  We had our toe in the water and it felt good!


There is a bit of a back story to how we got to this first showing though.  While we had images WE liked – no one had ever really seen them before – not even our families.  And let’s face it – your family is going to say positive things about them anyway.  To test the waters even before the thought of a showing our work to others, we decided to enter our images into the creative arts event at our county and state fairs and see how they did in juried competitions.  We figured if we could get our images reviewed by a panel who didn’t know us and we placed at some level then taking the next step could be worthwhile.  If not, then we’d keep working at it.  Our first foray in our local county fair was heavily attended by other photographers submitting work in each of the categories so we didn’t hold out a lot of hope for our images placing at any level. It was with great relief and a surprise to find that our images had placed well in several categories, including Christine getting a Co-Best of Show along with some First and Second place awards and I receiving some First and Second place awards also.  In one category, I even knocked Christine out of First place and she got Second – which was fodder for much cajoling  – and yet we were both extremely happy to have had our work recognized as having merit.


So what I would like to see you take away from this is that everyone has to start somewhere.  You have to take action and in the beginning that can mean almost anything be it small or large – but you have to start.  So, in the coming weeks I’ll be covering how we grew from our home show to our first major show in a public gallery.  I’ll talk you through getting to a decision point, all of the preparation work and what its like to have a gallery filled with your work and a gallery full of people buying prints.  Quick teaser – it’s exciting, scary, exhausting and worth every minute of it!

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