Getting Into a Gallery

By Matthew Bamberg / Oct 5, 2005
It’s early in the A.M. and I’m preparing proofs for the Photographer’s Gallery in Singapore.

Matthew (I prefer Matt, however the editors of Wiley went with Matthew for my book “Digital Art Photography for Dummies”) here, working to put some proofs together for Fabian So, a nice gentleman I met while I was traveling through Singapore.

Before I begin I want to offer a TIP: Do everything you can do to help your photography find a name for itself (that is make it stand out from the thousands who want publication of their photographs, gallery shows and all the rest of the so called glitz of an artist’s life).

Before I picked up a camera, I learned how to write. I knew when I wanted to become a writer that the writing would need some help, that is, I felt that my writing alone would have a better chance of selling if it had some images that went along with it. I read that in some writing rag about six years ago when I started all of this publication business.

Viola! My formula began to work when Mona D. from a local alternative paper in Palm Springs, CA. picked up a story called “Confessions of a Picker” that I offered her via a phone call in 1999. She came over to my mid-century modern condo and took pictures of all the 50s and 60s stuff I had bought on the cheap for resale. I watched her as she stood up on chair snapping pictures of everything from ceramic poodles to radioactive orange McCoy pottery to minimalist patio furniture. The article was about a picker (that’s someone who hunts valuable stuff at garage sales and flea markets and turns it over to antique stores and consignment shops for resale) and she made it the cover story of the paper.

In the article I describe myself as a being an experimental type of guy (who can’t cook) blasting Melmac dishes in the microwave when I decided to cook with the old brightly-colored, plastic relics that look like dolls should eat from them.

But more important than that, I went out and bought a Canon film camera and started taking picture of the radio dials, mid-century signage and just about anything else that was a “blast of the past” so to speak.

I moved from picking (oh, okay, that was a part-time thing, I have a Masters in Creative Arts from San Francisco State and have been a school teacher for 14 years) to taking pictures of signage.

The signs began to sell like hot cakes when instead of supplying the consignment store with stuff I “picked,” I happily made them framed prints of signs.

So a couple of stores and galleries later (M Modern Gallery sells my work as well as Room Service and the Neon Musuem in Los Angeles and Palm Springs Consignment in Palm Springs) I find myself wanting more sales.

So, on my photos move on to Fabian So, the curator of the Photographer’s Gallery in Singapore, another place I just visited in Asia (and a very spiffy place at that).

Fabian has sent me a contract for a Christmas-time show in his gallery. Having a Dummies title under my belt helped to sell my work (you need all the help you can get to get into any gallery as most won’t even talk to you unless you have a proven track record of making money with your art work).

Today I just sent him the templates of my signage pictures. He’ll pick 20, frame them for me (I have to pay for that) and sell them (hopefully) at the show. Above, you’ll find one of the templates that I made using Photoshop CS 2’s new automate command.

About the author

Matthew Bamberg

Matthew Bamberg has provided photographs and written articles for various Southern California newspapers and magazines, including The Desert Sun and The Press-Enterprise. More recently, Matt has been teaching at UC Riverside while also authoring several books like the Quick and Easy Secrets book series (Cengage), Killer Photos with Your iPhone (with Kris Krug and Greg Ketchum, Cengage), the 50 Greatest Photo Opportunities in San Francisco (Cengage) and Digital Art Photography For Dummies (Wiley).