Live. Now.

Managed to get out from under the fluorescent glow of my computer screen for an evening to shoot trail running this week. There was nothing particularly special about the evening. No dramatic clouds, no promise of epic wildflower patches, and no new location to shoot. To a certain extent, it was just the “same old, same old”.

Once we were out there, however, inspiration started coming in a hurry. Silhouettes, sunbursts, grand vistas–as soon as I had my camera in hand, my mind started searching for whatever looked good that evening. I’ve mentioned this before, but I think it’s vital to get out. If you’re a photographer, that means getting out and shooting. If you’re a runner, that means getting out and running. If you’re a mountain biker, that means getting out and riding. And so on for skiers, fishermen, climbers, kayakers and anything else that requires leaving some sort of sanctuary or comfort zone to chase something far better.

I also re-discovered the importance of focusing on what looks good at that time. Forget the flowers that were epic last week. Forget the light that was (so you thought) unforgettable the other night. Who cares? If it’s not there now, then does it really matter other than to take it’s place in the giant virtual filing cabinet that makes up your short term memory…

Live in the now. Live for the now.

Matt Rink trail running at last light near Catherine's Pass Matt Rink trail running at Alta Ski Area with Devil's Castle in the background Matt Rink pauses to take in the view of Devil's Castle at Alta Ski Area, UT

Post Park City Arts Festival Update (How to Exhibit at an Art Show)

The Park City Arts Festival was a great success. Sales were good and I didn’t spend more than two minutes all weekend without someone in my booth. The amount of people that view your work at something like this really is unmatched in any other venue I’ve exhibited in to this point. I guess that’s kind of an obvious statement, being that this was my first arts festival. It is a great feeling to have droves of perfect strangers compliment you on something to which you are so committed and passionate about. It’s another level of satisfaction entirely to have someone enjoy your work enough to pay top dollar, and then hang it on their wall. The days are long, but the more people you engage, and the more connections you’re able to make with potential buyers, the quicker it goes. Preparing and setting up the booth was a huge undertaking and I have to thank my lovely wife for her tireless help.

For those interested in participating in a show of their own similar to this, I have comprised a list of tips below. I’m obviously not the most experienced at this sort of thing, but I learned a lot this time around, and fortunately didn’t learn too much “the hard way”.

The first show is a big investment. I bought everything for my booth except the pop-up tent (borrowed from a buddy) which probably would have been the cheapest part. Propanels, lighting, table, misc. materials, promotional postcards, matted prints, framed prints, print bins, etc. Lots of stuff, and lots of money. I spent a lot of money (for me anyway) preparing for this show and, fortunately, made nearly all of it back. I didn’t expect to make even that much from this show, and knew that this initial investment would be paid off from a) other shows in the future and b) all of the interaction I had with other potential buyers at the show. From the other artists I was speaking with, I seem to have had a very successful show. I’ll chalk it up to beginner’s luck and knock on wood.

I had around 25 framed prints on display, but had quite a few more at home to choose from if I wanted to swap anything out or something sold and I needed to fill the space. All of the images were printed at a pro lab I use (West Coast Imaging), and framed by a framer I have used numerous times who does great work. They all looked immaculate, which I think is very important if you want to sell. I was one of the only booths with lighting–which obviously makes a huge difference in how your prints are displayed. A couple things I would suggest if you are thinking about doing it:

1. Do it right. Spend the money to have a nice looking booth, great looking images (framed and just mounted/matted) and an overall professional appearance.

2. Choose your very best work, but choose what you think will sell. This is a tough one, but just because an image is your favorite as a photog and it’s a great image photographically, it doesn’t mean people will buy it. Common places that will be familiar to the local contingent, or iconic landscape locations seem to sell most often. From my experience, people need to have some sort of emotional connection to the place to ultimately spend a decent amount of cash and hang it on their wall.

3. Light your booth. Nuff said.

4. Interact with people. So many artists just sit in their chairs and won’t get up unless they think someone is a potential buyer. As far as I’m concerned, everyone that lays eyes on my work is a potential buyer, and should be treated as such. I handed out more business cards than I can count, and I imagine this will pay off in the coming months and weeks. It helps that I am a personable individual, and enjoy associating with people. If you’re not, force yourself to leave your comfort zone and engage everyone that lays eyes on your work.

5. Have a broad selection of smaller mounted/matted prints in plastic available for purchase. This is huge. Everyone browses these. I probably had about 100 prints divided in size between 5×7, 8×10 and 12×18 and it was nowhere near enough. Make sure they look professional, and put a label with your website and the price on the back of the plastic envelope.

6. All of the framed images I sold were either 16×24 or 20×30. Have a broad selection in sizes for sure, but these seemed to be the most popular sizes.

7. Don’t give away your work, but work with someone for multiple purchases. I made an $1,800 sale (3 framed pieces) in the last 15 minutes of the show partly because I offered a 10% discount for a multiple print purchase. I think they would have bought regardless, but I’m not sure they would have bought three.

Now get out there and live the dream!

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Out and About

Or, as you Canadians would say, “Ooht and uh-boot”. Seems like this summer is nearly over, yet I haven’t even had a chance to stop and smell the wildflowers! I’m in the thick of the Park City Arts Festival and about to go “ply my wares” on main street for another day in the searing sun. This is my first show ever, and while it is definitely a ton of work, I’m finding there’s nothing better than seeing your imagery hanging large and well-framed, and being able to talk to people about the places, the images, the technique, and just life in general is a lot of fun.

Previous to the Arts Festival, I snuck up to Albion Basin to check on the status of the wildflowers up there. They are definitely out, although not quite peaking yet. I was hoping for a more dramatic sky that evening, but was offered crystal clear blue instead. That’s ok! “I’ll just shoot less sky…” I thought. Abundant corn lilies made for a striking foreground subject, and I found myself being pushed a bit outside of my comfort zone looking for something different from the norm for me. Check out the BW shot–I felt like I was looking into the jaws of some giant b-grade horror movie plant monster. I’ll be checking in after the Arts Festival. Until then, enjoy the hot summer sun!

Corn Lilies and Devil's Castle