Fine Art Photography: Ruben Natal-San Miguel, Business of Fine Art Photography for Emerging Photographers

The Talk at SVA by Ruben Natal-San Miguel on the business of fine art photography (and organized by the SVA Digital Photography program, Katrina Keismann) began with Ruben’s own art work–photographs he has taken over the years and recently of colorful barrios, street scenes, and the like–which seemed like a great way to start off.  Afterall, its a business, but its about the art.

Ruben has a no-nonsense but very approachable and charming way about him, and the presentation reflected this, and thankfully, it was jargon-free and full of tid-bits of information for emerging (and the not so-emerging) photographers:

  • Finding your voice as an artist is crucial.  Ruben mentioned an interesting story about Alex Soth and how, because of his simple but clear approach, others can imitate it, and even out do Soth.
  • Work needs to stand out on the web and in book reproduction to get scene.
  • I whole-heartily agree with one of Ruben’s suggestion: go to the auction houses, like Philips, for the preview as well as the auction–its great to see what’s selling and to imagine your work selling there (my suggestion).
  • Also, I found this observation interesting although I’ve not actually witnessed this directly: that more transactions are occurring online and gallery foot traffic is down as a result (perhaps because of the economy too).  Also as a result, private dealers–especially those that participate in art fairs–are a place to develop relationships with.
  • Adorama offers good low-cost printing, and is a great way to start showing work without going into debt.  Bring prints to dealers or collectors and mention that the final prints will be even better; then when you make a sale, you can afford to get the perfect but high quality print.
  • Editions: keep them low, to 5 or 6 and in two sizes only.
  • Make sure your dealer LOVES your work 110%–it not, get another.