Fine Art Photography Show Realities - A Day In The Life

March 21, 2017

One of my recent fine art photography show is over.  I'm happy, I'm tired, I'm moving onto producing the next show.

I wanted to give younger and aspiring artists an idea of what it really takes to be involved in a fine art gallery show.  

So, for starters, I make a good living taking pictures and selling art, but as an artist, you will often find that with opportunities come real work.  I'm on the board of the Tampa Bay Society of Photographic Artists and the United Photographic Artists Gallery.   What this means is that when we put on a collective show, I'm hands on.  

So, here's what a show looks like...

Day of the show:

6 am - Get up and make sure the packed photos for the OTHER show across the country are ready to ship.  Yea, you may very well have multiple shows you are in (and have to put money out for).  Make sure your stuff is packed up properly, galleries won't hang broken stuff and WILL charge you insane amounts of money to re-frame and clean up your busted art.  Remember, you're on their printed program and have wall space so its not like you can just catch them next time.

8am - Drive an hour and half to the gallery.  You have coffee and this is a great gallery!

9:30 - Start unloading your and wait for the others to bring their fine art work.

10am - Learn that the space requires YOU to put up the 150lb hanging walls. (This is pretty normal in multi-use spaces).

10am- Put up the heavy-ass walls and figure out the lighting for the artwork.

11am - Work with your partners to sequence the images.  Often, you really can't do this until you actually get them in the space.  

Noon - Eat and discuss the evening events.  We actually had art creation on-site for this show!

3:30 - Finish Hanging all the images and setting up places for the catering (that you have to pay for or provide.  Remember, free wine and art mix just fine)

5pm- Clean up, then pick up your significant other who supports your crazy lifestyle and puts up with getting dragged to shows.

6pm- Show starts.  You begin to say hi to guests and answer questions about your art.  This is the time we really have to push to come out of our shells.  Asking, "do you have any questions about my work" can be crippling, but can actually be fun.

9pm- Show ends - You have given about 600 people a glimpse at what you have to offer and you can often look forward to a boost in your website numbers over the next week.

9:30 - Oh yea, you have to take all the artwork down and take the walls down now that everyone is gone.

11pm - Eat and wind down and talk about how the show went with your partners.

2am - Make it home, climb into bed with the knowledge you get to do this for a life.


Check out for some of the types of shows that happen in the Tampa Florida Area.  We put on about 15 shows a year.

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Yes, I make 6 figures doing this, but I work A LOT and have been doing it for over 20 years. However, you can do it too-seriously. Being an artist involves doing art 20% of the time and promoting it the other 80% :).

If you are a new or aspiring artist and REALLY want to do this for a living, you need a plan. I've got a master's degree and can say I learned more about actually making a living as an artist from a guy named Cory Huff than I did in years of school.  He has a book you need and a program you can sign up for (notice there is no affiliate thing here, I'm just appreciative.  Go to the courses area and just do it )