It might be surprising to learn that photographers have many tools besides cameras and lenses. One of the most important tools for me is the ability to create a wall gallery in my client’s environment. I also strive to have the bare minimum toolset while at the same time carefully selecting ones that provide impact and maximum benefit. That’s where Preveal and Simply Galleries (which debuts March 4, 2014) come in. Both of these provide the technology that, quite simply, create the most amazing wall galleries for my clients that they will cherish for a lifetime. And the best part is I can design, revise and display this on their own walls using a tablet or laptop and a snapshot of their own space BEFORE we place an order. It’s simply genius. Or rather, Simply Galleries.
Just two years ago Preveal was launched as a tool for photographers to help clients preview their portraits, mix and change the number of images, resize and regroup all with the simple click (or swipe) of a button. Since then they have continued to improve its features and build a wonderful community of creative people who share, develop and display their work which enables others to imagine what their space could look like. Preveal was a game changer in the photo world. It enabled photographers to help clients visualize before committing a big investment.
Simply Galleries is a progression of this technology and provides anyone with the ability to choose a wall, select the images they want to display and have Simply Galleries do the rest of the work. The result is an aesthetically balanced, beautifully grouped wall gallery. I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Chris Scott, the co-founder of Preveal and Simply Galleries. Check it out below:
What is your background in photography, how did you get your start?
I got my start as one of those photographers who accosts your family to have their photo taken while you're on vacation. I worked at a ski resort in Virginia, at the top of the lift, so there was the added bonus that you were probably laying face-down in the snow about 10 seconds prior to me jumping in front of you to ask if you want your family photo taken. I ended up managing one of the resorts for that company before moving to the Nashville area for college.
In college, I was a music business major, with a minor in entrepreneurship. I photographed some concerts and horse shows (not even the cool ones, like rodeos. These were more like dog shows, with horses. Oh, Tennessee...) to pay for pizza and burritos and, after graduating into a sinking-ship of an industry, decided to continue paying my bills with my camera.
I spent eight years as a professional photographer photographing weddings, high school seniors and boudoir, 6 years of that with my wife, Adrienne.
Are you formally trained or self-taught?
I am 100% self-taught and owe my career to David Hobby from strobist.com.
How long into your path into photography did Preveal reveal itself?
I see what you did there. =) The idea for Preveal was born sometime around the beginning of 2011. Adrienne and I were leading a pro photography meetup group in Nashville that specifically focused on the business of photography, rather than the art and technical aspects of the job. Week after week, we'd see photographers who were producing fantastic work, but didn't have the high-end studio spaces and projection sales rooms that were, up until that point, almost a requirement for selling large wall art. We saw the potential in the iPad to level the playing field and bring the power of projection sales to the palm of a photographer's hand, by letting them show their clients what their images would look like, at the correct size, on their clients' own walls, all on an iPad instead of thousands upon thousands of dollars in projection equipment.
Preveal was released in July of 2012, two developers and about a year and a half after our initial interest in creating it.
What was the seed that started the concept for Preveal, which seems like the seed that started Simply Galleries?
See above for Preveal. Preveal, itself, was the seed for Simply Galleries. We'd have friends who weren't photographers asking us if we knew photographers in their area who were using Preveal because they wanted to put artwork on their own walls with it. A consumer-focused solution just seemed like the next logical step for us, especially since there's absolutely nothing in the consumer market that offers this ability.
What are your goals for Simply Galleries? How will you know when you've 'made it?'
That's a really great question and one with a lot of answers, I think.
There's the publicity answer: I'll know we made it when we're on “Ellen” and she orders something for her family.
There's the financial answer: I'll know we made it when we can afford to buy a house and be in a place to have a second kid.
There's the business-y answer: I'll know we made it when we reach the bottom of my list of ideas, features and functionality (which is the Hydra of lists - for each thing I cross off, I think of 3 more to replace it, so this may never happen)
Then there's the pride answer that I'd be lying if I didn't mention: I'll know I made it when I sit down next to someone on a plane and they ask if I've ever heard of Simply Galleries. I plan to say "no" and let them tell me all about it, so I know if we're sending the right message out there. =)
What's it like working with your wife - and is she really the voice of reason?
Adrienne is absolutely the voice of reason, and so much more. The analogy we use for our relationship, both working and personal is that I feel free and confident to jump off of cliffs because I know Adrienne packed my parachute. She takes my gung-ho, risk it all personality and reduces it down to a controlled burn. She's my sounding-board, my cheerleader and the person who tells me the truth when I need to hear it, even if I don't want to. She's the perfect balance of caution to my spontaneity, but she knows when to let me run with an idea, even if she doesn't see the potential that I see. She also happens to be a fantastic mom to our 1 year old, an amazing cook and she's got the best smile and laugh of anyone I've ever met... except maybe our daughter. True story.
How has life changed since having a baby? Do you feel like you have two babies, a real one and Simply Galleries?
It absolutely feels like we have three babies, the real one, Preveal and Simply Galleries. Although I guess Preveal would be the tween in this analogy - starting to function pretty well without a lot of input, still needs a little prodding here and there, could definitely use some direction every now and then, and probably feels a little left out every once in a while.
As far as life changing since having a baby, it's been exactly that, life-changing. From a practical standpoint, it's terribly difficult to be as productive since we're in a townhouse (remember that house I'd like to buy?) and my loft-office is right next to our daughter's (we call her McScott online) bedroom. So I do a lot of work at the library and in a conference room at our neighborhood's Rec Center. Not glamorous, but it'll make a great story down the road, right?
From an emotional standpoint, I never thought the struggle of balancing work life with family life would be this difficult. I want to devote my time to both babies and I want to be able to provide for my family, but what good is it to provide for a family that you never see. It's an age-old struggle and I knew it was coming, I just never thought it would be so present every day.
What's a perfect workday like for you?
Ha, I'm not sure I've had one of those in a while! Launching a business is such a strange, interesting beast. I'm constantly bouncing between developments, design, marketing, content-creation, customer service and a thousand other things that you never know you'll be doing until it becomes painfully obvious they need to get done (and that there's no one else to do them). So, while I don't know if it's exactly perfect, a pretty great day would just include 2 or 3 meals with my family and a solid 6 hours of uninterrupted time to get work done. As Adrienne hears every day "as soon as this thing is launched..." I'd like to get back to adding some daily exercise into the mix, as well as a full day each week of reading, studying, getting lost in blogs and generally learning new things. I get so caught up in just trying to get things done, that I don't really have time to learn anything new and I really don't like that.
What else should we know?
We hope that our personalities shine through our company in an authentic way and that people feel like they're buying from people they know, even if it's just through the Internet. I'd love for people to walk away from their experience with Simply Galleries feeling like they just bought some wall art from Chris & Adrienne. And, as scary as it is being a small fish in a big, big ocean, we kind of love it. After all, Goliath and Goliath isn't a very interesting story, is it?
If you’re a photographer check out Preveal to add to your set of tools. And if you have boxes of prints or digital images just sitting around take action! Now you’re just a few clicks away from a beautiful wall display with Simply Galleries.
Tina Case is a photographer and writer based out of the San Francisco Bay Area. She writes reviews, tips and tricks about photography gear and other consumer technology products.