We profiled Ben Ham in the monthly eNewsletter, In Focus, about six years ago. At that time he was already well established as a fine art photographer of South Carolina’s low country, his beautiful black-and-white landscapes adorning galleries and high-end properties, including HGTV’s Green Home in 2008.
It was inevitable that Ham’s work would find a wider audience and that his photographic lens would widen to encompass other landscapes across the U.S. and even Europe. Ham is not only a consummate artist, but a savvy businessperson who obviously enjoys meeting new people and forging relationships in the art market.
“All through the economic downturn I didn’t change the way I was doing things because of the economy,” explains Ham. “Instead, I raised my prices and focused on branding and building that brand. It’s important to maintain the value of what you’re doing. When you drop your prices it lowers the value of your work and makes people wonder if you were gouging them before you brought the prices down.”
Instead, Ham invested in more and better production equipment to improve the quality of his finished pieces. In other words, he wanted to ensure that his clientele would benefit from the full value of his expertise, concentrating on the details that make the difference between a framed print and a true piece of collectible fine art.
“I’ve built some real strategic relationships with vendors like LexJet, as well as frame and molding companies. We needed the production equipment to create a better product and do it more efficiently, like a double miter saw, pneumatic frame jointing equipment and a new Epson 9900,” explains Ham. “Now it’s all about building a team of people to help me do that; a good team in a work environment where everyone’s enjoying it, making money, and moving forward to build something big.”
Long a staple of high-end galleries in South Carolina and Vail, Colo., Ham’s framed pieces will find a home of their own in a gallery Ham is opening in downtown Charleston dedicated to his work. The renovation of the space on King Street is scheduled for completion in early November.
“We’ve always been represented by a great gallery in Charleston, but no one knows how to sell and represent our work better than we do. Now we have the space we need, which is important because my smallest piece is 3′ x 4′; you can’t get a lot of gallery wall space with pieces that size,” explains Ham. “I started looking for the space and it took me about a year to find it. Now, it will be a Ben Ham Images gallery with more than 30 pieces of mine showcased in there, plus more from the collection of what I do beyond Low Country photography, like Colorado and Italy. I expect this new gallery to triple our business.”
Rated the number one city in the U.S. by Conde Nast Traveler readers, Ham’s location in Charleston will bring his work to a wide audience of tourists from across the U.S. and the world. Ham expects the gallery to be a real game changer for his business, with 2,300 feet of gallery space in a prime street-front location housed in an old and historic building. “It’s incredible what’s going on in Charleston, and we want to be in the center of it,” says Ham.
Katie Lindler, who was previously gallery director at Coleman Fine Art, will take over the reins at Ham’s Charleston gallery. “She really knows what she’s doing and I’m super-psyched to have her on board,” says Ham. “I have no doubts about what we can do in Charleston, and it’s template for what we’ll do in the future.”