One of the first things you see when walking into Small World Gallery is the colorful rack of greeting cards featuring my photographs from around the world. It’s been a fixture in Small World since the beginning in 2002. And it is something else in the world of National Geographic photographers: rare!
Time and again I watch as people browse the collection, some drawn to the Flint Hills and Kansas cards, some to exotic locations like the Arctic or the Pyramids, some burrowing into my Scotland collection, and some just finding a personal connection — cats, windmills, sunsets, long roads.
From the very start I want our gallery to be a place where we could share more than just the few photographs we have on the wall. After all, I’ve shot more than 1,000,000 pictures during my 35 years working for the magazine, and only a relative handful ever made it onto the pages of that venerable publication. I’ve always felt that photographs have to be seen to have a real life, to have a chance to speak to people. Otherwise they’ll just linger unknown in the file drawers and computer hard drives, the equivalent of old letters hidden away in a shoe box in the attic.
Small World gave us an opportunity to right that wrong. But that chance is rare amongst my National Geographic colleagues: only a handful (fewer than five) have galleries of their own. And even if they produce affordable greeting cards, they generally only have a few, no more that 20 max. We determined that we wanted to display lots of cards, to let the pictures see the light of day, to let our visitors choose what spoke to them from the wide world. So we have over 300 different greeting cards! Nobody else does that.
One way we make that happen is that we print all of our cards ourselves, right here in Small World Gallery. That way we don’t have to order large numbers of cards. (We couldn’t do that; the back storage room would be overrun with boxes.) We only print what you see on the racks. When we run out, we print some more. Just-in-time inventory control comes to the art gallery.
That also means we can produce new cards on short notice for special events. And if we are out of a card your remember from a previous visit we can probably print it for you while we wait. All of that adds up to a lot of variety.
And it adds up to a lot of fun and satisfaction for me. There is always a great pleasure in seeing someone find something they connect with, something that brings a bit of joy into their day. Or to find something a friend will cherish, the be a part of the deep connection of friendships that bind us together.
Come see what we’ve got.