Do photographers charge way to much for their photos?

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by Jim Chinn, Jan 12, 2006.

  1. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    In one of the more well known photo publications, the author of a current article postulated that photographers charge way to much for their images. He believes photographers are elitist when they price into their work skill, experience and past success.

    The author feels that $20 is a fair price for an 8x10 photograph based on the fact that a good meal at a bistro or a current release CD costs about $20 and that a 8x10 photograph will bring the purchaser about the same amount of pleasure.

    Also at $20 dollars the photographer would sell many more photos because many more people could afford one or more images at a time.

    I was just wondering if anyone else had an opinion...
     
  2. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    I have an opinion..

    The author is a fool!

    LOL

    Besides a current release CD is NOT priced by the artist, the music distribution company does the pricing, as far as a good meal at a bistro, the cook don't price it the owner does....and they do it reflecting the costs of doing business as well as the profit they need to derive to stay in business, the meal will be with you for about 24 hours, the music will be with you until the next great singer or band is hot, the photograph could become a cherished part of a family handed down to the future generations...he is quite a bit out of touch...by time I travel, take the image, either do the processing or have it down for me, frame, matt and such, I have a hell of alot more into the image than $20, not to mention the schooling, the learning and being at the right place at the right time!

    Dave
     
  3. NikoSperi

    NikoSperi Member

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    Just point that enlightened person towards a royalty free website for stock... give him $4 and tell him to plaster his walls with the 20 odd photos he can buy there.
     
  4. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    Well maybe he means $20 if you can crank em out of the inkjet printer a dozen at a time.
     
  5. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    The legacy of digital home printing Jim, even a digital print done professionally will cost more than $20 bucks, I myself am not in the business to sell pictures, but sell art, just as a master painter does, but myself am not interested in selling $20 pictures, not worth the time and effort that goes into them..$20 8x10's might be great for inserts in cheap frames, but is hardly worth the time of someone who does images for a living..

    Dave
     
  6. roteague

    roteague Member

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    I think this particular author has espoused this position for quite sometime. Well, it is his opinion, and he has a right to it, but his opinion carries no weight with me. My printer charges $10 for an 8x10, and that doesn't count shipping or anything else - it certainly doesn't cover the items that Dave mentioned; like travel and life experience. This same author, I think is really trying to alienate a portion of his readership; the latest issue of his magazine, I picked up and promptly put back on the shelf (I usually buy it) because every single portfolio was captured digitally and printed on an ink jet printer - I really would prefer that he at least try to support those who use traditional materials.
     
  7. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    Well this person sells his own work through his publication for $20 a pixelgraph. If it is good enough for him it must be good enough for you.
     
  8. roteague

    roteague Member

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    No, I don't like to sell my work like cheap "postcards".
     
  9. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    The author is a troll. The publication obviously needed to fill space if they put that story out.

    I hope they paid him the $20 for his time at the typewriter.

    Matt
     
  10. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    I wonder if he will alienate any of the contributors to his publication. The ones that have not got the message about $20 dollar prints but charge hundreds and thousands for their work. I guess maybe he just means the rest of us bottom feeders should only charge $20.
     
  11. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    LOL.....If I sold a pt/pd print for $20 I would be loosing money after I factor in shipping, customs taxes, gas, and materials.

    I sort of agree with Jensen in the sense that a $1500 print is way out of my range, heck even a $500 or $600 print is too much for my wallet. For example I would love to buy a Bill Schwab or Early riser (Brian Kosoff) print, but I cannot afford them. OTOH keeping to these examples the photographers usually have to shell out 50% of the price to the gallery, high prices like this leaves them with a reasonable profit once all the costs are factored in.

    It is all well and good for Jensen to sell prints at $20 when he has a direct outlet for his work, the rest of us who depend on an alternative medium to present the work (for which we have to pay) would be dumb to price the prints at so low a price that we would end up loosing money.

    The low price argument fails to take into account the difficulty to make interesting images on a consistent basis and with regularity. I cant speak for anybody else but in my case I know that out of 6 to 8 negatives I only get one good shot, or at least one good shot I am proud to exhibit. I have to factor in the cost of those other 6 shots into the price of a print I sell.

    In a perfect world, if every shot I took was a winner I would rather sell 100 prints at $40 than 1 print at $4000, but reality has a way to rear it's ugly head, I cannot afford to price my prints this low and sell only 5 or 6, this would not pay the cost of making the prints and negatives, let alone leave me a small profit!
     
  12. roteague

    roteague Member

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    He is the editor of said magazine.
     
  13. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Anyone selling prints for $20 is either driven entirely by vanity, or has absolutely no grasp of business, or both. My main business is as a translator/journalist. I make $350 for every day I sit at my desk. My costs are a new computer every 4 years, consumable materials, occasional other hardware and heat and light for my office (which is in my house). To earn the same at $20 per print, I would need to sell 17.5 prints day, 5 days a week, 47 weeks a year. In fact, it would need to be more, since I would need to factor in the unpredictability of the British weather and that on many days I fail to get a single usable landscape shot. I would never sell prints for this price, I would lose money on each one, and the more I sold, the more I would lose. People who do "sell" (in fact, give away) prints at this price do great harm to the cause of art photography.
     
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  15. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Jorge, if you sold your prints for only $20 then I wouldn't think much of your work, because your work is worth much, much more.
     
  16. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    Not trying to be smug or elitest, but I have to say, my slides and film from the past 20 years would make a hell of a great bon fire, which is what I would rather do with them before I cheapen the craft and art of photography for myself and my fellow photographers, I want the people that buy my pictures and art to appriciate them as an investment that they will look at with a warm feeling now and in the future, not a picture to say hey look what I bought to be forgot and cast aside, I would rather be a broke bottom feeder than a turn coat top feeder, with very few exceptions, $20 prints don't evoke emotion in me, or my circle of fellow photographers, we may sell a print to each other cheap, but that is different than selling to the public and hanging in galleries..when it comes time I can only sell my prints for $20 it will be time to sell the gear and move one.

    Dave
     
  17. roteague

    roteague Member

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    You got that right.... I spent almost $5000 on my recent trip to New Zealand and Australia. I have perhaps 3 images that I think are worth hanging on a gallery wall - the rest is just good enough for stock sales.
     
  18. KenS

    KenS Member

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    Ask the publisher of the said magazine if you might purchase a minimum of an half-page for advertising sales of your art work for the same $20.00

    Ken
     
  19. battra92

    battra92 Member

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    Being a business major I so want to scream "Supply and Demand!" but I shall refrain. :wink:

    It depends on:
    1) What sort of market are you going for (Supply Demand here)
    2) Your cost
    3) How many units do you wish to sell (1 @ $100, 2 @ $50, etc. etc. )
    4) General market conditions

    There are some photos of mine that I would sell for about $20 per 8 x 10 but those are mostly basic snaps I did for kicks that I got a good accident out of. Sending them to the lab for a few dollars to get an 8 x 10 made up doesn't take that much of my time either. There are also some photos of mine that I think are quite good as stock type photos

    I've actually yet to price any of my work on my website but then much of my work isn't even up there yet.
     
  20. Struan Gray

    Struan Gray Member

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    The real effort in selling photos is in distribution and marketing: reaching your audience and persuading them to buy. Brooks Jensen gets that for free. In fact, in my opinion he is using his prints to sell magazines rather than the other way round.
     
  21. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    How about this; I would sell a print for $20.00, it would be listed on eBay and have a shipping and handling fee of $980.00.

    It sounds like someone has a few pixels short of a full meg.
     
  22. NikoSperi

    NikoSperi Member

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    No, I think he has tried a time-old method of arousing interest in his rag: controversy sells magazines. Consider it the same way one sees a troll in these forums.
     
  23. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Which magazine?
     
  24. John Simmons

    John Simmons Member

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    Interesting thread. I have read the article in lenswork and it seems to me that the way the brooks jensen can justify his selling price of 8x10 images for $20 is based on his working methond of capturing photos digitally and printing them on demand. His magazine provides a means to advertise his work to an audence of subscribers and his overhead of running the website and magazine is probably covered by sales of the magazine. He does not have to make up the costs of advertising and marketing his artwork because that is covered from another revenue source other than print sales (magazine sales) thus he can charge $20 for a print.

    If I were a working artist and I paid all my expenses of marketing, material, travel, gallery fees, etc.. from my insurance business then I could see charging $20 for a print (that is if I worked digitally...I don't). This is nothing but an accounting ruse. The average working artist does not have many other revenue streams to expense there costs incurred as an artist and therefore can't charge $20 for a print regardless of their working methodology.
     
  25. Davec101

    Davec101 Member

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    Have only been able to read the first page of the article in lenswork as it is the only one available on the preview pdf of this particular issue however the point he makes initially in this introductory page does ring a chord with me.

    I have seen some recent contemporary photography at Paris photo with astronomical prices that I feel is just unbelievable and the pricing is a con.

    When Brooks Jensen refers to ‘the large “chromgenic photograph’ of an out of focus, leaf on a tree, advertised for $3700’ i.e Terri Weifenbach (see http://www.photoeye.com/gallery/forms/homepage.cfm?id=13205&door=1&Gallery=1&Page=) I am inclined to agree with his point of view that this type of pricing is outrageous but then again the price of art/photography is largely determined by what people are prepared to pay and in the case of Weifenbach have paid before. I do like some of his images but the bokeh on various others is hideous IMO. In relation to the image attached i would love to hear the story about this and how it is worth $1500!

    Anyway sorry I have not read the full article but thought I would comment on part of what I read.
     

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  26. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Sitting fee then $20 a print? Or $20 a print?