Who here is buying photographs?

Discussion in 'Antiques and Collecting' started by Daniel Grenier, Nov 13, 2004.

  1. Daniel Grenier

    Daniel Grenier Member

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    I have found that a major hurdle of being a photographer trying to sell prints is the reluctance of people to spend money - any kind of money - on the purchase of a fine art photograph. There is a huge gap between folks praising your work to no end and actually shelling out the dough to own the piece. They think nothing of spending a 100 bucks for dinner but they would cringe at the idea of spending that on a photograph (although they love both equally, supposedly). I found this to be true of "photographers" as well as non-photographers.

    What prompted this post is my seeing a good number of very fine prints ending in no-bid situations on ebay - even with starting bids of a measly $49! Prints by very talented photographers (some, members of this forum I might add) which at $49 constitute a great bargain (but a lousy return for the photographer mind you...and yes, I have purchased several of these myself if you're wondering).

    So I am curious as to how many folks here, on a photography forum, do purchase fine art photography. If you do, high praises to you. If you don't. WHY NOT???

    Your thoughts?

    PS, I am guessing that fewer than 10% of folks here have purchased fine art photographs. Right? Wrong?
     
  2. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    I do.
     
  3. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    On the walls in the room I am in now I took only one of the 4 pictures on the wall. I purchased 2 of the others and the third was from a print exchange. I'm arrogant, so I plan to have more of my own work on the walls :smile:
     
  4. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    90% of the prints in my study/office are fine art prints from many photographers, I currently have over 25 shots 16 x 20 or larger, I have only 2 of my own hanging, so I purchase a lot of prints from others, I don't normally purchase prints off of ebay though, I purchase at shows galleries or through the photograhers websites.

    Dave Parker
    Ground Glass Specialties
     
  5. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I used to have only my own pictures on the walls. Now I have prints by four other photographers - all of them APUG members, three of the prints I bought. Two of them joined APUG after I bought the prints, too!
     
  6. Francesco

    Francesco Member

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    The only photos I like to hang on my walls are those I have purchased from other photographers. I am too critical of my own work to bear to see them on a daily basis - the exception being when listing them for the Contact Printers Guild store.
     
  7. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    With limited wall space considering how much we have to hang, buying other people's stuff isn't a top priority, but, we do indeed make occasional purchases. I buy work I know I won't make myself...color prints...and enjoy them very much.

    What we do to get the most from our wall space is to rotate work. As my wife is an artist, there are new works to hang and older works to retire and/or sell. My own stuff rarely lasts more than two or three months on a wall. The photographs we've purchased, though, stay up for good.
     
  8. George Losse

    George Losse Member

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    I have bought prints a few times. The print really needs to move me. A few years ago I was dropping work off for a group show at a gallery and was blown away by this one piece on the owners wall. I really liked the work both because it was a great piece and I knew I could never do such a work. It was so different from what I do. It had to go home with me. That's only happened to me a few times, so I don't have a lot of other people's photography hanging on my walls.

    Selling aphotographic print is not easy in the first place. I think selling work online is even harder to do then selling through a gallery where the buyer can actually see the work.

    Selling work on ebay? at what price? and if your willing to sell a piece on ebay at a lower price just to make a sale, what does that say to a customer who was thinking about buying a piece from a gallery at a much higher price? My opinion is you end up hurting your overall sales in the long run. Because then your work is really only worth the lower price.
     
  9. Graeme Hird

    Graeme Hird Member

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    No, I only sell them. The only photos I have hanging in my home are my own.

    But my market is not other photographers (such as the people frequenting APUG) - they are the people in the general public.

    I sell, on average, 3 prints every 2 days. I never sell them for less than AUD$70, they usually are $120 to $400 plus frame. Some are $500, and I've sold one for US$750 (all plus frame).

    If your prints aren't selling, don't blame the public. Either your marketing is not good enough or your product isn't. People will pay what they think your product is worth - either make them think your print is worth more, or make a better product.

    (Sorry if that hurts, but it's a cruel world ....)
     
  10. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    I buy and trade prints with other photographers. I'm also represented by a London gallery and have sold a few prints in the last couple of months but it is very difficult to sell prints. I'm also involved in the running of the London gallery and we find that we have good attendances at the openings but getting people to part with money is not easy.
     
  11. wm blunt

    wm blunt Member

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    I purchase photographs when possible, several from people who frequent this forum. New work I purchase goes up on my print viewing wall for awhile along with my own work. I leave my own work up to see how it holds up after living with it for awhile, many times it turns into " what the hell was I thinking"! I rotate work by others only because of limited space.
    I think it was Fred Picker who made the comment that is was amazing how people that claim to love photography will spend hugh amounts of money on equiptment but would never consider purchasing a photograph.
    Wm Blunt
     
  12. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I hope I am one of those APUGERs

    I have sold (at ridiculously low prices) many prints to APUG members. I have, currently, no APUG member prints on my walls but will have some shortly. I do have art by other artists on my walls. I received them in trade or as gifts.

    When I have money for art I buy the tools I need to make art. When I have filled my needs I will look at other artist's work and buy or trade for their art.

    The problem that you point out is that creating art is a very difficult profession. I travel a great deal and shoot at least 10 thousand images a year. If I was as prolific in the production of paperclips or bubble gum as I am with photographs I would be a far richer man.


    jdc
     
  13. wfwhitaker

    wfwhitaker Member

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    I've purchased six photographs: four from galleries, one from the wall of a restaurant and one from a student show. The last, interestingly, remains my favorite. But six photographs is a lot less than I would have liked to have purchased. Two resources have been in short supply: money and wall space. Unfortunately both are pretty much taken up by my own work.

    I wouldn't put too much stock into the fact of relatively unknown or little-known photographers not selling on Ebay. In fact, I wouldn't put too much stock in Ebay at all. Ebay is unpredictable and just plain weird.

    My own experience with trying to sell my photographs was a while back when I briefly ventured into the business of photographing horse shows. People who are into horses usually are not wanting for money. It still amazes me that someone who can drop $2000 or more for a weekend show won't drop $25 for an 8x10 glossy print to remember their performance. Well, anyone can take a photograph! Mind you, though, anyone won't get the timing right or bother to throw the unavoidable porta-potty in the background out of focus. But they'll steal the proofs which have holes punched all through them!

    OK. Rant over.
     
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  15. lee

    lee Member

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    I sell several a year and trade several a year. I agree with Les and George. I one 2 Edward Westons and a Ansel Adams and a few you have never heard of. It is hard work.

    lee\c
     
  16. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    'Fraid not - not yet. Stilll haven't got yours framed. But fear not, it's in the time plan.
     
  17. ThomHarrop

    ThomHarrop Member

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    I have a lot of prints by people like Irving Penn, Ralph Gibson, Chris Rainier and others. The problem with buying photography (or selling it) is that people don't see value in it, even if it's beautiful, unless someone tells them it is valuable. That being said, I have been trying to sell my Irving Penn platinum print for several years and only had one bite. It hung in a large gallery for almost a year. It's a tough market, but judging by recent trends in the stock market I think people will start to loosen up financially by summer and we may all do a bit better.
     
  18. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    I'm not a collector by any stretch of the imagination, but I have purchased a couple of prints from Web acquaintances and have traded prints with a few others. My motivation for the purchases was a strong personal identification with the subject matter, in addition to the excellence of the work.

    My impression is that the population of art buyers is relatively small, with buyers of photographs as art being an even smaller subset. Those photographers who have consistent print sales have my deepest respect, as that means they have not only figured out how to market their work to the right audience, but how to do it well.
     
  19. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    I think the art of marketing, is more important that the making of the art, that is not to say and unskilled photographer will do great if he is a great marketer, but it does embellish the thought that if you have the skill as an artist, it is imperitive to have the skill as a marketer, I currently have pretty good success at selling quite a few pieces, but the exposure came at the expence of donating quite a few pieces to auctions to raise money for a good cause, and now that has transformed over into sales from people who have seen my pieces at the auctions and requested a portfolio of my work, hence resulting in a good bit of sales.

    But the ability to make a living off of art photography is difficult at best and for most a very long and thin income venture, I supplement my fine art sales quite a bit with regular stock and often a wedding or some other form of photography, the current ground glass business came about because of lackluster photography sales and the need for a screen for one of my own cameras, in which I did not have the funds to purchase. I have listed work on ebay with some success, but they are not my fine art pieces, the only thing I list on ebay for print sales has actually been posters that retail for a small amount of money, which does not pose the threat of lessing the value of the actual print.

    Just my .02.

    Dave Parker
    Ground Glass Specialties
     
  20. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Yes I do, have about 10 that I have purchased and then 6 more from members here. When the wife and I built the house, we bult a gallery room, rather than family room - yeah Helen, no TV there either - even put in some track lighting - would have more prints up if I could afford them, but ... do have a couple of my own up and may put some more up soon. Nice to have lots of wall space to cover with beautiful work.

    Now books are another subject, several signed and beautiful books from Adams to our own Bill Schawb to Keith Carter..nice mix and yes - they are for looking at, not sitting around waiting to build vale. Same as prints, don't really worry if the they will even be worth as much as I paid..just liked them and that is why they hang on the wall
     
  21. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Unless you have an aversion to applying the label to the activity when done to create a living, I would think that creating art can be/is a profession. Musician, Music Composer, architect, painter, sculptor, ceramist, photographer are all professions that have within a subset artist.
     
  22. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    buying prints

    I have to second Mr Blunt's statement. Yes it is downright ludicrous how people who want to become atists never actually purchase a photograph. What does one have to aspire to if not some higher goal. I've been buying prints for well over 25 years now- I should have bought much more not only for my own enjoyment but for the actual value. Have several Bravos I bought in the early nineties that have quadrupled. A $2000 investment is now worth well over $10000. But they are both great prints and I'll sell them only to further my artwork i.e. for supplies. When I attended a ZoneVI workshop many moons ago the instructors all sold some work at the end of the week. I have those prints too-they may never become valuble but they are still great art. I'm in the process of getting a print from an APUG'ER right now and have started trading with some others. This Forum is an unprecedented opportunity for anyone interested in Photography. I do believe the Gallery system can be undermined and the fact that someone sells their artwork on Epay makes it no less valuble; only an incredible opportunty for someone to purchase great art at reasonable prices. EW used to sell his work for $5!!! Remember that!!
     
  23. wm blunt

    wm blunt Member

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    Purchasing photographs is how I learned to print. I wanted to have a benchmark to work towards and carrying an image home in my head from a gallery or museum didn't work very well. One of the first prints was one of the Adams Yosemite Special Edition photos printed by Alan Ross. Since then I have collected work by Howard Bond, Jay Dussard, Cole Weston, Kim Weston, Tom Millea, Dick Arentz, Jan Pietzak, Ryuijie, Edward Gillum, David Vestal, Roger Fremier and several others. Recently purchased a wonderful platinum print by Ray Bidegain. Never made a purchase as an investment, just like the photographs.
     
  24. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    I have a pretty good bunch of other shooters' original prints, and a LOT of money sunk into photo books (not all photographers live by selling individual prints!). One the wall are mostly my own, along with other works like computer graphics and posters for movies I worked on, and paintings by friends. Biggest bid so far from me was $1600 (ultimately outbid, *sigh*) last year for this print. But as I say, there are many ways to subsidize the arts beyond just buying prints. I do agree that looking at fantastic prints is a fine way to improve your own printing (likewise for drawing and painting, btw). A book reproduction doesn't have the same tonal range and issues of scale and immediate materials vanish from reproductions (shining example: all daguerrotypes).

    A couple of other thoughts on this here, especially toward the end.
     
  25. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    The closest I get is vintage photographic postcards which are either advertising or quirky in some way. I also tend to got for books of photography as I enjoy reading about the work as well as seeing it. I confess that all the pictures hanging in my home are paintings of some sort on a variety of materials such as silk.

    I agree that the number of artists making a living purely from their work is a very small percentage. Most also teach or earn their crust working in related area's, I suspect nothing has changed throughout history.
     
  26. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    I work like jovo, my stuff gets rotated out of one frame, but the purchased/traded images have stayed up. Just hoping to have enough good work over the next year to be happy with a rotation of 2 images.