View Full Version : Who here is buying photographs?

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Daniel Grenier
11-13-2004, 08:09 AM
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?

11-13-2004, 08:36 AM
I do.

11-13-2004, 08:40 AM
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 :)

Dave Parker
11-13-2004, 08:51 AM
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

11-13-2004, 08:53 AM
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!

11-13-2004, 08:55 AM
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.

11-13-2004, 09:00 AM
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.

George Losse
11-13-2004, 09:27 AM
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.

Graeme Hird
11-13-2004, 09:31 AM
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 ....)

Les McLean
11-13-2004, 09:35 AM
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.

wm blunt
11-13-2004, 09:40 AM
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

jd callow
11-13-2004, 09:41 AM
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!

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.


11-13-2004, 09:48 AM
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.

11-13-2004, 10:19 AM
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.


11-13-2004, 10:34 AM
I hope I am one of those APUGERs


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

11-13-2004, 10:41 AM
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.

11-13-2004, 11:11 AM
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.

Dave Parker
11-13-2004, 11:19 AM
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

11-13-2004, 11:25 AM
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

jd callow
11-13-2004, 11:28 AM
I know what jdc means when he writes 'The problem that you point out is that creating art is a very difficult profession.' But it isn't a profession, is it?

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.