Computers change everything. You could even have the price increase on each sale, from multiple sales venues (if they were linked to the main site), if you wanted to.
Ansel had the best solution...no new prints made from old negatives after a set date, like your 70th birthday for example. This way, if you've managed to cultivate a money-lusting herd of collectors/investors during your career, there should be quite the frenzy of orders just before you turn 70. I think Ansel bowed out with over $1,000,000 in sales in his last year...and that was the early 1980's wasn't it? Call it a retirement plan :)
On the whole topic of limited and tier pricing I have to agree with Brian and Bill.
I have been told outright several times by people that have collected my work and collectors in general when I was doing market research that they would not buy anything that was not limited period.
In a way I think limiting to smaller edition help me to get out there to make more image, which is a good thing as you are always pushing yourself to find more images.
I started a few years ago limiting to 60 and today I have dropped all my limited edition to 24 and I am thinking of even going smaller. It is marketing for sure but since this is what the collectors what I have no problem in doing it. When you rely on your prints sales for your living, you have to be smart about how you sell and how you market your material or it just sits in the drawer and collects dust.
I'm 46, and I would be very hesitant to take pricing advice from a collector older than I am. Would they be looking out for my best interests in the long term, or just making sure they have a slam-dunk investment for their looming retirement years? Younger collectors who have a little money to play with and the time to watch their investment grow might be a better track for me. IF I decided to play the game at all...
I'm a father with have a day job, and my wife is a stay at home mom. I'm also in mid-career photography-wise but unknown outside my geographical area, so I would have to be 'creative' when it comes to marketing my wares. Interesting stuff to mull over!
I understand the concept of tiered pricing or I would not have commented.
Give me some credit Scott.
If you're a name player, or have established yourself in the marketplace, fine.
If not, and until you get there, why not just print or limit the edition of 20 or 30 and set a price based on your current status and be done with it. The buyer/collector is still receiving a limited edition print. I think your chances of selling more than the first tier is greatly increased. Should your status increase in latter years then the remaining prints from that edition can be priced on the current level. It is of course my slant on it and what I intend to do and not do.
Yes it may entice your loyal following to jump on the first offering. But it has an overtone of arrogance, implies an importance or value that may or may not be real. But maybe that doesn't matter. It's still a marketing gimmick more than anything, and may have a backlash at some point. It concerns me so therefore it will not be a consideration for me.
How many will actually sell more than 10-20 prints of the same image? It surely happens but rare unless it's your "Moonrise" shot and you've been producing many years.
Anyway, to each their own.
Matt- I wasn't intending to insult you.
I don't expect to sell more than 10 prints of a single image for several reasons. A: I'm not that famous, not yet. B: as I said before, making that many prints of the same image bores me to tears. C: I remember reading an article either here or somewhere else within the last year/18 months that said most serious gallery owners/auctioneers/art advisors were recommending to their clients that they not buy anything in an edition larger than ten. I don't have representation at a big-name New York gallery at this time. Do I want it? Yes. In the meantime, while I'm looking for it, I'll keep my editions small, and tier my pricing to encourage early sales of images.
Interesting discussion about editions. I always thought that to sell limited editions, you had to have established some reputation. At least some of the value of a limited edition print is that after you have sold the last number of the edition - there will be no more made, and the buyer needs to have some confidence in that fact.
Any idea what the basis of that ecommendation is Scott?
Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera
I may be foolish or something else, but I have still haven't gone to selling/printing limited editions. What happens if you sell all in the edition and decide you want tor print more?
There are some that destroy the negative after the final print as "evidence" that the edition is true. What's the driving force behind that?
If I say, "Me, for one," it sounds like I'm tooting my own horn. However, I'm here to learn, and to occasionally contribute an idea that others haven't posted yet to a thread. While schools may offer a more structured and orgqnized education in photography, I've found APUG leads to more informative than many years of college.
Originally Posted by RAP
The best exposure is a framed print in the marketplace. A little image on a computer screen is too much like listening to Mahler's 8th Symphony on a clock radio.
The editioning thing is getting nuts. If you do studio type constructed photos then maybe an edition of 10 can work for you because if you're actually building a photo you are surely guaranteed an image of your satisfaction. But if you travel a lot and only come across maybe 8 good images a year, then your entire print production is going to be 80 prints? You'd have to sell them at very high starting prices. Prices that can easily scare off buyers unless you're a serious name.
Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera
A few years back I was about to sign with a very well known gallery in London. It was a done deal between the director of the gallery and me, however the owner had one request, lower my then edition size from 100 to 30. I told him that he could maybe just sell my 20x24" prints, which were limited to 20. He said the whole edition had to be 30 or less. I really wanted him to represent me, it was a prestigious gallery and it would certainly help my name, but at the time I was in about a dozen galleries and if I dropped my edition size I'd have to drop galleries and seriously raise my prices which might price me out of many galleries. I declined and the deal ended.
All of the talk about tiers and editions are also really a talk about pricing. Pricing most products is easier, you define the cost of goods based on materials, labor, distribution, marketing and profit. Also for most products there are easy price comparisons to similar products in the market and those similar products have many of the same costs as yours. With the exception of labor and distribution, many of those costs are exactly the same.
When it comes to photography, the costs can vary widely, granted the film and paper is not a major cost, but the range of equipment can vary greatly, as can the cost of the facilities you work out of, your living room or a 5000 studio or a remote location that was costly to get to. And the amount of time invested can vary greatly. But the biggest influence on price is the perception aspect. So much of what a print can sell for is based on what people are willing to pay for it regardless of what it cost to produce. If you take a print from an APUGger, a well done print somewhat Ansel like in subject matter, it may sell for $150- $1000, if that same print was signed Ansel, it would sell for $25k, 50K or more. I see work at galleries all the time, and it's the kind of stuff that would get torn to shreds in the critique section here, but with a "name" attached to it, it's a priceless work of art. At a certain level in the art world, sometimes the quality of the work matters little and the perception matters all.
My own pricing has been torturous. The first thing a gallery tells you starting out is that you can't start too high because it's fatal to lower print prices. After that they tell you to raise your prices because people won't respect the work if it's too reasonable. (Also their profit won't be high enough to make it worth their time and investment in you). I'm at a point now where my galleries in higher markets want me to raise prices but I know it'll hurt sales for me in the softer market galleries. To be honest, through the whole process of converting from ad photography to "art" (it's just the easiest term to use) by far the hardest part for me has been editioning and pricing. And after 4 years of it I still don't know if I'm dong that part right.
At some point you have to bite the bullet and do that major price hike and get into the prestige gallery. There's a reason they're still in business with a brick-and-mortar retail operation in SoHo or Midtown in Manhattan - they're making the sales to cover their rent and then some. Those galleries will only take you on if they KNOW they can sell your work to their clientele, and for prices that will make both of you money. Just as a gallery has no obligation to accept a given artist, the artist is not bound by some devil's pact signed in blood and the artists' first-born child to any particular gallery, if the gallery doesn't perform for the artist. Good galleries will prompt you to make and show them new work on a regular basis, and will work with you. Since galleries are not much more than ad agencies for their photographers, they're really only as good as their last show.
If in the end it means you lose the smaller market galleries and your "affordable" sales there, then you do that. Maybe you don't do that now, at only four years in the "art" business, but at some point you'll have to, unless you want to intentionally limit your sales and your income. That's a value-call for you to make, and not one that anyone else can make for you, or for anyone to judge you by.