It’s good to have an ER around with all the BS. Now if I can RAP in a few thoughts…
BrownTrout Publishing had been doing my New England Black and White calendar from 2003 to 2006. But it was cancelled in 2007, along with all of the other b&w calendars, including David Muench’s, Kim Weston’s and Keith Carters. WOW, my name in with these guys? I did manage to contract for the 2008 NJ Wild and Scenic calendar in color.
But the b&w’s were cancelled because they just were not selling. I think the main reason was because the reproductions were just not up to par. I enjoy working with them and I tried to get them to put 2 inch borders instead of bleeding to the edges, but they would not change.
Still, even with this exposure, I do not sell many prints. I make more money selling my color work as stock then print sales. Google my name, Rob Pietri, or Robert Pietri, see what you get. I have very good placement in the directories. But sales just are not happening for me. Ebay is looking more interesting.
Plenty of wannabes out there and not just in photography. You register with these art sites to show your work and you realize just how flooded the market is with all kinds of two dimensional art to the point where it is becoming a commodity, all competing essentially for the same dollars.
Good point... great post. You had me all the way... until Brooks. :) Not that his work isn't nice, but his way isn't going to get you anywhere either.
Originally Posted by MikeSeb
Bill, doing what you love to do for a living is not a gift, it's a choice, and a harder choice as well. Most people choose the easy route, they go for the safer job or the job that suits their skills.
Originally Posted by billschwab
I believe that there is an element of luck out there, however I also believe that people either make their own luck or at least increase the possibility of being lucky. What is that saying, "chance favors the prepared mind"?
As for my wife being gainfully employed, which she is, the fact that I did very well as a photographer at a very early age has a lot to do with my circumstances now. I made a substantial living for a very long time and a lot of those resources have been poured into my change of careers. Was that 25 year career all luck? Did I have nothing to do with that?
Throughout the course of everyone's life there is one fork in the road after another. Every single day people make decisions that alter the course of their lives, for better or worse. Calling it luck is removing yourself from responsibility for it's success or failure. It's just as easy for someone who sits in front of the TV all day long and never gets anything done to attribute their lack of success with being "unlucky".
Bill I agree that there are many photographers out there who may be deserving of success, but maybe if they were truly deserving, by skill or effort or both, they would be. And not everyone does work hard. It's very easy to say that everyone works hard, it's a popular thing to say, but statistics would prove you wrong. What is that recent statistic? The average employee spends 90 minutes a day during business hours cruising the internet unrelated to their work? How many landscapes online do you see done on sunny easy days shot midday. How many of the landscape prints available for sale on the internet and eBay are shot by someone who has never gotten up early, walked the extra mile. or waited hours for the light to get right? It sure seems like most of them.
I know your work, you get up early, you go out in bad weather, you do what needs to be done, you really work at it, but that is not common. And you haven't reached your level based on luck, you've reached it based on talent, commitment and effort.
The economics of the art market are unusual when compared to other goods and services. Art has more in common with luxury goods which are not essential to survival, and the buying decisions of consumers are based more on psychology than rationality. That is why in some cases, the higher an item is priced, the more valuable it is perceived. For some fun Xmas-time reading, check out Thorstein Veblen's classic "The Theory of the Leisure Class", or "The Natural History of the Rich - a Field Guide" by Richard Conniff for a little funnier treatment of the psychology and buried evolutionary motivations behind the urge to pay too much for too little.
As to pricing...
The whole discussion of pricing artwork I think seems to come from two very different points of view:
The Brooks Jensen point-of-view seems to me to be oriented towards satisfying those artists whose primary motivation is to share work with as wide an audience as possible. So this means making it as easy as possible to gain access to the work, whether it be on the web or in the form of low cost inkjet prints. I think this orientation tends to lead the artist in the direction of lower-cost/higher volume production methods. The satisfaction comes from seeing many people enjoy the fruit of his/her labor. It is a very outward oriented point of view.
The other point of view is that the artist is engaged in a very personal pursuit, and that each image or work created is created first for the artist, and secondarily for the world at large. I think this point of view will cause the artist to place a high value on his/her output, since it represents a very private and personal expression. In other words, a large part of the satisfaction in creating art comes from the act of creation itself, and the need to share it with the world is secondary in importance. With this orientation in mind, it is unlikely that the artist will want to establish a low price for the work, since the a purchase by someone else is just icing on the cake.
In other words, it just depends on what races your motor. And just so people don't get the wrong idea, I am not saying that an outwardly focused artist is not interested in the process nor am I saying that an inwardly focused artist is not interested in gaining an audience. My point is that the relative ranking of those two factors in the artist's mind when deciding to put a price on all the hard work can determine where he/she lands on the pricing conundrum.
Amen to that. Precisely my situation, to no little regret when viewed through the retrospectoscope. My problem to sort out....
Originally Posted by Early Riser
I have noticed that with the increasing switch to digital workflow among printers and publishers that the ability to properly reproduce B&W is diminishing. Clearly the bigger market for printers today is color. When digital methodology hit the printing world all of the calibration methods were heavily weighted towards color. It seems that if you want good large scale publishing of B&W you need to find a niche printer still utilizing the older technologies or a small boutique printer specializing in very high quality, small run, and therefore very expensive, B&W printing.
Originally Posted by RAP
Poorly reproduced B&W art does not sell well. B&W imagery suffers more from poor printing than does color printing. With the inability to consistently reproduce B&W well, and the subsequent drop in the sales of B&W posters or calendars, it is easy to see why many publishers are leaving B&W all together.
I have to correct myself. I was just at the BrownTrout website and there are 2007 calendars of Keith Carter's Horses and Kim Weston's Ballet calendars both in B&W.
The best B&W calendar has always been the Ansel Adams one, which is also one of the best selling and rightly so because of the reproductions, and his fame. There are a few others but their quality is not that great.
The calendar market has always been dominated by color but I am trying to tap into it because it is a mass market that could also lead to buyers of prints. But as you said, the quality has to be there.
Thanks for the interchange between you and Bill. I am sure all benefited.
I doubt it, but you are playing in a different world now. I have been told credentials as a commercial photographer mean nothing in the art world. In fact speaking with other dealers, I have learned it can be a disadvantage except in the case of a very few. Have you found this to be a problem? PD
Originally Posted by Early Riser
PD, first welcome to APUG. I haven't found this to be a problem and I think my training and background has been a distinct advantage. I think it all depends on the standards that you apply to your work, if you've been working in a more demanding area of commercial photography, like national advertising or editorial work, you might be better suited and trained to succeed in the art world. I also know of, and even assisted, many advertising/editorial photographers who did quite well in the art world. Avedon, Penn, Newman, Adams, etc all did commercial work.
Originally Posted by Private Dealer
It would be interesting to hear some of you who sell your work offer some observations about the kind of work you do that actually does sell. I was looking at a NYC photographer's photoblog today in which he observed that only 5% of the work he was able to sell had people in it...that must be a helluva disappointment to street photogs.. almost no one was interested enough to pay for it. Likewise, the observation made earlier here that many look at photographs and elect not to buy them because either they themselves, or someone they're with has told them they could do just as well. Perhaps they say that because they're not seeing photographs that offer anything they haven't already seen...a lot!! I was also looking at some alt process sites today that displayed incredibly mediocre images printed with virtuoso skill in such processes. I hardly wanted to even look at them all let alone buy any.
Without meaning to exclude others here, Brian and Bill make photographs that I am absolutely certain the average viewer does NOT assume he could make himself. They're clearly and unequivically made with both technical AND unique artistic vision by professionals. I think that makes a HUGE difference!