I agree 100%. If the visual impact does not come through online, then chances are there is nothing there in the original print to begin with. Still, for non gallery represented photographers, the internet is probably the best place or the only place to reach people. Galleries are limited in their reach but also in the number of artists they can represent. There is only so many prints they can market and try to maintain the highest prices possible. Since the split is usually 50/50, that is essential for both artist and director.
But for the size of jpeg files, with the spread of DSL and cable, the size of files can be increased so that detail is enhanced and loading speed maintained. I know The After Image gallery has increased the sizes of their files over the years. They also represent Brian. (a little plug ER?) Why not look around and right click some of the images and look at the properties for file sizes. That will give you a good idea.
But I like your idea of having framed prints hanging on the wall on a website. You just may have given me a project for the rest of the holiday.
Internet sales is still in its infancy, but www.apug-gallery.com has a fairly workable solution to get actual prints into the hands of buyers at little risk to the buyer. The website gallery recieves the money from the buyer, holds it, and notifies the photographer of the purchase. The photographer sends the print to the buyer, who if after seeing the print agrees to purchase it will contact the gallery, who then releases the money to the photographer. If the buyer doesn't accept the print, they send it back to the photographer who then notifies the gallery when the print returns, and the buyer gets their money back. They are only out postage...far less than one nights stay at a hotel close to a big city gallery.
Some people though do need their hands held, or get the 'stamp of approval' from a commission driven sales person, or be able to say, "Well, I'll have you know I puchased the print at XYZ Gallery". To be fair though, there's a long history of supportive gallery owners who don't look at their artists like the owner of a feedlot looks at beef.
Still, a 50% commission is a 100% increase over what the artist gets. An artist who chooses Internet sales also wouldn't have to invest all that time and money of continually stocking several galleries with new prints...at their own expense.
I keep really good track of the where, who and how of all my print sales for my edition book. Last night I sat down and ran numbers for the year. I was very suprised to find that over 50% of the "how's" I have record of originated online. December was a freak this year with over 30... only 4 came from actual face to face sales. It is looking more to me as if online is going to be the way to go whether through eBay, an active online dealer or a well crafted personal website and promotion. As for the screen viewing quality getting in the way, I think most collecting and buying online realize that work is going to be far better "in the flesh". I really don't see that as a problem.
PS. Murray, I love your "backyard". When I use the term, I too mean my environs. It has always been my feeling that this is what an artist does.
For those who are experienced with photography, prints, graphics, internet, etc yes I would agree. But just how large of a market is that? To increase fine art photography sales requires a broadening education and expansion of the buying public. Monitor calibration is essentially the initial aspect, just to draw and hold interest to a website and images.
The marketing and selling of prints is the next step and the biggest.
I would like to hear from dealers and other photographers who sell work. I wonder what Russ Levin could add to really interesting thread of thoughts and ideas.
I rent space at a local gallery and I've sold a few prints from there. In my limited experience, I've found that people are more interested in my prints of things in and around Virginia, so I can relate to Bill's comment about his best images are made in his backyard.
I'm an unknown as far as me being a photographer so I still have to deal with the "who is this guy and why should I buy one of his prints" question but I firmly believe that if you price your work too cheaply you won't be taken seriously. For that reason I studied other photographers' prices and priced mine accordingly. I do not price my prints as high as the well-known photographers in my area, but I certainly don't price them at the bottom either. In addition to my prints, I believe my time and efforts are worth something.
my 2 cents
This is turning out to be a really interesting thread, not at all how I imagined it to go!
I just wondered whether there was any mileage in some people pulling together to market their work - a co-operative - strength in numbers? Or is it a personal go-it-alone thing? Seems that there is certainly a number of American photographers producing fine work and possibly another way of spreading the risk.
I put together lectures for a community arts group. One of them was on selling on ebay and the web. I had two painters and one photographer. They all had various degrees of selling on the web from beginning to advance.
One of the things that struck me was the market and marketing.
This one artist said he painted "Rain" paintings i.e. people walking and running with umbrellas and so forth. His belief was this would be a natural seller in his home territory of Portland, Oregon.
But, it wasn't. He sold more work to folks in Florida. I guess they miss clouds and rain down there. He would have never guess this until he did the online selling.
Then, this same artist started making small one of kind paintings on ebay. These would go for a small price. What he found was that the buyers would then go to his website and buy larger paintings or commission him for other work.
This fellow isn't making barrels of money but he's enjoying himself and keeping out of his wifes hair. He also said that galleries were not working for him and he had done the art festival thing and that was too hard for him as well.
My two cents for what it is worth.