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Thread: Selling Prints

  1. #11

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    While we're on this topic, regarding size, what experience do any of you have with selling contact prints? I realize only photographers and connoisseurs really know what a friggin' contact prints is, anyway, but I'm wondering about the size. I am beginning to make 5x7 contacts, and is that TOO small for the average market?
    Robert Hunt

  2. #12
    Alex Hawley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Graeme Hird
    (Oh, and don't believe the line "Ooh, I love B&W" - nobody wants it if a colour print is the same price. Colour sells, B&W just takes up wall space (sorry - that's just my experience)
    So do nudes, no matter what color or quality.

    My specialty is contact prints. I don't have a 5x7 back, so haven't done any. The guys in the Contact Printers Guild do OK with 4x5. 5x7 is not too small.
    Semper Fi & God Bless America
    My Photography Blog

  3. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Graeme Hird

    (Oh, and don't believe the line "Ooh, I love B&W" - nobody wants it if a colour print is the same price. Colour sells, B&W just takes up wall space (sorry - that's just my experience)

    Cheers,
    Graeme

    I agree with your previous posting, you've given Wayne some great stuff to get started with.

    I too make a living selling my work, not an easy task by any means. While you appear to have had little success selling B&W the opposite is true for me. I started with B&W and sometime down the track experimented with colour. I tried selling the same image in colour and B&W, same size, same price. There was little interest in the colour work.

    What this means is you have to find your own way, see what works for you then go hard out.

    Clayton

  4. #14

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    One other thing - prior to my current thing with the 5x7, I was in a co-op gallery and also did some craft fairs. I found that pricing was a crucial issue. For the fairs anyway, it seemed that a few customers might be serious buyers, but most would have no qualms about spending $15 or $20 for a smaller print. I realize this is silly for serious work, especially if you put a lot of time into each print. But it does insure some cash flow at these street fairs, and if you are in a craft gallery, it helps to have some "accessible" things along with the truly fine work. For 11x14, I've seen pricing in the range of $125 to about $250. Depends on if it's framed, too. Just be aware of the price sensitivity of your particular market.
    Robert Hunt

  5. #15
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    Excellent point Robert. E-Bay is somewhat like that unless you have a "name" which Glory few of us do. Far better IMO to sell 100 prints per year at $50 each than no prints at $500 each.
    Semper Fi & God Bless America
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  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph
    Hi Wayne, I earn my living selling my framed and un-framed black and white fine art photos from my gallery in Gloucester, Massachusetts. I try not to think of clients interests but my interests, and to persue my own vision. This works for me. Joseph
    Wise words Wayne...you'd do well to really think hard about what Joseph said.

    I had a lesson in this years ago. My girlfriend and I were almost broke with Christmas looming, so we spent almost the last of our money on photography and framing supplies. I went into the forest and rattled off a bunch of cheesy snow in forest scenes, frozen waterfalls, and icicles in creeks; they were all easy-on-the-eyes uncomplicated compositions. Not one sold. My personal work, the images I was passionate about making, that I was driven to take, did sell.

    I have always kept my photography a very personal expression, prefering to have day jobs I like to pay the bills. But then, I think of myself as an artist first, photographer second.

    If you fancy yourself as a stock photographer, or freelancer, disregard all of the above, research your market and exploit some unoccupied niche.

    (I don't know how to post a link to the Ethics and Philosophy forum, but in Ed's recent post on critiques, he tells a great story about his photographs of nudes and what a Nun had to say about them...read the last paragraph of that story several times!)

    Murray

  7. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by rhphoto
    While we're on this topic, regarding size, what experience do any of you have with selling contact prints? I realize only photographers and connoisseurs really know what a friggin' contact prints is, anyway, but I'm wondering about the size. I am beginning to make 5x7 contacts, and is that TOO small for the average market?
    It is not too small, but the smaller the print, the more exceptional it has to be. It needs to draw the viewer and hold him there.

  8. #18
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    I thought I'd write and give you the other side of the story: the buyer.

    I collect photographs. I do not have a huge collection, but when I tell gallery owners and other collectors what I have, it is respectible. I have the big names and not-so-big names. I also buy the work of those that I expect\hope will become a 'name'.

    The reasons that I buy, in order of what will make me make the purchase:

    1) I like the image
    2) For investment
    3) A bargain (price\image\name photographer combination is too good to pass up).

    The most I've ever spent on a single print: $4450. The least was probably $50 or so.
    Average price is probably $1k per photograph. I'd list the names, but I can't remember them all.

    I buy what I like and tend to keep them. I have only ever become disatisfied with one image and sold it for what I paid and that was a Bruce Barnbaum 16x20 slot canyon image. The others that I've sold I have deeply regretted.

    For me it is mostly about the image. If it grabs me I will want it and there is little that will stop me from getting it. There are some prints that I want and I can't afford and I am still trying to figure out a way to buy them (like $20k+ images). People that are telling you that the image has to be compelling are telling the truth. For someone that collects, there is a certain fervor about getting what you lust after and believe me the love of compelling images is strong. Sometimes, I will remember an un-bought print for years and years always wishing I had bought it. I passed up Ruth Bernard nude in a box for $2k (16x20 even)...yikes, but I just didn't have the $$ at the time.

    Collectibility is important. I don't want my collection to depricate in value after having spent so much money on it. I am unwilling to spend large sums on an unknown photographer's work unless I think I have discovered someone. I bought a Pat Jablonski Portfolio I for $2500 or so not because I necessarily thought it'd be a great investment, but I got about 15 5x7 contact prints of very nice quality for under $100 each and abot 10 or so are very very nice images. I even bought an extra of one of them in 16x20.

    I do like bargains. I like buying directly from the artist rather than a gallery. I know people who know people so I can usually get an address or phone number. People would like buying directly thru you knowing they arent paying a 50%+ gallery surcharge.

    For me, size is not very important except that I know it will help re-sale value. If I like the image, I may buy 2 copies, 1 that I like and another for re-sale. I bought John Wimberley's "Descending Angel" at a gallery where they had an 8x10 and a 16x20. I could afford either, but didn't really want both. I bought the 8x10 because in the end the image quality was better and I liked it more. So in that case, image quality won out over size. Later on, I bought a 16x20 photogravure of this image that is amazing!

    So if you think my motivations are representative of the average collector, I'd suggest:

    1) Find what your most compelling images are from the eyes of the buying market. Offer them in assorted sizes with pricing tiers. Dont' stock 20 of each size, just a few and take orders. If they love the image, they will wait and wait and wait! In fact, as a buyer I dont' want to walk out the door with it. If I have it shipped, I will save on local sales taxes and often the gallery will pay for the shipping since they will want my return business. Display them prominently. If you can, get them in B&W magazine and have copies open to that page lying around. People who want images to appreciate may take this is a sign.....

    2) For your not-so great images, make them a 'bargain' in the eyes of the buyer. That is, print them big and sell them at a lower price.

    3) Consider portfolios that have a lot of prints for much less per print than if they had bought them singly. Limit the size and numbering and put in pricing tiers so there is an incentive to buy in early. Don't mess with people by putting one good image with 12-15 average ones - they won't sell and it will be pretty obvious what you're trying to do. (I looked at Jablonski's Portfolio II at the Ansel Adam's Gallery and wouldn't buy it because he had mined in 1-2 pretty bad images in an otherwise decent portfolio that had only 1 of his well-known images as I recall).

    4) Frankly, I am not too excited about the idea of 5x7 contact prints. The image would have to be really compelling and if it is, it belongs in category 1 above unless it just won't enlarge and hold quality. If it won't enlarge, perhaps a portfolio....

    I remeber a Roman Loranc print that I didn't like at all (a road with a gate and clouds) that people seemed to trip all over themselves for. Listen to what people say, watch them react to photographs and they will tell you what is marketable and what isn't. Don't fall in love with your own work, listen to what the buyers say and market to that.

    I've said enough. There is plenty of room for disagreement here, but that is how I buy so my opinion is worth listening to. Good luck. It's a tough business and I'm glad I'm not in it on your end.

    -Mike

  9. #19

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    Last edited by Thomassauerwein; 03-22-2005 at 10:11 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    Stop trying to get into my mind, There is nothing there!

  10. #20

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    Thanks for that perspective Mike. It's interesting to know how collectors of photographic prints choose which photos (and artists) to collect. Unfortunately, there are very few collectors of photos (compared with the general public). In my own situation, I could never afford to target my selling to collectors: there are just too few of you out there (in Australia). That means Wayne will need to define his market before trying to sell prints - he needs to work out who will buy his prints before he sells them. Will he target collectors or the general public?

    My own market research was done by taking a regular stall at the local craft market. By being there each month, I gradually worked out who the people in the market are: it turns out that people leaving the region seeking a memento of the place are my market. Everything we've done since has been aimed at those people.

    Clayton, I suppose I need to temper my views: they are based only on my personal experience. I also started my LF work in B&W and moved to colour. I shoot 100% colour these days, though I will convert to B&W for prints when the subject warrants it. Maybe it's a cultural difference I'm seeing - all the successful Aussie landscape photographers shoot colour exclusively (or at least, that's what they offer for sale).

    Cheers,
    Graeme Hird
    www.scenebyhird.com

    Failure is NOT an option! It comes bundled with your software ....

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