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Thread: Selling Prints

  1. #1

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    Selling Prints

    Outside of having done some portrait work, headshots and the occasional party, I have yet to try my hand at sales of printed framed or un-framed personal work. I would like to ask how many of you have sold such work, and how and where you have done it and to what success. What percentage of your photo income does it amount to. What subject mattter do you find viable in the market place; Postcards, posters, landscapes, nature shots etc. What sizes are the most popular and should one invest in printing the larger sizes; Is there a market for these? Thanks for your help that I may determine my options.

  2. #2

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    I work at a small privatly owned photography gallery. Most sales tend to be in the smaller range, usually less than 16x20 framed. It seems when people wantto go big, they go BIG. Usually if it's not in the 16x20 range its a couple feet large either way. Subject matters varry. Although alot of people think people only like sunsets and the such, you'd be supprised at what people actually buy.

  3. #3

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    Hi Wayne,

    I sell prints from my own gallery, and at the moment I'm averaging two sales per day.

    The two most important factors in the sales of my prints are the impact of the subject and the perception of the print being "impossible to produce" for the average person in the street (my market).

    The photo must have that "WOW!" factor, something to make people stop and take notice. Once they stop in front of a print on the wall, you can see them start thinking about the print. The more they examine it, the more likely they are to decide to purchase it. But the secret is to have a picture that will make them stop, and for that to happen the print must have an emotional impact.

    The print must also seem to be beyond the ability of the customer to produce. Whether it actually is or not doesn't matter - the perception must be that it is too difficult to copy. As soon as you hear the words "I could have taken that", your chance of a sale has gone (and as I said, it doesn't matter if the person could or couldn't have taken it - they think they can, so you won't sell to them). In all reality, if you hear those words, that print is not good enough to sell to the public. (Incidental, that's why sunset photos don't sell - anybody can take them.)

    It's true when the say "Size doesn't matter" - my biggest selling print is 28x12" and most of the rest of the top 10 are bigger than 20x16". One of our best sellers is 31x28" (all these are unframed sizes). Price does matter though - we have trouble selling prints which have a total cost of more than AUD$600. To make matters worse, people equate price with size. We hear the words "Does that come in a smaller size?" often, and we know they are really asking "Does that come in a cheaper version?". We sell prints in only one size for any given photograph - otherwise the cost of carrying stock would put us out of business (and we would only ever sell the budget version).

    I believe it's important to have a permanent location from which people can buy my work. People know exactly where to go when they are ready to purchase. If I were using the common "Art Gallery Circuit" and displaying my work on a month by month basis, I'd have very few sales. Don't make it hard for people to find your work. I'd also need to charge more to make up for the loss of volume, and then I'd sell even fewer. Vicious circle leading to the starving artist syndrome, in my opinion.

    Cheers,
    Graeme Hird
    www.scenebyhird.com

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

  4. #4
    roteague's Avatar
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    Thanks Graeme, that is one of the best descriptions of the business that I have read. One other thing I would like to point out is the image should have the feel of quality about it. For example, yesterday I was at the local shopping center, when I saw a framed sunset photo from across the walkway (it had the Wow factor), but when I went closer I saw the photographer had printed it on giclee; standing next to the print I couldn't see either detail or sharpness in the print. I walked away.
    Robert M. Teague
    www.visionlandscapes.com
    www.apug.org/forums/portfolios.php?u=2235

    "A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist" -- Louis Nizer

  5. #5
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    Hi Wayne,

    over the years, I have made a substantial portion of my income from print sales, there are good years, but most years are not so good!

    One of the most important questions you need to ask yourself.....and it is a harsh question to ask is........ 'what makes me think this print will sell?'

    If the answer is.....my friends and family have always told me, that I should be selling my pictures.....then I can tell you from experiance, that is not a good enough reason...

    If the answer is, you have visited a few galleries and said you could take the same photograph, they are offering on the wall....that is not good enough, they already have it!

    Post cards, posters, magazines, can all be productive markets to work in, although your not going to get rich, I average about .02 cents on each post card I sell, one of the most lucrative markets is the magazine and trourism industy, the yearly books they publish to entice people to come to the area and visit and spend money can be good money.

    Being a successful 'Gallery artist' is difficult, there are a great number of photographers, that have come before us, that either their companies or their estates are exibiting.

    I work in the magazine industry quite a bit, because, quite simply it pays! I have a number of prints hanging in galleries, but only every once in a while do they sell, not because I am not good, but because the competition is very strong.

    My biggest suggestion, if you really want to sell prints, then really research the market you live in and want to exhibit in, and find out, what is selling, and find a way to take that particular niche and make it your own, either by extremely strong subject matter, or good subject matter, and extrememly strong printing skills, as has been stated, you really need to WOW the potential customer, and there is only two ways to do it!

    In this day and age, the general public is inedated with images, it encircles us, and engulfs us virtually every waking hour, you just need to find a way, to use your skills and images the ones that are the engulfing ones!

    I don't know that I agree, that size always matters, but if it is smaller, then it needs to stand above the pack, perfectly!

    One of the quickest ways to get noticed is make big prints, frame them perfectly and make darn sure you only display the best you have to offer, no if's, and's or butt's, Period!

    There are a great number of areas to explore and make sales, take a look at the endless market available to us as photographers, and you will be plesently surprised at where your income can be made at.

    Dave

  6. #6

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    Lots of good advise here, Wayne. One more thing that is common in photographic sales: "Water sells". Falls, streams, rivers, brooks... water sells!

    Good luck.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Grenier
    Lots of good advise here, Wayne. One more thing that is common in photographic sales: "Water sells". Falls, streams, rivers, brooks... water sells!

    Good luck.
    Daniel, that depends very much on the market location. Very few of the shots I sell have water in them, since there is no standing water of any type in the area I live in. Unless a thunderstorm counts as water .... In this location, water is out of place, and people prefer to remember the region as it is (or as they'd like to think it is.)

    You might be confusing the subject of "water" with the techniques good photographers use to render the water. Showing movement in water is beyond the skills and equipment of the average person in the street. They perceive the shots to be good, simply because they can't do it themselves.

    Cheers,
    Graeme Hird
    www.scenebyhird.com

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

  8. #8

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    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

  9. #9
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    Hey Wayne,

    I went the E-Bay route starting the first of this year. The first several weeks kept me fairly busy selling and shipping 3 to 4 per week. Lately, its fallen off so I suspect this may be a seasonal lull.

    One nice thing about E-bay is that you can do market research on completed offerings to see how others are doing in the same genre. That's why I say this may be a seasonal lull because others aren't selling as much either.

    All of mine have been 8x10 size. I posted some 11x14 enlargements recently but have yet to sell one. I think size makes the greatest impact when customers can see the print first-hand.

    For me, this is a viable way to sell. To haggle with galleries would require considerable travel on my part with the prospect of scant sales for my trouble. Not much tourism in my area so selling through the local gallery is not a prospect either (Have had some in the local for nearly 2 years and no sales). This way, I can handle everything out of my own home, similar to how Graeme is set up with his own gallery. Except my customers have to rely on seeing a crummy small scan of the print instead of the real thing before they buy. I have a 100% refund policy for any disatisfaction; haven't had any returned yet.

    Good luck with however you decide to do it.
    Semper Fi & God Bless America
    My Photography Blog

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by roteague
    Thanks Graeme, that is one of the best descriptions of the business that I have read. One other thing I would like to point out is the image should have the feel of quality about it. For example, yesterday I was at the local shopping center, when I saw a framed sunset photo from across the walkway (it had the Wow factor), but when I went closer I saw the photographer had printed it on giclee; standing next to the print I couldn't see either detail or sharpness in the print. I walked away.
    I didn't mention quality because it should go without saying. If the shot has poor quality in any aspect (print, frame, presentation, lighting, etc) the WOW factor disappears. But this is APUG - we are all about quality anyway.

    The print should be pin sharp from any viewing distance. The public do not know about "correct viewing distances", and wouldn't care anyway. If the print doesn't stand up to scrutiny from 8 inches, things are looking bad! People expect to see minute details in a photo, so don't enlarge too much.

    (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 Hird
    www.scenebyhird.com

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

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