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  1. #101
    esanford's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blansky
    Ed, I agree.
    Also your citing sitting fees, minimum orders etc, really has very little bearing on what portrait photographers make for a living. Except for product photographers, portrait/wedding and every other photographer make almost all their income from print sales.
    Michael
    Agreed!
    Often wrong, but never in doubt!

  2. #102

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    I think another factor is mental. If you have a client with a lot of money will he (she) be able to judge a print on its intrinsic merits? How many would buy a $20.00 print and proudly display it because it is so pleasing to them next to the $3,000.00 print that they like equally well? How many are likely to find themselves in a place where $20.00 8x10's are being offered for sale?
    Would some customers buy a Chevrolet if it were much more expensive than a Mercedes?

    The price of the print and it worthiness, how ever you define it, are not
    necessarily the same thing.

    I would not fault anyone for selling $20.00 8x10 prints as long as they deliver whatever they promised.
    Claire (Ms Anne Thrope is in the darkroom)

  3. #103
    Ray Bidegain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blansky
    Ed, I agree.

    Although the initial statements made on this thread were about "art", the thread also headed into the area of "print prices". And in that area all photographers really share the same circumstances. What we charge determines our own lifestyle. Charging low rates carries it's own set of challenges for both. Flogging out 1000 prints for $20 carries with it certain problems not associated with charging $1000 for 20 prints.

    Also your citing sitting fees, minimum orders etc, really has very little bearing on what portrait photographers make for a living. Except for product photographers, portrait/wedding and every other photographer make almost all their income from print sales.


    Michael
    The thing to keep in mind about retail portrait and wedding photographers is they are selling prints to clients of themselves. Not only are they inherently more valuable to the people involved, the print value does not transcend to any disinterested parties. Selling prints to disinterested strangers is a completely different thing

    Ray Bidegain

  4. #104

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    Ray, your last statement is perfect and to the point. We also shouldn't forget the liability (I think we could call it that) placed on you... the wedding photographer. Everyone there is putting full faith in your ability to deliver the goods as promised. That demands additional cost in my mind. I did one wedding a few years ago and the fear/pressure of getting it right was more than I wanted. Selecting a great print out of your portfolio to sell on the open market requires nothing. You place a value on it and hope for a sale.

  5. #105
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Bidegain
    The thing to keep in mind about retail portrait and wedding photographers is they are selling prints to clients of themselves. Not only are they inherently more valuable to the people involved, the print value does not transcend to any disinterested parties. Selling prints to disinterested strangers is a completely different thing

    Ray Bidegain

    Hi Ray, haven't heard from you in a while.

    While I agree that portrait types have a built in emotional factor to their prints, there are still portrait types who sell prints for very little money and ones that sell prints for a substantial amount.

    I think all the arguments here work for both landscape and portrait photographers equally. The photographer has to decide if he is doing this to earn money or if he thinks he is here as a altruistic facilitator for people to get photographs on their walls as cheaply as possible.

    But I agree that outsiders rarely would by a print from a portrait sitting. (of course someone did make a few bucks off the Mona Lisa)


    Michael
    I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.

  6. #106

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    Mr Blansky, are you saying that Mona Lisa was a comissioned portrait? Are you saying that Mona Lisa was a real person? Are you say the Leo from Vinci made big bucks on this painting?
    Claire (Ms Anne Thrope is in the darkroom)

  7. #107

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    I'm coming to this discussion a little late, however as someone who sells work that might be considered an "elitest" price ( prints start @ $600 for 11x14, $1000 for 16x20 and $2000 for a 20x24, galleries usually get a 50% commission) I'd like to give people some understanding of why prints are priced the way they are, at least by me. I can not speak for others but I can assume that my circumstances are not unusual for those who make their sole living selling their prints. The simple fact is that it is a very expensive, time intensive and risky business to be in.

    I travel alone 3-4 months a year, that's a lot of motel stays. I drive 30,000 miles a year in an SUV that is much larger and more gas hungry ( usually I average 750 gallons of gas, 12,500 miles on a trip) then I would ordinarily choose, if not for the fact that I need to carry enough gear and supplies to last me nearly 2 months at a time on the road. When you do this for a living you don't sleep in or go out and shoot when you feel rested or in the mood, you shoot 7 days a week. In my case for usually 6 straight weeks at a time. I've stayed at so many different motels on a trip, 28 motels in 42 days, that when I got home I handed my wife a credit card and requested a non smoking room with a queen size bed. If I'm lucky i'll get 8 usable images a year.

    The remaining 8 months a year are spent processing film, printing, spotting , matting, mounting and packing mounted prints for shipment. All of which loses it's luster a bit when you have to produce large volumes of finished, mounted prints.

    The costs of travel, equipment, facilities, supplies, insurance, travel, packing materials, etc really add up. And for all you invest in time, money and effort, there is no guarantee that you'll sell a single image. Even if someone is charging an elitest price for a print doesn't mean they're actually making much money from it, especially for the investment of time.

    If your goal is to disseminate your work to the masses at an affordable cost, the alternative is posters, something which I have chosen to do also. Some artists choose not to license posters of their work because they believe that it will lessen the value of their prints. Personally I don't think that is the case. I think there is a different market for prints and posters. While it is true that hundreds or thousands of dollars for a print is a lot of money, and is very much a luxury, it is pretty much the cost required to produce the work.

  8. #108
    roteague's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Early Riser
    The simple fact is that it is a very expensive, time intensive and risky business to be in.
    Brian, you are absolutely correct. A lot of people either forget or don't know what it takes to make a living at fine art. I don't, but I still spend a lot pursuing the dream; my recent trip to NZ/Australia cost me $5400 and I have 3 images which I consider worthy of being in a gallery, but probably no gallery in Hawaii will want them.
    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

  9. #109
    esanford's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Early Riser
    I travel alone 3-4 months a year, that's a lot of motel stays. I drive 30,000 miles a year in an SUV that is much larger and more gas hungry ( usually I average 750 gallons of gas, 12,500 miles on a trip) then I would ordinarily choose, if not for the fact that I need to carry enough gear and supplies to last me nearly 2 months at a time on the road. When you do this for a living you don't sleep in or go out and shoot when you feel rested or in the mood, you shoot 7 days a week. In my case for usually 6 straight weeks at a time. I've stayed at so many different motels on a trip, 28 motels in 42 days, that when I got home I handed my wife a credit card and requested a non smoking room with a queen size bed. If I'm lucky i'll get 8 usable images a year.

    The remaining 8 months a year are spent processing film, printing, spotting , matting, mounting and packing mounted prints for shipment. All of which loses it's luster a bit when you have to produce large volumes of finished, mounted prints.

    The costs of travel, equipment, facilities, supplies, insurance, travel, packing materials, etc really add up. And for all you invest in time, money and effort, there is no guarantee that you'll sell a single image. Even if someone is charging an elitest price for a print doesn't mean they're actually making much money from it, especially for the investment of time.
    Thanks for your post... it really put things into perspective for me... You really injected a dose of reality of what it means to be a fulltime dedicated artist committed to quality. The other bit of reality is how low the yield is despite all of the hours you work. I think I read that Ansel Adams claimed to only capture about 12 prints per year. Your experience appears to be consistent.
    Often wrong, but never in doubt!

  10. #110
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    Quote Originally Posted by lenswork
    I don't personally know a single person who has paid more than about $2,500 for a photograph from a contemporary photographer, at least not that I can recall.
    I know A LOT of them Brooks. Get attached to a gallery and you will be VERY surprised at the money people spend on contemporary AND dead photographers.
    Quote Originally Posted by lenswork
    There are lots of photographers who are frustrated with the gallery paradigm,
    We certainly understand that YOU are one who has a problem with galleries and their “elitist” pricing, but there are many who are quite happy with it as well. Most of the photographers I have met that have problems with the “gallery paradigm” are those that do not have representation. It is easy to have some contempt for a club you so desperately want to have membership in, but won’t have you. I know as I have been there. Most photographers who feel this way quickly change their tune once they have representation. Say Howard Greenberg called you today and said, “I am willing to represent you Brooks, but you will have to stop selling your own work for 20 bucks a print.” I realize that the precedent you have set through your very public disregard for the gallery system has made this impossible, but really, what would you do?

    As I have said before Brooks, I admire your socialist approach to pricing photography, but it is no way to make a living. You have stated somewhere before the amount of money you have made over the years selling your prints. Reading that alone may cause photographers hoping to make their livelihood from their work to run and hide!

    Bill



 

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