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  1. #81

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    I've read parts of many of these posts and, correct me if I'm wrong, the main theme of that article wasn't about selling a print for $20...and maybe making the rest of us look bad...but that sometimes the fine art world thinks everything that is produced by any artist should be valued beyond the means of the majority of this earth's residents. We've all seen absolute crap selling for thousands of dollars that most people wouldn't pay $5 for! Unfortunately thats what is wrong with this "market economy" we have to live under. ("..what the market will bear" god I hate that saying) Why not make a print, thinking about what it took for us to buy the film, to go out and take the image, process it, study the neg, print it and then think about what we need to make a living and be comfortable and then sell it for the figure that we settled on. Just because it was created by me (or you) doesn't mean we should be asking $5000 because we happen to think it is worth it.

  2. #82
    Dave Parker's Avatar
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    I don't see a way to get away from "what the market will bear" thats why we have cars that sell for 50K when it takes less than a 1/3 of that to produce them, it is because that is what the market will pay for it..

    We really as artists, photographers or what ever you call us, have no bearing on what we can sell our product for, because once someone pays the price it becomes what the market will bear, the person purchasing the item for some reason or another decided that piece was worth the price....we all do it, if we fell a product is not worth the price, we won't buy it, plain and simple, that is what the market will bear.

    I have been told thousands of times in the last year, I should sell my glass product for more, but can guarantee you, the market would not bear it, so hence I sell it for what provides a living for my family and still allows the consumer to purchase it..I just happen to feel and with many sales behind me, know that for my photography, the market will bear the price.


    When it comes down to it, I don't care what someone else sells their product for, as long as they don't tell me I am wrong for what I sell my product for.

    I have every right as an independant marketer to ask what I want for my product, if the public buys it, then it is worth is, if they don't, then it is not worth it, I just don't have the right to make statements about what others sell theirs for.

    Dave

  3. #83

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    Quote Originally Posted by Satinsnow
    John,

    Its not that he is selling a picture for what people can afford, it, in my opinion was the attitude and idea of his article that made others upset, when you make broad statements about what others should do, then your going to have controversay, fi Brooks wants to sell his lowline prints off the injet for $20 bucks, that is fine with me, but please don't lead to the fact that I am selling mine for to much, as Blansky said, it is worth what you can get for it..and I know as many others do, I can get more than $20 bucks for mine.

    Dave

    sorry dave -

    i didn't read the article at the bookstore or on his website. i also didn't realize that he was suggesting to people how much to sell their prints for.
    i was under the impression from what i have read in the 8+ pages this thread has generated that people were upset because he was selling low-cost prints, and suggesting that while some photographers/artists are able to sell their work for $28,000 each, the regular unwashed, unshaven, poor credit-score public can't afford stuff like that, and he was just filling a niche that he saw could be filled.

    i know i can't afford a 28K or even a 3K or 300$ print for an investment or just for eye-candy, 20 bucks is about what my budget allows these days - and i spend *less* than that at stores like target for a framed matted print by someone like rosanne olson ( really nice polaroid florals - btw ).

    i am sure what he says sparks some controversay, but aren't folks who are selling their work on ebay suggesting something similar by selling hand crafted b&w prints for less than 50-100$ ?

  4. #84
    blansky's Avatar
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    Why do people think that what we produce SHOULD be available to everybody. Are we some sort of charity that studies and trains to make great images then blows them out so that everyone can buy them with pocket change. I can't fill my car up for less than $35.00, why should something that took me years to be able to achieve be available to anyone for the price of a tank of gas.

    When we sell our products for the cost of film and paper and a bit of time we are demeaning ourselves and the products that we produce.

    It is sad to see that "artists" rarely have the business sense and self esteem to charge enough for their work to own great homes, cars, toys, vacations and education for their kids.

    Most people would love to be able to own a Mercedes, or a Rolex and fantasize about the day that they can. Maybe they should feel the same way about your photography.


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

  5. #85
    David H. Bebbington's Avatar
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    At this point, I would invite comments on the following:

    In the UK, it is (just) possible to get somebody to photograph a wedding for £150 (cash!!!!!!!!!). Notwithstanding this, the average spend, so I am told, is £500 to £1000. It is not unheard of for not particularly rich people to spend up to £6000, at the high end of the market the total bill for wedding photography can be £12,000 or more.

    My question: How many screams of pain do we hear from APUGers and others about this? How many protests about the immorality of charging these amounts? The answer as far as I am concerned, amazingly enough, is - none at all!

    When it comes to gallery prints priced at a fraction of the cost of a wedding album, however, people are apparently outraged. What is the explanation? I am sadly forced to the conclusion that in almost every case the person doing the protesting is also a producer of art prints who wishes secretly that he/she could also sell at the "outrageous" prices in question and is miffed that he/she can't!

    I would really be interested to hear people's views on this, including those of the good Mr. Brooks Jensen, if he is still following this debate!

    Regards,

    David

  6. #86
    Dave Parker's Avatar
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    David,

    Back in the day when I did wedding photography, My average on a wedding was $2500.00 US per wedding, my highest ever was a big shin dig that I got about $5500 bucks for, man I really enjoyed that one, we ate out for a week and went on a 3 day holiday..

    I still feel, get what you can get, cause there is someone out that will if you don't..

    LOL

    Dave

  7. #87
    Helen B's Avatar
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    I've never been able to see any obvious general connection between the price of a photograph and the value of it.

    I agree that we should sell our work for what we can charge. It doesn't make any sense to sell it any other way. I can sell my work for a few hundred dollars (= what someone is willing to pay). I can also sell my work for forty dollars (= about the minimum I can charge, taking into account materials and labour at a reasonable rate, and without compromising on quality). I prefer to sell my work at the lower figure. That way I can sell to the kind of people who are my friends, which makes me feel better than selling only to people who appear to have too much money. But I am a scruffy proletarian at heart and always will be.

    I have some of Brooks Jensen's $20 prints. They are fine photographs, and I greatly admire his stance. As far as technical quality goes, I'm afraid that it's better than some Azo and Pt/Pd prints I've seen at five times the price. Their value to me has nothing to do with how many dollars I paid for them.

    Best,
    Helen

  8. #88
    James Bleifus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jnanian
    sorry dave -

    i didn't read the article at the bookstore or on his website. i also didn't realize that he was suggesting to people how much to sell their prints for.
    i was under the impression from what i have read in the 8+ pages this thread has generated that people were upset because he was selling low-cost prints, and suggesting that while some photographers/artists are able to sell their work for $28,000 each, the regular unwashed, unshaven, poor credit-score public can't afford stuff like that, and he was just filling a niche that he saw could be filled.
    John, I agree. The problem is that there are two different arguments going and once and people aren't separating them. The first argument infers that Brooks is advocating that people sell prints for $20. Nowhere does he say that and people are using that as a red herring. He does say $3700 is too much for the print that he uses as an example. Some people feel that because Brooks sells his prints for $20 disproves his thesis that some people ask too much for their work and I don't see it. Although I believe $20 is way too low for my prints, and the market supports my belief, I do believe that some folks come to photography, see what prints sell for in NY auctions, and believe they should charge the same prices. And then they wonder why their work doesn't sell. Go to some local art shows and you'll see photos by new photographers being offered for $1000. But those prints don't sell and I know that because I talk to those people about their prints at openings. I've seen some folks pricing their work for more than Michael and Paula do and wondering why they aren't selling work.

    The second argument that's being weaved into the first is a philosophy of print pricing and charging what the market will bear and I think there are some good tips on pricing in this thread. However, these claims are in agreement with Brooks' essay even as they claim to disagree. I'm starting to wonder how many people have actually read the essay.

    Cheers, James

  9. #89

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    Why do people think that what we produce SHOULD be available to everybody. Are we some sort of charity that studies and trains to make great images then blows them out so that everyone can buy them with pocket change. I can't fill my car up for less than $35.00, why should something that took me years to be able to achieve be available to anyone for the price of a tank of gas.
    When we sell our products for the cost of film and paper and a bit of time we are demeaning ourselves and the products that we produce.
    It is sad to see that "artists" rarely have the business sense and self esteem to charge enough for their work to own great homes, cars, toys, vacations and education for their kids.
    Most people would love to be able to own a Mercedes, or a Rolex and fantasize about the day that they can. Maybe they should feel the same way about your photography.
    Michael


    I've never been able to see any obvious general connection between the price of a photograph and the value of it.
    I agree that we should sell our work for what we can charge. It doesn't make any sense to sell it any other way. I can sell my work for a few hundred dollars (= what someone is willing to pay). I can also sell my work for forty dollars (= about the minimum I can charge, taking into account materials and labour at a reasonable rate, and without compromising on quality). I prefer to sell my work at the lower figure. That way I can sell to the kind of people who are my friends, which makes me feel better than selling only to people who appear to have too much money. But I am a scruffy proletarian at heart and always will be.
    I have some of Brooks Jensen's $20 prints. They are fine photographs, and I greatly admire his stance. As far as technical quality goes, I'm afraid that it's better than some Azo and Pt/Pd prints I've seen at five times the price. Their value to me has nothing to do with how many dollars I paid for them.
    Best,
    Helen


    Well, here we have the two poles of the discussion -- one advocating art for the elite in society who can pay for it, one who advocates art for everyone, even those with limited means. I think this is one of the great things about marketing artwork -- it has no intrinsic monetary value other than the value we and the buyer place on it. It's a wide open field and each of us can choose the play the "marketing game" any way we want. Each of us can develop our own rationale for our marketing strategies. Each of us can target any set of buyers we want. Each of us can produce and promote what we want. As they say, it's a free country.

    Obviously, I favor the availability of art for the proletariate -- maybe because I am one! I've always admired Japanese ukiyo-e -- woodblock prints made for the masses, sold for fraction of a penny, that are now worth of a factor of thousands what the Japanese peasants and working class originally paid for them.

    I am also a pragmatist. As a student of history, I can't help but see that in most cases it's the secondary-market sellers who make the big bucks. The artist never gets very much for their work. It's been this way throughout all art history, in all media. For example, Adams' and Weston's (and others') prints now sell for tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars, but why? (Notice that they do not personally benefit from this price escalation, only the secondary market does.) As a pragmatist, I can't help but note that one reason their work is now worth so much is simply because it is: 1.) So damned good, 2.) So ubiquitously published, 3.) So voluminous -- the result of a lifetime of producing and distributing hundreds if not thousands of original prints. That is to say, their work is worth a lot because there are a lot of people who want it -- far more than there is work available, in spite of all those original prints. As far as I can see, there is no virtue (to us as photographers) in limiting our audience: Keep your light buried too far under the bushel and no one knows who you are and no one wants your work. Seems to me getting published and getting a lot of work out there is the best way to develop a market for your images, even if it only financially benefits those in the secondary market long after you've gone into the final wash, as Ansel used to say. If Ansel Adams taught us anything about marketing, it's that image familiarity drives the prices up. I call this the "big pyramid" theory -- the larger the base, the taller the peak. The problem I see most often is that we are so focused on the peak (high price) that we forget to build the big base (large audience). (Now if we could just all get on the cover of Time magazine!)

    If the great masters' artwork now sells for so much, what did they personally, as photographers, do to contribute to this increasing value? There might be good lesson here to learn and follow.

    My observation is that they worked hard, worked a long time, worked diligently and consistently, made lots and lots of prints, developed their talents to the best of their abilities and beyond, showed and talked about their prints to anyone and everyone who would look and listen, shared work with as many people as they could, tried their best to develop a following for their work, published as often as they could, kept making new work as long as their bodies held out -- and (here is the point of this whole discussion) didn't overprice their work so only a few elite collectors could buy it. For example, I personally know over 100 people who own Ansel Adams original prints they purchased for about $400 or less -- from Ansel or one of his galleries, while he was still alive and making prints. 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. As a friend of mine said in response to my article, "The problem with most photographers today is that they price their work as though they were already dead."

    Look, if you want to price your work for lots and lots, go ahead! I wish you the best of luck, really I do. If you can sell lots of it, good for you. One of my main purposes in writing the article was simply to get folks to thinking about this issue and to offer a way of thinking that you don't hear much of these days. There are lots of photographers who are frustrated with the gallery paradigm, the high prices they see in most galleries and even auction catalogs, and are easily intimidated into thinking this is the way it has to be done. I disagree and thought it would be useful for them (and everyone) to think about this issue from all sides so we can each make our own decisions about how we choose to market our photographs. Based on the discussion in this one APUG thread alone, I think I accomplished my goal.
    Brooks Jensen
    Editor, LensWork Publishing
    Written Saturday January 14, 2006

  10. #90
    James Bleifus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satinsnow
    I just don't have the right to make statements about what others sell theirs for.

    Dave
    Dave, I'm confused by this statement. Can you show an example from the essay where he tells others what they should sell their work for (beyond saying that one piece isn't worth $3700)?

    Cheers, James



 

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