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  1. #61
    bill schwab's Avatar
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    Here's a long one...
    Quote Originally Posted by Early Riser View Post
    With your logic then I could say that anyone who doesn't like my work is just being petty.
    I don't know how you arrive at that, but it doesn't really matter. I'm afraid that you are not going to change my mind on the petty thing. I say this because of the stereotypes you include with your generalizations. You've used them several times in these forums and each did not sit well. “Static..”, “mediocre lighting”. I think of it more of a taste kind of thing and you say yourself that it is your opinion. You have made it quite clear before that you have a strong opinion of what “art” is. You must also know that others may not feel the same way. Not everyone needs the obligatory "God Light" to be wowed by an image.

    Quote Originally Posted by Early Riser View Post
    As for travel, I like to travel… I like seeing what's around the next corner. I haven't modeled by work philosophy after Michael Kenna or anyone…
    Don’t be so sensitive Brian! I really wasn’t speaking of you and I am sorry if it appeared this way. There are many that do so however and that was my point. It seems that now more than ever, too many worry about the “business” of being a “fine art” photographer as well as following in the footsteps of those that have “made it.”. In my opinion they don’t spend as much time developing a vision as they do trying to copy someone else's. I speak from experience here, as I have been just as guilty in the past.

    Brian, You said you have been at this 4 years… at least from the time you closed your studio… and that you just decided you were going to be an art photographer. We even had dinner once (about the time you were embarking on your new career) where you discussed your plan. You wanted to do everything you could in as quick a time possible because you didn’t think you’d be able to do it when you got old. You would make your money then off the work you do while still relatively young. I don’t know... although logical, I just saw that as naïve I guess because I don’t believe it works that way. It is not the type of career that you can just throw a bunch of money at and succeed. I’ve had gallery representation for nearly 15 years, have met many in the “business” and can honestly say I never met any like that who have made it as yet. There are a lot that have the means and do try, but they are not really making a living at it. You may do so and I wish you well as you have certainly made some beautiful work since beginning on your quest. But in general it isn’t going to happen for most. This is why I play the counterpoint to many of your posts. I am no expert, but I know the reality Brian. Fame does not match the bank account in most that I know. I know the numbers and I have spoken to you before about that. I know for a fact that they do not add up. If you can honestly say that in 4 years you make a comfortable living off your work, you should be teaching classes in it my friend because you are truly an oddity. Past accomplishments and monetary rewards in photography aside as I too had that and it goes away fast. You’ve got to sell a boatload of prints a year to even make a modest living. I just want people that are thinking of cashing it in and “becoming an artist” to have a balanced view to base their decisions upon. There is no real glory in dealing with many a gallery owner. On the contrary.. many dealings can be quite degrading. Especially when they are living off money they are holding back on paying you.

    Now… back to the original thread. Another thing I notice about eBay and online selling via one’s own website (or a gallery with an active online presence) when compared to the traditional brick and mortar gallery world is depth of clientele. I’ve talked to many photographers that get a new gallery, sell like gangbusters at first only to have it dwindle to almost nothing in a very short period. They think they are the new star only to have it all go away overnight. This is because many galleries only have a select few collectors that bring business to them. Once the novelty of the new guy wears off, it is almost done for them there until they can muster a healthy amount of new work to get the cash flowing again. Online, you have an unlimited number of potential clients and it is my experience now that many more know of my work from the Internet and bookstores than do from galleries. There are of course many repeat buyers online as well, but there always seems to be many more new ones coming from this as opposed to the traditional gallery that serves a specific geographic region. Online sales also translate into rapid payment for the photographer whereas traditional galleries tend to be extremely slow in paying their artists, another sad fact about the glorious gallery world.

    It has been fun contributing to this thread and I think it has been a great one so far. I thank all for your PMs as well. You are all very kind. As I said before, the book is still be written on this. I just try to be honest and call it as it appears to me. I may live to eat my words, but I think the gallery system is in for a serious shake-up that has already begun. They can no longer hide behind false facades as the rent is due every month and the trust funds are running out. They will continue to close or go exclusively online and can no longer hold photographers hostage in this exclusive world where all a photographer needs is a well developed eye and a good sense of business to promote themselves beyond the capapbility of many galleries. The good thing is that it will keep the ones that survive on their toes.

    Bill

  2. #62

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    Quote Originally Posted by billschwab View Post
    I think the gallery system is in for a serious shake-up that has already begun.
    Bill! Early! Come up for air! Lol- just kidding. Good thread. Interesting to see things from the photographers side. Unfortunately Bill knows what he is talking about. I have contact with a lot of people who deal in photography. The grapevine says not all is well. Several galleries have let go staff and others have already closed or gone to private dealing. Not sure if online sales have anything to do with that but a lot of them do business on Ebay too. Two galleries here in Michigan have all but closed in the last couple of years. The Halsted Gallery was a mainstay for many years and they are now mostly private except for a couple special swhos they do in a rented frame shop. No more gallery. There was an upstart gallery in Grand Rapids that only seemed to exist for a couple of years. I hear they are still there, but I don't think they do showings any more. There were also a barrage of other upstarts around that same time taking on a lot of new, unknown photographers. I don't know if the galleruies are still there, but many of the hot new photographers seem to have vanished. Ken Rosenthal, Hiroshi Wantanabe, Ion Zupcu among others seemed hot at first, but I haven't heard much from them lately. It really is a dog eat dog world. I cant tell you that I know of any one except for the chosen few repping hot sellers that are making any real money. The galleries seem to come and go as fast as the hot new photographers. The real money or at least the sure money is with vintage photographs and not many of those photographers are still alive to enjoy! I bet Weston and Stieglitz would have had web sites! PD

  3. #63

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    Bill do I really have to justify my opinions about lighting to you? If I think that the lighting in a photograph is mediocre or a photo is static, that's my opinion. And if my opinion is valueless then no matter what I say it can easily be ignored. People are free to look at my work, or ask me my rationale, and see if my opinions are based on skill and experience or if I'm just being "petty".

    What I find strange is that first you tell me that I'm being "petty" then you tell me not to be so "sensitive". I haven't said anything insulting to you, in fact I think I'm usually very complimentary to you. Are you having some sort of issue with me?

    As for how easy or hard it is to make a living in the arts I can't vouch for the ease or difficulties of anyone but myself. To be honest I really can't complain about my degree or speed of success to date. I was able to get representation in NYC the first week I tried and have been represented by quite a few galleries. Some sell work more than others, some pay much faster than others. Some galleries succeed, some fail (9/11 hurt quite a few galleries in the Soho area of NY). That's just the way it is I guess. I don't know if it's been harder or easier for you or for anyone else but I would think that there is no specified success rate or path we all take, it all depends on us individually.

  4. #64

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    PD, yes there have been many closings of galleries, and many have gone into private dealership. Businesses change, the internet has affected many galleries. One of the galleries that I'm with claims 30 percent of their sales are from online, and this is a gallery that's been around for 30 years.

    If one just looked at the profit/loss statement for GM and Ford they'd think that cars were gong to cease production sometime soon. Yet Toyota is expanding. Did anyone think 30 years ago that GM and Ford would be in the shape they're in now. Some businesses grow with economic changes, others perish. The internet has changed nearly all the marketplaces. More and more purchases are done on the internet, eventually some brick and mortar stores will close due to high overhead and internet competition. Some malls will have a hard time filling vacant stores, and if the mall wants to survive they may have to lower rents to help stores compete better with the internet. An economy adapts. Art will still get sold, granted it's a huge luxury, and nowadays people can easily print their own images to hang on their walls, but there will still be a market. Office buildings, hotels, luxury homes, they all use/buy art. The sky is not falling, it's just getting rearranged.

  5. #65
    bill schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Early Riser View Post
    I haven't said anything insulting to you, in fact I think I'm usually very complimentary to you.
    You are correct. I am sorry Brian. I did not mean to insult or offend you. I'll leave it with that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Private Dealer
    Bill! Early! Come up for air!
    Again... I apologize.

    You mention 2 galleries that represent me! As you can see, a lot has changed. Halsted is still doing quite well as a private dealer and still accounts for a large portion of my business... The Photography Room that you mention in GR is not very active. They still do the occasional corporate sale, but do not seek new photographers or regular exhibits. I feel bad about that as the owner is a good friend and I was very encouraging. I too have learned a lot since then and realize there just isn't the collector base here to support even 1 gallery in this state. Brian found it out the hard way, but not before giving it a good, college try. They are still open, but as you say are not doing any contracting with new photographers or regular shows. They now have a frame shop they rent space to and also use it as an office for his very successful architectural photo business. If you were ever there, you know what a fine space it was. Too bad the town didn't support it. They sure liked drinking the wine at the openings though!



    Bill

    PS. FYI - The Photography Room had all the photographers you mentioned as well. Ken I haven't spoken to in some time, Hiroshi is still going strong and Ion continues to do wonderful work and just had a museum show in his home town in Romania.

  6. #66
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    This has been a really entertaining read

    Somewhere (lost in the recent move APUG made) in the Articles section, is a letter to the editor of mine that was printed in B&W Magazine several years ago, about how Internet sales from photographers personal websites could challenge established galleries. Basically I said that galleries call it a 50% commission, and I called it a 100% increase above what the artist got, and I questioned why wouldn't collectors want to buy straight from the artist's website and save BIG money. Maybe I'll re-post it. I think selling prints from your own website is a different world compared to e-bay, where I can't see myself selling.

    Concerning photographing in your backyard, I consider the whole north coast of BC to be my backyard, and don't have a great desire to photograph anywhere else. It used to be officially known as "The North Coast Timber Supply Area", but was known locally as "the bush", "the inner coast", or "the outer coast". Now it's known globally as "The Great Bear Rainforest". How's that for a brilliant marketing plan

    Of course...all I have to do is convert the garage into a darkroom this spring, get the prints up to snuff, build the website, and then the print orders will come avalanching in!

    Murray
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    Note to self: Turn your negatives into positives.

  7. #67
    RAP
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    I think one essential aspect of selling on the internet is monitor calibration. There is no real standard for calibration and I would think the general public just uses factory settings or adjusts to their own comfort level. Where as do photographers and website developers calibrate to the same standard?

    Video cards, crt vs lcd, older model pc's, size of jpeg files, will all effect how photographs are seen on a pc from the internet and influence whether or not they will buy. I have a monitor calibration page on my website and I see others have the same. But I wonder just how effectvie it is.
    Time & tides wait for no one, especially photographers.

  8. #68
    jovo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RAP View Post
    Video cards, crt vs lcd, older model pc's, size of jpeg files, will all effect how photographs are seen on a pc from the internet and influence whether or not they will buy. .
    I'm sure the above can indeed be a factor. It's also important to realize that web presentation equalizes ULF with Minox, platinum with inkjet, silver with piezograph etc. I've had occasion to see images at a NYC gallery, and then gone home to see more of the same photographers work online only to be bitterly disappointed. Not even close!!

    Which makes me wonder if web presentation should include pictures of one's work actually hanging on a wall in a frame as well as straight-ahead scans. Pushing the potential buyer ever closer to purchasing probably needs the same kind of marketing imagery that furniture sellers use (think Crate and Barrel for instance), i.e. presentation in context. On an appropriately colored wall, a black and white photograph can look exceedingly good, and color photographs can use the same strategy they would use when choosing a colored mat for background wall.

    But the bottom line, viz a viz my first paragraph, is that the work better be damn interesting because all the arcanery involved in making it just aint gonna be appreciated online!
    John Voss

    My Blog

  9. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by RAP View Post
    Video cards, crt vs lcd, older model pc's, size of jpeg files, will all effect how photographs are seen on a pc from the internet and influence whether or not they will buy.
    Much the same thing can happen in a brick and mortar gallery, or as in my case, a gallery in a huge log cabin. As soon as you walk through the doors there are colourful photographs (not mine) of local bridges and historic buildings at sunset, and in a side room my prints were hung on either side of, and on top of a huge curtainless window. The light flooding through the window into the low light levels within the gallery blasted the life right out of my prints.

    I sold very few prints in that gallery and I'm 100% positive, in this case, a website would have been better.

    Murray
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    Note to self: Turn your negatives into positives.

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    Selling work that has only been viewed by the buyer online is a hard sell. So much of the fineness of a print is lost on the screen. I think that the work for sale has to either be priced at a price low enough where the buyer feels that there's little to risk, or the work has to be sold by an established artist who can be googled to check their "credibility".

    You have to put yourself in the place of the buyer. Whose work, or what work would you feel comfortable buying based solely on a jpeg? How much are you willing to risk in terms of a purchase price? Would you google the photographer and see if he/she is established?

    I think that it would be a far easier internet sale if the buyer has seen the print in real life somewhere and is merely shopping for it online, or if the buyer has contacted a long established brick and mortar gallery that has an online store and a respected reputation to back it.

    There's another aspect to buying art that you can't have on the internet and that's the buying experience itself. For many people going to a gallery, maybe with your spouse or someone significant to you, be given the ritual of a gallery presentation. The white gloves go on, the gallery director or associate talking in reverent tones about the significance of the work, the grouping of pieces together and seeing how they can work off each other as a grouping, the visualizing of the work hanging in your home and seeing under the changing light of the day.... there's a romance to buying art. I recall a purchase by a couple for their 25 th anniversary, they came to the gallery, he bought one for her, she bought one for him, they already had the spot picked out and wanted input from me about what would be a good grouping. I was honored that for something as special as their 25th they chose my work. But for them, buying the pieces together was as much a part of their gift experience as the work itself.

    Also much art is sold during the opening of the show, which gives potential buyers the chance to meet the artist and talk about the work in general or a certain piece in particular, to hear the funny story about how the photo was done or the personal attachment that the artist has for that piece, it tends to humanize the work even more. From my personal experience, when I talk to someone about a piece of mine at an opening, they very often buy it. It's not some impersonal piece of paper with silver on it, it now has a life. Buying online is just not the same thing.

    For the corporate or interior design sales though art is merely a commodity to some extent, it's a furnishing, however those buyers still want to see it for real, they want a presentation from an art consultant. And a smart art consultant is not going to the trouble of making a presentation with only one artist's work. They have a vastly increased chance of sales if they bring a variety of artists' work, and it's easiest for them to get that from a gallery.
    Last edited by Early Riser; 12-27-2006 at 08:45 AM. Click to view previous post history.



 

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