I have read this thread with great interest. I would like to be able to retire from my day (and night) job within the next few years and devote myself to photography full-time. Most of the small change I've made from photography to date has been pregnant women and babies. I see myself expanding on that, and finding some sales for landscape and other "arty" stuff.
My kids are grown and gone and raising their own families. Our mortgage payments are tiny by todays standards. I've got alot of gear already. My biggest problem is going to be charging what I'm worth (and need to get by) and bill collecting. I have big issues around money, asking for it, ashamed of appearing greedy and money-grubbing. My up-bringing is part of that, as is the time I spent as a single mother on welfare. I believe I can do it, if I can be rational about charging for my work.
While no one will ever confuse me as a professional photographer I have sold more then a couple of my prints. My key has been to make friends with local small merchants and offering them a deal. This works well with boutiques. I hang my artwork in their store, they handle the transaction, and I cut them in on a percentage of the sale. I did this a lot when I was younger and hope to go back to it now that I am an empty nester and have the time to dedicate to my art again.
A couple of things that seemed to work.
#1 listen to the store owner when they suggest what type of prints to hang. They know their clients and can tell you if a nature shot of a waterfall is going to appeal to them more then macros of insects for instance.
#2 take their suggestions as assignments. In my mind nothing improves your eye as much as trying to creatively capture an image to spec. My Army days were full of shooting really boring things like, men marching, motor pools, and barracks. Once I started getting creative doing it I was always getting calls from different units to cover their events or posts. So if that store owner tells you her clients will like rolling meadows, go shoot some till you get a real keeper ( seller ).
#3 Shoot for color. Many times a person will walk into a store and see a red, or yellow, or blue photograph, doesn't matter as much what the details of the scene are, but rather the "color" will work in a specific room. I tend to do this a lot with macro work and people seem to like it.
#4 Shoot local interest, again if a picture of your local library, or firehouse, or lake is there and priced right that impulse buy is a great thing.
#5 Number your work. People love buying a limited edition piece. I would print up a couple of prints of various sizes and number them 1 of 20, 2 of 20, etc. I allows you to print a few more should you get a good seller while adding an air of exclusivity to them.
#6 Finally price for an impulse buy. I have not done the work to figure out what it costs to do a wet print these days, but you need to have prints that are affordable. I have hung a framed print on the wall in 11x16 and then also given the store owner a couple of smaller prints matted and in a plastic bag. I usually will price at a number with 8s in it. 18.95, 28.50, etc ( It's a good luck thing ).
After all of that, keep your day job and hope for the best,
Last edited by hspluta; 06-30-2010 at 04:15 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Haven't read all the posts here,but let me pass these ideas on to you:Hospitals,craft shows,resturants,doctor/dental offices,pubs,libraries.You may not get rich but you can certainly make a name locally if you're skilled.Best of luck!
Originally Posted by ted_smith
It's easy, get a sponsor to support your artist lifestyle. Or get a part time job to minimally live and eat then live the life of a starving artist.
Assuming you want to to totally commit yourself to being a landscape photographer. In the United States there is little hope for anyone below the poverty line and in this country it takes a good amount of money just to live, food, shelter, medical, dental, insurances if you have a car, which is needed due to the vast areas landscape photographers need to travel to, and money for gasoline and emergencies and repairs. Some of those conditions probably don't exist for you in the UK but I image most apply without the medical / dental, I'm not sure what's provided. You can't have any large debts or any distractions that would interfere with your round the clock work.
If you only want to do it part time as a "breaking into" kinda of thing then approach it with the same commitment as a professional; business and art.
It would require that you are supported completely, by yourself or another, and have all of your time free to do your art without interference to your artist intent. It's a tough bill but realistically that's what it is all about.
"Millions must plough and forge and dig in order that a few thousand may write and paint and study." H.G. Von Treitschke
Last edited by Curt; 06-30-2010 at 05:59 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: Spelling and errors
Everytime I find a film or paper that I like, they discontinue it. - Paul Strand - Aperture monograph on Strand
Sounds like an Ed Weston gig
I think Ed Weston did something similar with Charis Wilson during the 30s.
Originally Posted by Curt
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You'll be glad to know that Michael Kenna makes a lot more than $300 per print. His prints, which are all approximately 8x8 inches, sell for between $2,000 and $7,500, depending on which number in the edition they are. And he regularly sells out editions of certain prints in each show. Besides prints, his landscape work sells through books and calendars and I believe digital image licensing. Michael Kenna is in fact a highly successful photographer.
Originally Posted by Mainecoonmaniac
And let's think about it. He shoots a Hasselblad, which many "experts" would say wouldn't be adequate for serious landscape work. He prints everything 8x8 inches, which many of those same experts would say is too small for landscape work. He uses black and white film. His printing style is very personal and stylized. He probably is the perfect example of how to earn a living from photography. He believed in himself, and he went his own way.
With all due respect to the O.P. Laura, I haven't seen his landscape work, but I very much doubt if he is in the same league as Michael Kenna.
There's one or two false impressions in danger of being created here. The problem with Michael Kenna's economic model is not that he's going to struggle to make ends meet on it but that its kind of hard to replicate.
His prints start at $1000 and go up steeply with progress through an edition. Lets say he averages $2000 and gets half of that himself, or $1000. Now at that level or approximately that level how many prints does he need to sell in a year to make what we'd all call a pretty decent living? Bear in mind that he'll have travel costs and ( probably) staff costs to consider. So how many- maybe 500?
Now in each of the last several years Michael Kenna has averaged 14 solo shows in top-end galleries. He also averages about 8 joint shows and has 14 galleries representing his work, which I'd imagine means that he's available year -round there. Do you think that the sum of that might add to 500? I do. Then there's the books and the odd bit of commercial work.
So sure you can make a living as a landscape photographer- he's doing it and I have no doubt there's a few others doing just fine as well. The question is, how much of a gamble do you want to take? On the one hand there's a chance of fame and maybe fortune. On the other there's failing to cover your mortgage and health insurance. If you look at earnings in any profession you'll find there's a hugely disproportionate amount at the bottom as against the top.
So here's the thing as I see it. Either you've got the money to support yourself from other sources whilst you give it a go, or you need to keep a day job until you find out whether you're going to be Michael Kenna or (more likely) not. Either way its likely you'll have to piece together your income, large or small from a variety of sources, since as has been covered here the probability of simply swanning round the world whilst covering the costs and making a living via print sales would require a great deal of luck. For most people its a question of mixing up stock sales, print sales, the odd paid lecture, maybe some magazine articles (helps if you can write too) a few commercial jobs here and there, maybe a book, and not knowing at the beginning of a year how your income is going to pan out and what paths you're going to need to follow to be OK. For most people, they need to be pretty pragmatic and prepared to scrabble around in different areas to make things work.
Indeed one can make a living from landscape photography. Though I can tell you getting there is a full time position in itself. Whilst I make some income from workshops and photography courses etc, the majority of my income comes from my landscape photography. You must not underestimate how much marketing is required to get there, only a small portion of time is spent taking photos.
Hi Ted. I work at a university art department. All of the art faculty at UCD teach to support their art. Doing just your art for a living is tough. I asked my photo professor about the same thing 30 year had she said it was tough. Hone your craft, get a day and possibly teach.
"Photography, like surfing, is an infinite process, a constantly evolving exploration of life."