The internet in many ways eliminated the need for such cooperatives. Everyone who can afford to place a monthly add in the back of B&W can afford a pretty nice web prescence. And anyone who has done searches of sites knows there are thousands of photography sites.
Now it seems that things have come full circle. Even the best photography sites get lost in the heap. I have read about very few photographers who sell prints over the internet, and the few that do so I don't think are living in luxury unless they have income from commercial and gallery sales.
Now in order to stand out from the crowd you have to have presence like ads B&W and be actively soliciting galleries and individuals. I think a continuous 1 or 2 page advertisement shows you are serious. What shows you are more serious is if you can post a gallery showing somewhere in each issue.
That means a person(s) needs to be actively sending to or visitng galleries with a portfolio of the artists. They see the ad every month, they are more likely to take you seriously, maybe not accept the work, but have more consideration. I don't think the ad or a website will sell prints on its own. There has to be that personal contact and aggresive effort to get work out to people.
I agree that one person needs to make decsions. Feedback and suggestions should be taken, but there needs to be a "director" to be final arbitor.
Finally, you will need to be pretty merciless when it comes to deciding who gets to be involved and what prints are selected. I would suggest that perhaps you solicit (pay for their time) a gallery owner/director or museum curator who could help you decide on prints or give input. They would have a more objective POV and have a better understanding of the marketplace.
Personally, I would rather be rejected because my work was crtically evaluated and judged not to meet the co-op standards, then be accepted because my money helps defray the costs. Besides, that just gives me incentive to improve my art and craft.
It seems it would be much more successful to have a small group of dedicated artists, rather than a large group that might have some individuals who would demand results for the money they put in.
Just some extra thoughts,
Michael, Jim, and others have reiterated what my thoughts have been on the matter. I personally think that this marketing approach has merit, it has a need, and the means are available. The question is how many photographers on this site are "serious" about their photographic efforts. By that I mean "serious" enough to commit to the financial obligation that this approach will require. I will do this in order to know what this will cost.I will contact Black and White Magazine (for collectors) to learn what the ad cost for a full page (initially) and a two page (ultimately) ad will run on their bi-monthly publication.
I have a HTML editor program and also MS Access for database so the web page is doable with little additional expense. I personally don't see the need for "flash" in the programming. Something distinctive and professional carries more impact then a lot of glitz in my books.
I agree that equal quality and comparable pricing in the work is a necessity. The matter of gallery contact needs to be recognized and dealt with. I am open to thoughts on what Jim said regarding this matter.
I would appreciate all who would be interested in participating, if their work were chosen, message me of their intent. This will serve as a further indicator of whether to proceed or not.
Following up on something I mentioned in passing, and that I thought about after my post, and which I see Jim mentioned.
Crucial is the quality of the work. The work of the entire co-op will be judged as being as good as the least fine of the work. So it all better be top notch. As Jim said, no one should be accepted merely because they can help pay the bills. If I saw the listings of a co-op and a few people in it did sub-standard work, I would not pursue any part of it. That may be just me, but I don't think so. I assure you that all serious collectors will feel the same. The only sales that would be made otherwise would be the very occasional one if someone falls in love with a print--and that kind of sale only happens at very low prices.
If the object of the co-op is to sell prints, you all have a lot of work ahead of you. If you are going to be successful, consider that you will have a new full-time job. Putting less time into it is a waste of time and will lead virtually nowhere.
This sounds harsh, even to me, but my recommendation is to go into this with your eyes wide open with no illusions. And really, do be prepared for 40-hour weeks on this if it is to amount to anything.
Those are my sentiments as well. Sometimes reality is harsh. There is nothing worse then doing something half way. It is better to not have done it at all. That being said, I am still trying to determine if there is sufficient interest and following that will be a determination of the quality of the work.
All the answers here have been from the point of view of an artist. Harsh or not. Maybe you need to step back and look again from the point of view of a business. If this conversation were about something other then "our work" (which we are all passionate about) would you want to invest your money or something more valuable, your time.
I would suggest you map out your goals and make a business plan just as you would any new business. Know what you want from it, and what other's want from it. Maybe its not the best thing for you. Maybe doing your own thing might give you the most return on your time.
Just a quick couple of thoughts,
I am currently involved in 2 artists cooperatives, and the benefits are palpable. Gallery space becomes more affordable and you are allowed a certain amount of political stature (ie; creative visibility and clout). Now, a photography coop makes much more sense in that it draws more attention to photography as a viable art form (read f64) and as mentioned above gets more money invested in important ad space. There is a book out there titled "The Business of Art" (sorry the author's name escapes me) that outlines the importance of garnering a broader base with other artists in gaining gallery attention. I am all for this idea, regardless of whether my work fits the standard here, and I will continue to pursue coops as a method of putting more of my work in galleries.