I too have found this thread interesting and informative. I think Michael has said numerous things which photographers don't like to hear but which are difficult if not impossible to refute (because they are true!).
Originally Posted by MikeSeb
A couple of points:
1) Picture galleries versus picture agencies. Picture agencies have traditionally been an area in which photographers have entrusted their work to sales and marketing professionals and enjoyed a win/win situation as a result (although this has changed recently - royalty-free images, etc.). Crucially, picture agencies have generally (not always) been run by hard-nosed business types who need no convincing of the need for pro-active selling. In the case of picture galleries, on the other hand, I have been repeatedly amazed that I get work accepted by galleries (including some quite prestigious ones) who then do no active promotion whatsoever. Merely operating a shopfront and hoping people will come by and walk in is not enough!
2) The diamond industry. What does this have to do with photography? It's arguably THE classic example of how extremely professional marketing and brand management, together with artificial restriction of supply, has led to a situation where a product is regarded as having high instrinsic worth and exclusivity for which people will pay big bucks (diamonds could in fact be sold for a fraction of current prices and still make a profit). The obvious point of difference between this industry and photography is that there is no conceivable way of restricting the supply of pictures on the market, but there are still some valuable lessons to be learned on how to create high perceived value. Like many other contrbutors to this thread, however, I have grave doubts as to whether any art photographer can generate sufficient market presence to generate sales which are in any way profitable in terms of the time and money invested (this is of course disregarding the possiblity of restricting supply and creating exclusivity through the ultimate career move of dying!).
Best regards to all,