Are you Selling Photography
Many photographers want to make sales of their images, though I accept that quite possibly the majority of Photographers aren’t that interested in selling their work. However, I am certain that a sizeable proportion are interested in selling photography. Of course, that might well mean becoming a full service photographer offering Weddings and Portraits, but that is not what I am discussing here. I am interested in how, as an Art Photographer can I go about Selling Photography? How can I even get my work seen and on display to a wider audience?
I don’t just mean what happens to your images, I am really considering what you do about getting your images out to the wider community, how will you display your photography in a way that makes it a sustainable activity in the face of spiraling costs.
Traditionally this might have been some sort of show maybe through participation in a competition or a group show of some sort, it might have been a photobook for the lucky (very) few or it might be the sale of prints, as some examples. However, the economic climate has made it ever harder to get your work published and in this climate galleries will stick to the economically more certain names in the industry. These traditional routes to selling photography are much more closed now and especially so for the self-taught photographer who works outside of the established community.
Of course digital has made it really easy to display you photography online. However, that is never going to pay the bills! So art photographers who don’t have the big name are finding it more and more difficult get their work out there and to make sales … prints are expensive – even if the print is a reasonably price digital print there is the cost of framing and this all adds up and I wonder just who is buying prints and is there very much repeat business?
Now, I do believe that the digital revolution can provide new avenues for the art photographer. Any photographer can work directly with a printer to self-publish a book, the printers can offer a range of price points depending upon numbers from one off print on demand books to short run digital printing all the way through to offset printing. These avenues have always existed, of course. What digital does for us here is make it more cost effective at lower print runs so even Photographers with relatively few admirers and followers can afford to print their book. Furthermore, crowd funding has meant that creatives don’t have to shoulder all of the upfront costs by giving the opportunity to pre-sell their work. Finally, Social media allows us to market the work effectively, directly to people who might be interested, closing the whole loop.
So, it is my belief that all of this allows us to offer the traditional photobook of images to our followers, which I find to be a great outcome of the digital revolution! I make prints using hand made contact processes such as Palladium and Carbon Transfer and am ultimately interested in ways to bring these to my audience. The photobook was something that was made available in installments known as ‘fascicles’ in the heyday of the genre. In this way the cost of the book was lower and the publisher could get something out to people in a timely manner and then maintain interest in the work over a period of time. I find this approach interesting as well, but something for the future!
Yes, OK – there are services like Blurb and Lulu and any number of other print on demand photo book providers online, but this is not what I am thinking of at all. For a start they are staggeringly expensive even with the bulk purchase discount (only 25% of an already enormous price). Now, don’t get me wrong I like these services and they certainly have their place – great for portfolio pieces, great for Wedding or Portrait albums if you are a service photographer and I use Blurb to provide a mock-up of my book projects.
No, I am thinking of the short run digital printer who will make a book for a fraction of the Blurb cost provided you buy at least 50 or so and this is where crowd funding comes in. By being able to pre-sell the book the larger upfront costs can be defrayed and enable you to include incentives such as individual prints.
So, how will you display you photography?