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Author Topic: Profit from Prints  (Read 30175 times)

KevinA

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Profit from Prints
« on: January 19, 2013, 06:42:37 AM »

Do people make a decent living out of selling Fine Art prints or is it just a paying hobby?
I'm just curious to know, not a side of photography I have considered in the past. I know there are the $1000,000 guys, I'm thinking more of the local guy selling prints.

Kevin.
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framah

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2013, 10:27:06 AM »

Remember the old adage:

Don't quit yer day job!

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Go Go

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2013, 10:55:54 AM »

Hey Kevin,

Fine Art is a business, why not research is like a serious student and find out the answers to your questions?

Go to a small gallery and talk to the owner...

bill t.

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2013, 02:36:34 PM »

It's a two step process.

1. Become a famous artist-photographer...

which will enable you to...

2. Sell fine art prints for lots of money.

It's tough business.  My suggestion is, a beginner should only do the print thing if he wishes to remain a hobbyist.  It's hard to make a part-time living in La Vie photographique, you either have to go for it 100%, or have a day job.

But OK, start by placing striking, LOCAL-INTEREST prints in local tourist spots, local galleries/gift stores, and local framers.  Be prepared to accept a commission-based sales scheme.  In the meantime, start building your reputation by doing art fairs and getting interviews in local publications and radio and TV shows.  Hint...those interviews will be a lot more forthcoming if you buy advertising, which is probably not worth it.  There's a guy who sells really pretty, nicely matted, 8x10 digital prints in a local, high traffic gallery.  I mean, gorgeous, knock-yer-eyes-out images!  About 2 sales a month.  And don't do the card thing.  Just don't.

Of course, that's the timid path.  Alternatively, you can jump right in doing outrageous, flamboyant work right off the bat and move directly selling through outrageous, flamboyant galleries.  It's happened.  Takes a certain amount of moxie.
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Colorado David

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2013, 08:57:04 PM »

A colleague of mine who has been a professional commercial photographer for years recently started in the fine art print business.  His accountant has told him he now has an expensive hobby instead of a business. ;D

gerafotografija

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2013, 02:48:03 AM »

Being of the scientific persuasion, I decided a test was in order. After researching the multitudinous ways that people attempt to profit from hosting and reselling your photos, i decided that the least treacherous path currently available is through Redbubble.

After spending a few hours setting up shop, linking to my photoblog on Wordpress.com, I am now a photo entrepreneur with no initial cash outlay. Well, not including camera, lens, software, ISP, computer, time and effort, etc...

I'll let you know how it goes.

If you would like to buy a nice panoramic print reminiscent of Thomas Gainsborough's ouevre, check it out here.
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Rob C

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2013, 04:34:28 AM »

A colleague of mine who has been a professional commercial photographer for years recently started in the fine art print business.  His accountant has told him he now has an expensive hobby instead of a business. ;D


Funny; my accountants always maintained that I had a habit; almost suggested I take up coke instead and save money.

God knows what they were on, but they took plenty of mine!

Rob C

Roskav

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2013, 07:19:31 AM »

He he.  (Combined with a normal photographic practice I think that prints at best break even when you take time and customer care into account - what they are useful for though is making sure your name is up on somebody's wall who will perhaps show to friends or colleagues) At any large un-commissioned volume you are going into retail, with all of the responsibilities that entails.
R
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Rob C

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2013, 08:44:09 AM »

There are folk out there who have six figure turnover and yet still struggle to make a living.


That's opaque: you mean they really find it difficult to turn a photographic profit on that, or simply have different expections to mere mortals, or are wastrels?

Rob C

Rob C

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2013, 10:26:28 AM »

Really find it difficult to turn a photographic profit living on that once time and all expenses are taken into consideration.



Then I hate to say it, Keith, but that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that there absolutely, really, truly and inescapably was a Golden Age - once upon a time!

;-)

Time's a tough one to figure: can you even begin to think in terms of day-rates, hourly rates etc. when you work, basically, for yourself, hoping to sell without benefit of assignment? Closest I got to that state was with stock: I didn't enjoy either the system or the stress; it utterly ruined my concentration, totally the reverse experience to doing more or less the same thing on assignment. The freedom from financial worry that the latter provided was a huge plus both emotionally and creatively, because one felt the need to top previous efforts for the same clients, and that did push the effort a bit further.

Rob C 

framah

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2013, 10:54:53 AM »

Long, long ago... I mean LONG ago!!!... I decided to set up at arts and crafts fairs in the tri state area (NY, NJ, Pa) and sell my matted photos and note cards. Initially, i was actually making close to $500 on a good weekend. That was almost as much as I was making at my office job.

Soon tho... the economy pooched and I was paying $300 to enter the show and driving 3 or 4 hours to get there and only making about $50 for the whole weekend.
I was looking for any unlocked dumpster on the way home just so I could throw all of it away!!

I quit selling my stuff until I got my framing business going and could have a place to hang my prints. I still consider it a hobby of sorts, but I don't care because I don't have to rely solely on my photos to survive. My framing business allows me to have a nice life and still afford to go play with my cameras when the  bug hits me.

Thus my "don't quit yer day job" comment.

It was hard enough when it was a really good economy. I can't imagine trying to start something like that in THIS economy.
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Colorado David

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2013, 11:40:14 AM »


Funny; my accountants always maintained that I had a habit; almost suggested I take up coke instead and save money.

God knows what they were on, but they took plenty of mine!

Rob C

A story about the friend I just mentioned.  He's an excellent commercial photographer, Brooks Institute educated.  We would be driving somewhere for lunch and he'd see a homeless guy trying to fish coins out of a fountain.  He'd say "look, there's a retired photographer."

Rob C

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2013, 11:55:01 AM »

Rob, perhaps you're forgetting about inflation, it's a great leveller.

100,000 GBP sounds like a helluva lot of dosh until you take inflation into consideration. 8,000 GBP in 1970 would be worth approx 103,000 GBP now. Did you consider a turnover of 8,000 GBP a helluva lot of money in 1970? Would 8,000 GBP turnover have been the basis for a good living?


You have a point!

God, has it really changed as much as that?

(Rolls eyes and thanks lucky stars!)

Rob C

Rob C

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2013, 11:59:05 AM »

Long, long ago... I mean LONG ago!!!... I decided to set up at arts and crafts fairs in the tri state area (NY, NJ, Pa) and sell my matted photos and note cards. Initially, i was actually making close to $500 on a good weekend. That was almost as much as I was making at my office job.

Soon tho... the economy pooched and I was paying $300 to enter the show and driving 3 or 4 hours to get there and only making about $50 for the whole weekend.
I was looking for any unlocked dumpster on the way home just so I could throw all of it away!!

I quit selling my stuff until I got my framing business going and could have a place to hang my prints. I still consider it a hobby of sorts, but I don't care because I don't have to rely solely on my photos to survive. My framing business allows me to have a nice life and still afford to go play with my cameras when the  bug hits me.

Thus my "don't quit yer day job" comment.

It was hard enough when it was a really good economy. I can't imagine trying to start something like that in THIS economy.

It certainly is problematic. As a working photographer I never gave print sales (as in loose prints) a thought. My mo’n’lo used to say I should sell them in the local framers’ shops – there was a couple around locally – but I always used to try and explain about the expense/economics of getting four-colour litho up and running at less than a few thousand copies a pop (and I had fine relationships with some good printers that ran my calendars for me). There was no bromide print history around in my area beyond straight commissioned work, and Ciba was far too limited to work with without access to better facilities than mine.

I would sometimes envy art galleries – they seemed to exist and sell stuff – and that was all painting apart from one Glasgow outlet that sold Annan prints – old historical Scottish material. Then, during a trip by car from here to Scotland we discovered a shop in Sarlat selling photographs as prints, framed or loose, and also books by the same photographer (Francis Annet) who also ran the shop. Sitting slap, bang in the middle of a very touristy old town, he had it made. I envied him his condition. He did landscape, as in misty views of the countryside, the Dordogne river, the Pyrénées, and his wife/partner (I don’t know) worked the shop. Cool.

How the current crisis has affected them, I have no idea; all I can say is that a rural hotel that we used to frequent on both legs of our trips, in Payrac, is on what used to be a busy N route; when the motorway was developed, bypassing it by several miles, I think life changed quite drastically. It has since changed hands and also name. Change, the only constant.

Rob C







Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2013, 03:58:55 PM »

... In 1957 a Hasselblad 500C cost £270. In today's terms thats £5316. Today you can buy a new 503CW for £2466 list and less than £2000 street.

That's an interesting comparison. However, although the comparison choice appears to mimic apples to apples, the reality is a bit more complex. 500C back then was state-of-the-art, top-of-the line, just like 503CW years ago. Perhaps a different (better?) comparison would be with the "state-of-the-art, top-of-the line" Hasselblad today?

bill t.

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #15 on: January 21, 2013, 04:12:14 PM »

In the early 60's I bought a new 500C and a spare mag for $580, including the 80mm Planar.  Also picked up a new 150  Sonnar for $450. Cleaned me out, but oh what a camera!  And still formidable in its analog sort of way.

IMHO the only way to make money from prints is to sell them framed.  If you try to sell bare prints along side that, you're only hurting yourself.  At retail level framing is valued more than prints, fact of life.

The Enemy.
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Kirk Gittings

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #16 on: January 21, 2013, 10:09:46 PM »

Quote
IMHO the only way to make money from prints is to sell them framed.  If you try to sell bare prints along side that, you're only hurting yourself.  At retail level framing is valued more than prints, fact of life.

FWIW. That is not true in the market that buys my prints. 8x10 inkjet matted sells for $400-framed $450. I just sold a large print 2x4 feet. It went for 4100.00 and change framed. Frame costs were about $400.00 if memory serves.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2013, 10:23:26 PM by Kirk Gittings »
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bill t.

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #17 on: January 21, 2013, 11:40:42 PM »

FWIW. That is not true in the market that buys my prints. 8x10 inkjet matted sells for $400-framed $450. I just sold a large print 2x4 feet. It went for 4100.00 and change framed. Frame costs were about $400.00 if memory serves.

Hey Kirk, can I borrow your customer list?   :)  And congratulations!  Takes a while to develop a market like that, and no small amount of talent.
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Kirk Gittings

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #18 on: January 22, 2013, 12:08:35 AM »

Had my first show in '72. ........90 shows later.........jezz it only took 41 years to get here!  :o
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bretedge

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #19 on: January 22, 2013, 07:40:31 AM »

I read each and every response and it seems I'm going to be the contrarian here.  I opened a gallery last March in Moab, Utah.  We sell canvas gallery wraps and archival plaque mounted prints as well as calendars, greeting cards and small matted prints.  Our goal for the first year was to not lose our asses.  We made a profit.  A small profit, but a profit nonetheless.  We managed that even in a less than stellar economy and we did it without the benefit of a 12 month "season" as the tourists are only in Moab from March to October.

How did we do it?  First of all, it's a tourist town and though our season may not last the entire year we've got 8 solid months of heavy tourist traffic.  We opted for a low rent space with Main Street visibility.  We're 1/3 of a block away from the main shopping district but our rent is half what it would have been for the same space just a few dozen feet to the south.  My wife and I run the place, so we've got no employee expenses.  We priced the prints reasonably and offer free shipping anywhere in the U.S., which makes it much easier for people to pull the trigger.  We barteed with local tourist guides for free advertising in exchange for the use of a few of our photos.  We invested in gallery quality LED lights up front and saved a ridiculous amount of money on our electric and air conditioning bills, and we didn't have to replace bulbs every 2 to 3 months.

In a nutshell, I do think you can be profitable selling prints if you've got a market and the ability to reach that market. 
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