Luminous Landscape Forum

Equipment & Techniques => Pro Business Discussion => Topic started by: robdickinson on September 16, 2013, 11:41:25 pm

Title: So where next?
Post by: robdickinson on September 16, 2013, 11:41:25 pm
Sorry for any rambling ahead of time...  I know my way around a camera far better than a business or marketing!

Background - I have a 9-5 day job writing software. Its kind of ok , pays the mortgage keeps my brain in gear. I'd rather do fun stuff like photography all day, even if it involved (a lot more) non shooting work. I'm New Zealand based.

I've won some awards, have a few thousand facebook followers ( ) recently launched a new website ( ) but have done little real marketing of that. I'm a realist and whilst I think my photography is Ok I see a lot better online so know I am not going to set the world alight and make millions...

I run some workshops, mostly seascape/landscape and an upcoming astro workshop with another photographer. I sell some prints and image use/licences ( 18 images for a 37m backdrop screen at an awards ceremony this week).

As a part time money maker for gear its fine but none of this is going to pay a mortgage any time soon. This is probably a position many people are in.

Ideally I would like to make a decent income through print sales, licence for things like calenders (rather than stock), workshops and photo tours. My plan is to build this up over the next 3-5 years by when I'll be more financially sorted and mortgage free. At some point I imagine the timesink that is the business side of photography will push out the day job but only if it works out financially!

So here are the specific questions - but feel free to add any general advice!

Whats the best way to generate print sales and market my website (same for the facebook page which does generate some business)?

Workshops/tours - I think these seem popular - NZ has many but most seem quite high priced. I could easily arrange lower/mid range multi day south island trips. Who to target? International market (US?) or locals? I could see myself running 3-5 day tours 4-5 times a year. And perhaps day long workshops more frequently.

I dont have any work in galleries (specifically in Christchurch) - is that a worthwhile area to look into? I know they can take a significant cut but still. There are far fewer galleries since the earthquake though.

Currently from a marketing point of view I feel I have reached a block with facebook/flickr/forums/500px.
Title: Re: So where next?
Post by: Mark on November 09, 2013, 12:40:11 pm
Hi Rob

My 2p worth

a) I would concentrate your efforts on the workshop and tours for income.
b) Build up the print sales when not doing "a"


Title: Re: So where next?
Post by: robdickinson on November 10, 2013, 05:37:05 pm
Thanks Mark.

About what I had suspected!
Title: Re: So where next?
Post by: robdickinson on January 26, 2014, 10:47:16 pm
OK so building up workshops this year. 2 or 3 astro workshops and will do some more seascape and general landscape.

Have some prints in a gallery , hopefully more soon and an exhibition this year (eaaaarly stages).

Print sales still low volume but steady.

I have a tour organised for April - probably not a big money maker but should be great fun.

So.. Workshops I am hitting a limit of what time I have whilst still doing a mortgage paying full time desk job and still being able to live and shoot.

Prints I could do with promoting as a small increase in volume would make a difference. I have done nothing bar social media here (and some press coverage) - selling online I think is tough , people need to see real prints.

Trying to see about comercial work ( hotels, offices etc) both shooting and supplying with art/prints. Takes time and some more general business/marketing skills than I have.. not sure where to start apart from cold calling. Should be LOTS of work in my city due to earthquake.
Title: Re: So where next?
Post by: bill t. on January 27, 2014, 03:18:06 pm
Work hard to get in galleries, or rather, work hard to get in GOOD galleries.  If you have the right sort of material for the location, and the owner is indeed committed to running a profitable gallery rather than being an arty poseur, it's a steady stream of income.  The only effort you need to contribute is to supply artwork.  You will not be weighed down by rent, promotion, employees, phone bills, utility bills, shipping, and all the sort of stuff that can crush an artist/proprietor to the point where he can no longer do new work.  In my pre-gallery days I thought 50% was a big chunk!  Now I thinks it's a bargain.  Someday I'll tell you about my experiences co-running a gallery.

One fairly rapid path to all-important recognition is to participate in art fairs, which exposes you to at least the low end of the art buying market, and puts your name on the tongues of art buyers and galleries who scout the fairs.  Of course you can directly approach galleries and other venues, but unless your work is truly sensational and presents exceptionally well, they will not look twice at you unless they think you can bring some existing following into their establishments.

I have given up on internet promotion.  Most of that market is looking for $10 prints, or something to put on the headers of their web page.  The way to sell art is to arrange for it and a customer to be in the same place at the same time, and to make purchasing the art both a proper thing to do and easy.
Title: Re: So where next?
Post by: robdickinson on January 27, 2014, 04:25:22 pm
Thanks Bill,

I'll have to work hard on the gallery space, a recession and a major earthquake has seriously depleted local galleries despite the tourism business in NZ. If I was in Queenstown it would be different.

There is a good gallery close ( ) I have some contact with wants to see some work so I will have to create some I think, the only decent framed prints I have just been dropped off at this place ( ) which doesnt get near as much custom/traffic but will see how it goes.

I should get some prints done for this purpose.. Not sure what or how to present them? Get 1 big print (1m) plus several smaller prints? Mount on card?

I dont have stock for art markets, there are a couple local, that would have to be a fair investment I think to get setup, tempting to think about , would have to start home printing for that (I dont have the volume now).

As for internet, web sales, its moslty local and through facebook/media etc which works well but small volume, not sure promoting my work outside of the local area would work ..

Thanks for the advice!
Title: Re: So where next?
Post by: stevenf on January 27, 2014, 04:38:39 pm

I sell my work in 9 fine art galleries. We have been to NZ three times, my wife did her undergrad in NZ.

If it was me - I think the town of Arrowtown gets a ton of tourist traffic. Any chance you could get your work into a gallery in this area? I believe a local/NZ photographer Craig Potton has/had a gallery in this town. It has been some years since we were last hiking/shooting in NZ.

Just my 2 cents.

Steven (
Title: Re: So where next?
Post by: robdickinson on January 27, 2014, 04:42:11 pm
Hi Steve,

I will try, I am down that way in Autumn and will try call in to some galleries, but they are flooded with great local shooters like Jackie Ranken & Mike Langford etc so will be tough to get some space.

Craig has closed his Arrowtown gallery a few years ago and opened a small gallery in his home town of Nelson, there isnt really a photo dedicated gallery in Arrowtown now but I will have a look next time..

There are galleries in Wanaka and Queenstown though - any advice on the best way to approach them?

Title: Re: So where next?
Post by: stevenf on January 27, 2014, 04:54:03 pm
Hi Rob

In the past we have taken a portfolio of 20 17" x 22" prints and a a few prints at actual size to show the gallery at 23" x 69" print size. Bring, along any published articles on your work - not stock but actual articles regarding your photography as fine art. Make an appointment with the owner. Try and approach the gallery when they are not busy. My wife has always been with me and she is a great help.

I have been fortunate, the last few galleries have approached me for representation. BTW - my work is only sold in the galleries not through my website - in fact there are no prices on my website - we do sell for corporate use and corporate placement but for consumer sales are through the galleries.

Gallery in Wanaka we liked was Gallery thirty three. When we were there they had no photography. The two photographers you mention are very different from your work.

Not sure if any of this helps.

Steven (

Title: Re: So where next?
Post by: robdickinson on January 27, 2014, 04:58:25 pm
Thanks, excellent advice!

Gallery Thirty Three is still paintings/sculpture only I think. There is also this one
Title: Re: So where next?
Post by: stevenf on January 27, 2014, 05:13:22 pm

Not sure if the gallery you mentioned has retail space. Tough to sell work from a website - at least for me my prices dictate that they need to see the print. I have had success in mixed galleries. Tough to stand out in a photo only gallery. I guess it depends on what price point you are selling at.

Steven (
Title: Re: So where next?
Post by: robdickinson on January 27, 2014, 05:22:22 pm
They have some yes.

Thanks for the advice, will spend some time choosing images and getting them printed for a portfolio to show round. Not in a rush for any of this though, its one of this years objectives.