Selling prints on e-bay and elsewhere

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Doug Hook, Dec 20, 2006.

  1. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    10,171
    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Bill - I understand and agree about the AIPAD rule - I was just explaining the rationale behind destroying the negative after the edition(s) is/are finished. If you are declaring a single edition of a single size in a single media, then many collectors will expect that once the edition is sold out, the negative gets FUBAR'ed.

    I think the AIPAD guidebook is a good set of rules to abide by - unfortunately, there are photographers without ethics on the one side, and clueless patrons who don't understand editioning on the other, and make it harder for everyone else.
     
  2. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    4,200
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Location:
    North Coast,
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Then again...one need not climb aboard the gallery driven treadmill quest for fame.

    In life, my wife and I have always chosen 'happy and humble' over 'get rich at all costs'. I could be making over double my current wage working in the local aluminum smelter or paper mill, but that would mean shift work and I couldn't walk my daughter home from kindergarten every day for lunch, and I wouldn't come home from work in a good mood.

    I think I'd be happy enough selling in some local museums and through a website to make enough money to cover material costs + a bit more for some little extra's, such as adding to our daughters RESP (registered education savings plan).

    Murray
     
  3. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,011
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Location:
    Chillicothe MO
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    That seems valid for those who enjoy money and merchandising more than doing photography. However, it would deprive friends and neighbors the pleasure of owning my photos, too great a sacrifice. It would also have denied the world much of the genius of Eugene Atget, Edward Weston, Gene Smith, and many others. Photography means galleries to some, pictures in print to journalists, creativity to artists, wedding gigs to others, and snapshots to millions. Inexpensive quality prints at local venues can be satisfying, too. There's room enough for all of us.
     
  4. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    7,228
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Location:
    Basin and Range Province
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Or brave persons could universally chuck the limited edition artifice. I find the idea of defacing my best negatives to create an artificial scarcity after I have pulled ten prints from them, repulsive.

    I much more favor the "vintage" notion, where the negative date and the print date fall within the same year. Prints after the first year are no longer "vintage."

    I usually make only 5-10 prints from a given negative anyway, but I find the concept of cerimoniously wrecking my negatives a bit silly, and I have better things to do than keep track of the total printing amounts for umpty negatives. My prints are already "rare" without my pretending so. If my son can print from my negatives for some bucks, years from now, great.

    As far as being in the back of B&W as a "wannabe" I would just say it has been a very cost effective promotion, and that selling prints has far more to do with effective promotion in as many ways as possible, than what venue or venues your prints are marketed in. That little statement is what has been missing from this thread. Make a name- sell many prints. Be a nobody- sell few prints. Very few photographers have ever made it big by accident, but there are plenty of photographers better than me who sell very few prints because they simply can't stomach self promotion.

    I'm J Brunner-Buy my prints- They are nice.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 29, 2006
  5. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    3,751
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2003
    Location:
    Meeshagin
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You can say that again Murray. Like I said before, in this business the bank account rarely matches the fame. If you've got a good job that feeds your family... keep it. Those of us that don't are left to run that treadmill. From my perspective, anyone not independantly wealthy that would quit a good livelyhood to do this has not fully thought it through. Best to keep it as a hobby, avocation or passion. If you can sell a few prints on the side to feed your habit, all the better.

    Edition or not, I would NEVER deface a negative.

    I certainly never meant that disrespectfully. I am extremely happy to hear that it has worked out for you as I have not heard of much success with those ads. Congratulations!

    Bill
     
  6. Early Riser

    Early Riser Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,682
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2005
    Location:
    USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    For some a gallery is not needed. If you have the time to market your work and pack up prints for individual sales going to each purchaser then you might not need a gallery. For those who may be on the road a lot, a gallery takes care of a great deal of the logistics. I no longer have any full time assistance, maybe someday I will again, but for now it's a very high expense and there's a long learning curve for most new employees. I rely on galleries as being part of my marketing, as they market my work in their region, and they are also part of the inventory, distribution and delivery system of my work.

    The other part of being with a brick and mortar gallery is that they do add to the perception that you are an established artist. This may not be as needed when you are in fact an established artist, but in the beginning it does add greater credibility.

    Buying art on the internet does have some risk. Look at EBay, they have all sorts of security programs and safe guards and scams still happen daily. And you're also buying a print that you have not actually seen firsthand. When you go to a gallery, there's a sense that they may have greater integrity because they have something valuable to lose if they screw up, their reputation and then possibly their investment in their business. Also their obvious investment in a real business location, all the inventory they possess would indicate to most that there is a commitment there. In addition you can see the actual print you are buying and can even take it with you. When you buy on the internet, you do buy somewhat blind and that is going to be a tough issue for internet dedicated sellers to resolve.
     
  7. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    24,848
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    paswonquitte
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    i'm with you murray!

    john
     
  8. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    10,171
    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Jim- you missed a point in the next sentence or two--

    I said that if he wanted to go down a certain career path, which by approaching prestige galleries about showing his work, he is suggesting he is interested in, then he will at some point need to switch tracks. If not, then he doesn't need to. I also said that it is a judgement call that he needs to make for himself, and none of us should criticize it because we're not the ones who had to make it. I agree, there is room for all styles of photography marketing under the giant art tent. Certain styles will lead to certain outcomes - you just have to decide which outcome you want, and if you are willing to make the compromises it requires to achieve it. If you want fame and fortune from your artwork, then you go down the major gallery marketing route. If you want to make your friends and neighbors happy, then you don't market your work and don't put a pricetag on it. There's also lots of space in-between. Just, whatever path you choose, please don't become another Thomas Kinkade! :D There's enough mediocre overpriced kitsch in the world as it is!
     
  9. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,899
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2006
    Location:
    Breinigsville
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I would not deface my transparencies either, I am hoping to publish several books, I need the images for such publication.

    Rich
     
  10. skillian

    skillian Subscriber

    Messages:
    274
    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2004
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    In marketing my prints to collectors, I've run into some issues with some who have refused to buy my work because it wasn't limited. At the end of the day, I want to make new work rather than printing old work, but I don't like the idea of "retiring" a negative simply to pacify collectors or some market condition. One idea I've considered is doing an initial edition of X number of prints - effectively the first printing of a given negative. Once those prints are sold, I would then charge considerably more to reprint those images again in the future. I'm wondering if this approach, along with price increases every few years, would effectively allow for the best of both worlds?
     
  11. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    7,228
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Location:
    Basin and Range Province
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    No offense taken, more a counterpoint to photographers who think the world is going to beat down their door-

    Success is of course a personal concept, but when running ads or promotions many people don't really understand how it works. Anything less than three or four impressions in a given placement is worthless. It takes eight to ten placements to really get any result that could be considered as representative. That means a B&W placement needs at least a year of running to show any results. Thats what any good marketing and PR person can tell you. Its cumulative, not resultant. Even more so with the photo game.
     
  12. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    3,751
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2003
    Location:
    Meeshagin
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I must have spoken to one timers that hoped for instant return like many do when they first put up a website. Thanks for sharing the success side of those ads.

    Bill
     
  13. Shinnya

    Shinnya Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    583
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2004
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I am too in the middle of trying to sell my prints for fundraiser. I usually do not sell or even actively show my prints, but I am trying this time for this purpose.

    The thing that I tried to figure out is how to market them, which has been a big question to figure out.

    I built a web page dedicated for that in the first place. Also, I certainly was hoping that the people who would buy the prints are people I have a personal contact with. So we did a fundraising party for them. Sure enough I have sold several so far.

    But I do need to reach more than people that I know personally to achieve the amount of money that I need. So, I borrow a mailing list from one of the small very reputable publications for a very reasonable fee. I sent out about 1500 postcards to the people on the mailing list.

    I am just about to place an ads in one of the small photography publications which will run the same ads quarterly for a year. This is a rather small publication, and I like images that I see. Also, I just started one here at APUG.

    Now, I am getting these prints framed and go around the city to place them with some additional information. Anything from coffee shops to furniture stores. These are stores whose owner that I know well. I am framing the same print for these different locations in the city so that people became familiar with the image.

    I am about to write press release to local news papers and magazines hoping that it will catch someone's eye. If someone writes about it, it would be a great publicity for us.

    I am also considering of contacting to newly built condos in the city to see if I could put pictures up in their hallway. There was a surge of building condos in the city for a last couple of years, so that means there is a lot more walls to be decorated with some art.

    My idea is that you do not know where people see your image and buy one. Certainly catering to "collectors" is one way to go, but my guess is that there is a lot more people out there do not necessarily consider themselves as a collector but still buy some arts for their wall.

    So, I am doing a series of marketing one after another to publicize the print sale. Again, I am not recognized as a photographer in the area, and I do not do this usually which are not advantageous for me. It takes time and needs creative thinking. But, I am trying to figure out what would work and hope that accumulative marketing will work somewhat to my ends.

    Warmly,
    Tsuyoshi
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 29, 2006
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    3,751
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2003
    Location:
    Meeshagin
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Tsuyoshi, This is right along the lines of a self-promotional campaign thread I just started. Your story would be a great one there if you don't mind sharing more.

    Bill
     
  16. rjas

    rjas Member

    Messages:
    227
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2006
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    there is a seller on ebay who does nudes - he makes 5 prints, keeps one for himself, sells the other 4 each with a 1/4 of the negative. visions of grandeur i think.
     
  17. tim rudman

    tim rudman Member

    Messages:
    694
    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Where do you find the prints for sale on ebay? I found none using their search engine. (but I'm not a very accomplished ebay user!)
    Tim
     
  18. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    24,848
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    paswonquitte
    Shooter:
    Multi Format

    i really see nothing wrong with what he is doing.
    i have made images for about 20 years where i
    create a "thing" to print with and after i get a good image
    or 2 or 3 i get rid of it. there is no way to make another
    image, unless i contact print, or scan or make a copy negative
    of the print.

    one of the best things
    about photography is the ability to make multiple images from one
    negative, but i also think it can be the greatest stumbling block
    of photography as well. nothing becomes unique if there are
    10 or 20 or 250 or 1000 images. to me at least, this is why
    i have always had an interest with photography from the era when
    each image was singular. i see the other side of the road too, if someone
    likes something you shouldn't deprive them of what they want ...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 30, 2006
  19. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    4,200
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Location:
    North Coast,
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I finally found that B&W (USA) Magazine issue 14, August 2001 with my letter to the editor in it. Get a beverage, sit back, relax, and give it a read if you dare as it's a loooong one :wink: *This was written six years ago and there's a more than a few things I'd change, but... He titled it;

    "Could The Internet Make The Conventional Gallery Obselete"?

    "I have just finished Rosiland Smith's article in Issue 10 about the Internet and fine art photography sales - what was missing was any reference to the potential of individual photographers websites.

    The real power of the Internet is equalization. No matter if it's a big name gallery or an artist who lives in some remote corner of the planet, everybody begins at the same point on a level playing field. For those who choose, the Internet could even replace galleries as the way photographers sell their work to collectors.

    As I see it, there are three compelling reasons why photographers should consider sidestepping the whole gallery scene. Number one is commitment. Howard Greenburg couldn't have illustrated this more acutely in his quote, "I have an enormous inventory and represent so many photographers that I can't get it reviewed enough..."

    How much effort is a gallery putting into promoting each artists work when what matters to the gallery is a sale - any sale. There are only so many square feet of wall space, and your photographs could well be lying in a drawer, unseen. If your sales trail off due to a lack of attention by gallery staff, no problem...a new flavour of the season could walk through the door at any moment, portfolio in hand, possibly providing a fresh flurry of sales.

    Your own website works for you and promotes only you and your work.

    Number two is the price of photographic works to the collector. Galleries call it a 50% commission. I call it a 100% increase above what the artist recieves. In the past, the most accepted way a photographer could increase awareness of his or her work was to become associated with a gallery - the bigger and more prestigious the better. The gallery then has to hire knowlegeable staff, have a premier location, and so on, thereby increasing the cost of the prints. It also has to represent enough photographers to slake the thirst of as many different collectors as possible, bringing us back to problem number one.

    Number three is the galleries acting in their own interests by pressuring photographers into putting limitations on the number of prints for sale. It's an old story (ask OPEC) reduce availability and prices go up, but it's galleries, not photographers, who win in the long term. With their own websites photographers could formulate pricing structures that reflect their images and methods. Over time, prices would increase and sales drop off for an image; but doesn't it stand to reason that if, as Ansel Adams did, you set a deadline on the sale of new prints from old negatives before turning, let's say 70, sales would jump before the deadline? Wouldn't those who bought early and even those that bought late have made a sound investment? Wouldn't this provide the artist with an opportunity to generate a retirement income? Galleries can always get fresh talent to keep sales up. Photographers only have themselves - why put limitations on your lifes work?

    Photographers are a fiercely independant lot. We move seperate from reality, seeing tonal / textural / spacial relationships no one else notices. Even if photographing with a friend we are essentially alone, seeing the world through the layers of our own life experience and expectations. We photograph and print the images ourselves because no one else can solidify our vision - why then leave our finished work in the hands of others to sell?

    The Internet now provides photographers with an incredibly powerful earth-encircling alternative to galleries. A collector who doesn't have the time to wallow through the Web could hire the services of an Internet agent - somebody who after discussing the collectors likes and dislikes could (for far less than a 100% increase above what the photographer recieves) search on behalf of the collector and submit a variety of relevant choices.

    It may sound as if this is an advertisement for my own website, but I don't have one. I have been using large format gear for 18 years and have kept my photography an intensely personal expression. I have not entered competitions or submitted work to group shows. I have had three one-man shows in local museums at pivotal points in my growth as an artist, but have not sent my work to any galleries.

    What has brought me to mull this all over is that my work has reached a level where I would like to see where it sits in the scheme of things, to see how it will be interpreted.

    Do I join the gallery herd, or keep my independence and set up a website? A huge question.

    The nearest photography gallery is 1,200 miles down the road and there is nobody in these parts I can discuss things with. I'm hoping this letter will stir the pot enough to get some answers to these questions. What exactly are the benefits to the artist in gallery representation, and what exactly are the benefits to the collector to justify the 100% increase in price above what the artist recieves"?

    Murray

    P.S. I didn't get any answers, as the letters to the editor part of the magazine disappeared in the following issue.
     
  20. kjsphoto

    kjsphoto Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,320
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2004
    Shooter:
    Sub 35mm
    The only way I know how to is goto the home page and click on art->photographic images

    then on the left hand side you will get a photo finder box to further navigate.

    Kev
     
  21. OP
    OP
    Doug Hook

    Doug Hook Member

    Messages:
    24
    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2006
    Location:
    Bedfordshire
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I've just taken a quick look (art - photographs - contemporary) on what I think is UK e-bay. It must be very discouraging for photographers who are serious about their work to see the going price for other prints up for grabs - hardly covering the cost of a machine print.

    Safe to say, e-bay does not generally appear to "represent" the kind of work referred to through this thread.... that often seems to rest with galleries and photographer's own websites. There are exceptions as some people have said through this thread; obviously many advantages and disadvantages to the various outlets to weigh up.
     
  22. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

    Messages:
    6,237
    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format

    John, I agree with you. Cole Weston did this very same thing back in the 80's each of his prints had a part of the negative attached to the back. I think that most of the sought after photographers of time past...printed a very few of some of their most famous images. On the other hand we have Adams who printed "Moonrise" until he himself was sick of it.
     
  23. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    3,751
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2003
    Location:
    Meeshagin
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    This was Kim, not Cole. Cole told me once that he thought his son was crazy for doing this.

    Bill
     
  24. PatTrent

    PatTrent Member

    Messages:
    411
    Joined:
    May 14, 2006
    Location:
    Brentwood, C
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    To me, a work of art should be unique. When I make a print, I make one for me and one extra to sell or give away. I keep the negative in case I should have to remake a print for some reason (hasn't happened yet, though).

    Years ago I make a beautiful print of some callas for my mother, then framed it and gave it to her as a gift. She hung it in her living room and it received admiring comments from her friends. More than once she asked me if I could "Please make a print for [so and so]," and I replied: "Sorry, no. I made that for you--it's one of a kind, and that's why it's so special. It's a work of art." After a few times she stopped asking me and began to really appreciate the print even more. This was a confirmation to me, that I had the right idea.

    I follow this principle for any type of craft/creation of mine: a ceramic, a piece of jewelry I designed and made, etc. I realize I'm in the minority. :tongue:

    Pat
     
  25. OP
    OP
    Doug Hook

    Doug Hook Member

    Messages:
    24
    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2006
    Location:
    Bedfordshire
    Shooter:
    35mm
    This is a convincing advantage of having a website; as you say, for promoting you and your work. Such a shame there wasn't an opportunity then to see the replies.

    I've taken a look at through many of the websites belonging to those contributing in this thread. I think they're very effective and display [impressive] work for the world to see. Some stunning images. Many are American and presumably serve their purpose well... is it too presumptious to ask how well and why is it that they're mostly American? What about Europe and other places? Different places, different markets?

    While your points about galleries are well reasoned, do you think there is something to be said for galleries helping create markets, to stimulate interest and inspiration? I remember as a child (before the days of the internet!) visiting art galleries and they often made quite an impression on me. Right from real masters of oil painting through to weird sculptures, which to a school boy, were nothing more than piles of junk. Nonetheless, it made an impression on me. I clearly remember being intrigued, puzzled, moved, amazed at what I saw. I knew nothing of how galleries operated - and still don't - but that was irrelevant then. It was just a case of absorbing what was there. Websites have their purpose for sure but so too do galleries?
     
  26. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

    Messages:
    6,237
    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Nope this was Cole in the Mid 80's at the Camera Obscura Gallery in Denver.
     
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies. If you have a Photrio account, please log in (and select 'stay logged in') to prevent recurrence of this notice.