Selling prints on e-bay and elsewhere

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jtk

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I would rather sell 1 of my works for $1,000 in profit than 1,000 of my works for $1 in profit. The money is the same, but the former adds more value to your work.

IMO the trick is to step up to the plate (plate of your choice) and show one's work directly to the people who will evaluate: Accept, become enthusiastic, reject, ignore, ridicule.

I found it easy to develop advertising agency clients that paid my bills by showing my work to their art directors, most of whom have serious formal art educations as well as their own ongoing artistic activity.

Art directors pay photographers to deliver work that meets requirements. If you like a photo in an ad, it means somebody has delivered what you like and has probably been paid well. Same applies to art gallery exhibitions.
 

jtk

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Question....do you print-sellers make more $$ online or through galleries? Do you mind paying galleries good % for their help? Not a theory question. Are there galleries that actually and regularly show your work?

Locally we have galleries that routinely sell prints @ $1000-3000 and I doubt the photographers mind paying large % for the service...many of those photographers are shown by multiple galleries in different regions.

Me, I rarely show prints...make my $ by making photos.
 

jtk

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Question....do you print-sellers make more $$ online or through galleries? Do you mind paying galleries good % for their help? Not a theory question. Are there galleries that actually and regularly show your work?

Locally we have galleries that routinely sell prints @ $1000-3000 and I doubt the photographers mind paying large % for the service...many of those photographers are shown by multiple galleries in different regions.

Me, I rarely show prints...make my $ by making photos.

I misled by saying "make my $ by making photos." I'm mostly retired from any job, only very occasionally making money from photography. When I was 100% photo I sold to clients I'd pursued or through professional referral (e.g. ad agencies)...I had no interest in hanging my work in galleries but I spent a lot of time enjoying the work of photographers who did exhibit.

Galleries can provide worthwhile service to photographers...they put money upfront to pay for their facilities, their employees (gallery sitters, janitors), and their/your marketing. It's outright ridiculous and extremely unfair to damn them for charging a lot for what they do. They're entitled to charge whatever the market supports and if that doesn't work for them they go out of business. Life in the slow lane.
 

removed account4

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I would rather sell 1 of my works for $1,000 in profit than 1,000 of my works for $1 in profit. The money is the same, but the former adds more value to your work.
hi again jim10219
i forgot to add
getting $1 profit is too much like getting
10¢ royalty checks from
"the super terrific happy hour"
send me a check for $3K im happy :smile:
 
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Just out of curiosity, we put a print up for sale on e-bay a couple of years ago. It was an 8x10" black and white print I'd shot and printed. There was just a little interest and it did sell for a few £'s.

While my ego would love it if I sold some prints and even more if I made some real money out of it, it doesn't quite feel the right thing to do. In trying to work out my unease, it does seem to cheapen the image, or is it a case of vanity? I can't quite put my finger on it.

Is it the right thing to do?
What's your problem?Sell them if you canna person willing to pay for your prints is the best judge of your photography; all the best!
 
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Just out of curiosity, we put a print up for sale on e-bay a couple of years ago. It was an 8x10" black and white print I'd shot and printed. There was just a little interest and it did sell for a few £'s.

While my ego would love it if I sold some prints and even more if I made some real money out of it, it doesn't quite feel the right thing to do. In trying to work out my unease, it does seem to cheapen the image, or is it a case of vanity? I can't quite put my finger on it.

Is it the right thing to do?

Ancient poster...yes it cheapens your work if it sell them for peanuts. Better to donate for free if you cannot get something approaching reasonable in $.

But just depends on your goal. Is your goal to be a museum photog and produce valuable works of art or is it just to get your work out there at any cost?

If you are not interested in being a museum photog, then do what you like, it does not matter. Araki got his start with a artist's book that was made with a copy machine that he sent out to random people in the phone book. It is boring as hell. I got photos of it I will post someday to my blog. Point is, photogs have a natural affinity for showing work and making prints.

When you die, good chance your pix will die with you if they are not in collections worldwide. So best to get them out there one way or another if you want to give them an afterlife. Vintage photography adds an extra value to the work. Even mediocre work becomes masterpieces when they are old.

cyanotype-blackface-d-d-teoli-jr-a-c-1.jpg
 

pentaxuser

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I have seen few threads with more "no longer seen" members than this one. No point in giving advice directly to the OP as he hasn't been seen for almost 8 years. :D

pentaxuser
 

jtk

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I have seen few threads with more "no longer seen" members than this one. No point in giving advice directly to the OP as he hasn't been seen for almost 8 years. :D

pentaxuser

It's an almost timeless question ... whenever I start to get to know a young photographer s/he always seems to be successful at some level financially ($$$) with her/his photography.

IMO (just my theory) it'd be self-destructive in some way to reduce photographs to online sales objects.

I don't think my photos are "done" until I've personally printed them...to become a pro I stopped printing (because my clients wanted transparencies) and the process wasn't completed until I had tear sheets in a portfolio.
 

Down Under

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Woo, this thread is pre-Jurassic. We were still shooting film when the OP typed his first post, imagine!!

Pentaxuser raised an interesting point, and had an equally interesting and insightful response from jtk.

Now my 2021 question. Is anyone selling photo images in this Covid era? Fifteen years ago a fair few brave photographers were putting up images for sale on (shock horror) Ebay, more so in photo web sites. Both practices now seem to have declined to a great extent. The sales markets have probably all disappeared.

I personally doubt Ebay will ever be (if it ever was) a viable sales market for photo images, as it now seems to be going down the gurgler, as Aussies say. All the photo galleries in Australia were in lockdown last year, for six months in Melbourne, also the community/government venues for photo displays and exhibitions, such as public libraries, city/town halls, as well as theaters and the many coffee shops and cafes with wall space for local photographers to display their work. The photo sale market suddenly faded away. I wonder if it will ever return, and if so how it will restructure itself.

Australia is not Europe or North America, we here have to deal with much more limited markets and sales opportunities, even if some areas (like documentary photographs of our distinctly unique native wildlife) appear to draw a ready if Covid-reduced sale market.

Way back then I had a reasonably successful part-time business taking and selling travel images, mostly in Southeast Asia. My clients were publishers in Europe and the USA. I never did earn enough to fund dirty weekends at a Waldorf, but one year (I think it was 2006) I did make enough to cover my airfares to Sarawak and a few weeks of happy wandering in longhouse country.

Those halcyon days (and most of the longhouses, alas) are long gone. My last good year was 2017, when I sold enough to pay for my B&W darkroom supplies (I admit I didn't do much processing or printing that year) and a chunk of the Nikon D800 I bought then and still use.

These days I consider myself lucky to sell a dozen images every year. I think I did about 10 in 2020 - our tax year ends on June 30 so I've not yet done my tax preparation and I'm not sure about my photo sales) and probably two or three at most this year. Most publishers put new books on hold last year and none will be producing again until 2022, so the market has 95% collapsed. I have no control over this as it wasn't caused by my (good or bad) images, so I go with the flow. I plan to travel again next year if I can, to do more photography of the fast-disappearing colonial architecture in Asian countries. This keeps me active and involved, so it's as important for me as the small money I earn from my images.

Sadly, the handful of (all young) newcomers in professional photo work closed down and vanished from the scene during the first dismal Covid lockdown in Australia in 2020. All now tell me they won't return to photography as a professional, the markets and clients are no longer there. We have lost something valuable with their passing.

Beyond this lengthy introduction, my question is: who is selling photography in 2021, who are they selling to, and how do they promote it. No, I'm not asking for business secrets. Only your thoughts about where the photo sales markets are heading and how we plan to tap into it. Sharing the hopes for a new future.
 
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jtk

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Here in New Mexico the professional work that I'm aware of (other than portraits etc) seems to be connected with our booming beer/brewpub industry. Much of that is excellent, probably unpaid and speculative.

Let me qualify that "professional" adjective for current reality: In earlier decades I would have said something about operating enough of a business to pay for studio space or travel.
 

momus

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Abq has a good photography co-op in Old Town as well. Mostly digital color stuff, and nearly all of the prints are on metal. Membership dues were high, something like $150-$200 a mo last time I checked, and that was years ago.

There's another co-op kitty cornered from there and they're much more reasonable, around $60 a mo I think. If you're in a high tourist area you have to think of stuff people can bring back in the plane/train/car, so you can't make things too big.

Then there's galleries, which are the high stakes lotteries of the art world. If you can get in a good one you can make some money, but there are no guarantees of anything, and first, the work has to be of that caliber. You have to sink so much money into framing and matting things it's crazy, then the gallery gets their cut if something sells. The painter just hangs the painting on the wall, and the sculptor just sets it down. Open studio shows and co-ops are goods way to get some exposure.
 
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Pieter12

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It is kind of a double-edge sword as far as galleries go. You really have to raise your prices (and the gallery has to feel they can get those prices) in order to pay the gallery their percentage (around 50% nowadays). But just by being represented by a good gallery generally gives a certain stamp of approval to the work, so collectors feel it is worth collecting. And you and the gallery have to have an agreement about expenses--framing, advertising and promotion, whether the gallery participates in art fairs and the cost of such. Also, while you might be represented by a gallery, is that representation exclusive, do you have to pay them their commission even if they don't make the sale, how often will you be included in either group shows or solo shows, and on and on. I only wish I had those headaches to deal with.
 

jtk

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Many interesting observations by Momus and Pieter, above.

I've only recently thought much about print sales... Etherton Gallery in Tucson sets the pace for sales of photo art from my point of view. I think their big secret is that they sell absolute top-tier work, most of which we already know from carefully curated online essays and books (does anybody still buy amateur-oriented magazines)?

Fwiw I've been printing a pair of portfolios intending to tote them around for likely prospective non-photo galleries and non-gallery businesses that do/might show prints without any intention to sell them (too much hassle vs their real businesses).

My goal is simply to get my name out to people who might be interested and might prefer contacting me rather than being sold. I suspect the retail nature of galleries is a kiss of death.
 
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