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FORUMS Post Processing, Marketing & Presenting Photos The Business of Photography 
Thread started 19 Nov 2014 (Wednesday) 23:02
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Do people still buy prints? (of non-personal photos)

 
trale
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Nov 19, 2014 23:02 |  #1

I'm dabbling with the idea of selling prints of my photos through a website. I'm not a pro or full-time photographer by any means, but I have received enough direct requests for prints of my photos from friends and acquaintances to seriously consider the idea.

Currently, whenever I do receive a print request, it's a manual process where I send an order to a shop, and then deliver it myself (face-to-face, or mail). It's rare enough that I don't mind.

I am looking to services like smugmug, zenfolio, fotomoto to automate this process. But all of these are not cheap (to me anyway, I'm just an amateur photo-enthusiast).

I can set up a website to sell digital prints using WordPress themes and plugins at a very low over-head cost (and without requiring dedicated photo services like ones mentioned), but fulfilling physical prints is a whole different ball game.

So beyond friends and acquaintances that like my work (they have a personal connection), I'm wondering just what the market is like for people to buy prints from random photographers on the internet. My personal take is that it's a miniscule market. It just seems to me that people don't buy photo prints these days, unless it's for special personal occasions like weddings. Do even famous photographers sell a lot of physical prints?

I have very little solid data to base my take on, so I'd like to get a better idea from others. If you are a working pro and part of your business is selling prints (of non-personal photos like landscapes, wildlife, abstract etc), how are you doing?

Grateful for any insight.




  
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JM ­ Photos
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Nov 19, 2014 23:52 |  #2

At the level you are currently at, I'd say that you wouldn't sell a single photo off of a smug mug unless it was someone that you knew personally. There is very little chance that a random person would come across your page in the first place unless they were linked to it from here on the forum or other advertisements. Even at that, the chance of that random person actually making a purchase is very small. It is a very hard market for hobby photographers who have little invested into the hobby.

The way to start selling physical copies to get your name out there would be to attend and rent booths at a local art festival. That way hundreds if not thousands of people are able to walk by your booth and see your work in person. Then you can sell physical copies there and hand out business cards to people passing by. Then hopefully you can slowly get recommendations for your work, assuming the people like it ;)


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the ­ flying ­ moose
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Nov 20, 2014 00:42 |  #3

Try going to a local doctors or dentists office. I know a dentist in town that dropped large coin on some prints because the patient in the chair mentioned he was a photographer, give him and business card and told him to check out his work. Not only did he buy prints, he know does the office's headshots and even some of the staffs family photos too.




  
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Picture ­ North ­ Carolina
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Nov 20, 2014 05:22 |  #4

In a quick nutshell (from experience):

- It's not a miniscule market, it's huge. It's just that there are millions doing it, hence miniscule portions

- If you are good (read: style / different) you can pick up some nice monthly extra change.

- you provided no link to your work nor word about what you do / produce. That would help greatly but only do so if you want others to give honest feedback about your sellability

- If it's fine arts, all of the venues you listed are losers. Along with etsy, red bubble, 500 px, crated... and many more. Probably best to go with a POD who can handle all phases of payment and fulfillment for you.

- Do NOT sell digital prints. Only printed media such as prints, framed prints, canvas, metal, acrylic, and so forth. Once you let go of control of your art (file) you're screwed forever.

- Do not waste time on doctor's office, restaurants, hospitals, and so forth. Yes, they buy art but do so from commercial designers who can handle all nuances of the account - which you can't. To sell into commercial accounts like that, hook up with commercial and interior designers in your area.

There's much more, but hope that helps.

Edit: one more thing - it's important. Whoever you decide to sell thru, do NOT depend solely upon them for exposure and sales. You will need to externally promote and social-medialize yourself.


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Hogloff
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Nov 20, 2014 15:42 |  #5
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I work with a house designer who handles most of my sales. Its a win-win situation where she uses my prints to decorate show homes or remodeled homes and more often than not, the owners of the homes love the prints and purchase them. She even sends me leads of other prospects that inquire about my photos in the show homes.

Great gig if you can hook up with someone in your area.




  
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dkizzle
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Nov 21, 2014 08:20 |  #6

Hogloff,

Sounds like you hit the jackpot and she is working real hard on promoting your prints. How many prints does she sell for you in a month on average? What kind of arrangement do you have with her for helping you out?


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Hogloff
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Nov 21, 2014 08:44 |  #7
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dkizzle wrote in post #17285080 (external link)
Hogloff,

Sounds like you hit the jackpot and she is working real hard on promoting your prints. How many prints does she sell for you in a month on average? What kind of arrangement do you have with her for helping you out?

Really varies from month to month as new housing developments come on line at different times. When a housing development comes on line, there is typically 4 show homes, all of which have my photos on display in various rooms. Most of those show homes sell with my photos...so for given show home, I might average 5 large photos selling at roughly $750 each. I also get quite a few sales from people who tour through the show homes and see my photos on display. All my contacts are in each show home so I get quite a few people getting in contact with me for future sales. I just got to outfit a luxury lodge, all their suites, conference rooms and main lobby. That took 28 photos.

So if I were to average it out, I'd say I sell about 15 photos a month...with no advertising myself...all done through the relationship I have with the interior designer.




  
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dkizzle
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Nov 21, 2014 09:27 |  #8

Wow that sounds amazing. I am really happy for you and appreciate that you are sharing this. It gives OP, me and others hope and direction.


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Hogloff
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Nov 21, 2014 10:52 |  #9
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dkizzle wrote in post #17285184 (external link)
Wow that sounds amazing. I am really happy for you and appreciate that you are sharing this. It gives OP, me and others hope and direction.

There is an upfront cost. I take the brunt off all the printing ( I do myself ) and framing ( I farm out ) for the show homes. If they don't sell, then I take these prints back...hopefully to re-use in other homes...but that is up to the interior designer. She has themes for homes and sometimes old photos from other show homes are not used in new show homes...thus I end up with some stock that is not sold.

Overall, I do quite nicely as far as profits at the end of the year.




  
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the ­ flying ­ moose
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Nov 21, 2014 11:49 |  #10

Picture North Carolina wrote in post #17283023 (external link)
- Do not waste time on doctor's office, restaurants, hospitals, and so forth. Yes, they buy art but do so from commercial designers who can handle all nuances of the account - which you can't. To sell into commercial accounts like that, hook up with commercial and interior designers in your area.

It all depends on your location too. When you live in a small town its not as simple as calling up your interior designer and getting it done that way.

My father in law is a dentist in town and his office just bought prints for their new location from a patient as well.

It's not going to work for everyone but to say its a waste of time isn't always true.




  
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dkizzle
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Nov 21, 2014 12:08 |  #11

Location + Cost + Demographics = Sales

Dentist in Smalltown, USA might buy a 8x12 print for $20 while dentist in Beverly Hills, CA might be comfortable spending $100 for exactly the same print.


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trale
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Nov 21, 2014 19:35 |  #12

JM Photos wrote in post #17282791 (external link)
At the level you are currently at, I'd say that you wouldn't sell a single photo off of a smug mug unless it was someone that you knew personally. There is very little chance that a random person would come across your page in the first place unless they were linked to it from here on the forum or other advertisements. Even at that, the chance of that random person actually making a purchase is very small. It is a very hard market for hobby photographers who have little invested into the hobby.

The way to start selling physical copies to get your name out there would be to attend and rent booths at a local art festival. That way hundreds if not thousands of people are able to walk by your booth and see your work in person. Then you can sell physical copies there and hand out business cards to people passing by. Then hopefully you can slowly get recommendations for your work, assuming the people like it ;)

That makes a lot of sense to me, and in line with my own assessment of my chances of making this a worthwhile venture. For the time, money, and effort I would put into making fully functional site that handles payment and distribution of prints, I don't think I'll get any appreciable returns.

I will look into the art festivals idea.

Picture North Carolina wrote in post #17283023 (external link)
In a quick nutshell (from experience):

- It's not a miniscule market, it's huge. It's just that there are millions doing it, hence miniscule portions

- If you are good (read: style / different) you can pick up some nice monthly extra change.

- you provided no link to your work nor word about what you do / produce. That would help greatly but only do so if you want others to give honest feedback about your sellability

- If it's fine arts, all of the venues you listed are losers. Along with etsy, red bubble, 500 px, crated... and many more. Probably best to go with a POD who can handle all phases of payment and fulfillment for you.

- Do NOT sell digital prints. Only printed media such as prints, framed prints, canvas, metal, acrylic, and so forth. Once you let go of control of your art (file) you're screwed forever.

- Do not waste time on doctor's office, restaurants, hospitals, and so forth. Yes, they buy art but do so from commercial designers who can handle all nuances of the account - which you can't. To sell into commercial accounts like that, hook up with commercial and interior designers in your area.

There's much more, but hope that helps.

Edit: one more thing - it's important. Whoever you decide to sell thru, do NOT depend solely upon them for exposure and sales. You will need to externally promote and social-medialize yourself.

Thank you for your input! Currently I have no online presence so there's no link I can give you for samples of my photos. But I do take fine art type shots (Landscapes, nature, abstract) and also specialize in dance photography. So far I've dealt personally with anyone that's familiar and interested in my photos.

But I am in the process of constructing a website, and once that is ready in some presentable form I'll gladly submit it here for critique.

It's fairly low-cost to construct a site for selling digital copies, so that is what I'm aiming for. My plan is to sell various sizes at various costs, ranging from facebook-appropriate resolutions to full resolution jpegs. But I would never sell original raws.

Can you elaborate on why it's a bad idea to sell digital copies?

And if somehow in the future I do decide to sell physical media, what is a "POD"?




  
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digirebelva
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Nov 21, 2014 19:52 as a reply to  @ trale's post |  #13

Look at fine art america. Its a POD site, so you don't have to worry about fulfilment. The site doesn't advertise for you, so you still have to work at that. I've been on there since 09, and my sales have gone up each year. I do local art fairs that help get my name out there.


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digirebelva
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Nov 21, 2014 19:53 |  #14

Hogloff wrote in post #17284052 (external link)
I work with a house designer who handles most of my sales. Its a win-win situation where she uses my prints to decorate show homes or remodeled homes and more often than not, the owners of the homes love the prints and purchase them. She even sends me leads of other prospects that inquire about my photos in the show homes.

Great gig if you can hook up with someone in your area.

I like that idea, I just started working with a realtor shooting their model homes, will have to have that conversation with them.


EOS 6d, 7dMKII, Tokina 11-16, Tokina 16-28, Sigma 70-200mm F/2.8, Sigma 17-50 F/2.8, Canon 24-70mm F/2.8L, Canon 70-200 F/2.8L, Mixed Speedlites and other stuff.

When it ceases to be fun, it will be time to walk away
Website (external link) | Fine Art America (external link)

  
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Picture ­ North ­ Carolina
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Nov 22, 2014 08:35 |  #15

Sorry. A POD is a "Print on demand" site. Fine Art America is currently probably the best bang for the buck. It's only $30 per year there, and if you get the $30 paid account you also get what they call the ARtist Website which is basically a stand-alone web presence of your work. They handle all payment, printing, and shipping for you. You collect a monthly PayPal deposit. You set your own profit margin. Click the Fine Art Photography in my sig. For $30 it ain't a bad looking site.


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