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I have been using this site for quite a while now, but haven't really had much to do with the forum side of things, however I have an idea I want to run past the more experienced photographers among you!
You will see by my profile that I focus my photography on nature, wildlife and landscape imagery.
I would like to progress my "hobby" into a small part time business so that I make a few quid on the side, this will provide the funds I require to continue my love of photography without getting me in any more trouble with the other half!!
I have taken part in a few local art exhibitions and had plenty of interest in my images, however no sales yet. I plan to continue exhibiting at these shows but I feel I should maybe offer a cheaper alternative than just my framed photos and hopefully drum up some more interest.
I was thinking of going down the postcard route (6x4 - 10x8) as I can sell these at much lower cost and the postcards would still be able to be framed by the purchaser if they wish.
I would also like to approach a few local companies and ask them to offer my postcard collection to the general public, rather than just rely on the shows and exhibitions I attend, I assume it would be prudent to create a contract with the sellers to state the terms of sale and their % etc.
So finally to my question, do any of you have experience in the postcard / card sales sector? with much success? any hints and tips you can give me?
Sorry for such a long post and thank you for your help in advance!
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Put simply, it is an area of photography that ranks in terms of return with stock photography....ie ..you need a lot of output to get an input.
Producing and selling through retailers is difficult as you really have to print in the thousands to get a decent enough price and then by the time the outlet has taken there cut there is very little for the photographer and you will have to sell a lot before you even break even with your printing costs and fuel costs visiting the retailers.
When I started I sold greetings cards and prints at a few craft fairs and the cards sold extremely well at £2.50 each and it was quite easy to make £200+ profit a day on the cards alone. However, the greetings card market for local scenes has really changed and there are now so many people doing it at such a cheap price. They are not as unique as they were 5-10 years ago. There are lots of photographers who have their work on sale locally for £0.90 for a real high quality card.
In my experience the market for framed prints, mounted prints and similar products is still there and such local scenes sell really well. The important thing here is quality. There are still plenty of people around with the money to spend on such products however, they tend to want to buy a real quality product throughout. Photographers all to often see just their picture and don't give any thought to the quality of printing and framing however for a lot of buyers this is just as important as the image itself.
Why not go to local restaurants in the area and ask them to put your work on their walls. Not small prints but A4 and larger in frames. Agree a commission fee with the restaurants. That way the restaurants get nice images on the walls for free and get a cut out of the sale. Make sure each image has a price displayed so people can see they are for sale. I'm sure you will be able to find other suitable outlets in your area who also would be interested.
Hi, many thanks for the comments so far!
Unfortunately all pretty much saying what I thought, difficult sales in the card style area and due to the low sales cost I'd require a lot of volume sales in order to even recoup the initial outlay on the stands and printing!
It sounds like a vicious circle either go for less sales with an expensive top quality product or high volume sales with a cheaper less quality product!
A lot to keep thinking about!
Really appreciate the advice so far though!
Quote: Why not go to local restaurants in the area and ask them to put your work on their walls. Not small prints but A4 and larger in frames. Agree a commission fee with the restaurants. That way the restaurants get nice images on the walls for free and get a cut out of the sale. Make sure each image has a price displayed so people can see they are for sale. I'm sure you will be able to find other suitable outlets in your area who also would be interested.
This approach can work quite well. I have a few restaurants, cafes and hotels who hang my work of local scenes. They all paid for them mind. Their customers like some of the pictures so much that they ask the owners where the got the pictures from. The owners then keep a stock of my business cards and hand them to the customers.
I get quite a few orders this way every month and the customers usually tell me where they saw the image. My best selling pictures are the ones that are of local iconic scenes that people either like or have a connection too. A lot of these pictures are framed to a large scale too, either A1 framed or A2 framed. A lot of photographers only offer A4 (framed to 30x40cms) or A3 sizes (framed to 40x50cms). Personally by far my best selling image size is A2 framed and A1 framed (+mount), then A3 framed and lastly my least selling range is my cheapest A4. As long as they are well packaged I have never had many problems sending large framed images via couriers.
You often find people want a large image in the hall way or end wall or over a fire place. A2 tends to be perfect size to fit above fireplaces. Because of the extreme change in temperature and humidity this is why it's important to make sure they are framed and mounted correctly as the image needs to breath and contract and the moulding will also contract slightly too so needs the correct fitting tolerance. The more images you have out there the more people will see them and the more orders and referrals you will get as a result. This is why it's important your images and framing to continue to look good in years to come.
I used to do exhibitions but really can't be bothered any more, I found you needed to be there too much to do the selling. I 100% agree with Chris though quality printing, mounting and framing is needed.
I experimented with different size prints too and found that the prints that were about 1 metre wide sold best, after mounting and framing this makes a pretty big thing to hang. I think it's really that the people who have the money to buy prints have bigger houses and bigger walls! For those with smaller walls and wallets I had the same prints but smaller, mounted and wrapped in a rack.
I never bother with cards. Given the option people with no money will buy the cards and not the wrapped prints. Don't give them too much choice the will go for the cheapest, from memory the best profit margin was in the wrapped and racked prints.
I only offer prints through my website now and don't get involved in the printing or postage at all. Wallmart. Stack em' high sell em' cheap! Most of my money from photography doesn't come from selling the prints but more from people paying me to take the photos in the first place. Prints are a bonus.
Having said I don't do exhibitions anymore I am thinking about doing one in the summer but with little expectation of selling.
Thanks again for all the comments, however I'm not sure everybody would appreciate a 4ft fox looking straight at them on their lounge wall!
So im thinking stick to more iconic / recognisable landscape images in terms of selling + maybe look into branching out into family portrait photography as I could easily do this at the weekends and it would probably produce more revenue than wildlife / landscape photography.
Where do you guys get your prints, frames / mounts done? I usually use photobox for my printing and source my mounts and frames locally however I have read some good reviews on a couple of custom high quality frame companies online but these tended to be very pricey!
Quote: So im thinking stick to more iconic / recognisable landscape images in terms of selling
I think a lot depends on the area you live in and the range you pull potential customers from.
Down here in Christchurch it is as you suggest, iconic and recognisable pictures are the "bread and butter" sellers, both to locals and tourists during the season. Don't give up on your Wildlife though as I find that there is a regular if smaller market for foxes, Squirrels, Hares and the like along with Birds and Butterfies, mainly in the 10x8 to 12x16 range though
As Focused said, the margins are better with mounted but un-framed prints (in standard frame sizes) - I reckon to make 300% - 500% profit on those whereas on the larger framed prints it can be down to 100% (but of course, the sums of money involved are a lot more.)
I treat framing as a way of showing people how the pictures may look on their walls and a convenience for exhibitions and the like. We have sorted a standard basic white grained rectangular section which is cheap to produce and neutral in appearance, carriers for the prints really. The customers seem to like the idea and it makes exhibitions look clean and professional (unlike some shows I've seen where people have sourced their frames from jumble sales and then painted them - and it shows)
I don't know if you have a local print and frame shop nearby, if you have and they do good work see if you can build a relationship with them.
I count the lass who runs ours as a friend, we have worked out a pricing structure that ensures we both make a suitable margin but her prices are well below anything else I could manage locally or on the net.
I've also agreed with her that if people see one of my images they like but want it different from what I have (larger, on canvas etc) I send them to her. She holds a lot of my image files on her system, produces the work for the customer and handles the sale and gives me my share of the deal afterwards
Worked a treat when I managed to get a contract to supply a large number of images to a local Housing Development scheme, all I had to do was to supply the images on file and she did the rest, my favourite kind of job
This is a photo of how my last exhibition was set out, you can clearly see iv used the same frame style across the whole range of my photos.
I chose a plain pine frame with a cream mount, the images were all printed A4, I felt these options offered a clean contemporary look to my images.
The frames and mounts weren't overly expensive but neither were my photos, well at least I didn't think so
what sort of feedback did you get from the public Aaron?
That usually gives me a clue how its going to go. If they stop and chat or make comments that gives you a chance for a bit of "Relationship Building", its amazing how a friendly and interested approach can draw people out and lead to sales opportunities (but you've got to like people as they can spot the phoney salesman patter a mile off I find)
If they don't stop, or worse yet, take avoiding action then I know I've lost that day (usually to someone selling home-made soaps or cheap brought in jewellery )
As Brian says try and find some one quite local to frame and print and try and work with them. obviously the more your print and frame the cheaper it becomes but you also build up a good relationship and keep a consistent quality.
I used a guy about an hour and a half or so from where I lived in Norfolk for years and years. The work was great and the prices were great too. I would pay about £30 for an A3 image printed onto Hahnemuhle 308 paper and then mounted and framed. I then sold these for £80 and the larger the size you go the bigger the margin. Now the problem with some framers is they can charge you close to £80 just to have an image mounted and framed at A3 size and that's before you factor in the printing. So as already mentioned you will need to shop around to keep a decent enough margin for yourself.
Before long I found I was heading to my framers a couple of times a week to pick up framed images and the round trip would be about three hours which wasn't cost effective and was too time consuming. My framer wouldn't actually post direct to my customers, however some will which can be good. However, it's a good idea to ensure the work is up to a high standard and consistent first.
When a family friend retired from the picture framing trade I was given the opportunity to buy all his equipment from his shop at a decent enough price. He trained me on using the equipment and framing techniques over a long period and before long I invested in an A1 large format printer. I now actually print and frame my own work for myself and a few photography friends locally. I love the control of printing and framing my own work, but it took a small fortune and lots and lots of training before I got everything up to a really high standard.
Mounted prints I have always found these sell really well. I always have mine cut so they go in standard frame sizes such as 16x12 inchs or 40x50cms etc. These can work well if you have a large selection in a browser and a few framed on the walls so people can visualise the finished product. Back in my craft fair days I used to get my framer to cut me a few chevrons of different popular mouldings which I could then have on display. I could then take payment and orders for mounted pictures to be framed and then delivered at a future date.
Personally I am not a major fan of Pine mouldings. Pine can look a bit dated and doesn't always go with everyone's decor. I would say your moulding is actually far too big for your picture size and takes some of the emphasis away from your pictures rather than enhancing them. I think over the years I have only ever had one customer ask me for a pine moulding. Frame choice and mount colours can be quite personal. I would look at something neutral like a plain white mount and maybe matt black frames or a light Ash or oak. These are very neutral and will go with most peoples decor.
Exhibitions can be really hit and miss and it's one of those things that until you do a few you don't know what locations work and what one don't. Personally to get started I would look at craft fairs as you will get a much higher footfall and more people prepared to spend on impulse buys.
I get all my prints for exhibition done either HERE or HERE all my framing is done by Courtyard (second link).
Frames, depends on the print really but I tend to go for a light oak or more a limed ash and a thick white mount. It's not cheap but I feel the the frames, mounts and prints represent me. To me the frame and mount should look good but not be the first thing people see. It's good to hear viewers say something like "I like that, oh and the frame is nice too"
In fact, I think I will just say I agree with Chris and save myself some typing!
Consistent print size, frames and mount and in fact orientation is important, if not essential.
Brian is right too in saying talk to people - I sold more when I was there people like to talk to the person who took the photo but it's time consuming and means you are not out taking photos and getting paid, unless they buy.
Quote: I sold more when I was there people like to talk to the person who took the photo but it's time consuming and means you are not out taking photos and getting paid, unless they buy.
I think this is something that needs to be considered very carefully when starting out selling your work. In my case its not a problem as I am retired and both my wife and I find the whole craft-fair / exhibition circuit is a great social activity (that we both like meeting new people and having a good natter helps too)
If time is tight and you don't enjoy people contact that much (and I know a lot of photographers don't) then selling via the web or through an agent (even a low level set-up such as I have with the print and frame shop) may be more effective for you
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