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Author Topic: Anyone making a living with landscapes?  (Read 15909 times)
feppe
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« Reply #20 on: June 22, 2011, 04:05:59 PM »
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A farmer uncle of mine had a photographer stop by who had a proof print of his farm house taken in beautiful light. He bought a print of it. I assume the photographer went around the countryside and took photos of all (most) houses in an area, went home to develop the proofs, and returned with them.

Similar approach would be even easier these days with film by showing the shots right after shooting on a laptop, tablet, or one of those portable printers. Hell, I bet you could fit a wide-format printer in a van to further expedite sales. Just show a full-size print from another nearby house and say "look how beautiful Mr Shannon's house looks like, but I got yours in even better light!" Cheesy
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bill t.
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« Reply #21 on: June 22, 2011, 07:14:56 PM »
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I assume the photographer went around the countryside and took photos of all (most) houses in an area

This scene is in my neighborhood.  I took it just because I could and the light and colors were nice.

Houses and cars are normally the Kiss of Landscape Death.  However, I have sold at least many, many copies of this image to people who live in the houses you can see, or who live near the park, or who like me just pass by it every day, or who just find the image appealing.  It also shows an iconic local landscape feature which doesn't hurt a bit.  Food for thought, people like their parks.


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Mike Guilbault
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« Reply #22 on: June 23, 2011, 07:15:32 AM »
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Actually, it's fairly new to me as far as participating in a studio tour - but you've described my thinking down to a 'T'! It's nice to hear that my ideas have potential.  

Oh... and we roll up the sidewalks at 6:00pm (I usually close between 4:30 and 5:00) so there's not much opportunity in Elmvale, Ontario for an evening 'art crawl' Wink
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tsjanik
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« Reply #23 on: June 25, 2011, 06:55:31 AM »
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Hi Mike:

I agree with everything that has been posted here, especially the emphasis on local scenes.  I too live in a rural area (not far from you really) and I have limited experience with print sales, but I have been part of an open studio tour for a few years and it has worked well.    It is certainly less work than an art show and brings people who are sincerely interested in purchasing art, which is not always true at an art show.   This year I added note cards and small unframed prints (basically my proofs) which are inexpensive and sold very well as impulse purchases.   Selling large framed prints is nice, but many people are reluctant to spend that much.
http://www.chautauquaarttrail.com/

Tom
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Mike Guilbault
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« Reply #24 on: June 25, 2011, 07:44:36 AM »
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i like the idea of note cards and small prints.  You really should have a product in many price ranges, I think. 

Hmmm... when selling note cards... is it considered bad taste to use a Limited Edition image on the card?
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KLaban
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« Reply #25 on: June 25, 2011, 11:39:13 AM »
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Hmmm... when selling note cards... is it considered bad taste to use a Limited Edition image on the card?

You really need to ask?
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Mike Guilbault
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« Reply #26 on: June 25, 2011, 01:55:41 PM »
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Afraid I do.... never done 'em before. 
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Schewe
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« Reply #27 on: June 25, 2011, 06:06:16 PM »
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Hmmm... when selling note cards... is it considered bad taste to use a Limited Edition image on the card?

That depends entirely on the manner in which you treat Limited Edition and define it...

If you are defining a Limited Edition as a hard count of the total number of reproductions of a specific image, then yes...

If you are defining a Limited Edition as a hard count of a specific print size and print run at that size, then no.

Limited Edition as a term is a slippery slope. It came from stone lithography where an artist would make a stone, print off some artist proofs to condition the stone and proof the printed image, once the artist decided that the stone was good, he would start printing and numbering them. At some point (not always the same point due to image detail) the stone would wear out–fail to produce the detail of the early numbered prints. At that point the printer literally broke the stone to assure no additional prints could be made.

So it was given that the earlier numbered prints were worth more because they better reflected the artists work while later numbered prints would be less good.

Limited Edition prints with photography is an artificial limitation made on the part of the photographer/print maker (and encourage by gallery owners and dealers) to give the illusion of scarcity. As we all know now, digital print number 1 can look just as good as digital print number 1,000,000,000. In fact the odds are as printing tech improves, later prints could look better due to improved printer technology in the hands of the printer.

So, you really need to determine what your definition of Limited Edition actually means and be willing to stick with it, essentially forever (or else you do a disservice to everybody who has bought your prints in the past).

Personally, I avoid ever using the term Limited Edition because, well, it really isn't...a digital original can always be reproduced over and over forever...

BTW, I did stone lithos in the day (a long, long time ago) and really got into the stone breaking ceremony...kinda like the story of Weston deciding he wanted to ensure nobody could make prints from his negs once he did a print run and took a pair of scissors to the negative to destroy them as proof positive nobody could ever make additional prints. Are you man enough to do something like that? Cool...otherwise, doing limited editions is really pretty silly (IMHO).
« Last Edit: June 25, 2011, 06:08:26 PM by Schewe » Logged
tom b
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« Reply #28 on: June 25, 2011, 07:03:26 PM »
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Just saw an exhibition of Catherine Nelson's highly manipulated landscape images.

1x1m face mounted prints AU$4900, 1.5x1.5m face mounted prints AU$6900. The exhibition has sold around 30 prints mostly 1.5x1.5m which I guess is approximately AU$180 000 worth of sales. I don't know how much time and effort went into creating the images so I can't comment on whether she is making a good living from it. Obviously the gallery would be making a very good profit from her work. The framers would be too, the face mounted prints look stunning and obviously were quite expensive to get done.

She has worked on films such as Moulin Rouge, Harry Potter, 300 and Australia, and is obviously very talented. Good luck to her.

Cheers,
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bill t.
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« Reply #29 on: June 25, 2011, 09:48:47 PM »
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Be careful of those notecards and small prints.  Yes, they sell easily.  But they usually give a rather poor return on time invested. I think most artists seriously underestimate the time they put in on those things.

And even worse, within the same venue they can both compete with and implicitly devalue high end framed versions of the same images.  Suppose you sell a framed piece for $500, and smaller matted prints for $50.  You need to sell 10 prints to equal one framed sale.  I think that usually at least one of those ten sales would be to somebody who might have bought the more expensive piece, but chose to buy the print to sort of defuse their acquisitive urgings.  You lose.  Or a potential high end client sees many cheap copies of an image floating about.  Lose again.

Just a theory, I but did notice that when I stopped selling cards and prints at art fairs, my sales of larger pieces went way up.  And getting view-blocking, space-sapping clumps of rummaging bodies out of one's booth has other advantages.  It's really just a bad idea to look too much like the Dollar Store.  Have also noticed that photographers who sell $20 matted 8x10's spend a lot of time with lowball clients that they should really be directing at potential high end buyers.

The balance would depend on venue, of course.  But IMHO the strange love affair between many artists and cheap cards and prints is counterproductive in most cases.  I think it often traces back to a basic lack of confidence.  Spend the time making a product with a better return on time.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2011, 09:50:36 PM by bill t. » Logged
Mike Guilbault
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« Reply #30 on: June 25, 2011, 10:22:31 PM »
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Excellent points Jeff.  My first instinct was to use limited editions, but after reading many posts here, mostly decided not to.  I was just going to number the prints as they were made and sold.  I figured that starting this business at age 54 will limit the editions enough! Wink 

Then I took one of my images to a frame shop a few days ago to get a custom mat cut and they requested a copy of it for their gallery.  They were quite convincing that LE was the 'only' way to go. Now this is someone that normally, I believe, sells mostly LE prints from painters and such, but I don't know how many photographic images they've sold. Still, they were quite convincing.

However, reading Brooks Jensen's articles were also pretty convincing and I think better suites my philosophy.  I have labeled one of my images as a LE so I guess I'll have to live with it.  I hate bookkeeping though and keeping up with editions sounds like an audit and more trouble than it's worth. I'm already a legend in my own mind, but that's as far as my fame goes.  I suppose it's better/easier to start limiting editions with new work when you have the name, if you feel the need.  Better at this point to make a sale, eh!

And your take on cards and small prints also makes sense Bill (I can usually relate very well to your answers and opinions).  I think if I do make some cards and small prints, they won't be the same as my framed, or even matted, works.  I have lots of images that are 'nice', but aren't worthy of serious printing, but would be fine as note cards.  I'll be careful not to spend an inordinate amount of time on these. 


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stevebri
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« Reply #31 on: July 10, 2011, 02:28:46 PM »
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Hi Mike and good luck with this, you don't know unless you try it.

Jeff has as usual, some great points, here are a few of mine if it helps.

I have switched over to fine art and a) am loving it and b) am doing very well, much better than I thought.

Limited editions are nothing new however Jen Beckman's 20x200 is a more modern idea and does really well.  I adopted a similar idea on my work and the nice thing is I sell stuff, large and small.

Also, when you do a 'limited edition' as an artist you get closure, you can move on from that work knowing 'that's it'.  It free's the mind to go and create again.


Luckily I live in NYC, in a 'hood full or journalists and writers, film editors and people who are generally 'art aware'.  To be honest I sometimes sit outside my front door on Saturdays with a box of 16x20's and so far have never taken less than $500.

I think the fine art market is very much alive, and as more people get inspired by interior design/fix it shows they don't all want either an IKEA poster or an expensive rare photograph, they want something in between.  A bit like wine or fashion even, yes there is cheap stuff to take (or wear) at your neighbours sunday grill and their is upmarket wine costing thousands and of course the clothes to match.

Fine art too is like that, there is a ripe market for the discerning client in between those two extremes. Here's why, back in the last days of film, photography was in bad shape as a hobby.. losing out big time to computers and games, then came digital, everyone bought a digital camera, the rest is history... So, more people were taking pics again and this made millions more people aware of just how hard fine art photos can be, a new appreciation for 'the decisive moment' or the 'golden hour' was born.. Hence the shift in the middle for fine art photography.

I also believe taking a shop/store is a mistake, mentally you slow down and expect the store to pull people in... that's passive marketing and pretty negative if you ask me.

After 20 yrs of 'globalization' I think people now want 'localization' meeting local people and building a relationship with them and buying from them, just look at the booming success of etsy.

Hope some of this helps... more later, my son's just woken up.. Smiley

S
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luong
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« Reply #32 on: September 02, 2011, 02:40:05 PM »
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Alain Briot shoots only landscapes and appears to make a good living, although I don't know if that's primarily from image sales.

I photograph also travel and cultural subjects, although a vast portion of my work is landscape. I've been making a living only from image sales. This on-going series of blog posts about my business may be of interest: http://terragalleria.com/blog/category/business-2/

A lot of the inspirational articles that you see are there to draw people to websites or photo schools. The reality is that this is a very difficult business, and getting harder by the year.
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Mike Sellers
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« Reply #33 on: September 05, 2011, 06:41:09 AM »
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I thought I would try to market my landscapes thru an Art Licensing agent so several years ago I got signed by Out of the Blue. They have licensed many of my images numerous times-even to companies in Europe but the sales have been dismal.I have been reading on this topic about how print sales are good despite the economy but that hasn`t been my experience at all.
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louoates
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« Reply #34 on: September 05, 2011, 12:20:50 PM »
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Earlier on this topic I mentioned the importance of having smaller prints available to take advantage of shoppers with lower budgets who like your work. I personally don't believe that if someone could afford $500 for a nicely framed photograph they would rather buy a $59 print in a plastic sleeve if it were available.

But there are some other drawbacks. Keep in mind that you do run the risk of copyright infractions. For a time I was doing b/w 11x14 prints for a local artist and giving him a very low price for very nice prints on quality paper for resale. I hadn't gotten an order from him in a while and was shocked to see him at an art show selling smaller prints for $10 each. Turns out he took my print of his work (I had made several small corrections of the original art) and had made, probably at Costco, very cheap lousy-looking photocopies. Sure, he was breaking the copyright law. And sure, I would never deal with him again.

A few months ago I received a call from a guy who was referred to me from a frame shop I often did enlargements for. This customer wanted to know if I could make a large canvas print from a smaller photograph on paper of the Grand Canyon. Sure, I said. From that print size I could possibly go up to 24 x 36 canvas. I asked him if he had taken the picture because I'd prefer to work from his original digital image or film negative. No, he said, he bought the small paper print from a photographer's studio in Sedona but the photographer wanted so much money (actually a fair price) for a larger size on canvas that he decided to see if he could have it enlarged himself to save money. He had no clue he was doing anything wrong. I explained that I couldn't do that because of the copyright laws nor could he do so by finding someone else. I suggested he buy the size he wanted from the artist and that I would probably charge around the same amount for the enlargement. I have no idea if he took my advice.

I also agree, as pointed out by an earlier comment, that there is an inordinate amount of work in producing small prints and note cards. One photographer I know makes custom bookmarks from her images that she resells for $1 ea. I guess it's nice to make a sale, but still....
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Andrew Teakle
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« Reply #35 on: September 28, 2011, 06:02:56 PM »
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Thank you all for your valuable and interesting contributions to this thread. This is a topic that greatly interests me as I have recently returned to Brisbane after traveling around Australia for almost two years to fill out my portfolio. With a friend, I have just started selling my work at a local lifestyle market with fairly high traffic and many international tourists. It has been a fairly slow start and we've felt the need to reduce prices (partly to compete with another photographer there whose work is modestly priced. All the other stallholders are complaining about this being the slowest trading they've ever seen and we're still making a profit. Just not enough at this stage to support two families. I have another day job which is certainly holding the photography back but which I feel I can't ditch.

Two points I really need to sort out in my mind that have been raised here are selling small, inexpensive prints, and selling local work. I have been shooting medium format plus 5DII and stitching most of my shots to create 1:3 panoramas. The resolution is enough to print very large yet at these markets most of the sales are small prints, postcards, greeting cards and $20 hardcover books that have been published by an established publishing house. We do sell quite a few modest canvases, too. As an artist with an artist's ego I believe the work is as good as anything in the country (for my style of landscape shooting) and would love to sell the work at comparable prices to the established photographers, but this may not be the venue. We have contemplated renting space for a really nice gallery but are nervous about taking on the costs in this economic climate (which seems to be finally catching up with us in Australia).

As for shooting locally, I do have a relatively small but nice collection of local work, but I'm now feeling the need to get many more shots from the region. Having said this, we're selling more landscapes from right around the country than just the local region. Maybe just the venue, though.

Anyway, thanks again for all your collective wisdom. I hope we can keep this thread alive.

Best regards,

Andrew
andrewteakle.com
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feppe
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« Reply #36 on: September 28, 2011, 06:42:28 PM »
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Food for thought:

1. As opposed to competing with another nearby vendor on price, it might be more profitable to compete with quality or service, than cut margins and/or risk a price war.
2. Selling inexpensive [product] means high volume, which likely means high workload in manufacturing, selling and after-sales. You should always put value on your own time, and many small businesses underestimate the value of their time - especially since you have two jobs. Alain Briot in his latest book about marketing fine art photography goes to great lengths to explain why high volume doesn't make sense for individuals selling photography products, and I fully agree with him. There might be niches where it becomes profitable, though.
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louoates
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« Reply #37 on: September 28, 2011, 06:48:14 PM »
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feppe is right on. I'd forget about worrying about what another photographer is charging -- if you think your work is superior to his. Customers can tell the difference. You could always have smaller size work at his price points.
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Landscapes
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« Reply #38 on: October 03, 2011, 04:45:13 PM »
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Jumping into this thread kind of late, but I wanted to add my two cents.

I like to accumulate greath photographer websites in my browser bookmarks, and two photographers come to mind that I do believe are making a go at this full time, and especially not just in their local markets.

One is this guy names Peter Lik. 

http://www.peterlik.com/

He makes himself sound a little more important than he is in my opinion, but you can't knock him for his amazing ability to sell and market.  Considering that he has at least 10 galleries, I'd say he's doing quite well.

Here is another website that I image has quite a few sales, but really, who knows!  He looks like he is from Quebec, but travels quite a bit in North America it looks like.

http://www.difrusciaphotography.com/

Any thoughts?
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Michael West
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« Reply #39 on: October 05, 2011, 02:38:23 PM »
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This local guy once shot strictly landscapes.

http://www.martyknapp.com/
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