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Author Topic: Profit from Prints  (Read 23720 times)
KLaban
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« Reply #20 on: January 21, 2013, 03:51:08 PM »
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BTW, in 1957 that 270 for the 500C was the equivalent of six months salary.
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Kirk Gittings
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« Reply #21 on: January 21, 2013, 09:09:46 PM »
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IMHO the only way to make money from prints is to sell them framed.  If you try to sell bare prints along side that, you're only hurting yourself.  At retail level framing is valued more than prints, fact of life.

FWIW. That is not true in the market that buys my prints. 8x10 inkjet matted sells for $400-framed $450. I just sold a large print 2x4 feet. It went for 4100.00 and change framed. Frame costs were about $400.00 if memory serves.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2013, 09:23:26 PM by Kirk Gittings » Logged

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bill t.
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« Reply #22 on: January 21, 2013, 10:40:42 PM »
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FWIW. That is not true in the market that buys my prints. 8x10 inkjet matted sells for $400-framed $450. I just sold a large print 2x4 feet. It went for 4100.00 and change framed. Frame costs were about $400.00 if memory serves.

Hey Kirk, can I borrow your customer list?   Smiley  And congratulations!  Takes a while to develop a market like that, and no small amount of talent.
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Kirk Gittings
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« Reply #23 on: January 21, 2013, 11:08:35 PM »
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Had my first show in '72. ........90 shows later.........jezz it only took 41 years to get here!  Shocked
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« Reply #24 on: January 22, 2013, 06:40:31 AM »
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I read each and every response and it seems I'm going to be the contrarian here.  I opened a gallery last March in Moab, Utah.  We sell canvas gallery wraps and archival plaque mounted prints as well as calendars, greeting cards and small matted prints.  Our goal for the first year was to not lose our asses.  We made a profit.  A small profit, but a profit nonetheless.  We managed that even in a less than stellar economy and we did it without the benefit of a 12 month "season" as the tourists are only in Moab from March to October.

How did we do it?  First of all, it's a tourist town and though our season may not last the entire year we've got 8 solid months of heavy tourist traffic.  We opted for a low rent space with Main Street visibility.  We're 1/3 of a block away from the main shopping district but our rent is half what it would have been for the same space just a few dozen feet to the south.  My wife and I run the place, so we've got no employee expenses.  We priced the prints reasonably and offer free shipping anywhere in the U.S., which makes it much easier for people to pull the trigger.  We barteed with local tourist guides for free advertising in exchange for the use of a few of our photos.  We invested in gallery quality LED lights up front and saved a ridiculous amount of money on our electric and air conditioning bills, and we didn't have to replace bulbs every 2 to 3 months.

In a nutshell, I do think you can be profitable selling prints if you've got a market and the ability to reach that market. 
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framah
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« Reply #25 on: January 22, 2013, 08:11:37 AM »
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Had my first show in '72. ........90 shows later.........jezz it only took 41 years to get here!  Shocked

Ayuh!! Couple more yeahs and you'll staht gettin' good at it!! Grin
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HSakols
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« Reply #26 on: January 22, 2013, 08:43:42 AM »
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Lately I've been more interested in making prints than selling them.  My job as an elementary school teacher helps me along and has to be my priority for now.  However, I found I was able to sell small nicely matted prints, but only rarely could I sell large sized prints.  The problem is I want to print big (well 16x20).  I don't want to frame my larger prints because then I have no place to store them and they just get dusty.  I think I'll take up boats or golf instead.
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Rob C
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« Reply #27 on: January 22, 2013, 08:49:06 AM »
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BTW, in 1957 that 270 for the 500C was the equivalent of six months salary.


Keith, where on Earth did you pull that from?

I can hardly remember a time when any simple tradesman wasn't making at least 20 quid a week, which is about a grand a year. Right, as an apprentice 1st-year engineer in mid '56 I think I made about two pounds and a few shilling a week, but we were only starting out and wasting more company assets than providing any profit to the firm!

In '73 or '74 I bought my Humber Sceptre for just over a grand - I think an average salary was around double that? In '59 my first Ford, the then new Popular with a side-vale 1172 (?) cc engine (and three gears with no synchro on first!) was just around five hundred, which was where the first Mini came in at introduction later that year. I was happy not to have bought the Mini, but would feel very different about today's version, which is nothing like the original box. And bloody expensive here, even for the most basic One.

Rob C
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Rob C
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« Reply #28 on: January 22, 2013, 11:10:11 AM »
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In way of a reminder of the state of the nation: I used to be given a nice, large calendar with all of the local fiesta and saints' days (important to know in case you thought you were going to the bankl) as well as a little bit of scribble space, by my local veg and fruit seller. There wasn't one this year, and as I didn't need or desire to pay for one of those de luxe tourist ones you're supposed to buy as presents, with glorious scenics of the island, I decided today to visit one of the other local shops - a general stationery outfit that sells school jotters etc. - and buy one from them. The girl told me: the two suppliers on the island have gone out of business...

I walked out onto the pavement wondering where the hell to try next, and then I thought of the printer who did my business cards for me (we used to call them calling cards some time ago...) so I went there to try my luck. He smiled when I asked, and said that nobody was doing private calendars anymore - he'd had two clients this time around. But my guardian angel was on duty: he (the printer, not the angel) reached over to a wall and took down a large business calendar from one of his trade suppliers and handed it to me. So there I was, a free calendar better than the one I didn't get from the greengrocer. The printer told me that last year he had a staff of six; this year, there's but two people working there.

Was a time I used an English printer in Derby called Bemrose; they did lots of bespokes for private corporate clients apart from the stuff  I gave them, and also sold stock ones in tiny volumes to smaller firms that couldn't afford more than, say, fifty units. They did fine-art reproductions of paintings, too, and I think they also did banknotes and security stuff. They had a huge factory. I recently met a retrired chap here who used to be in the printing press sales business; he told me that Bemrose had gone belly-up a couple of years ago, leaving behind nothing but a tiny, reduced ticket-printing outfit. No wonder photography stock has dived, quite apart from penny-pirates!

;-(

Rob C

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KLaban
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« Reply #29 on: January 22, 2013, 11:47:51 AM »
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Keith, where on Earth did you pull that from?

I can hardly remember a time when any simple tradesman wasn't making at least 20 quid a week, which is about a grand a year. Right, as an apprentice 1st-year engineer in mid '56 I think I made about two pounds and a few shilling a week, but we were only starting out and wasting more company assets than providing any profit to the firm!

Rob, the quote "The 500C was taken up by an enormously wide range of photographers almost from day one (1957). Despite its price, an eye-watering two hundrend and seventy pounds in the UK (when a good family income for the year was five hundred pounds) its obvious superiority in both quality and effectiveness made it the default choice for anyone using medium format film to earn their living. " comes from a History of Hasselblad cameras.

The following link is from an article in the Telegraph.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/8374130/Facts-about-Britain-at-work-in-the-Fifties.html
« Last Edit: January 22, 2013, 11:53:22 AM by KLaban » Logged

Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #30 on: January 22, 2013, 12:11:27 PM »
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...We made a profit.  A small profit, but a profit nonetheless...

Does that include a reasonable salary for you and your wife? Equipment depreciation? Or just a profit resulting from subtracting direct expenses from print sale revenues (e.g., paper, ink, framing, gallery rent and utilities)?
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Slobodan

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fike
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« Reply #31 on: January 22, 2013, 12:32:32 PM »
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Does that include a reasonable salary for you and your wife? Equipment depreciation? Or just a profit resulting from subtracting direct expenses from print sale revenues (e.g., paper, ink, framing, gallery rent and utilities)?

That's what I was going to ask. Are you paying yourself a half-decent living wage for a desirable tourist town?
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Fike, Trailpixie, or Marc Shaffer
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Rob C
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« Reply #32 on: January 22, 2013, 12:54:12 PM »
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Rob, the quote "The 500C was taken up by an enormously wide range of photographers almost from day one (1957). Despite its price, an eye-watering two hundrend and seventy pounds in the UK (when a good family income for the year was five hundred pounds) its obvious superiority in both quality and effectiveness made it the default choice for anyone using medium format film to earn their living. " comes from a History of Hasselblad cameras.

The following link is from an article in the Telegraph.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/8374130/Facts-about-Britain-at-work-in-the-Fifties.html


Well, I came back to Britain in '53 and can't remember anyone working at those levels; as I said, I started working as an apprentice in '56 and was getting about 125 quid a year doing next to nothing in my first year. Four years later it rose to about nine quid - over 450 p.a. for an apprentice.  The guys beside me, time-served engineers, were getting way, way above any of that.

Frankly, I trust these newspapers not at all on anything. I have just listened to the interpretations of Prince Harry's soundbite on shooting from his chopper: boy, can these press people change what's said, even when it's said to the public so the public can hear the original, as did I. They have set him up as a target for the next T'ban crazy that reaches London.

Rob C
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Chairman Bill
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« Reply #33 on: January 22, 2013, 01:47:29 PM »
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A note on UK newspapers - The Daily Hate Mail is possibly the biggest threat to democracy in Britain today. People believe the lies & misrepresentations it prints. Sad.

As for selling prints - I was in a local art shop a week or so ago (wife was buying something), and I asked about the photographs she was selling. They weren't very good. I'd have been embarrassed to show some of them to next doors cats, let alone offer them for sale. But people were buying them nonetheless. But they were so cheap. Once I'd factored in the price of paper, ink, mounting/matting & framing, I wouldn't even break even, let alone cover the shop's 40% take. No profit there. Then she explained - it was bog-standard photo paper, the sort you might buy in a supermarket. The mounts & frames were poor quality, bulk-buys. I'd spend more on the paper than the photographer had on the mount & frame. "Nobody cares too much about the paper & the quality of the inks" she explained. So there you have it. Even so, I reckon the photographer was making about 15 - 20 per photo, and not selling too many at that.

Question is, would her customers spend more for better quality images on better quality paper, with better quality inks and so on? I'm not convinced they necessarily would.
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Rob C
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« Reply #34 on: January 22, 2013, 04:20:07 PM »
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One positive thing: this thread made me go out and actually order a replacement yellow for my HP B9180; heaven knows where that madness might lead me! It's been dead so long that perhaps the daily runs that the machine is supposed to make have not, in fact, been made... if so, then it's time to go bigger, spend more money and get even less in return!

I love progress.

Rob C
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bretedge
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« Reply #35 on: January 22, 2013, 09:26:28 PM »
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Does that include a reasonable salary for you and your wife? Equipment depreciation? Or just a profit resulting from subtracting direct expenses from print sale revenues (e.g., paper, ink, framing, gallery rent and utilities)?

My business does not rely solely on print sales to be profitable.  However, when expenses related to making prints are deducted from the revenue created selling prints, there was a small profit.  When all the other income streams (stock image licensing fees, assignments, workshops/tours, e-book sales, etc.) are added into the equation, we earned what we consider to be a reasonable salary.  As anyone with any business sense knows you shouldn't expect to crush the market in your first year.  If you break even, you're doing good.  We did a little better than that with regard to gallery sales.  I expect that as we build a reputation and client base we'll improve print sales each year.  Obviously, this isn't a business where overnight success is likely and we're in it with long term goals.
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #36 on: January 24, 2013, 08:01:37 PM »
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"Profit from Prints?"

I certainly do my best to!
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nairb
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« Reply #37 on: January 24, 2013, 09:11:57 PM »
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I've been selling my prints for just over two years now in a small ski town in Canada. I've been able to support myself (just) selling primarily unmatted 8x12's, 12x18's, 16x24's and a couple panoramas (one of which is a best seller at 12x48").

Costs are continuing to grow as I progress though, from selling out of my car in front of a friends cafe/restaurant all winter where only my framed pieces hang, to doing farmers markets in summer, then renting a vacant store front with 30' of well lit window space and a separate office 1 block away (again selling outside all winter), to moving into a 600 square foot gallery (month to month, no lease) 7 months ago. Carrying the rent cost will be a challenge come spring and fall though which are slow.

At the moment I'm trying to find ways to lower framing costs though. Can anyone recommend other Canadian wholesalers besides larsen-juhl as I shop around. I'm also looking into "Frames by Mail" and pictureframes.com (both of which my framer recommended) and was wondering if anyone knows what duties there might be on frames from the U.S. to Canada. I live 40 min from Montana where there's a shipping outlet so I can pick up orders fairly easily.

Edit: I guess for reference I should list my prices (which just went up by 15%)
8x12's are now $115
12x18's  $230
16x24's.  $380
24x36's. (Just 2 images so far in this size are offered, primarily because my 4880 is only 17") $800
And the 12x48 is at $690 (3 of which sold just before Christmas. 1 was framed and priced at $1700)
« Last Edit: January 24, 2013, 11:31:17 PM by nairb » Logged
bill t.
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« Reply #38 on: January 25, 2013, 12:36:58 AM »
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If you were in the US I'd tell you to go to the West Coast Art and Framing Show in Las Vegas, NV.  The vendor booths are open Jan 28-30.  You can see almost every important framing vendor there in one spot, including some wholesale readymade frame guys.  I go to see moulding, yack, and eat bad $15 sandwiches.  Epson and Canon have booths this year, wisely placed at opposite ends of the building.  Last year Epson showed glassless, framed example prints of their entire media line, which made going almost worthwhile just for that.  Was also fun to see the wiggy but clever canvas coating machine, etc.

http://s19.a2zinc.net/clients/ezhobbypub/wcaf13/public/MainHall.aspx

I build all my own frames, which saves a bundle but can be pain just ahead of shows or the holiday season.  After about the 2,000th frame you can do it with your eyes closed, in almost no time.  A helper comes on line next month, woohoo!  The retail, online framing suppliers are to be avoided in terms of the price points you need for your kind of operation.  You can do much better if you are willing to buy in wholesale quantity large enough for good discount and to not be killed by freight shipping minimums.  Photographers sometimes enter alliances with local framers, you might check that out as well.
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nairb
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« Reply #39 on: January 25, 2013, 04:13:05 AM »
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That's an interesting idea about the Vegas show. Hmmm. Probably can't afford it but as you say, it would be valuable to see so many examples in one place.

When I'd mentioned my local framer, that's what I actually have with her. She's basically charging me cost plus, as well as a cutting fee for the glass and mat. I get a case of 40x60" acid free foam core, cut that down and do the assembly myself, picking up from her the joined frames (which come joined from Larsen-Juhl) and the cut to size mat & glass. In exchange, she'd be getting a greater discount on her overall order which gives her more profit with her other customers. I just have no idea how much of a discount I might be getting and it changes with each order. My bill just comes as "custom framing, $4500". ...and its an hours drive each way, which means 4 hours total each time I make the order.

 My December order with her came to about $4500 after tax which was for 15 pieces, pretty much based around getting the bulk discount on ordering  4 cases of 40x60 UltraVue glass (8 lites total). The moulding ranged in size from that for a 6x24" pano, to a pair of 24x36's. The six pano's (2 of each size with 2.5"-3.5" double matting) used a moderately expensive "ferrossa" moulding, and the rest were a moderately priced black moulding on 7, 16x24's and 2, 24x36's all with a single white or black mat of 6 inches.

3 of those 16x24's went out the door the day after I picked them up as they were for a commission, and 1 small pano and 1 large pano sold this month already, leaving me feeling a bit short on framed display pieces of my best seller. So i'm thinking of another order but perhaps not as large and so less of a discount. As well as my gallery, I still have 4 pieces three doors down in the cafe/restaurant which gets a tonne of exposure and send people to the gallery, as well as 1 medium pano down the street in a specialty deli with higher end clientelle.

Anyway, the online retailers looked roughly not far off price wise from what I'm getting, but I'd still have to get glass cut which I don't have the space for to do myself and Frames by Mail appears to have a silver metal moulding which seems popular that I had found initially over two years ago, but haven't seen since (it had come from Michaels then).

There is another ~300 square feet of office space here which makes sense for me to rent, but I just don't think I can carry the expense through the quiet time, and to rent that, it would make the most sense to then have a 44" printer and all the necessary framing tools. Which means more time framing.... and although I now have a large collection of framed pieces, my sales are still mostly loose prints, though that may perhaps be changing as my prices rise. This month in fact nearly all my sales were framed. 5 framed pieces went out the door (2 separate sales) to Calgary or local condos. All but 1 were 16x24" or larger.  Hmm.... lots of decisions to make...  and I'm still just scraping by... but I suppose i can drop everything on a moments notice if I want and go for a ski. Which i couldn't do if working for someone else.

The 4880's been churning out print after print for 3 years now and I think about the possibilty of it breaking down at any moment, so the investment in more space and a new bigger printer and some proper framing tools seems like the logical next step. Along with trying to generate sales online... lots of uncertainty though with quiet time coming up and uncertainty with the space too which is month to month at a low-ish rate in a building which may soon be sold. At some point too, I'll need to get more photos and a bit more of a life....

Profits? Not quite yet if I account for all my time. A meagre living though and my work is spreading and becoming well known. Maybe in a couple more
years... if i want to continue the time investment....
« Last Edit: January 25, 2013, 05:25:18 AM by nairb » Logged
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