OE Gallery (Open Eye Gallery) was a helpful website for those wanting to learn how to market and sell photographs. The content is from the site's 2005 archived pages.
Do I sell photos? Yes I do... and I am always thinking of ways to promote myself and my photography.
How To Sell & Market Your Photographs
I thought I’d write this to help others who may take the same course of marketing their photographs that I chose.
About 2 months ago, I was invited to display about 20-27 pieces of my work in a local Coffee House/Gallery which would be sold off the wall. The proprietor of the Coffee House/Gallery would receive 10% of the gross. I would have the entire month of May for my "show". Knowing I had more than enough marketable photographs, I accepted.
Lesson 1: I had no experience doing this and 2 months was not long enough to "come up to speed". (I guess I’m a slow learner). (I still haven’t set up my "books" for this).
Lesson 2: Even though I had planned on doing my own printing, matting and framing, I was unprepared for the cost of making enough photographs for sale. (I still don’t know how many is enough as my stuff is still 1 plus weeks from display). Mistakes and rethinking how I wanted them were the biggest costs. This leads to lesson 3.
Lesson 3: Make your choices before starting and stick to them if the end result is acceptable. Yes, there may be a better way and the next time you'll know how to do it better.
Lesson 4: If you do your own matting, find a standard size to mat, (I settled on half sheets of Super B – 9.5x13 and 6.5x19 with a 16x20-finished product). Then make sure your photographs are all the same size. This will save a lot of time matting.
Lesson 5: I chose black metal frames as they're kind of "neutral" and cheap. (I ended up buying 30 16x20’s and 10 10x22’s and associated hardware for about $360). They also scratch easy. I noticed this morning that a number of them have scratch marks on them. (Careless handling from someone used to wood). I’m hoping some matte black spray paint I have will fix them. This is already costing too much.
Lesson 6: I’m sure there are further lessons to be learned but I either don’t remember them or they haven’t struck me yet.
What started out as a great adventure and dreams of riches has turned into a mountain of work, primarily due to lack of planning. And because there are many things beyond your control, try to influence those things that you can. For example, if your display is in NYC, that's fantastic, but make sure the venue does not work against you - a clean, inviting environment can be key even in the Big Apple. So if the floors are dirty, clean them. If the carpets are soiled, hire a reputable rug cleaning company in NYC to get things perfect. If you can control the lighting, do it - nothing is worse than having your art displayed in a way that obscures the view. I hope this helps someone out there make better choices than I did.
Your town library is a good place to start showing your photographs. The library will give you great exposure, does not take a percentage of any of the photographs sold, is a non pressure environment and a good starting point for you.
The library will also promote the exhibit in the newspaper. I also approached our town nature center. They mailed an announcement of the exhibition to all their members. In return, I donated 25% of the sales of the photographs to the nature center. This gave potential buyers another reason to purchase a photograph. The nature center also promoted the exhibit on our local public TV.
Everyone at times, (including myself) has excuses why not to try different ideas and the underlying themeis usually failure. Once you decide that "Failure is not an option" and any failure that comes along is one step closer to success, you are on your way. If you are happy with photography as a hobby, then keep it that way... enjoy it for what it is and don't try to sell your photographs. No one needs any additional pressure on something that you enjoy. But there is one feeling that you will never experience and that is "Knowing that someone bought one of your photographs, took the time to frame it and hung it on their wall." And somewhere out there your photographs are being seen each day.
"If you don't try, you will never know... and when you do know, you will understand that feeling." You can't sit back and expect to be known without being creative and getting the word out about yourself.
After I had the photographs framed (cost about $220.00 including photographs and hangers), the investment was made. Any benefit that could be achieved after the investment was spent was a bonus and at the same time created a cost/benefit advantage over time.
Here is a plan for you:
1. Drive by the libraries and outdoor retail stores in your area to see if there is an area in the library/store that could display an exhibition of yours. Even if the place has never done something like this, they will appreciate a suggestion from you. My second exhibition was fortunately being displayed in the optics department in a outdoor retail store.
2. Frame your photographs with the same gallery frames. Do not mix frames. My photographs are 8"x10" and the frames are 16"x20".
3. Create a title for your exhibit (seen in the center of the photograph) along a bio with pricing. If you can, laminate the title and bio. The bio also includes the The Gallery website URL. I also created a little pocket made from cellophane that I placed my business cards in.
4. If you have other photographs to offer, create a little book of other photographs that customers can look through to purchase. I have a binder machine that creates a book, but you can go to Staples, Office Depot or any print shop and they will create a book for you with your pages for about $2.00. I printed all my additional photographs available on photo paper with 9 photos on a single page.
5. Do not sell the framed photographs off the wall. These are only to take orders from. The retailer will process the orders and also take a negotiated percentage of the sale. Usually the exhibit will run for a month. A library will only display your photographs. They will not sell your photographs.
6. If the retailer sells your photographs, then you can talk to the retailer about an additional length of time for your photographs to be displayed.
7. Search the Internet for all the newspapers and magazines in your area. Go to the calendar section and send a press release to the magazines and newspapers. This must be done at least 2-3 weeks prior to your exhibition.
8. Once you have one month booked for your exhibition, then you should look for your next month's exhibition.
9. The framed photographs are already paid for, so your out-of-pocket expense in only your time spent and a little gasoline. My last exhibition took a total of 2 hours to hang and drive to. You can continuously use the same book and the same framed photographs over and over again.
10. Take photographs of the exhibition so that you can show potential places what your exhibition will look like.
Good luck with selling your photographs online.
Selling & Marketing Photographs Online
Selling your photographs is no different from selling anything else... it takes time and a lot of work. If you expect to become rich by selling your photographs, don't leave your first job just yet! Like any other type of selling, you are selling yourself as well as selling your photographs. And with the Internet, the selling of yourself becomes a little more difficult as you are not face to face with a potential buyer of your photographs. So, what do you do to level the playing field using the Internet?
The first thing you must do is to be able to create a Internet page including a photograph of yourself along with some text so the visitor can a least have some kind of knowledge who you are when email might be communicated back and forth. Your text should give a little background about yourself, who you are, how you think, what type of photography that you do and any other information that will help you become established in the mind of the visitor. The more a person knows about you, the better chance you will have to sell your photographs. A potential buyer has to establish a relationship with a photographer and if a buyer doesn't know what the photographer looks like or what really motivates the photographer, something is lost. The photographer is selling himself/herself as well as the photograph.
Always look good and be professional in the design of Your Gallery and the types of photographs that you are offering. Always think quality over quantity.
Try to include as much information as possible describing your photographs. Google and other search engines use the description to index your photographs even further in the searches. If a person searches for a specific photograph, yours might appear in the search.
What is your market? Who do you want to sell to? Are people living in the USA interested in photographs of the UK? If a visitor has not visited the UK, yet (and if many of your photographs are photographs of specific areas in the UK), the visitor might not be interested in purchasing any of your photographs. A visitor might purchase photographs from other photographers if they have been to a specific place or the photograph reminds them of a specific place. In other words, if the photograph is of a forest or a beach, it might look like a place a visitor has visited. If you are trying to sell to a broad market, you have to think about what the other market wants. If you only want to specialize in the UK, concentrate on just UK photographs. Then promote yourself within that market.
If you are talented, write some articles to promote your photography. If you are from the UK, write a few articles about photographing in the UK, hiking in the UK, what to see in the UK, tips about the UK. If a person is interested in reading about the UK, they certainly would be interested in seeing photography from the UK. And when they visit the UK, they might be interested in purchasing one of your photographs. Your article will be searched by the search engines and read by thousands of people.
Good luck with selling your photographs online.
Outdoor Photography Contest
Helpful How To Tips & Strategies
CONTEST ENTRY: Begins: Jan. 14, 2005 6:00am EST - Jan. 28, 2005 6:00am EST.
HOW TO ENTER:
There is no cost to participate in the contest. The following instructions will guide you through the process of becoming a contest participant.
1. You must be a Outdoor Eyes Forum member to participate in the contest and you must have submitted at least one post on the Forum. If you are not a Forum member or you haven't entered a recent post to the Forum, CLICK HERE to enter the Forum (no charge to join the Forum). Do not post the photograph that you entered in the contest on the Forum or your photograph will not be accepted into the contest.
2. There are 3 contest categories available. Both black & white or color outdoor photographs are acceptable. There is a limit of 48 photographers participating in each category. You may submit ONE photograph in each of the 3 categories.
3. Wildlife Category: The Wildlife category will consist of birds, mammals, reptiles, Amphibians, fish, etc. that can be found in the outdoors. This category will NOT include dogs or cats. Captured Wildlife photographs will be accepted but they must be identified as captured in the description of your photograph.
4. Macro/Close-Up Category: The macro category will consist of flowers, leaves, bark, insects, rocks and any other subjects that were found in the outdoors. The use of a macro lens is not necessary.
5. Landscape Category: The Landscape category will consist of sunrises, sunsets, scenery, farms, water falls, rivers, farm land, lighthouses, bridges, mountains, etc. If buildings are included in this category, there should be enough sky, water or land so that the buildings are not dominant subject in the photograph.
6. All photographs MUST be taken after Jan. 14, 2005 6:00am EST. The Outdoor Photography Contest is obviously based on an honor system, so please comply with this standard as it must be fair to everyone participating.
7. After the entry of all photographs ends on Jan. 28, 2005 6:00am EST, voting begins. All visitors to Outdoor Eyes can vote for 1st, 2nd or 3rd place in each category. A visitor does not have to be a Forum member to vote in the photography contest.
8. After Feb 11, 2005 6:00am EST, the contest ends and all images submitted will be deleted from the Outdoor Eyes server. All photographers will retain rights to their submitted photographs and no winning photographs will be used by Outdoor Eyes to promote the contest unless permission is granted from the photographer.
PRIZES: At the end of the contest, all winners will be announced in the Newsletter and on the Forum. There will be 3 prizes awarded in the contest. In each of the 3 categories, the photographer with the highest number of votes will receive a free year's membership to The Gallery. If you are currently a member of The Gallery, your membership will be extended free for another year. You can only win a free year's membership to The Gallery once a year. (Click the above 'Gallery' tab to learn more about The Gallery.)
STRATEGY, HOW TO & PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS:
1. The contest will begin on Jan. 14, 2005 6:00am EST and end on Jan. 28, 2005 6:00am EST. Only photographs taken during that period will be accepted in the contest. A contest category will close if 48 photographs have been entered into a category and no more photographs will be accepted into the closed category.
2. All photographs entered must be no wider than 600 pixels, no larger than 75,000 bytes and in a .jpg format (the width is so the image appears centered in the visitor's viewing window). Do NOT include your signature or any references to websites, etc. in the description of your photograph. Please make sure the photograph being submitted is located on your computer before registering for the contest. A photograph title along with a short description must be included.
3. On Jan. 14, 2005 6:00am EST, the registration entry form will be displayed below. Select the appropriate contest category, enter your email address, your name and click the 'Enter The Contest' button. Your photograph entry link will be sent to you immediately by email. You will have 3 hours to enter your photograph, your title and a brief description. NOTE: If you don't enter your photograph in the 3 hours allowed, your registration will become invalid.
CONTEST STRATEGY: The Outdoor Eyes is unique because the contest is held on a level photography field. A novice photographer has just as much chance to win as an advanced photographer. Why? Because there is a time constraint associated with the contest. There are only 48 places available in each category. Once a category is filled, no more photographs will be accepted, even if you happen to have the winning photograph. So, take the BEST possible photograph in the shortest amount of time and be assured of an entry place. Wait until the very end and there might not be a place available for you. You can vote for your own photograph for first place, but you also must vote for other photographs for second and third place. NOTE: All photographs are rotated on each of the 3 category pages so that every photograph is displayed at the beginning of the page.
The Outdoor Eyes Photography Contest will begin accepting photographs from: Jan. 14, 2005 6:00am EST - Jan. 28, 2005 6:00am EST.
Find one of your posts on the Forum. Click your Forum Id (located on the left side of your post) or click the Profile Icon (located at the bottom of your post). A Photo Contest link will appear on Your Profile. Click the Contest link. You will return to this page and the contest submission form will appear at the bottom of this page after Jan. 14, 2005 6:00am EST.