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02-28-2013, 04:24 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Homedale, ID
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Price Points and other thoughts

Hey all,

This is my first foray into selling my work, so please excuse me if I sound clueless. I have read (ok, looked through at the bookstore) a couple of books about selling your prints and have lurked a bit here reading and learning what I can. I am still a bit confused about a few aspects.

After putting prints in my house, friends houses and even a doctors office and my CPA, I have been told to start selling my pictures. You hear a thing enough, you begin to think it might be true. So, with that, I am thinking of selling my photos at a local farmers market. They have roughly 40 to 60 vendors and mostly food items, but there is wood worked items, ceramics, knitted and sewn things... I guess I would say the usual fare. However, there is no photography shown there. Fill a niche? Maybe. I taught myself how to mat (not all that hard once you get the hang of it. Hang. Matted items for the wall. Oh, the puns) and I have a really nice place to get my work printed up. He does museum quality giclee work. Anyway.

Price Point. I know what my prints cost me. I know what the matting supplies and what not are going to cost. (Single only. If they want doubles, they can bloody well get their framer to do it!) I know what the cost of having a booth at the market will be and the percentage of the daily earnings that the Market will ask for at the close of business. I even know how much time, on average, I spend in Lightroom getting the image ready. The thing I don't know is what my time and creativity(?) is worth. If I ask too much, I won't sell. If I ask too little, I risk not being taken seriously and maybe losing money.

Most of my stuff is landscapes. Some abstract. I have done family portraits and two weddings before, but I am not that guy. Asking a petulant bride to smile for the 400th time while snapping away isn't my thing. And family shots are hard on me too. I would rather do what I like most. Take a hike, find something cool to look at, capture it and share it with the world.

Thanks for any input.


02-28-2013, 05:17 PM   #2
Miguel's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Near Seattle
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 2,733
Most folks don't expect to find art photos at farmers markets, let alone pay much money. My friends who do this just sell matted prints wrapped in plastic, no frame. Mostly they sell note cards, and maybe a few 5x7s now & then. The subjects are local landmarks (I live in a touristy place) and fruits and vegetables to fit with the market theme.

They may gross $50 per Saturday, but they are losing money on everything. They do this for as much social reasons. So, price yer stuff real low to help move the inventory you will have to pile up to get started.

I'd also caution you about how to evaluate high praise from others. Loved ones love you, so feel good but don't believe there is much validity to their words. Most friends are in this category too. And your doctor & accountant love you as a patient and client. Show your stuff to other artists you barely know; gallery owners too. Maybe a few photographers whose work you admire.

Hope this helps.

03-02-2013, 07:44 AM   #3

Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Ontario
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 2,953
I've been working with my gf for the past few years selling plants at nearby farmers markets, ranging from small 10 vendor markets to a massive outdoor market that sees upwards of 10,000 customers at the peak of summer. Last year I started selling animal and plant themed photo cards as a little side project. They are printed as 4x6's, matted on cardstock, stuck on a 5x7 card and wrapped in a crisp plastic bag. That's my background in this, here's my advice on what I've learned:

-I would check around local art shops and galleries to see what kind of prices people are asking for unframed matted prints when you're trying to determine a reasonable price. There's really no right answer for this, it depends on the area you're in, the other competition, and of course how popular the stuff you're selling is.

-Once you set your price, never haggle on your artwork. People at markets often like to haggle, but in my opinion it greatly cheapens things like art. So does putting your artwork on any kind of large sale.

-Don't do this expecting to make much money. My overhead is essentially zero as we'd be at the markets anyway, and I never count my time taking or processing images as a cost as I'd be doing that anyway for fun. These aren't custom made photos for someone, and once it's print ready, it's print ready for life.

-Absolutely get clear bags for your work. Mandatory at an outdoor market, but it looks much slicker in any case.

-Farmers markets can be a relatively lousy places to sell artwork. The enormous market we go to has in part become a huge flea market and everyone is looking for cheap deals. I did just as well at it as some of the small 10-30 vendor markets I go to that had a much smaller but different category of clientele. I also tried a small 'Art in the Garden' show which had maybe 80 people show up who were specifically there with an interest in artwork and card sales were way better, enough that it was worth it being there even though I was only selling cards.

-Consider also selling cards and smaller prints. These are more likely to be impulse buys at a market than larger stuff.

-I've never gone to a farmers market that asks for a % of daily sales, and honestly I don't think I would as this just seems wacky to me. They aren't art galleries where someone else sells your stuff and gets a commission, but more like temporary shopping malls where vendors are responsible for selling their own stuff. But farmers markets may operate differently in your area.

-As Miguel says, definitely view praise from family and friends as suspect. But also keep in mind that what other photographers like isn't necessarily directly correlated with what joe public will buy. People who identify themselves as photographers don't generally buy other photographers prints in my experience.

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