More Is More


First blooms of the winter.

This picture. The real first blooms of winter.

I almost forgot to show you this one because I posted it on Instagram. I know that not all of you follow me there, so I decided you should see it here. On Storyteller. Where it belongs. My first social media home. That one that really matters to me. To you.

I’ve got a few more pictures like that. I’ll share them with you here.

When I made the picture I was just was really just trying to make a good exposure. The blooms were really out of reach for me with a phone. Once I saw how nicely the blooms were back lighted, I thought that the picture needed some special treatment.

Off to the digital darkroom I went. I worked. I played. I tinkered. I finally got to this place. I liked it. It has almost no bearing on reality.

That’s a problem.

I vacillate between something semidocumentary and something that is a kind of art. I reckon that I should sort of settle on some direction. I could do both. That would require separate marketing. Separate websites.

Sheesh. I can barely keep track of one.

We’ll see.

I realized that these days I’m not wanting to spend a lot of time building websites. That came about from my Smugmug experiment. I’m still doing it, but to do that well it takes more time than working on Storyteller. The point is less work. Not more. I want to be making pictures, not fiddling around with a new website.

Another problem has arisen for Smugmug. I watched two pricing videos. I read a lot of their material. They are great at helping you solve technical issues. They are horrible at photo philosophy, which bleeds into sales. Nobody has been able to teach me about price points.

As I see it, just about every photographer links their prices to a photo lab. They sell their prints for what it costs to make a print. Nothing else is added. I eat what I kill. Doing that might get one of my pictures in somebody’s hands, but I can’t make any money from it.

The way to do it, it seems to me, is to add the print cost to the total fee. So, let’s say you want to buy a 16 x 20 print. That costs about $12.00 to make the print. Likely, I’d want to add at least another $250.00 for the subject matter. So, your cost would be $262.00 plus the cost of shipping. I can’t find a photographer who actually does that so I could learn from him or her. When I asked around, it was crickets. Apparently, most photographers who use Smugmug are rich and don’t even want to try to pay for the cost of cameras, lenses and other photographic gear.

And, we wonder why the photo industry is so broken.

I am regional president of a trade group called ASMP. American Society of Media Photographers. We work very hard at teaching professional standards. That includes what it actually costs to produce an image. Wholesale costs and net costs. If photographers actually listened to us, and many other working professionals, we might actually make a living.

But, noooo.

So many photographers are so excited that somebody actually wants to use one of their pictures, that they give them away.  You see it at professional levels all the time. Image users want to use a picture for a credit. I can’t eat credits. I’m at the point in my career — as many of us are — I don’t need the exposure. In many ways I don’t care what the other guy does. It’s not my business. They say.

They are wrong. When another photographer gives away a picture, or undersells a picture, it erodes the market. Ultimately, it hurts me. Luckily for me, the people that I call clients know the difference between a hobbyist with a camera and a professional who has paid his dues.

Aren’t you glad you saw my email and opened it?

8 Comments

    1. It’s really not that hard. Both NPPA and ASMP have pricing guidelines. If you go to Getty’s pricing, they’ll be more specific.

      The way that you calculate sales prices is to organize everything it took you to make a picture. That includes, but is not limited to, camera gear, travel costs — both air and ground — your office space as defined by the IRS, all the time it took you to be a photographer. Add that together — it’s way more than you think — and divide that into your pictures.

      That said, if you went to Getty’s pricing structure, you would see that at a minimum they charge $300 for a 16×20 picture that is considered a piece of art for the wall. You download the file. With that you get certification for your lab that you can print it. One time.

      What I learned from Smugmug’s videos is two fold. One, you should price your work a fee that you want, not just the cost of printing. And don’t be cheap. It’s harder to raise costs than lower them. And, you should limit the printing app to only the sizes and products that you want. For me that would limit print sizes to 11×14, 16×20, and 32×40. And, I’d limit that to paper, metal and canvas. I’m not interested in coffee cups and mouse pads. No real money in them.

      I’d also bury printing cost and shipping — with the exception of UPS or FEDEX — into the cost of the print. I’d round all costs off.

      So, for a 16×20 print the total coats would be something like $300 + 12.99 + 7.99. My price would be $325.00.

      I suppose I’ve answered my own question. I just have to figure it out on SM.

      Like

      1. Ray, thank you for the detailed response. I’ll have to check out Getty. Not to sound lazy but do you have a link that would put me to the core of what you are referring to as “Getty’s pricing?”

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.