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photo:photo_careers

professional photography as a career

Introduction

  • photographers can make money by either:
    • working for an income as an employee
    • providing a service (eg. wedding, school/uni graduation, event, photojournalism, industrial, real estate, fashion, etc)
    • providing an “exposure” forum for advertising income
      • Youtube videos - gear reviews, photography tutorials, etc
      • social media “influencers” can often make $300 per post if they have over 100K followers and their branding fits with a client
    • income from photographers wishing to learn their techniques and skills
      • online courses or tutorials
      • workshops
      • eBooks, etc
    • photo-tourism - providing photographer tourists with personal guides to photo sites
    • selling their images or videos
    • renting out their gear
      • this is problematic due to risk of damage or theft
  • however, photography is not a well remunerated career for the vast majority and is now in the WORST 25 careers in the US for median income 1) as they need to compete in a world super-saturated by digital images with over 400 million photos being uploaded on Facebook and Instagram alone each day!

  • what sets a successful professional photographer apart from the rest is generally their dependability - that even on their worst day they can create a superior image to the average person and then to combine this with business acumen
  • most people with a camera can get a great shot every now and then, but a professional is expected to do this on EVERY occasion and this is how they create their own value
  • the icing on the cake for the pro is their access to top talent and resources
  • the biggest mistake for professionals is to lower their pricing - they need to increase their value instead

Creating demand for your work

  • much of the success in photography comes from hard work at creating a business and a brand that potential clients can recognize as one that will be of value to them
  • if your brand reaches a certain critical mass (sometimes called the Tipping Point) of potential clients then it may be that demand for your work becomes self-perpetuating and will provide more work than you can cater for and as long as you maintain your brand, you should be able to maintain the demand for your work.
  • this branding usually requires consistency in style and professional dependability

Running a professional business

  • avoid creating pricing limits
    • avoid publishing your rates without disclaimers that rates may vary with projects (eg. what gear you may need to hire, etc) as published rates will become your price ceiling as clients will expect that is all they will need to pay you no matter what their budget is.
  • document everything in a project
    • verbal discussions mean nothing later on when there is conflict unless they are written down - document all the project details in a written agreement including who will pay for what and how much!
  • if you accept a project, make sure you maintain your standard
    • even if you really are not enthused or you feel exploited, it will still reflect the quality of your work, and photographers are judged on their worst quality - not their best - don't lower the worst quality!
  • manage your finances and gear purchases
    • every time you buy something this has an opportunity cost
    • consider how this purchase will you get your money back - if not, consider renting it for the project

Selling your works

  • explore narrow visions broadly
  • the value of a print = the actual print cost + perception of value
    • you create the perception of value of your works and build your career, this may require climbing up the hierarchy of art galleries if this is your dream

can you legally and ethically sell your images?

  • most photographers cannot afford to go through a lengthy legal challenge
  • ensure you have property or model releases for all works you wish to sell
  • the release should include what the remuneration was AND preferably take a photo of the person signing the release holding the signed release
  • ensure you are not in breach of copyright or trademark laws

sales mediums

  • online sales:
    • own website
    • photo image website (eg. 500px)
    • stock photo website
  • un-editioned prints
    • art fares
    • corporate buyers (but must be work-safe and thus not be political, religious or have nudity)
    • interior designers
    • hotels (but usually poor remuneration unless large prints for their lobbies or restaurants)
  • editioned prints
    • art galleries - these usually charge 50% commission so avoid expensive frames
    • shops, cafes - but ensure these do not charge more than 10% commission
  • grants
    • these may be provided in advance from various foundations but you are only likely to receive grant funds if you can demonstrate that your project will support the foundation's goals and mission

working with art galleries

  • understand that each art gallery has its own:
    • place in the hierarchy of art galleries, the higher this is the more risk averse they need to be to protect their reputation
    • consistent type of art works (genre, concept, material type eg. some only use silver prints and not ink jet prints)
    • consistent price range
    • consistent clientele of buyers who will generally not buy the same artist's work within 18 months of an earlier purchase
  • an art gallery has to sell a certain amount in an exhibition to break even (this may be $10,000) and would hope to sell at least double this to make income
  • failure to make sales repeatedly adversely impacts a galleries credibility and thus gallery directors need to be careful which exhibits they run
  • consider a group exhibit vs solo
  • finding a gallery
    • you need to find the gallery that likes your type of work and this may be a small minority of galleries
    • email the director of the gallery:
      • brief professional email
      • include 2 images at 72dpi and 5“x7” or 8“x10” with file names including your name, and the image name so they can easily save it to a folder without having to label the files themselves
      • add a link to your professional, simple online website
      • consider adding a brief CV
      • consider adding a brief artist statement that explains the concept of your images, and the image process but avoid philosophical diatribes and discussion of your childhood, etc.
      • thank them
      • do NOT expect a return email and do not follow up the email - they will contact you if they like your work
    • portfolio drop-off
      • make it clear to the gallery the purpose of a visit is to drop off a portfolio for them to consider
      • do not pretend to be a buyer and waste their time then say by the way I am a photographer, would you like to see my portfolio
      • portfolio must be:
        • immaculate - no damage, no dented corners, no dirt - these reflect potential problems gallery will have with you later
        • edited tightly to ensure ALL the images are consistent with concept and visual style
        • should include around 15 consistent images (but you should have more available if the director wants to see more later to fit their space or options - usually they will only use 15-20 images for an exhibit)
      • YOU need to look professional:
        • dress professionally with clean looks - you are to enter a business relationship and the Director wants it to be professional and not have to deal with crazy, lazy or unreliable people
      • add a promotional leaflet
      • all promotional material should reflect your portfolio concept and you
      • BE PATIENT, the portfolio may need to be left with the gallery for a number of weeks for consideration
  • to frame or not to frame
    • framing decision is problematic:
      • framing is expensive and you have to pay the full price as the gallery will take 50% of the sale, so if you are wanting to sell your print for $1000 and you add a $400 frame to make it $1400, the gallery will only give you $700 of the sale which less the $400 frame cost leaves you with only $300 for the print instead of perhaps $500 had the print been sold at $1000 un-framed.
      • the cost of framing passed onto the buyer means a higher price and less potential customers
      • framing can detract from a print - black frames on white walls means visitors first notice all the black frames and not the images, consider a light frame
      • framing can polarise potential buyers as it may not be to their taste or needs
  • consider edition size
    • the aim is to give buyers a financial reason to buy the image and create a perception that their purchase will go up in value over time
    • generally use edition sizes of 7-15 as it is hard to sell more than this at high prices
    • the 1st print is sold at the cheapest price as the buyer is taking the most financial risk (eg. $700)
    • as the edition number increases, the price is increased so that the latter edition numbers might be priced at 3x the initial price
    • the art world trusts the creator will not exceed the edition number - and this usually applies to different size prints - you can say there will be an edition size of 10 and then release another edition of 10 prints at a different size unless you first indicated that this will occur.
    • in generally, making the image available to the mass media devalues the image in these buyers perception
    • the photographer should hold at least two “artist proofs” which they can sell later if by chance their works go up in value substantially
  • each print should be labelled on the rear
    • use a pen that will not affect the print (eg. Sigma micron pen) or a pencil
    • name of image
    • name of photographer
    • year made and printed
    • edition number eg 2 of 10
    • size
    • copyright
  • gallery contract
    • needs to outline who will pay for what (eg. advertising)
    • needs to outline the gallery commission and their sales rights - this should be restricted to regional sales only for the duration of the exhibition and a roll off period (eg. 6 months) after the exhibit
  • signed copy of the delivery memo
    • when delivering the prints for exhibition, ensure that a detailed inventory of what is being dropped off is signed by the gallery and that you retain a copy of the delivery memo which should include:
      • name of image
      • name of photographer
      • year made and printed
      • edition number eg 2 of 10
      • size
      • material
      • type of print (eg. inkjet/gliclee vs silver print, etc)
      • print condition
      • copyright
photo/photo_careers.txt · Last modified: 2019/07/25 00:35 by gary1