Having a selection of ones work in a browser or elsewhere in an art gallery may seem great but the truth is that at best perhaps one in three of your images will sell. After deducting the gallery’s commission and the cost of unsold work there is little if any profit in it.
People go to cafes and restaurants to eat and drink, not to buy art or photography. If a sale is made it will be an impulse purchase and have to be priced accordingly.
Photographs of people do not tend to sell at all unless you are in a position to photograph the celebrities of this world. If you do have access to such people you probably do not need to sell your art to the general public.
Craft fairs do not work for most photographers, the cost of the stall and the price point the public expect would alone make it uneconomic for most photographers even without those vendors that have van loads of imported artwork priced below what we pay to get work printed.
Photo Libraries sell images to the public as well as to trade but the prices charged are so small and sales so few that is not an option either.
So what is left?
✓ The photographs must be exceptional.
✓ They need to be an outstanding quality of print absolutely without blemish.
✓ They need to be work which no member of the public an say “I could take that.”
✓ I suggest you rule out colour images unless you really are a creative fine art photographer and especially colour landscapes unless you go to really hard to reach and exotic locations. Sadly most colour landscapes in my opinion are bought because the scene is local to, or a favourite location of, the buyer. They are accordingly very price-point conscious images.
This leaves the option of fine art photography but what is that? Wikipedia says;
“Fine-art photography is photography created in accordance with the vision of the artist as photographer. Fine art photography stands in contrast to representational photography , such as photojournalism…” This is all very well but can the public tell the difference? The answer to that must sadly be no!
Again per Wikipedia; “Alfred Stieglitz's photograph The Steerage (1907) was an early work of artistic modernism, and considered by many historians to be the most important photograph ever made. Stieglitz was notable for introducing fine art photography into museum collections.”
Sadly, to my mind, this photograph just reinforces my viewpoint. I do not believe most people would recognise this image as more that just photojournalism; a record of an event despite its exquisite tonal range and other plus points.
OK I hear you say, every point you make is negative how do we sell photographs to the public?
Well I have tried all the above methods and found they are not economically viable. If you are an extremely talented photographer in a specialist area they can work. One such example is wildlife if you can do more than the birds in the garden and a fox or two. Eagles in snow, wolves and bears in the wild? Great but not me and probably not you either I imagine. Still negative eh?
I have had exhibitions. I have had exhibitions that worked and were profitable and I have sold images to photographers. I well remember the first such sale and the man said “ I must have that and I can look at it for inspiration.” But even those early exhibitions took a nose dive when the economy took a turn; and there is the rub. Aim for a market which is not affected by the economy. The only problem left is to get into a gallery which services that market, the average high street gallery come craft shop will not cut the mustard. Aim for high end “Fine Art” and I would suggest first class black and white in preference to colour to which even the high roller Leica carrying banker won’t be able to look at and say “I could take that.”
Now time for a rant. If the fine art market thinks a pickled cow or a pickled shark are art let me suggest the only artist here is The Creator and in the words of art critic Robert Hughes, Art "Isn’t it amazing what so much money and so little ability can produce?" (on Damien Hirst.)