Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2001/01/03

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Re: an appeal to photographer (was re: tina's print pricing)
From: George Lottermoser <>
Date: Wed, 3 Jan 2001 15:12:57 -0600

Thank you Jim,
for speaking eloquently and realistically about the sale of
photographic prints. I don't know about others, but many of my
favorite prints never get beyond an edition of 1 - 5, and the
likely hood of getting back to print vintage negatives is very
low. New negatives always comes first. So the reality is, for me,
that the prints are indeed rare. Sure someone could print a
hundred or a thousand of them if they had the negative and the
desire. But that is not reality. 

This argument, that because you can theoretically make an
unlimited number of prints from a master and therefore prices
should reflect this, is an old one. Any print maker knows the
argument does not work in reality. And it doesn't work any better
for digital print making. Anyone who has done fine digital
printing knows how long it takes for the print to come out of the
printer. And how long it takes to get it to come out right. And
how many pieces of expensive paper can turn to garbage for a wide
variety of reasons. 

Then there is the finishing. The shipping. The return shipping.
The cost of unsold inventory. Equipment maintenence. The sq ft
cost of working spaces. Storage and retrieval. Market
Development. And one could go on and on.

Yes, if you get your prints out of the one-hour-photo shop, and
sell them to passers-by for twice what you paid for them a minute
ago, maybe then. They're fast and cheap and occassionally
remarkably good looking. I can't buy the raw materials for what
they charge for a finished print. And maybe some can and do build
a business out of this method of printing and selling. But that's
something else.

I just got a price today for Mounting my hand made 30x40 B&W
darkroom print and Matting to 48x57 = $262. I guess I should sell
the finished product to the client for what - $275? After all I
"could" make a million of them and that would mean that I could
make $13 million profit. Oh no, wait! I didn't figure the cost of
my paper.

Fast, Fine and Cheap - Pick One. (Jim Brick)1/3/0110:06 AM

> So far, I have only sold my prints direct. But starting later
this year, I
> will be selling through a Gallery and will raise the prices for
gallery sales.

Be careful as you move into gallery sales. In my experience
galleries expect prices to be consistent. If they're charging
$900 for a finished, framed work, they expect that no one,
including the artist, will sell that work at a lower price. So if
you have one gallery charging a 50% commission and a museum (or
another gallery) charging 30-40%, they still expect the print to
show a $900 price tag; other wise they look bad. Most
professional galleries also expect their artists to refer buyers
to the gallery. This practice creates good relationships -