View Full Version : Selling signed prints - Need Help
04-01-2004, 06:28 PM
Is anyone used to sell copies of their photos? Can you help me?
Recently, people became much interested in buying signed copies of my photos, and wished to know how many copies I was going to make out of them for a value reason.
I really have no idea how many copies may be made without "destroying" the value of a work. Is anyone able to help me? Is it 10, 20, 50 copies too much or it can be made more than that?
Is there any difference between a reproduction reffering my name (like a watermark) and a photo signed by my own hand? In comercial use of "art" is there such a difference or not?
If someone have such knowledge please help me because it's becoming quite difficult to obtain this informations.
04-01-2004, 06:55 PM
That's an interesting question.
I do not really have an answer for you but personnaly, I think that there is no "rules".
You are the owner of your picture and you can do all what you want with it.
Personnaly, I think that numeric photography could hardly be considerated as "art" for big commercial value.
You talk about making copies... and "how many" you should do...
For a limited "series", It should be IMHO numbered and hand signed to get a real value, and > the most important > your original (numeric file) must be DESTROYED after copies has been printed. For me, It won't have any "commercial" value without these conditions.
Here, in Switzerland, commercial photographers sell their pictures for ad use at sometimes 1000 CHF for ONE use... and they keep the right to sell the same picture to someone else the day after! I don't agree with that, but some has no need of "decency"... they make money!
You can make small serie (as 5 copies), and sell it the BIG BIG Price... or make some more, and sell it at a lower cost, I guess.
The scarcity makes the value.
It depends of what you want... doing money, or doing art ;-)
I would be glad to read follow ups on that disccussion.
Yes Isabelle is right, selling prints means that you guarantee a maximum number of prints that will be sold.
It WAS normally around 5 or 10...I say "was" because there's a new tendancy for prints now : some greedy so called artists guarantee a limited number of prints according to a format. For instance they say 5 prints for a 24*30 print, if they see it's selling well, they will print for instance 10 30*40 (see the difference...).
This kind of behavior is seen in the art market as a scam, which tends to decrease the credit for photo prints value. They might not realize at short term but they're shooting themselves a bullet in the right foot, since they're not HCB or other reknown photographers.
As for destroying the file, I strongly disagree : it's like the negatives where destroyed after being printed in the older argentic times...
Selling prints and right to use is very different : prints are goods, like a painting, right to use is immaterial, like the right to reproduce the painting. I don't see any problem in selling both prints in limited quantities and right to use separately...since right to use is limited to specific situations and fixed according to economic return potential.
As for prices, well have a look on the internet for a 18*21 print I've seen amateurs pricing their print for down to 30USD, on the other end I bought a Robert Doisneau print for a bit more than 150USD 10 years ago (I had the opportunity to buy 5 or 6 but didn't have money to spend at the time, I think it has tripled the price now...).
I gave you the scale, now you can put your own cursor on that scale...
04-02-2004, 08:44 AM
Have you thought of installing a web shop for your prints ?
04-02-2004, 11:39 AM
"numeric photography could hardly be considerated as "art" for big commercial value"
Maybe not mine :o) but digital photgraphy is...photography. Only the image support has changed. There's nothing that it's done in digital photography that wasn't previously made in analogic photography.
"your original (numeric file) must be DESTROYED"
I desagree with that. It's like destroying the negatives. It's not only the work that it's destroyed this way, it's our own memories. Imagine if all the negatives of selled photos of the 20th century were destroyed...
"they keep the right to sell the same picture to someone else"
The sell for personal use is different for advertisement use so I believe that's not contradictive. More, the advertisement use is a way to turn the photos more valuable in some cases I believe.
"You can make small serie (as 5 copies), "
I wish to do small signed series. My doubt is if that's no problem of reproducing at the same time identified (but not signed by my hand) copies. Of course this would not have the same value. It's like buying a poster of Monalisa and Monalisa itself.
"It depends of what you want... doing money, or doing art ;-)"
I want to do art, but in the current time I really do need the money :-((
"some greedy so called artists guarantee a limited number of prints according to a format"
I will avoid this. I will only sell the number of copies I'll say. It's because of that I need to establish a number and your help. But again the question arises. Signed copies / identified copies. Are they incompatible?...
"Selling prints and right to use is very different"
Agree with that. More, comercial use may even in some cases add value to a signed print, so it a benefit to all.
Are these centimeters or inches?...
"Have you thought of installing a web shop for your prints ?"
No I haven't... Should I? This maybe a stupid question but apart from browsing the internet is like the space conquer to me! :o)
some replies to your questions, but take it more like the way I see things :
"My doubt is if that's no problem of reproducing at the same time identified (but not signed by my hand) copies."
Mmmmh... I wouldn't do that, it's a bit like encouraging your own piracy.
When I said that selling prints and right to use was different, this is because the documents you give for right to use are not put into the selling market afterwards, they only are "one off" use.
But prints sold should be made with parcimony. Of Course there's no problem selling both postcards and signed prints, because post cards are only reproductions of the thing. Promoting different ranges of the same print signed/unsigned for the same use doesn't sound very fair to me...
If you want to sell your image other ways you must change the use (ie posters or postcards but NOT prints), the quality of the paper, the guarantee, etc.
Talking about guarantee, another VERY important thing I forgot, print buyers are nowadays skeptical about digital print conservation, you'll then have to guarantee
a minimum print duration such as 10 years for instance, something below would sound unappropriate. This means that you have to print it with long lasting inks or dyes (beware that what ink brands say : 10 years in normal exhib conditions means in fact something like 50 in marketing testing conditions...;-D...).
Hope this helps.
04-02-2004, 01:03 PM
Thanks for your aswers,
"you must change the use (ie posters or postcards but NOT prints), "
Yes, that's what I had in mind... To create something that allow me to sell some images but at the same time not to take value of the real signed prints...
"digital print conservation"
For the prints I'm using a HP Photosmart 7760 with the photographic ink cartridges, and the Premium Photo Paper Glossy from HP also. It has a 4* (out of 5*) in the fade resistance. Does this say anything to you about the duration of the print? Is it good?
But this is all happening quite fast and without expecting so I'm very confused about all this, besides it is very difficult to get information on this issue... Even the Portuguese Author's Society hasn't replyed to me!
Suddenly many people around me noticed my photos and started spreading the news. To tell the truth if I wasn't in real need I wouldn't sell anything... :-(
04-02-2004, 01:33 PM
Beware the limited edition, it's worth it if you have a "name", and can become a reality if momentum builds but otherwise sell your work initially just as unlimited prints.
Being entirely realistic, whilst we all hope to be ďdiscoveredĒ what are the actual chances of any one wanting mine or your print in the future just because itís got our name on it ? rather than because they like it.
I sell work regularly and to individuals it's always as above but of course to organisations it's different as they want rights (a whole other topic).
Never destroy the original, think of any deceased famous photographer's archive, Brett Weston is still churning out ďoriginalĒ prints.
As for value, itís entirely relative to the amount of work required divided by how much someone is prepared to pay. My A3+ photojet stuff sells for about £25.00 each whereas 20x16 POPís go for upwards of £150, and I fully expect the pigment prints to be chucked out the next time the buyer redecorates and the POPís probably will suffer the same fate in an estate clearance.
BUT WHO KNOWS
04-02-2004, 05:25 PM
I'm definitely not an expert at all on the subject, but after looking around a bit in Google after seeing your message here, I did find the following link that may or may not help you. Hope so.
04-02-2004, 05:26 PM
Sorry, the link didn't show up in the last message, so here it is:
"Beware the limited edition, it's worth it if you have a "name", and can become a reality if momentum builds but otherwise sell your work initially just as unlimited prints."
This can also be a strategy but you'd then cut yourself out from an interesting market I was thinking of when I wrote the previous replies.
The serious print collector market is now saturating on the supply side because all known photographers prints have reached sky high prices. Though collectors still have some money in their pocket and would be happy to bet on some new unknown photogs, providing they wish to play the game (ie. ...of collectible prints).
The print number problem is seen with the reverse angle that Richard expresses : you may sell ONLY if you limit your print number, it doesn't depend on whether you're already reknown and you've got a name but mostly if you WANT to have a name.
Be aware that selling to collectors is not a web based promotion plan such as it could be for individuals, you are supposed to meet either collectors or galleries in photo fairs or other similar events.
As for your Hp printer, the print life depends mainly on the inks used and their compatibility with referenced papers. Matte papers usually provide a longer life and are more adapted to pigment/chrome inks.
I'm not sure about your current printer archival quality, HP's not th, you should browse the net for articles that review printers, inks and papers. I have no link to propose but maybe somebody could help or has already referenced some (Adrian?..). I know that Wilhelm Research Institute has conducted studies about these issues, check their website.
04-05-2004, 12:51 PM
I've talked with more experienced people, and they told me to keep the signed and numbered originals to me and only sell identified copies (or signed but not numbered) because we never know the future. It's like selling serigraphies of paintings. They've told me that if I sell now my signed/numbered photos I probably won't make much money out of it, but in the future if things go well many people will make money out of my work and I will not see a cent...
They've also talked about making series but that option didn't pleased me much.
"it doesn't depend on whether you're already reknown and you've got a name but mostly if you WANT to have a name."
That's my big dilema. I guess I'll have to decide. The art world/industry is really "dirty" and I believe I have no patiente to promote myself. The situation in Portugal is even worse as it is a small country with very few opportunities and where the rule of the "friendship" is gold. So if you don't have/make "friends" it will be hard to go anywhere. It's a Latin country...
"you are supposed to meet either collectors or galleries in photo fairs or other similar events."
Probably this will happen as some people got interested in including me in exhibitions. Then I will see how it goes... Although I'm not really very ethusiastic... I never thought of exhibiting my work and it's not a big priority to me.
"what are the actual chances of any one wanting mine or your print in the future just because itís got our name on it ? rather than because they like it."
Yes, in fact people are buying because they like the photos, although I feel there's some interest in my signature. Not because I'm anybody but because some people just want to have something signed by me just in case that "momentum builds". It's weird...
Thanks for the link!
04-05-2004, 03:52 PM
Good day Jose.
I wanted to follow-up on Luko's discussion of inks and papers. A colleague referred me to this web page, <a href="http://www.inkjetart.com/">www.inkjetart.com</a> for information about studies done on inks, papers, compatibility, duration, <I>etc</i>. I haven't actually read any articles though, so I cannot vouch for their credibility. Just offering a link. I hope it may be helpful.
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