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The uncomfortable truth of selling your photographic prints


One of the ways to earn money through photography is by selling your prints. This especially goes for those of us who don’t photograph people and events, but rather landscapes, nature, cityscapes, and the like. But selling prints may not be as easy as it sounds. In this video, Adam Karnacz of First Man Photography reveals some uncomfortable truths about it, but also suggests some solutions for selling more of your prints in the future.

The inconvenient truth

In Adam’s case, the main reason he doesn’t sell a lot of prints is a lack of marketing, and it can be the same for you. However, one of the biggest reasons why we may find it difficult to sell prints is the lack of scarcity. As Adam explains, photography has become accessible to everyone and there are thousands of beautiful images of famous locations. In other words, the supply has largely surpassed the demand, so it reduces the value of prints.

This may be why NFTs are so popular right now. There is still scarcity in this area, and there’s also a community around it. Still, it’s much different from a real, tangible print. If you’re anything like me (and Adam, apparently), you’ll always choose a real print over a digital asset. But hey, there are some things we can learn from NFT and apply them to our print selling strategy. But more on that later.

How to increase our print sales?

As Adam notes, what gives a photo its true value is the endeavor, the time, and the struggle a photographer went through to take it. I’d add that it’s not just on a particular hike or photo walk. It’s also all those years of learning photography, investing in gear, and trial and error. Still, it’s hard to just sell your efforts and knowledge in a print. This is why you need to think about what you’re selling and who you’re selling it to.

It’s most likely not other landscape photographers who will buy your work, but “regular people” who want a pretty picture on their wall. So how do you make them value your work? Sell prints that show a place that means something to them. This is why shooting locally can be effective along with selling prints in your city and country.

Next, you should try to create work that stirs up emotions, that creates an exciting and positive feeling. When people look at your photo every day, they want it to stir up positive emotions. As Adam notices, non-photographers will often prefer saturated images with warm colors. If I may add, it seems to me that other photographers might more often choose moody images with cooler tones, or those in black and white. At least that’s my experience from both buying and selling prints and other kinds of artwork.

Building a community

Remember I mentioned learning from NFT? What Adam aims at is implementing the community aspect from the NFT space. We need to support each other and value each other’s work, and it’s something we can learn from the NFT community, but also from those around other art forms.

In my opinion, there are two sides to all artistic circles. There are always members of the community who support each other, share each other’s work on social media, and even buy it. For example, I have bought embroidery from other embroiders, and they bought it from me. On the other hand, there are always people who are jealous or vain and who will try to sabotage you. I personally think that we should strive towards building a healthy, supportive community as photographers, instead of sabotaging each other. I’m experiencing it in the embroidery world and it’s truly amazing what being a part of a healthy community can do.

Pricing your work

Another thing we need to think about when selling prints is pricing our work. I’d say that another inconvenient truth lies here: there’s no universal answer to your question “how much should I charge?” 🙂 You don’t want to undermine your work, but also you don’t want to overprice it.

Well, Adam offers some solutions for increasing the value of your work. You can sell a print as a limited series, which increases its scarcity. It also increases its value if the demand for a particular photo persists. But Adam wants to take it a step further and create even more scarcity by limiting both the number of prints and the time it will be available for. This could increase the value of your prints even further.

Adam is currently experimenting with the limited number and time for buying his prints. You can learn more about it and support him by buying a print through his website.

[SELLING PRINTS – The Uncomfortable Truth with Photography via FStoppers]


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