Random line of thought…
Why don’t I print some of my images on glossy paper? I’d like to make some of my work on a glossy surface. Some of the images would look great on super glossy paper face mounted to plexiglass. Way too expensive to make. Nobody will buy at that price. Average consumer buys good enough at the lowest price.
Stop. This line of thought reminds me another one I had a while ago…
Why there is no good strawberry in grocery stores? Good one is much harder to grow, transport and perishes quickly. It would cost much higher. The average consumer hunts for a best price for a good enough product. What used to be good enough yesterday, becomes a base line today and good enough can be lowered further. In the end all we are left with is strawberry that does not smell like strawberry, does not taste like strawberry and looks as if it is made of plastic. And it keeps that look for many, many days…
This is a series of posts with translation of my interview published in Russian at http://landscapists.info/vitaly-prokopenko. The question from the interview: “Is photography your hobby or job? Or maybe both at the same time?”
Photography is a hobby for me. I thought of making it my job but talking with photographers that made it their job I abandoned that idea. There is a lot of work goes into having photography as your job that is not directly related to making photographs like marketing, finances, workshops, etc. I’m not interested at all in that. I might as well to have a job completely unrelated to photography and do photography I like in the remaining time. After all I probably spend as much time doing photography I like as some professional photographers.
As far as money concerned I think the only way to make money in photography is to photograph weddings, portraits or advertisement.
By the way Brooks Jensen wrote it in a funny way in his book Letting Go of the Camera. Though he has built a successful business based on his love of photography.
As the time of my new show is getting closer the same question of pricing comes up again. What’s the price tag to put on prints?
The discussion about pricing of prints is probably as long as photography itself. Some take approach of costing materials, their time put into producing and framing the print, all other expenses and then adding some mark up. But why the person who looks at prints in a gallery and may buy them would care about how much money and effort photographer put into the print? Wouldn’t the amount potential buyer may spent on a print actually depend on the image itself, on how much it connects with a viewer on a deep emotional level?
Other approach is to pull some high price out of thin air – this is art and thus should cost a lot. It seems to me that it would just alienate viewer. People think that we artists are crazy thinking that someone would pay that price. There is an opinion that value creates a perception of value – the higher you price the print the more likely to sell for high price. That might be true for some limited group of people. I don’t think most of us would fall into that.
What does the history teaches us? If we look back at history how many of famous artists of the past become rich by painting their paintings we all enjoy today and which are considered priceless. If they could not selling their paintings for crazy high prices why would someone pay crazy high prices for a print? Let get real. The print cannot be worth the price tag unless it can be sold for that price.
I think photography is the most democratic accessible art. If we think of other art eye-motion coordination is very important, being it playing a musical instrument, painting or dancing. Photography is the only art that I can think off where this is not important.
Anyone who observed a photographer may rightfully note that this is not completely true. The way a photographer approaches the subject, walks around it, moves around trying to setup a tripod, find the best angle is like watching a dancer move. If you’ve been in photography for a while you’ve may noticed that your body got trained to move fluidly and efficiently.
Being the most accessible art it is often confused with being the easiest one. I think that’s what all the companies, many photo magazines, etc are trying to convince you in. You just need to spend a bunch of money on gear, classes and workshops and (voilà!) you have a dream career – traveling around the world and photographing the most interesting places.
Everyone around photography tries to sell you more gear. Let’s look at “Outdoor Photographer”, for example. Enjoying outdoor photography myself I thought that this would be an interesting magazine. What I found though is that it was not about photography – it was about equipment. At some point I decided to get rid of extra pages with advertising, equipment reviews and pages on how to use particular brand of equipment or software. What was left in the end were 2-4 pages per magazine. Even those pages were half covered in advertisement. The conclusion that I’ve arrived to that even with its cheap subscription, the magazine was not worth it. It was not worth my time. (If you know of any magazine about color landscape photography, I’m open for suggestions.)
In the end looks like more and more companies jumping on this “more photography [equipment] for everyone” advertising train. In the end everyone makes money off photography excepts photographers themselves.
My suggestion to those who want to try photography is to start with some cheap camera and a cheap lenses (or maybe camera with built-in lenses). It will serve you good to learn if photography is for you, what you like in photography and what you’ll need. I know quite a few photographers that find out that that first camera is all that they need and do great shots with it.