Photography Prints & The Digital Age
From March 21st Revue Post
I recently found myself once again trying to setup a way to sell my photography prints. As the years had gone by, it had gotten increasingly difficult to sell prints, so I had all but given up on it until now. But, I was brainstorming ways to increase my income, and it dawned on me that I can't sell a print if I don't first offer it up for sale. Duh! So yeah, I began revamping my print site and looking into other ways to sell prints.
But, it has become a tedious task; this selling of prints. Print shops that I have used in the past are closing, citing low demand for prints as their main reason to do so. The sad reality is that nobody prints anything anymore. Photos are taken, and they never come off your phone. You take images for clients, and all they want are the digital copies so they can post them online. It's like the art of printing an image and displaying it is becoming extinct. The low demand for prints is driving up the costs for print shops, and they are shutting their doors, or being forced to pass that cost onto its customers. Which in turn means I'd have to pass on some of that cost to my customers. At which point you have to ask, is it worth it?
There are of course other options. You can setup your print shop with a portfolio website that also handles print fulfillment (That is what I currently have Here!). I setup my shop, add my photos, pick the prints I want to make available, connect it to my website, and they do all the rest. Including taking a nice commission on top of it all. Sounds ok in theory, but this method can backfire in that you don't get to see and inspect your prints before they get into the hands of your customers. If you're using a reputable service with great image quality (always order some sample prints ahead of time) this shouldn't be a problem. But be picky about this when choosing a service!
You can also opt to put your prints on print fulfillment sites such as Fine Art America, Society6, and Redbubble. I've tried these in the past and looked into them again recently, but I'm not sold on this option. I suppose FAA is the best of the three, as it gives you more print sizes & type options, but they are all lacking in customization and don't look professional. Their number one products are t-shirts & mugs, so it feels as if prints are an afterthought.
Another option everyone seems to like is Etsy. You can build a storefront there and sell anything really, but everything is self-fulfilled (The same as if you sold prints from your website) and you're back to paying ridiculous print shop prices (or spending thousands on your own photo printer setup) and you still have to package & ship the prints. Have you priced out shipping a print lately? It's absolutely ridiculous! So you either have to price your print to absorb some of the ridiculously high shipping & handling costs or you have to charge your customer that fee, neither seem an ideal solution.
Add to that the opinion that some hold that even if you set yourself up just right with a great website and print solution, you still have to drive your everyday audience INSANE with your constant (daily or multiple times a day) advertising of your "products & services." To the point where they mute you or worse yet, unfollow you. I refuse to be that person! I'm not going to beg anyone to buy my prints, nor am I going to try to alienate my followers with nagging sales pitches. Not to begrudge those who do that, as it's your hustle & not mine, I just don't operate that way.
Anyway, I find myself a bit sad that this is the way it is all going. It makes me miss the days of film when you had to order prints just to see what you got. It also makes me sad for the artists out there that now feel as if the only way they can sell their art and make a living is through schemes such as NFTs, and don't even get me started on NFTs.
So... do you sell prints of your photography? What method or methods do you use? Let me know in the comments! Until next time, be loving, be kind, be better!