Why You Need to Stop Selling Photographic Prints Now

Why You Need to Stop Selling Photographic Prints Now

The photography world has changed a lot over the last number of years.  And, to be frank, I am surprised with all the photographers still selling prints.  To be sure, I have come to the absolute conclusion that if you want to thrive in this business you must end the practice of selling prints immediately.  

A couple weeks ago, I posted an image (sorry, taken with my phone) of me standing next to a 6 foot tall portrait (almost 8 feet with the frame) in my Palm Beach studio.   

After posting the image I was surprised by how many comments I got that went something like this:

“What size is that print?”

“Where can I get a print that size made?”

“How much does a print like that cost?”

Almost every comment used the word “print.”   And honestly, I did not even know it was possible to thrive as a photographer anymore selling “prints.”   To be sure, I have not sold prints since about 1990.  It’s not that the word offends me…I am far from being politically correct in my usage of photography vocabulary…but rather it is what it implies.  

A print to me does not come off as a work of art.   A print does not sound like what I would pay thousands of dollars for.   A print sounds like what the average person does.  A print sounds like what I would maybe go to Costco and have…well…“printed.”

So if I am not selling “prints” what am I selling?  

To me, and how I convey to my clients is something like the following: 

I am providing a beautiful image that I have captured and rendered entirely as a painting by one of the most talented artist in the country and applied to museum quality archival canvas which is  rated for 200 years.  We then additionally apply oil paint on top to awaken the highlights and further bring out more dramatic details.  The portrait is then sealed with a protective glaze that further protects the artistry and adds even more dimension to the overall art piece.

Now does that sound like a “print” to you?  Can you see the difference?   As long as you see a “print” instead of beautiful artistry preserved on museum quality canvas enhanced by oils, etc., etc., etc., than you are completely missing what I am selling my clients:  We are not selling them “prints.”…We are selling them beautiful art using the best artistic methods that is hard to find anywhere else.  As a result, our portraits sell from $3000. to $50,000. (the size shown in this article is 50k).   

Now, I am not saying you have to do this kind of work.  In fact, I would rather you didn’t.  BUT…you should do something other than “prints.”  Making prints are what the struggling, part-time, or glorified hobby photographers do.   You won’t be able to stand out in the sea of photographers doing what everyone else does.   

Wether you capture your art on canvas, metal (the picture at the top pf this page would be striking on high gloss metal), glass or something else, just be different.  Create a style that is more than just a print.   Be unique.  Stop selling prints which is just one step up the ladder from the practice of selling digital images.  If you want to sell your work for more than what everyone else does, don’t complain about a flood of cheap photographers, but rather up your game.  Offer something that they don’t.  Create something that stands out, is memorable and that people are willing to pay a premium for.

I have sold over 25 million dollars of portraits in my career.   Not because I started a studio in a wealthy area or any of the other reasons people might give, but rather because I found a way to offer a product that was unique, upscale, and more of an art piece than photographic print. 

Hey, if you liked this article, please consider sharing on facebook.  Also make sure to “like” our page.   My next article will be all about pricing your work.

About Bradford:

The Million Dollar Photographer Blog is for people who aspire to earn 1 million dollars a year or more in photography by learning how to run their photography business as a business.   It is the name I call the “blog," NOT myself.  I started my portrait studio in 1988.  Went Bankrupt in 1990.  Worked 4 jobs (including a 800 person newspaper route for the L.A. Times in the middle of the night, and telemarketing during the evening) to build my studio dream back up.   My studio put me into poverty in the beginning, but earned me over 25 million dollars (most of that within the last 8 years) once I learned the right formula.   I have gone from working 6 days a week to working 6 days a month earning millions of dollars a year as a photographer.   I have 4 wonderful children and an amazing beautiful wife who is my best friend and greatest soulmate.  We pretty much can’t stand to be apart from each other!   I love to travel, enjoying God’s beauty around the world and the freedom my photography business allows me in doing that.

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