To sell or not to sell, and other questions

Grass is greener_SmWhen you create art, whether that be a photograph, fine art print, digital art, painting, sculpture, clothing, poetry even………..etc. Do we do it to fulfil our own internal desire for creation, or do we create to fulfil our desire to be acknowledged? Sensitive subject, true, but let’s be honest most of us get a real kick out of everyone telling us that piece is amazing; don’t we?

I mostly create art for the fun of it, not every piece of it is that great. The ones I really hate never see the light of day, and I guess that is normal. Sometimes, the ones I am not sure about I offer up for Constructive Criticism by peers. Every now and then I create something I am so inspired by, I can’t wait to show everyone, anyone. I mostly started doing portraits as a way to learn, then because I truly enjoy taking portraits. I started a portrait studio as a way to make a bit of money to buy more gear, each sitting I did I bought new stuff; lenses, backdrops, props, lighting, speedlights etc.One of the courses I am doing states that if you create something, anything then you are an artist, whether it is sold commercially or not. I create, therefore I am.

Message in a bottle

If it’s good enough to get published (So far I have had two pieces published in Photo Artistic Life Magazine), is it good enough to sell commercially? And if it is good enough, where or what to sell? There is the likes or Zazzle and RedBubble where your work can be printed on T-Shirts, Phone cases and gift cards. Or do you stick to your guns and only sell prints? Where do you sell them? I know of some photographers who print heaps of images and sell at markets, but that involves a cash layout and quite a bit of time, with no guaranteed results. Selling online does not guarantee results either, but it is less time consuming, open to a potentially larger audience and does not require large financial outlay.

Perhaps I am overreaching, there are various different camera clubs, groups and associate member groups for advice, mentoring and peers; AIPP (Accredited Professional Photographer), for instance. I have deemed 2016 the year of learning and have already come so far, between the Photoshop Artistry, Creative B&W and Awake Courses. I have also enrolled in a University Certificate in Photography program. Does this mean I should not endeavour to sell my digital art? Because I am still really learning my art? Do we ever truly stop learning? Or will that give me an outlet and incentive to create more?

Artistic Self

I am not kidding myself here either, there is no real money in art for most of us; very few hit the jackpot. Many of us can achieve respect and recognition, but very few make enough money to life on. I don’t see myself as being the exception to the rule, but if I can make a little to help pay for my hobby, then isn’t that realistic? Or is selling a means to keep score? The more people buy your art the more they like it? Or is it only selling because it is quirky? I have seen art I believe to be absolute rubbish, but people pay exorbitant amounts of money for it, and others which were so beautiful I felt like weeping, as they sold for almost nothing.

Which then brings on the question, how much is too much? A piece of art is only worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it, but HOW do you know? There is a supposedly simple formula to work out how much it cost; time x material costs x production costs x 2 or 5 or whatever (well something like that). How much do I charge for labour? $10 an hour, $100 an hour. Working on that theory a 1 hour photo shoot, with a 2 hour edit time, and 1/2 hour set up, (at $50 an hour), 20 6×4 images (@ $0.15 cents each), a USB Stick (@$5.00 each), maybe throw in $5.00 for electricity and PC usage etc. and I am at $188.00 and I usually charge $100.00 for a 1 hour shoot (plus more for travel and larger photo sizes). So I am already behind in the rent. There are people out there charges $50.00 for basic shoots (under cutting everybody) and people complaining I am undercutting them. And that is just for Portrait sittings, not works of art! If you truly ask for much more than that, you don’t get any work. Most people are happy with the snapshots off their smart phone and don’t want proper portraits.I used to offer free sitting to build my port folio, now I am charger slightly more with gradually increasing recognition.

Many artists work on a theme, a single subject, a catalogue or gallery of sorts, most of my art does centre around the beach and people, but not all. Many have a fantasy element, and are often dark and moody. Perhaps I should strife to make a themed exhibit……….B&W body imagery? Light and shadow and shapes? I’m just not sure what. Or is this perhaps because I am still on my journey I don’t have a ‘THING’ as yet?

Well I think I have babbled on enough on this topic……..what are your thoughts, do you sell, if yes where? Do you create just for you? Do you participate in any peer groups or Affiliate Programs in your State or Country? Drop me a line, I’d love to hear



19 thoughts on “To sell or not to sell, and other questions

  1. I often get “These are great! You should try selling them!”

    My next words are “Do you want to buy one?”

    Their answer is always “Me? Oh, no. I meant, sell them to someone else.”

    The selling market is way too competitive unless you have a name or get a lucky break. Don’t know how it is over there.

    At one time I had all sorts of ideas for monetizing my hobby, but it’s a lot of work for not much money. The only people I see making a living at it have a collateral industry like selling a product or a service like teaching others.

    BTW, the estimated number of photos uploaded PER DAY just on Flickr is TWO MILLION. That’s 720M photos per year on just one service, and most of them are pretty good. It’s getting so most people can take decent photos.

    Here’s an interesting article (notice the statement “mid level photographers are extraordinarily talented):

    Liked by 1 person

    • exactly my point, I was (at least attempting to get too) lol. Is it worth the effort to even try commercially or just do what you want for your self? The funny thing is I am by trade a graphic artist, but my commercial work stuff is soooooooooooo very boring I never really get to create anything fun for work, just for me and a very limited number of clients. I don’t really do weddings………..a lot of hard work, studio shoots are much easier. But thanks for the link, good read.


  2. Pingback: To sell or not to sell, and other questions | Julie Powell – Photographer & Graphic Artist – Windlight Magazine

  3. I too love it if someone says wow I love it!! or if someone reads one of my stories I’m thrilled! But of course we are driven to create by an inner vision! At least that is how I feel. – And I love your visions Julie! Your graphic art is inspiring. I’d like to try it!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The two things I am passionate about: photography and writing are up there with the worse ways to make money. I did have a photo studio gig for a few years and LOVED that job. I miss it to much. However, when I got divorced and got offered a steady paying government job, I would have been a fool to not take it. So, I started blogging to fill my passions. (And I still get to do those things for the Army Reserve.) I can’t say I have made any money from writing in the civilian world, but I have made some extra cash in photography doing some weddings, portraits and group pictures. More often than not though, people just expect those things for free. And I find it hard to tell them no at times. Yet, I would never ask them to do their work for me for free. So it’s a fine line between doing things for friends and being taken advantage. I will say, that I edit paying customers pictures way faster than I do the freebies. That should be a given though. Yet, I feel the NEED to create and expand my skills. There are so many talented people out there so the competition is crazy! I really like the community not competition environment I see on Instagram and WordPress. I wish I saw that in my actual community, but I guess they are afraid to connect.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I sell but not much. I think you’d sell more. I find prices by checking out others and what they sell for. I’m thinking of reducing my prices yet again. I don’t really care if I sell because like you said I do it for fun. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

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