Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ten Top Reasons Photographs Sell

As a photographer you can have some of the most beautiful and dramatic photographs. Yet, sales may be slim or not at all. So you may ask yourself, why am I not making sales?

Here are some answers that I have learned through experience.

1. Emotion, emotive, and sentiment: Ask yourself, do your photographs inspire the viewer to connect? The above photograph is named memory lane and has been a good seller for me.

I captioned this photo with a Saul Bellow quote: "Everybody needs his memories. They keep the wolf of insignificance from the door. "

While the title and the quote help set the scene for viewer connection, the photo itself has evoked childhood memories from many.

I have had some viewers and buyers ask where this photograph was taken. They have been sure they have been there, sitting on the wall drinking a soda as a child.

Oddly, they have only visited this place in their memories. I have a color version of this photograph. Although, I think it is a great photo and perhaps better, it does not inspire the same sentiment.
The quotation I used with the color version:

"She glances at the photo, and the pilot light of memory flickers in her eyes." ~Frank Deford

So I wonder, why the sepia version sells and the color version does not? My only guess is that memories are in black and white and people can connect with the sepia version better.

2. Photographs that relate directly to the viewer: Some photographers specialize. If it is Wedding photography, pet photography, or even event photography you have a ready market.

This can be the bread and butter for your craft. One sideline I do is dirt track racing photography. And, because the drivers, sponsors, and fans can directly and emotive connect, I make sales. Plus, there are tons of other perks that I enjoy.

3. Location, Location, Location: The three prime words in Real Estate Sales also applies to photography. Can take good local photographs? If so, you can develop a local market. I do this with the Blue Ridge Parkway and the city where I live, Lynchburg Virginia.

When you take photographs at your location imagine how they would look in a business. Visualizing your photographs hanging on walls is a mental exercise that I do all the time.

4. Is it worthy: Do a self appraisal of your photographs. Would you hang a large version behind your sofa?

And for that matter is one of your photographs being displayed above your sofa?

Your taste may be different from others, but these are pertinent question to ask. Can you compete in the art market place? And if not, decide how you can.

This picture is one of my best sellers and has appeared in National Magazines, such as National Geographic. And it is behind sofas of a select clientele worldwide.

5. Exposure: We are not talking about film exposure here, we are talking about your exposure. Do you do shows, do you exhibit? The more you expose you photographs the more sales you make. You can show your pictures on the Internet, but there is nothing like people seeing your photographs in person. Get out there and expose.

6. Tell your friends: People that have a connection with you are very likely to buy your photographs. There is nothing like a photograph at a friends house. They can tell their friends I know this photographer and he is great. You might even consider gifts to your friends to increase your exposure.

7. Donate your work: Promote your photography by donating your work to institutions and charities. This both lends to reputation and increases your exposure. And, besides this is a good thing to do.

8. Have a beautiful online gallery: I have opted for SmugMug for some very important reasons. I highly recommend SmugMug and I suggest you read why.

9. Show your attributions: Attributions are in essence testimonials about your photographs. I had someone else write mine, because I am shy. Attributions add meaning to your photographs, and suggest other reasons to develop interest in your photographs.

10. Be personable: As a photographer not only do you need to connect with your photographs, but as a person. Many people want a sense of who you are. Let them know you and they will be more apt to buy your photographs. Photographs are visual emotions and the more you can connect the better you will sell.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Top Ten Reasons to Choose SmugMug for your Photo Gallery

If you are considering a professional gallery. There are lots of things to consider. It is not only important to have a snazzy gallery, but it should be easy and quick for potential buyers to navigate through your pictures quickly. In a study performed by PhotoShelter, they surveyed buyers of photographs and found some surprising results. Take the quiz found on the PhotoShelter site and you will be in for an education. For a longer view of the survey and more detailed interpretation here is an hour long video of what photo buyers want. After viewing I decided this is what I needed.

Kudos has to go to PhotoShelter for their savvy questions and their interpretation of the results. And, their implementation of the results on their website. Unfortunately, the cost for a pro account at PhotoShelter is nearly 50 dollars a month. And, there are limits to the amount of storage.

Now, at this point the cost factor enters in. And, you have to decide if you want to pay the piper or try another way. I first had someone design a site for me, and they did a good job. But the needed elements were just to difficult to implement even for a seasoned web designer. In order to be competitive I had to find another solution. And I did, I am wowed by SmugMug.
  • SmugMug will *never* surround our clients' photos with Ads or Pop-ups. We also don't require your visitors to enter an email to view photos.
  • SmugMug has 3 different service levels to meet every type of photographer from soccer mom to fine art photographer.
  • SmugMug answers Help emails within minutes and not days like everyone else.
Now, that is just the beginning of their excellent service. And here are ten reasons for a photographer to have a SmugMug Account.

1. Their motto: "Your Photos Look Better Here," and they really do. You can find my gallery here for a look see. And the cost is a darn lot cheaper than PhotoShelter. I have a pro account and the flexibility of the site and themes are just superb. Everything is easy to customize even if you do not have a great deal of knowledge of CSS. The site is easy to navigate and the customer is in charge of how he wants to view your site.

2. Image protection: With a pro account you can disable right click copying and place watermarks on your photos like the image above. On each page you have a buy this photo with tons of options. Clients can buy prints (many sizes and paper styles), merchandise, and downloads with a simple click. You set the price and determine your own profits.

3. Printing: SmugMug gives the photographer a choice of two excellent printers. If you read through their help indexes you will find the meticulous effort they used to pick who prints the photographs. I am pleased by the printer I have chosen who has human quality control rather than just software output. SmugMug is about quality, and you can see that in every step of their efforts. Choosing SmugMug is like buying the best Swiss time piece.

4. Support: I can safely say their support is the best. I have used it once and had a human answer me within minutes. When they say, talk to real person they mean it. And, if you are a person that likes to fend for themselves their help menus are filled with easy to follow tutorials.

5. Easy Customization: I have been able to make the customizations that I considered essential through their easy customization tool. It is a breeze to use and very easy to understand. You will have your site running the way you like it quickly and efficiently.

6. Client Confidence: Using SmugMug you will instill confidence in your clients. Not only will your photos be elegantly displayed the service they receive is superb. Clients will be impressed by the attention to minute detail in every aspect of their experience on the site. As a professional photographer, you want the service to be professional. And SmugMug delivers.

7. Site Compatibility: Uploading pictures is a breeze, the interface works great. One thing I particular like if you have your photos on another site like Flickr as I do, you can use an available Firefox extension to upload directly from the site. This is quick and easy and saves tons of time. The extensions are available directly from the upload menu.

8. Unlimited Storage: SmugMug offers you unlimited storage and use of your photos. A person like me who has over 2,000 of processed photos this is a godsend.

9. Competitive Cost: SmugMug offers three levels of membership. I have chosen the most expensive option which is $149.50 a year. This is by far one of the best deals on the internet for what you get. Compared to PhotoShelter which is also a great site your cost would run $600 dollars per year. My choice SmugMug has not been a disappointment. Here is a SmugMug coupon that will save you five dollars. 2PY6wBMmDLK56

10. You Get What You Need: I started this post with the PhotoShelter appraisal of what photo clients want. Each item in their appraisal is covered by SmugMug. And, I must say elegantly and with a professional style.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Top Ten Ways to Inspiration Photography

I have packed my bags and ready to go. I have also been stocking up on inspiration. And I thought, I would share my process of being inspired. This is my yoga before going on a two week photo shoot in the National Parks of the Midwest. While there are some tutorials here, most of what is offered is how to build a mind set for inspiration. Enjoy and breath in deeply.





Edward Curtis who impressed me at a young age.


The rule of thirds debated.