Complete_clueless_beginner_filter - Selling/marketing your photography: how? Edition...
November 21, 2012 9:55 PM   Subscribe

Selling your amateur snaps... how did you do it?

So I've recently been trying to make a habit of taking photos, because after leaving the UK I realised we didn't have any pictures of the place we'd lived in for ten years. So for the last 3 weeks I've been trying to take a picture every day. I use my husband's Cannon 500D and mess around with the raw files on photoshop before transferring it to Instagram, where I sometimes put one of their filters on and then share it with friends and family.

Everyone is really happy with the pics, and I'm happy with them and think they're OK, but some people are suggesting I could sell them. Firstly, I'm not sure they're good enough to charge someone else for, and secondly I would have no idea how to do that. I know I could probably put up and etsy shop (you can sell anything you like on there and quality isn't always an impediment so long as people like what you offer) but beyond that I'm lost. How to market them to appeal to a wide audience is another concern.

Has anyone out there sold their amateur pics, and if so how did you go about it? Do you frame them too?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
posted by everydayanewday to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Mod note: Link removed. Everydayanewday, you can add a link to your images in your profile, thanks.
posted by taz (staff) at 10:09 PM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Vivienne Gucwa is a NY photographer who wrote a blog post about this.
to quote "However, with over 1 million followers on Google Plus, over 175,000 subscribers on Facebook and a photography blog followed by 65,000 people on Tumblr (all places where I interact heavily with my own posts and other people's posts because I truly love engaging with people online), I haven't been able to crack the secret code of online marketing that would somehow turn my photography career into something that is profitable."

One of the venues she uses to sell her work is Smugmug.
posted by Sophont at 10:20 PM on November 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: My sincere apologies taz (don't want to break rules). Will do so now.
posted by everydayanewday at 10:24 PM on November 21, 2012

A talented amateur photographer friend paired up with another friend and they sold framed b&w photos at a booth at a street fair, splitting the booth rent. This was in San Francisco. And they framed some of the prints, but simply. Others were matted/wrapped and stacked in a box you could flip through. Do you live or visit anywhere that supports street fairs, artist co-ops, or festivals?
posted by mochapickle at 10:25 PM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: My photos can be found on my flickr profile in the 'Instagram Pics' set. I do live near markets etc but have just missed all the major xmas ones. Erk.
posted by everydayanewday at 10:26 PM on November 21, 2012

Best answer: Firstly, I'm not sure they're good enough to charge someone else for:
I can't tell if you're thinking about doing this in a semi-serious way (or not) and I don't know what your training is (if any) so I'm not sure how much feedback you really want in response to this question. All I'll say is that 1) It's super competitive out there 2) It can be done 3) When I was working on my BFA at a private university for the arts I shot a ROLL a day. There's a lot to learn, and a lot of people working really really hard at this. Whether or not this is a problem depends on what your expectations are, how you define success, how passionate you are, etc... You are more than welcome to memail me if you have questions.

There's no quality police. You charge, people buy or they don't. You're not forcing your work on anybody... so there's no harm in trying.... throw some pics up on Etsy and see what happens - if you make a few bucks great! If not, you're no worse off than before. Let the friends telling you to sell them do your marking for you - give them your shop address and tell them to spread the love. Find some other photographers you like on Etsy or similar and see what they're charging... I think most people just sell the photo and mail it with a good stiff piece of cardboard to protect it; may offer framing as optional (?).

secondly I would have no idea how to do that.
I think a really good example of an amateur photographer making a good go of it and having some satisfying success is Abby Try Again. She's shut down shop since having a baby, but check out her blog/flickr/etc. Her shop is still "up" - so you can see what she's charging. I think PaulChen is a really amazing amateur (yes, amateur) photographer, as is Tomilym. Good luck!!!
posted by jrobin276 at 11:20 PM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Basically you just need to go for it. Set up your Etsy shop set up a good printer and get going. Next check with local coffee shops or bars and see if you can hang your work there. Make up postcards to leave with your works that directs people to your etsy shop.

Will you make money doing it? I've tried. I now work in a different field of photography and can tell you the 'art' photo world perplexed me. I know one thing though. People buying from 'amateurs' (ie not from gallery shows) tend to prefer smaller works, nothing that will dominate a wall, but rather something that will add to the already established look of a room. So keep that in mind and also watch your prices. Framing and matting prints on your own is labor intensive and it's easy to get carried away pricing them once you have done all that work.

Another option is making thank you cards, and post cards and selling those.
posted by WickedPissah at 5:26 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You will probably have a lot more success locally, selling prints where people can pick them up and take them home, than online. It's far too easy for people to just browse through photos online, where there is a lot of competition.

Craft fairs, sidewalk fairs (they have lots of festivals in my suburban home town, and a few photographers do really well there), local galleries. Heck, I've bought prints from coffee shops that feature a rotating set of local artists.
posted by xingcat at 5:59 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

My sister-in-law sells prints of her photos on Etsy.
posted by blue_beetle at 6:04 AM on November 22, 2012

Find a way to cheaply mat and frame the pics. Sell them at street fairs, art shows, etc. Where I live, several restaurants will hang framed art on their walls with price tags so that patrons can buy things that catch their eye. A local bakery has a monthly art show where they stay open after hours and do kind of like a gallery opening. For the remainder of the month the art stays up in the shop, then another artist gets their stuff in there the next month. It seems like photographers get in as frequently as artists.
posted by Doohickie at 11:17 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

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