I saw a Great Blue Heron for the first time in the Halifax Public Gardens today. It's unusual to see them this close to people and in the middle of the city! He/she seemed like a young one, had a good feed of carp and then settled down to grooming.
Marketing Fine Art Photography. Alain Briot. Santa Barbara: Rocky Nook, Inc. First Edition. 2011. 313 pages.
Alain Briot is a successful contemporary landscape photographer who has published four books, lives and teaches workshops in Arizona and provides mentoring, audio-visual tools and tutorials. He studied drawing and painting at the Académie Nationale des Beaux Art in Paris. He went on to study photography at the American Center in Paris and completed his Masters degree in Visual Communication at Northern Arizona University in the USA.
The goal of the book is to teach how to sell your work and operate a successful fine art photography business. It starts with the old maxim of "if you don't market your work, one thing will happen - nothing". Briot openly shares his marketing system derived from lessons learned from the successes and failures of 20 years of trial and error as a fine art photographer. He takes a very complicated and difficult subject and breaks it down step by step with clear explanations of why it works for him and why you should try it. He identifies the key personal skills required for success and includes "Skill Enhancement Exercises" at the end of most chapters.
Topics covered include:
Defining and selling fine art photography, taking control of your destiny
Pros and cons of wholesale, retail and consignment
What to sell - prints and related products such as cards, portfolios, books, DVDs, calendars, posters, etc.
Where to sell and what works
Pricing based on expected sales volume, actual costs, leverage and reputation
The Best Seller Creation Process
The Fundamentals of Marketing, Salesmanship and the Business of Art
Show Booth Layouts
Warranties and Unique Selling Points
Briot provides useful, tried and proven marketing techniques from the perspective of a fine art photographer who earns a very comfortable income from the sale of his prints. Here are some highlights of his key tips:
- concentrate on quality rather than quantity, do not compromise on quality,
- offer something unique not mass produced, develop your own personal style,
- don't expect your work to sell itself,
- to be successful you need to spend 50% of your time on your photography and 50%
- always factor in your time as a cost,
- know, understand and apply the 80/20 Rule - 80% of your profits come from 20% of your
efforts, the sooner you find out what that 20% is the sooner you will achieve business success,
- limit your choice of products to a manageable few such as 3 or 4 prints sizes, 2 or 3
framing options, and 1 or 2 matting options,
- don't undercut your pricing in order "to make a name for yourself" or "to get your name out there",
if buyers or collectors come to you because of price, they will leave you because of price,
- charge the same prices for sales made by yourself, through galleries and other venues,
- use sound marketing techniques and focus on making a name for yourself as an artist
who offers high quality work in small quantities.
- gear, materials and technique do not sell photographs - beauty, emotional impact, personal vision,
and meaningfulness do.
Marketing Fine Art Photography is a very well written, practical book liberally sprinkled with the author's best selling photographic images of the Navajo Lands, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Grand Canyon, the Sonoran Desert and Antelope Canyon. This is a great book to gain a sense of what it takes to get a serious start on marketing your work. One thing that is missing, that would be helpful to complement the expanded Table of Contents, is an Index. The book will make you think about all the important things required to successfully market fine art photography and assist you in making decisions from the broader considerations to the finer details. It encourages you to act to improve your own practice. Briot soothes, comforts and counsels us (as artists) to build our confidence and overcome our aversion to selling.