Thursday, January 20, 2011

Price Yourself to Compete! Print Pricing Guide.

As an event photographers we are up against constant competition from new "photographers" entering the arena. Anyone with a camera can call themselves a photographer, no special education, certification, training or equipment is needed to have the tag "Professional Photographer".

A true Professional is one that sets himself (herself) apart from the professionals both in terms of service, performance and products offered.

To many good photographers have given up on offering any of the things listed above out of frustration and have given into the pressure of offering a commodity rather than a service and a product.

Commodities fluctuate in value while services and products maintain a more stable value.

That being said we as photographers must also adapt to the times in order to survive.

The days of charging $6.00 or more for a 4x6" print are over. Be realistic in your pricing, remember that your "client" can just as easily order a .19 cent 4x6" print off of aunt Betty's Flicker account as they can from you.

In addition to single prints I suggest offering an actual wedding or event album with real prints just like was done in the old days. Nothing beats the look and feel of a real album with high quality prints and pages. Have different options available at different price points. Price these to sell, figure your album cost, print cost and multiply by between 3 and 4 times to cover your labor for assembly.

Single prints are normally sold at 4 - 5 times cost.

For single prints I suggest charging as follows:

4x6" $ 1.29 - 1.99 each (cost .29)
5x7" $ 3.99 - 5.99 each (cost .99)
8x10/12" $ 8.99 - 12.99 each (cost 1.99)
11x14/17" $ 12.99 - 19.99 each (cost 3.99)
16x20/24" $ 34.99 - 49.99 each (cost 9.99)

When ordering prints use Fuji Crystal Archive Lustre Type PD paper for your clients prints. It is a rich, slightly textured paper with a "professional DO NOT COPY" watermark on the back of the print. The look and feel are not something that can be duplicated by consumer labs.

Know your costs on all associated products so you can negotiate packages with clients on the fly. If someone is waffling on buying in offer them a "special", throw in an enlargement, a framed print, anything to seal the deal.

I always stocked up on "wedding" style frames at frame sales, Big Lots, and the like, showing a bride her special day as a finished product rather than handing her a CD is giving her service and a tangible product rather than a commodity.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hanging a show on a budget. Tips on how to save.

For many of us hanging a "gallery" show is an exciting prospect.

We either contact a local venue or better yet they contact us in regards to hanging some work. Whether it is your first time or you are a seasoned member of the show scene there are a few things you can do to save on expenses.

( image from: )

Here are some tips:


The key to saving money is planning and leaving yourself plenty of time to prepare and produce the finished products you will be hanging.

All too often I have people contact me days before an opening needing their prints in a rush. While I don't charge rush fees for my services (I also cannot guarantee them do to my limited lab schedule) many labs do, often a 100 - 200% mark-up over their standard prices, this plus the added expense of expedited shipping.

Then there are rush fees for matting, framing, etc.

Waiting too long can easily quadrouple the cost of preparing a show.

Leave yourself 4 -6 weeks if possible.

Know your venue

Having an idea of the space you'll be working with will help you select the right products to hang.

Are you preparing for a show you have not yet arranged or do you already have a place and date set?

A lobby in a small coffee shop may not accomodate those 16x20" prints you would like to put up, and a bunch of 5x7" images could be swallowed up a wall in an actual gallery.

"Standard" sizes are your friend

Standard sized prints and frames cost far less than custom sizes.

The most common sizes for both prints and frames are 8 x 10", 11 x 14" and 16 x 20". Because of these sizes are manufactured in bulk they cost far less than custom.

If you are on a budget sticking to these sizes will save you a bundle.

"My images don't fit those sizes!". Fine, create a standard size canvas in Photoshop and drop your image onto it. A 16 x 20" white canvas can accomodate image sizes from 3 x 4" up to 11 x 14" and look very elegant. In the same vane a 3:2 aspect ratio 6 x 9" or 8 x 12" image can be dropped onto an 11 x 14" will save you the added expense of buying 8 x 12", 12 x 18" or 16 x 24" frames.

Uniform print/canvas sizes save $$$

Prints for the most part are cheap. Frames, mats and finishing service are much more expensive.

You will have more leverage in negotiating frame and mat prices.

For example if you tell your framer you'll be needing 10 - 16 x 20" frames and 10 mats with an outside size of 16 x 20" and a opening of 10.5 x 13.5" he/she should be able to offer you a better price.

Random tips on how to save

Stock up on frames and mats when they are on sale.

Order all of your prints at one time to save on shipping.

Skip mats and print smaller images on larger canvases. For example a 11 x 14 printed on a 16 x 20 sheet of paper is $9.99 (my price) in comparison an 11 x 14" print with a 16 x 20" mat is approximately $16 -20 ($4.00 for the print and $12 - 16 for the mat). If using this option try to get some spacers for your frames so the print isn't touching the glass.

Probably the best bargain in terms of prints and frames is 11 x 14". Once you get to that 16 x 20" size costs triple.

Of course this is by no means the definitive list of "how to hang a show" but I hope some of you will find it helpful.

If anyone has any other tips it would be greatly appreciated if you would post them here also.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Aspect ratio issues plague many photographers

Aspect ratio issues plague many photographers, new and seasoned.

There are photographers I work with that have been shooting for years that still demand an uncropped 8x10 or 11x14 from a 3:2 aspect ratio file all of the time and they still don't get that it can't be done without cropping or distorting the image.

This diagram shows the amount of an image that is lost from a 3:2 aspect ratio sensor when making "standard" sized enlargements.

I enlarge hundreds of photographs a week for clients and the majority are not to the correct aspect ratio. Some can be cropped without impacting the image others can't, in those cases I add black or white borders as needed to keep the original impact of the image.

Current 3:2 aspect ratio cameras (95% or more of all SLR's, see last paragraph) print to 4x6, 6x9 (if your lab offers it), 8x12, 12x18, 16x24 & 20x30 without cropping. Any other size including 5x7, 8x10 and 11x14 require cropping or another form of layout if you want to print full bleed (image all the way to the edge of the paper).

Personally I prefer the look of full bleed over bordered prints and usually suggest adding including an additional 20 - 25% around a subject while shooting for later cropping.

This information is less important when using a 4:3 aspect ratio camera or a point and shoot as the crop will be far less dramatic. The exception is when printing 4x6" photos, 4:3 ratio cameras would print a 4.5x6" so you are going to lose 1/2" from somewhere when making "standard" print from your Canon G11 or Olympus E-620.

Blue Cube Imaging comes to the blogosphere

Today is the launch of Blue Cube Imaging's blog.

The content of course will be based primarily on photography, although I may occasionally sneak an off topic post in.

The information posted here will be based on my direct experiences as well as answers to questions asked directly of me and questions posted in open forums that I feel might benefit readers of this blog.

Off we go!