How do prints work?

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by Lycanimanomaly, Aug 16, 2006.

  1. Lycanimanomaly

    Lycanimanomaly TPF Noob!

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    I know it's an amateur question but I haven't quite learned how people actually make money in photography. As far as I can tell the photographer orders prints of his photographs from a printing company and then...somehow they make money using the prints? i'm confused.

    I guess the question i'm asking is how does one make freelance money with photography?
     
  2. fotogenik

    fotogenik TPF Noob!

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    The best way I can describe it, and this is not really from a freelance perspective, is this. I don't print images until I have an order for them.

    I sell an 8x10 for $20 but it actually costs me $5.99 to print (if I print it at the local lab). THe profit I make is the difference between the sell price and the cost, after all is said and done I make about $8-$10 per 8x10 print accounting for my time in shooting and post processing.
     
  3. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    It really depends on who you are selling to.

    If you wanted to be a freelance journalistic photographer, you would find things that are interesting or news worthy and sell the images to news papers and/or magazines. They probably don't want prints but rather digital files.

    My inclination is that a lot of professional photographers make money by selling their time (which is actually selling their talent and experience). Think about a wedding or portrait photographer. Sure, it used to be pretty standard to make a lot of their money by selling prints...but with the popularity of digital, some photographers don't sell prints at all....they charge for their time and the digital files.

    Another way to make money is Stock photography.

    I can't remember the names...but there are several books avaliable...about how to make money with photography. Check out Amazon.
     
  4. Lycanimanomaly

    Lycanimanomaly TPF Noob!

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    That's very helpful. Thanks. you rock.
     
  5. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    My freelance business is advertising (at this moment in time). I would like to do freelance editorial, but that is a whole other story. My freelance biz is only on the side because I work full time with the local paper.

    Clients generally ask my hourly rate and we go from there. Some shoots are photograph two paintings and that is it. Digital files are produced and prints are furnished on request. That scenario is rather pricey because I can be in and out in half an hour, but they get the full rate. Mostly I work on projects that produce many photos for the client. At that point we get into email/celly hell and work on a fair price so that everyone benefits.

    I bill anywhere anywhere from 100 dollars to 3,000 dollars. Profit margin is high. None the less some clients are so ridiculous that I end up eating money. I like to say that photography is a tough racket, but it pays well.

    I show my personal work in galleries and restaurants about three times a year. Folks threaten to buy pieces. After all these years that is about as far as it has gone.
     
  6. Lycanimanomaly

    Lycanimanomaly TPF Noob!

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    wow, that's some heavy stuff. so not very many ppl buy your personal work? that's not cool. Do you bill $100 to $3000 for your time or for prints/digital photos or both?
     
  7. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    Hanging my work makes me proud. People seem to enjoy it. Slightly unsettling that no one buys it. They show interest... Long story short. I just like producing photographs.

    My advertising work is mostly my time (that is a whole other story). Digital files and contact sheets. Some 8x10 prints, but that is an extra 20 dollars.

    Keep in mind that what you charge as a photographer is an evolving process. Free to cheap in the beginning. Then the price goes up as you gain experience and yes; gear.
     
  8. Lycanimanomaly

    Lycanimanomaly TPF Noob!

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    good stuff.

    So how'd you get into the advertising business? what qualified you? did u take business courses in college?

    sorry about all the questions. I'm trying to figure out what goals i want to have.
     
  9. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    I went to College (School of Visual Arts) for photography. During that time I hated advertising and we all swore we would never do it. Meanwhile we all assisted advertising photogs. Sadly I had to leave college early. Coincidentally I landed a job with a company shooting Home Fashion. I loved it. We built sets and had tons of huge cameras and lights. Stayed in that field for years and learned a lot. When I moved to WY I was positive I was out of photography forever. Long story short I got a job at the local paper doing ad work. My photography got me in the door.

    The first step is to figure out what kind of work you want to do. There are a lot of different fields of photography. Also closely consider 4 year photography programs. Assist on the side. You will learn a lot fast.
     
  10. blooper

    blooper TPF Noob!

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    indeed, ive also wondered how income is made, especially at the earlier stages when free to cheap is waht you get from shooting.

    doesnt that mean youll be spending more than earning? and for how long will/should this last?
     
  11. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    As a young photog spending more than earning was sort of the norm. I would imagine there are ways around that, but I never figured it out. As you gain experience photography becomes a lot more economical. You can even write off your gear. There is no time frame to income or making a profit. Mostly depends on you and your commitment.
     
  12. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    From what I've seen, you are most likely to make a steady income from weddings, portraits, and commercial studio work, like product shots. Your best way to get started is to assist another photographer to learn the ropes.

    I've sold several pieces of my own personal work over the years, but it's definitely not a steady income. I might make $150-$300 from an image hanging in a show or gallery that sells, but the sales are few and far between. I haven't done many weddings, but my first two made more than all of my art print sales combined.

    If you want to make money as a photographer, it will definitely take an investment; mostly of time. You have to get good to expect to sell anything, especially now when it's even easier to grab yourself a snapshot. You need to stand out from the multitude. Just "nice" won't sell as an art print. People might like to look at it, but not enough to spend money on it. And for commercial work, you need to know your stuff to stand out from everyone else looking for a job.

    This isn't to discourage anyone from making money. I think you can do it with some dedication and time. But I think people shouldn't put effort into it until they've been photographing for a while. Put the energy into the photography instead. I think you'll get better returns.
     

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