Musings on Photography

Print Size/Small Prints/Print Pricing

Posted in digital printing, print pricing by Paul Butzi on March 9, 2008

Well, I had pretty much decided that I wasn’t going to do small prints any more. And then I read Oren’s comments, and of course, as Oren’s comments always do, the comments set me thinking about the merits of small prints.

You can hold them in your lap and look at them. You can put them in smaller spots on walls. You can have a bunch of them in a smallish box – a nice little collection you can take out and look at when you please. I’m not a big fan of small prints myself but I can easily see the appeal – especially the appeal of that small boxed collection of prints you take out now and then. I’m also not unaware that most of these small print properties are shared with books, which are sort of permanently organized collections of small prints. Maybe my small print offerings will all be books. Hmm.

So I don’t know. Maybe I’m adding some smaller print size (smaller than 10″x15″)) back into the mix. How small? I don’t know. How many sizes? I don’t know. I’m still thinking.

In part, part of my resistance to small prints has been that when people inquire about ‘smaller’ I find that what they’re really asking about is ‘cheaper’. But here’s my twist – I’m no longer going to price by the square foot. Instead, my prices are going to be flat across print size. That is, I’m going to net the same profit from each print, regardless of size. I’m trying to keep print costs down, and I’ve got solid figures on the cost of goods sold. As I’ve said before, I’m curious whether lower print prices will produce larger volumes, and so I’m going to try an experiment and see.

Anyway, the difference in COGS between a 10″x15″ print and a 20″x30″ print is just not that large – about $15. My prices will reflect exactly that difference. There are a few differences between selling a 10″x15″ print and a 20″x30″- one takes longer to print, one costs more to ship. But my goal remains to net the same profit from a sale, regardless of whether it’s a big print or a small print. And given that the price difference between a small print and a large print will be small, I’m wondering “if all prints are the same price, what size will people choose?” The largest, perhaps, because they feel like they’re getting a better deal. Or the size that fits best over their sofa, or the size that matches the refrigerator door with room for the tape holding it up.

It’s all still a confused jumble of thoughts, it seems. Still remaining is deciding what to do about the printing service I offer and what those prices should look like relative to the cost of prints of my own images.

But I do seem to be making some progress on some sort of coherent pricing scheme, with the prices set much much lower than the accepted standards.

4 Responses

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  1. Rosie Perera said, on March 9, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    > when people inquire about ’smaller’ I find that what they’re really asking about is ‘cheaper’.

    Not necessarily. Some people simply would feel overwhelmed by a large piece of art in their home, as they’ve never tried it before to get used to it. And others truly don’t have the wall space. I have experienced both of those reasons simultaneously myself. The first “real art” I ever bought was a pair of framed water colors about 8×8″ each, by a local artist. In my case it wasn’t because I couldn’t afford more expensive art. It was just I was trying on this new thing of buying art for my home as a newbie and wanted to take baby steps. I was living in a smallish apartment at the time and really didn’t have much wall space (every blank wall was taken up by bookcases, so I only had a couple of small spaces between a window and a door). As I began to develop my taste in art, I began to take more risks to buy larger pieces. But it takes a while to get to that point, and you don’t want to get something huge or put a lot of money into a work of art until you’ve gotten your feet wet a bit with smaller investments.

    So doesn’t it make sense for a photographer to produce smaller prints for entry level art appreciators to be able to buy?

  2. mcananeya said, on March 10, 2008 at 12:34 pm


    Having bought a few pictures in the past, I have learned that when it comes to print sizes, it pays to listen to the photographer’s opinion. Accordingly, I think that nomatter how many print sizes you offer, you should indicate which size you recommend (and why).

    Best regards,

  3. My Camera World said, on March 11, 2008 at 7:42 am

    A very good friend of mine wanted to use 10 of my images to make set of blank inside greeting cards (5x7in) to give as Christmas presents.

    Since we had been friends for over 40 years and they let me use the very rural landscape for shooting it was easy to let them use the images.

    I found out that one of the recipients has mounted 3 of the cards in frames.

    Some do like the smaller sizes.

    Niels Henriksen

  4. John Setzler said, on March 11, 2008 at 9:45 am

    I like small prints too. For my own personal use, I prefer to frame smaller prints. I like the look and feel of a 4×6 or 5×7 print matted with bottom-weighting in an 11-14 mat/frame. Sometimes I’ll go with a 6×9 with even mat borders in the 11×14 mat as well. These smaller configurations also give me the opportunity to hang more of my own pieces without consuming too much wall space. When I collect prints from other photographers, I also prefer to get smaller prints and display them the same way…

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