Musings on Photography

Print Sales

Posted in print pricing by Paul Butzi on January 7, 2010


It’s a new year. In particular, it’s approaching the middle of January, and here in Washington State, that means I need to file the Business and Occupation tax for the photo business I have. I’ve been putting it off, but it won’t take long. I go online, log in to the web site for the Secretary of State, go to the business section, and fill out my quarterly filing by checking the box for ‘no business activity’. Amazingly, the fact that I have made NO money means that I owe no tax, and thus I’m done for another three months.

And the reason I’ve done no business is that some time ago, along with the decision to not teach classes or workshops for money, and the decision to not do printing for other folks in exchange for money, I made the decision to stop selling prints. It’s not that there was no demand – I’ve been selling a small number of prints each year. I’ve sold enough prints to pay for the printers I print them on and the cameras I take them with, with the result that my photo activity has been breaking even. But the amount of money wasn’t worth it.

So instead of selling prints, I’ve got a new policy. If someone wants a print, I’ll happily discuss various arrangements. If I like their photography, maybe we could swap prints. Or I might give them a print in exchange for them making a contribution to some charity. Or, perhaps, if I am in just the right mood, I’ll just give them a print, free.

I mean, why not? It’s not like my costs are large. It’s not like it takes me a lot of time to make another print if I’ve already made one. If I can make the world a nicer place by giving away prints, why not do it?

One Response

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  1. My Camera World said, on January 7, 2010 at 11:17 am

    I like making art, both photographs and now paintings.

    I really don’t want to charge for them. Good friends and family who truly like an item get it for free.

    I like people to understand the value of my work, not in monetary terms, but in the creativity, love and effort that goes into making a print.

    Unfortunately, most people only understand value in terms of a monetary amount.

    The more it costs the more value it must have, which I don’t believe is the right equation but the vast majority on consumers believe it.

    If I were sell a print for $5.00 then I think most buyers only place a $5.00 or less value on it (don’t we all overcharge anyway) and therefore to them the print may seem more like a poster and somewhat disposable.

    If I charge $300, then buyers would recognize, only by monetary standards, it as having greater value and they would treasure it more.

    And yet if this were the same print in both cases I suspect the buyers would treat each according to its monetary value, not the real worth to them in emotions and story if I managed to convey this.

    I don’t find the same mentality with paintings.

    I want people to enjoy my art works and at least hang (pun) on to it for a while.

    Luckily I don’t need to make a living from what I enjoy.

    Niels Henriksen

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