March 24, 2017, 08:17:39 PM

Author Topic: Print pricing  (Read 1442 times)

Kit Lens Jockey

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Print pricing
« on: March 20, 2017, 11:12:29 AM »
I'm trying to get a handle on what I should price my prints at. So far, I have been printing 16x24" prints with about 1" borders. They are on luster photo paper, and printed with pigment inks. I've been putting them up in local businesses on the walls. They are in frames. Not custom framing or anything, but the frames are of ok quality. They have glass in them as opposed to the styrene or other stuff you see in a lot of frames that size. I have not been matting them, but rather tucking strips of matting material into the edges of the frame between the print and glass so that the print is still held off of the glass to prevent it from getting stuck as time goes on. I sign all of the prints with a pigment ink pen on the front corner in the border area. Most of the photos are general photos of the city I'm in that I think would appeal to people. But I am going to great lengths to make them really good photos as opposed to hocking a bunch of snapshots. The feedback has been really positive so far. But I haven't been doing this for very long at all to know if my prices are about what they should be.

I know, I know, there is no easy, concise, or straightforward answer. But what would you think is a reasonable price for something like this? ...16x24" print with borders, signed, in a frame. Depending on where I look online at art prints for sale, compared to some people, I'm giving them away, and compared to others, I'm asking too much.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2017, 11:19:32 AM by Kit Lens Jockey »

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Print pricing
« on: March 20, 2017, 11:12:29 AM »

Halfrack

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Re: Print pricing
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2017, 12:46:55 PM »
Hey Kit Lens, start by telling us where you're at physically, so we can at least get the currency right.  There is a lot that goes into pricing a print, and depending on what your end goal is.  Things like taxes and such also have to come into play, so keep that in mind.  Here's the pieces that you should add up to figure out a price:

- Start with the frame, generally speaking you paid retail for it, so since you out out money in advance, plus have to keep it in pristine shape.  Charge 2-2.5x the retail price for the frame.  Don't factor in discounts or such, as you need to keep your pricing steady, and that frame special won't be there when you have 10 prints on order at an already agreed to price.

- Next, decide on matting, as it does speak to how you value the work.  It also costs more, so it may be worth learning how to cut your own mats.  Roll it into the frame price, but if you're cutting your own mats, budget for a mis-cut every 2-3 sheets.

- Are you printing in house or having them printed elsewhere?  This matters a lot, as a lab can get you consistent prints at a price, but you aren't on the hook for the printer, ink and hopefully not that many test or problem prints.  In house gives you a lot of control, but does your target customer care?  Ink is liquid gold, and maintaining a printer can get expensive if you come across print head issues or such.  If you have a lab print, charge 2-3x your cost, if you're printing in house, figure out your cost per page (including the printer) & multiply by 3 or 4.

- What are you doing to thank the local businesses that let you use their walls?  Budget for a print or two for them to keep for their home, or offer up coffee for the office or a lunch delivery.  If they love you, that love shows to a customer who may be looking at the print.  You haven't said how you collect money from the sale, are you relying on the business to take that and pass it along to you?

- What marketing collateral do you have on hand for someone to walk away with?  Business cards, flyers, QR code to scan?  If someone wants a different colored frame, how do they get in contact with you to make it personal?

- What are you doing to make this whole thing worth your time, effort and fronting the money?  Even if it's just $5, build it in to every piece.  You're not going to get rich, but you need to define that value.

So, that gives you:

Frame retail cost ( X 2 to 2.5)
+ Print cost ( X 2 to 4)
+ % for thanking host business
+ $ for you
----------------
General idea of where to start (before taxes & fees)

Expect that you'll have to eat a few frames and prints now and then, based on any number of different issues.  Broken frames happen, prints get marked, imperfections you didn't see before purchasing will turn up and you have to deal with it.

Remember, you can always discount, but you'll have a hard time raising prices.  Also, make sure you have a stated return policy, as in you'll work to make them happy, but sales are final.  If you need to swap a print or frame, it's not a total loss where as a cash refund ends up costing you.
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LDS

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Re: Print pricing
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2017, 01:16:25 PM »
Are your prints limited in number, or not? That usually may impact the price as well. Of course, you have to ensure you don't print more than the stated number. But beyond what costs you to make the print and frame it, it's a matter of how much people are willingly to pay.

Anyway, be careful about air circulating between the glass and the print. A mat or the like is OK, but the frame should be "sealed" to avoid contaminants getting in.

Kit Lens Jockey

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Re: Print pricing
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2017, 01:18:52 PM »
Thanks for the reply, it's a lot to think about. I am probably not thinking about this with the proper business mindset. I guess I don't even expect to make a massive amount of money at this. I have a full time career that isn't photography that I'm pretty entrenched in. I don't ever really plan to offer photography as a service, only prints. I've spent over $10,000 in photo equipment, and another $1000 on a printer. So right there I can't imagine ever selling enough prints to make that up. But, hey, it's a more profitable hobby than fishing, so there is that. I guess it would be nice to just sell things for enough to cover the cost of frames, ink, and paper, and make some money for my time. I can't ever imagine something like this being a real money maker.

The main place I just put of photos is owned by someone I'm friends with. He really likes my photos, and he's just happy to have something nice looking up on the walls. I'm also friends with a lot of the people that work there, and I've basically said that if anyone who works there wants a print, I will give them one for very cheap, just covering direct costs to make the print. I have some business cards there for anyone who wants one. Right now we're just doing cash only, which the people there would collect, but I've got to figure out a better way to bring in money even though obviously I'm not personally there when people are there, seeing the prints.

What would the proper way be, if any, to "seal" a frame?

I can say this... The one thing I've sold so far was $100, which sold basically as soon as I put it up. I think it was a fluke though. We'll see. Like I said, I've only put the majority of the prints up yesterday, but I'm having second thoughts about the price.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2017, 01:22:08 PM by Kit Lens Jockey »

Kit Lens Jockey

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Re: Print pricing
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2017, 01:41:42 PM »
Are your prints limited in number, or not? That usually may impact the price as well. Of course, you have to ensure you don't print more than the stated number.
Even this I've been a little conflicted about. Thus far, I have not numbered the prints. I don't feel like it's right to limit the number of people that can have a photo. I want to share my photos. If someone wants one, I don't want to deny them that. But at the same time, I can understand that if someone is spending a substantial amount of money on a print, they want it to be special. And I want that too. So, essentially I have decided that if a print sells, I am not just going to immediately run off another copy of it to hang up in its place. I don't think anyone would want to buy a piece of art, and then come back and see an identical one hanging up in its place. If something sells, I guess I kind of just want to put that photo on the back burner for a while, and not run off another copy, at least to hang up publicly. So, not limited, per se, but limited at least in some ways.

Halfrack

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Re: Print pricing
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2017, 01:42:09 PM »
Yea, you're in the same boat as I, trying to get the hobby to cover just a few of it's costs.  You can setup a SquareUp or Paypal.me site to take payment in credit cards, and have it auto-email yourself & someone at the store that 'yes, person paid for X print.  One thing to keep in mind is that while 16x24 is the ideal size for you, what slightly smaller size would work for others?  I say this with walls covered with 20x30's.

$100 is fine for the size, but may be a touch low considering a frame.  Generally speaking those who are undercutting you most likely are using one off frames.  Depending on your style, matching frames may or may not matter to you, but it's all about the customer right?
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LDS

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Re: Print pricing
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2017, 01:54:09 PM »
What would the proper way be, if any, to "seal" a frame?

Depends on how the frame is built, you can find some advices for example here:

https://www.nedcc.org/free-resources/preservation-leaflets/4.-storage-and-handling/4.10-matting-and-framing-for-art-and-artifacts-on-paper

Just remember these are state-of-the-art solutions for valuable works - it also implies selecting the proper acid-free and chemically stable materials to avoid issues - which will add to the costs.

How far you want to go for the prints you sell is up to you. But IMHO is good to know it, and then decide if and what compromises are acceptable.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2017, 01:57:04 PM by LDS »

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Re: Print pricing
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2017, 01:54:09 PM »

Kit Lens Jockey

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Re: Print pricing
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2017, 03:32:29 PM »
Yeah, I'm definitely not going to that extent. The costs would be huge, and no one would pay for that quality. I would ideally just like to sell prints un-framed and let each individual owner decide what level of care is right in framing it. But I realize that it's much easier to sell things like this when the print is right there hanging on a wall, already in a frame, as opposed to a hypothetical object that you can order online.

lion rock

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Re: Print pricing
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2017, 05:32:43 PM »
KL Jockey,
I would avoid selling naked prints (or art), it really makes the product appear unfinished.
I may suggest that properly matted/framed is the best way to present your photos/arts and present them for sale.  I encountered people who said the presentation is part of the appeal to the art and thus purchase.  Improperly matted/framed most often result in no sale.
As for 100 year preservation material (acid free paper, sealed, etc.,) I am not completely for it, especially for photos.  Few are precious enough to warrant such treatment.
I sold several photos with double matted and inexpensive frames (Michael's Art Supply Store.)  While the frames were on sale, I'd purchase (~$25 ea) enough to produce a show.  Figure about $10 for a full size sheet of mat board which I get enough for 4 single mats, plus a nominal cost of foam-core board for the backing.  I do my own mat cutting and photo printing (with an 8 pigments Epson printer) which I estimate to be about $5 to print.  My labour is not included, though.
So, I sold my mounted photos for $150.  Not too much to afford (for buyers), and not too much to get rich (for me.)  However, my feeling is satisfied by having someone enjoy my photos enough to shell out money for them.
-r

PS., since I cut my mats both for myself and for my wife's water color paintings, I am critical of other artists' mats, too.  I saw some which were not straight, and the mitered corners were overcut, and I have to say that I'm not impressed.  I saw one mat that the bevel cut was reversed!

Kit Lens Jockey

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Re: Print pricing
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2017, 06:28:38 PM »
When I say selling them unframed, I'm talking about mail order sales. I would not display my photos in a public place totally un-framed, because that definitely looks a little shoddy. But conversely, I would never try to mail a framed 16x24 photo to someone, as I doubt most would, so obviously selling online through the mail, there is an expectation of it coming un-framed.

I get what you're saying about the matting. It does look nice when done well. But aside from some strips of matting material tucked into the edges just to keep the print off the glass, I'm not too keen on going to the extra expense and effort of matting them. First, I don't want to add the additional work and materials of cutting a mat for the photos. And getting each one professionally cut would blow up my cost to make the prints. Next, I would rather just take up more of the frame with the photo itself rather than a mat which, arguably and comparatively, has very little aesthetic appeal. At the size I'm printing them now, there really isn't room in the frame for any kind of a real mat.

I'd much rather get my photos to more people by selling the photos more cheaply without a mat than adding in the cost and the effort for something that, while I won't argue makes the presentation nicer, really isn't necessary and doesn't contribute to the photo itself very much. Yes, ok, sticklers like yourself may be turned off. But I guess I'm just not that concerned about the people that would get bent out of shape by something like that. I want people to love my photos and them to be cheap enough to afford. I only see the cost, time, and effort of a mat getting in the way of that. And I can't help but think, if the thing that people are most fixated on is the lack of a mat or the way that it's cut, I feel like that's an indication that the photo itself must not be all that appealing.

Hillsilly

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Re: Print pricing
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2017, 10:49:49 PM »
The artwork I buy for my office usually sits in the $150 - $300 range.  I suspect that is a fairly common price bracket for many small businesses who just want to add some visual interest.
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kphoto99

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Re: Print pricing
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2017, 10:50:14 PM »
Every photo that I have hanging in my house (my wife complains that there are too many) has either a mat or white border where normally a mat would go. Basically the frame is one size bigger then the photo and then it "floats" on the white background. The only exceptions are two 24x36 prints. I don't really like the frame to frame look for photos.

Kit Lens Jockey

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Re: Print pricing
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2017, 07:56:48 AM »
Yeah, I agree that photos look more presentable and classier with at least a white border. That's why I have been doing my prints on 16x24 paper printed at 14x21 size. The border also leaves the opportunity to put a signature on the front of it, which I think people would like. But, the added expense and effort that comes along with a mat is not something that I'm interested in, especially when it would necessitate raising the price even more. And besides, you can't even really get a 16x24 mat with a 14x21 opening (or larger to accomodate a signature), and I don't want to shrink down the photos any more than that. It just gets to be a ton of wasted space on a photo that size.

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Re: Print pricing
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2017, 07:56:48 AM »

LDS

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Re: Print pricing
« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2017, 09:18:49 AM »
As for 100 year preservation material (acid free paper, sealed, etc.,) I am not completely for it, especially for photos.  Few are precious enough to warrant such treatment.

Prints that after a few years (not 100) start to show UV yellowing, stains, or humidity-related issues - you'll never know where they may be installed - won't bode well for your business - unless they're used for temporary installations only. Even without going the full "100 year archival" procedure, sometimes it's just a matter of avoiding materials known for creating issues quickly, i.e. some cheap tapes or the like.


lion rock

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Re: Print pricing
« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2017, 11:13:39 AM »
LDS,
I fully understand the degradation of an artwork through time or environment.  I'll state that my photos are not the type that inspires collectors to keep for generations  :'( 8).  I'm just happy that they hang on their walls for a year or two.
For my wife's watercolor, they're mounted with a bit more care, material and workmanship.  Of course, her paintings sell much more than my photos by several times.  Her competition pieces are professionally mounted/framed.  The costs reflect such treatment.  We'll never be able to afford such professional service for every piece of her paintings  >:(  :(.
Still I feel that the complete "package" is important whether to keep or sell.  If it is worth a "wall covering," it is worth to package it well.
Thanks for your comment.
-r

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Re: Print pricing
« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2017, 11:13:39 AM »