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    CHESWICK, PA 15024

  • April 27, 2014

    How Much Inventory and Pricing When Starting Out

    The most asked question by photographers just starting out is how much inventory to bring to their first art show. I have three rules to go by.

    First – understand that what you may think your most popular images are may not be public opinion. Choosing a body of proven sellers comes from experience, doing a number of shows and observing which images people gravitate to but not necessarily buy.

    Second – when starting out, not bring so much inventory that even if you sell, you won’t cover your expenses or go home with a profit.

    Third – not print so many different sizes that your inventory competes with itself. Skip adjacent sizes. For example if you print 8×10’s, don’t print 11×14’s. I do recommend one smaller size and one larger size. Otherwise what people will purchase is the smallest size available of an image they like.

    Greeting cards
    A great many photographers new to art shows sell greeting cards. Not a good move because that $2 card will compete with your smaller print sizes and the cards will win but you won’t. And having a spinner rack of cards in your booth picture will prevent you from getting into better shows.

    Pricing should not be based on material cost or you’ll never turn a profit. Pricing is something that is based on experience. How unique are your images and what is your competition (walk the show prior to appying) selling their work at. Pricing should be based on value, not material cost. And your prices should never fluctuate based on the demographics of a show.

    Final tips
    When asking for help, when you specify what sizes you are printing, you need to specify the finished size. Whether the print is matted and what the outer mat size is. It should always be a standard frame size so people can purchase understanding they can get a frame inexpensively if they choose to. Did I forget to say that unframed in bins sells over framed by a significant margin if you are pricing properly.

    Let me stress something I touched upon earlier in the article. Uniqueness of imagery. In order to get into better shows, your images and style needs to be unique. In order to transcend price vs. size, your images and style needs to be unique. In order for you to sell when competing with other photographers at an art show, your images and style needs to be unique. By unique I mean that jurors and a sophisticated public wants to see something they’ve never seen before. Or something they’ve seen before but in a way that they’ve never seen it.

    My experience
    I’ve sold my photography at over a thousand art shows and have been at it over thirty years. I guess I’m a slow learner because it took me a long time to figure out how to streamline my inventory and save a ton of money on materials. Digital printing changed how I marketed. Instead of having to print quantities to keep individual print cost down, which makes no sense if you think about it, it’s just as easy to print one or two and test an image out. About fifteen years ago I decided that to save money, I would print only two sizes for shows. That was an immediate success and I sold more than I had previously when I was printing four different sizes of each image.

    My Selling Photography at Art Shows forum is over ten years and was moved to Facebook in 2013. Please join and participate.

    © Larry Berman