The answer to the question is that there is no answer!
As the saying goes, just about anything is worth what people are willing to pay for it and market forces, supply and demand and all those other business based pearls of wisdom determine the price. But here are a few things to bear in mind if you are struggling with this question.
Firstly, don’t undersell yourself, never give your photography away for a pittance. Why should you? The minute you sell a print, or undertake a commercial assignment at a loss, break even or for just a tiny profit you set a precedent not just with potential buyers and clients, but in your own mind. You will both look and feel desperate.
As with most creative pursuits the average ‘punter’ has little or no appreciation of just how much work, expense, accumulated knowledge and history is behind the work. This applies equally to photography, painting, writing or whatever else. Despite the fact that so many think (being legends in their own lunch-times and amongst their social media sycophantic ‘followers’) that they could do what we artists do, after all they own an iPhone, a paintbrush or a word processor, what so many don’t appreciate is that we also sell a piece of ourselves with every sale we make. Surely that is what defines us as artists.
However, you also have to be realistic. Pricing your work at silly money means you’ll never sell anything. Ever. Be realistic, face who you are – it’s likely if you are reading this you’re not ‘famous’ or well known, no more than I am. What you are looking for is an audience that appreciates and wants to own your work whilst understanding and accepting that you need to make a living as much as anyone else does – genuine art lovers. What you don’t want are those people who are looking for (at best) pretty, clichéd Ikea style posters at Ikea prices. Get that audience out of your head, you neither need or want them. They will never keep the wolves from the door.
At the time of writing I’m charging £85 (inc VAT) for the prints for sale in the gallery on my website. But, what do they cost me to make?
At face value the cost of the (limited edition) prints to me is in the region of £30* which after VAT leaves me a net profit of around £40 which It may sound like a lot of money to be made if I sell a lot. I don’t. I sell a few… I’m a long way from making a living out of print sales from my website: Believe me when I tell you there’s a good chance that if anyone who isn’t already a household name tells you they are, they are telling porkies!
What else went into producing those images? Well, I’ll tell you.
- five years of study and practice at college/university and many years of experience since
- the time I’ve spent (paid and unpaid) passing on what I have learned
- thousands of € in equipment, travel and other expenses
- many hundreds of hours searching out those split seconds finally selected to present publicly
- blood, sweat, tears and a fair amount of broken kit
That’s what else…
When you’re considering pricing, go with your gut. Your gut works even better combined with the advice of peers, mentors and the likes of gallery owners and agents. There is no one size fits all formula, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s a fine balancing act…
*Printing can be had much, much cheaper but I use a quality fine art printing service and prints are produced on top notch C-Type exhibition standard paper.