Posts Tagged ‘prints’

Current Trends in Photo Print Mediums

Sunday, July 31st, 2016

by Zack Schnepf

I’ve been doing art festivals and gallery shows for 8 years now.  In that time I’ve noticed several changing trends in regards to what type of prints customers prefer.  I’ve seen a huge shift away from traditional framed prints and canvas and toward newer technology like aluminum and acrylic prints.  I think there are several reasons for this shift.  In this article I’ll talk about my observations while selling prints and share my opinion on why people are buying more metal and acrylic and what advantages they offer over traditional print mediums.

A little history.  When I started doing art festivals eight years ago there were only two mediums most photographers were printing on.  Tradition printing papers like glossy and matte inkjet paper, and canvas prints.  About five years ago, I started to see a few photographers printing on aluminum, acrylic and a few other non-traditional mediums.  I really liked the look of these new mediums, but they were more expensive and in the case of the acrylic prints, really heavy.  At that time I was in the middle of a failed experiment trying out canvas printing.  Canvas prints failed for me because I specialize in highly detailed grand landscape scenes and the detail gets lost in the texture.  Certain images still sold well on canvas, but they were primarily low detail abstracts and painterly looking scenes that lent themselves to the medium.

After my failed canvas experiment I wanted to try some prints on Aluminum.  Aluminum prints have a lot of advantages over traditional print mediums.  They are much more durable, water proof, scratch resistant, light weight, very archival, don’t need to be framed, very three dimensional, and very bright.  They also have less reflection issues compared to framed prints with standard glass.  They do have a few disadvantages as well.  They are not as detailed as traditional inkjet prints and have a much more limited color gamut.  The limited color gamut is my biggest issue with metal prints.  It can be very challenging to get certain colors to render correctly.  Because of this, I have test prints made before I order a full size aluminum print.  Once I get a test print, I make adjustments to the print file and order a another test print until I get the results I’m looking for.  In my experience, green is the hardest color to render correctly.

5 years ago, when I tried aluminum prints for the first time, they were a big hit.  Very few other photographers were printing on metal so my images really stood out at shows.  They also look very impressive in person due to their 3 dimensionality, brightness and punchy colors.  Pretty soon, all of the images I displayed were printed on aluminum and I’ve enjoyed good success at shows ever since.

Photo: iPhone photo of my 2016 both setup displaying aluminum and acrylic prints.

Art Festival Booth 2016

Recently I’ve been experimenting with acrylic prints and they are my current favorite.  They represent the best of both worlds and the best overall quality in my opinion.  Like aluminum prints, they are bright and have a beautiful three dimensional glossy look, but they also retain the detail and color gamut of traditional inkjet prints.  They do have a few draw backs compared to metal prints.  They are heavier, and they scratch easier.  Scratching is the only real issue i have with the acrylic prints.  You need to be careful when moving, or cleaning acrylic prints.

Photo:  iPhone photo, acrylic print made by Nevada Art Printers

Acrylic Print

Conclusion and recommendations.  We have more options that ever for printing our photographs.  Different types of images work well on different print mediums.  For the grand landscapes I’m focusing on, metal and acrylic are my current favorite print mediums.  If I were choosing a print to hang on my own wall I would probably choose an acrylic print, unless it was an area that wasn’t lit very well.  In that case I would choose an aluminum print for it’s brightness and reflectivity.  For most customers I recommend aluminum first.  The durability, brightness, visual impact, and ease of maintenance are hard to beat.  The exception is certain images don’t print well on aluminum.  There are about 20% of my images that I can’t get to print very well on aluminum.  In these cases I recommend acrylic instead.

Where do I have my prints made?  I still produce my own traditional prints, but I use specialty printers for both acrylic and aluminum.  For aluminum prints I use: http://www.hdaluminumprints.com.  Randy at HD Aluminum Prints does a fantastic job and profiles better than any other aluminum printer I’ve used. I have my acrylic prints made at:  http://www.nevadaartprinters.com.  They produce incredible quality acrylic prints!

Hard Proofing for Optimal Fine Art Prints

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Tattered-and-Swift-final

Sometimes I find that producing a print that looks as good hanging on the wall as I want it to can be a challenge. In many cases, as long as I have carefully developed my images on a calibrated monitor, ordering a print through a print lab or printing on my own photo printer yields very good results.  However, there are times when producing a print that looks right displayed in it’s intended location is elusive. The light source in which a print is viewed greatly affects its apparent brightness, color and contrast and the particular print media will also affect resolution and sharpness.

Soft proofing in the computer is helpful for getting a print under perfect lighting conditions to more closely match the way it appears on the screen. I have a previous article and video on soft proofing in Photoshop if you want to check that out.  While soft proofing is good for compensating for paper color and brightness, it can’t help anticipate how the texture of the paper, viewing distance and room lighting will affect how the image will look when viewed in its environment.

Hard proofing is a way to make fine adjustments for such variables.  Hard proofing is the process of printing a test print, evaluating it in the intended viewing conditions, making adjustments, printing again and repeating this process until you are satisfied with how the print looks. Obviously, hard proofing can be time consuming and expensive. I don’t do extensive hard proofing for every print I make, but when a print isn’t living up to expectations I use a technique allows me to get the print right. This technique can be used to optimize any variable that will affect how your final print will look, such as brightness, color balance, contrast, saturation and sharpening.

Pricing Your Photography Products

Friday, February 11th, 2011

By Adrian Klein

Well I can assure you this will not be the most visually stimulating blog post. That said I can also assure you it’s one that is worth the time to read for anyone that struggles with how to determine pricing of the work you sell. Pricing your photography products is an important decision that everyone from the hobbyists to the full time professionals need to analyze and determine what pricing points work best. Zack touched on this briefly in his great series on this blog about art shows. I want to delve into this a little more. Pricing is completely up to each person and we will not all have the same prices. That is a good thing. What people should understand though is that you need to have some level of thought and analysis on how to come up with pricing. You don’t want to just pick a price because you think it sounds good or because it’s inline with what your best friend (and #1 fan of your work) is willing to pay. If you are selling your work for next to nothing you are doing the industry and yourself a disservice. You are honestly better off giving away your work than charging ultra cheap prices. I give a number of prints away each year and I am fine with this. If you donate or give away occasional work it still holds value in accordance to the investment you ask of your paying customers.

There are really two models to go with, high volume and low price or low volume and high price, most of us cannot have high prices and high volume. There are a very select few like Rodney Lough Jr and Peter Lik to name a couple, that can sell high end work at high end prices and high volume but they are the exception. Pricing was something that I was mentored on more than once when starting out with portraits and weddings, and of course is no different moving into the landscape nature genre. What you see below are expenses to consider that many people seem to forget plus a couple examples how pricing at different price points can greatly impact the bottom line.

The following are expenses you might need to take into account (definitely not an exhaustive list, there are more but this gives you a good starting point)

Travel: Gas, food, wear & tear on vehicle, oil changes, lodging
Camera Equipment: maintenance, replacements, everyday wear & tear
Office Equipment: computer, software, Internet, phone, general office supplies
Operations Expenses: bank account fees, credit card merchant expenses, website costs
Misc: Equipment insurance, business license fees, postage & shipping, photo organization dues, taxes

Example 1 – The Photographer Keeping Expenses In Mind

12×18 Print priced at $120 inlcuding shipping
(consumer bought online, pays by credit card and is being shipped within the contiguous United States)
– 2.5% to credit card merchant (at minimum)
– $20 lab charge (print expense incl shipping)
– $15 in package/presentation materials
– $10 shipping

Example 2 – The Photographer with little Concept of Expenses.

12×18 Print priced at $60 including Shipping
(consumer bought online, pays by credit card and is being shipped within the contiguous United States)
– 2.5% to credit card merchant (at minimum)
– $20 lab charge (print expense incl shipping)
– $15 in package/presentation materials
– $10 shipping

Example Product Pricing by Adrian Klein

Two Different Pricing Examples - 12x18 Print

 

Okay, this should give you a good visual of how much different the same type of image with very different pricing can end up after the sale. Pretty different, huh! The interesting or sad part is we are not done yet, this was just the cost we took into account for this one sale. Thinking about all the other expenses I noted earlier on, this will cut into the final profit. Let’s also assume with a transaction like this that you have limited phone and or an email time corresponding with the customer to complete the order and answer questions. This does not always happen but it’s likely and I always want to help my customers out as much as I can. This will be more time spent on the order. And you will need to think about the time it takes you actually fulfill the order. Is all of this getting your mind going? I hope so. Here is a list of items on how your time might be spent for an order like this:

1. Receiving order and processing payment
2. Additional editing before it gets printed or goes to the lab for printing
2. Placing the print order or printing it yourself
3. Input transaction into tracking software or spreadsheet (accounting)
4. Putting package together for mailing and drop off at mailing facility
5. Correspondence with the customer before, during and after the order

By the time you take all of this into account for Example 2 you are working for basically minimum wage. You might say this is not a realistic scenario. Well I can say it is. I have seen many photographers pricing work at fairs or online sites at very low prices that make me wonder how they can truly make a profit, even as a part-time professional. You might also be saying to yourself that my expenses are more, or less, than what you have in your examples. Very possible. You might have tiered pricing where you offer cheaper open edition prints and more expensive limited edition prints. There are a myriad of ways this might be slightly different for you. This is meant to be an example.

This is my take on it to help provide all of you reading this some insight on this topic. There is much more that can be discussed and covered. I encourage you to research this topic or send me an email if you have questions.

Oh and one last thing I will also mention is sometimes we make mistakes and need to eat the cost of that mistake. As an example; do not go back to the customer to change amounts after you have given a final price (unless it’s some bizarre/unique situation). Over the holidays I had a client order a 30×45 canvas that I accidentally under priced the shipping and packing. Even though I have sent products out many times I wound up paying more for shipping and packing supplies than I charged this client. Do you think I went back to the client to ask for more money on this transaction? No way. I feel this would be a poor way to do business. Do the best you can and when you miss the mark try to learn from it for the next time.