I was in the art show business for 7 years and eventually got out along with a lot of other photographers because the drop in sales had gotten so bad. I got out about four or five years ago.
What method do we use to determine what our photography is worth. There are so many variables from one photographer to the next. Being a macro photographer I don’t have to travel more than twenty minutes from my home for my images. If you’re a landscape or wildlife photographer you have to spend a lot more for travel to get images. I have a large format printer that prints at less cost because of the larger ink systems, and some photographers are using 13X19 printers that cost more to print with due to the smaller ink systems. So cost of materials and travel can vary for each photographer when setting a price.
When I was in the art show business, I talked to many veterans that had been around for twenty years or more. The business was great back in the days when photography as art wasn’t available but at a few furniture stores and art shows. Photographers made big bucks selling through the shows because the lack of supply. Now people can go to stores like Ikea, Kirkland, Home Goods, Marshalls, and even Walmart, and buy nature photography for much less than photographers are able to sell for.
I was at Kirkland the other day checking some of the prices, and you can buy a print in a 24X36 inch frame, under glass for $79.00. I use to sell mine for $289.00 and I had photographers telling me my price was to cheap. When I was in the art shows, a gallery wrap in the 24X36 size could run $300.00 to $400.00 and I was at a Walmat looking at the pricing of their gallery wraps, and their 24X36 was $29.00, and they looked pretty darn good.
We had the baby boomers that supported the arts but as they get older, most have purchased all the art they need over the years. The art shows need new young people that need art to fill their bare walls of their new homes. I saw very few young people at the shows, they seem to be going to the Ikeas, Kirklands, etc, for art. I was at a young twenty somethings home and they had eight prints mounted on thin boards that hung in a stairway. They were photos of beach scenes that were 15X15 in. They told me they bought them at Ikea and all eight cost $40.00. The images looked great.
When I was in the art shows a 30X40 gallery wrap will go for about $400.00 to $500.00 dollars, and one year I saw a photographer that was selling some really nice landscape gallery wraps in 30X40 for $179.00. Now needless to say the other photographers were all upset at this guy because he was so much cheaper then they were, but he was making lots of sales.