I have been doing this "sample print" thing for about two weeks now and it is not driving me nuts yet. It seems to be just about right in terms of my regular darkroom schedule. That is not the real topic of this post but sort of tangential. I have had a couple of inquires along the lines of "do you sell prints of your images". The query has come up when I post a random image that someone happens to like and wants to buy "art". It has also come up from readers that want to know what format, what prices, etc, etc. that I use to price "art work". Last but certainly not least it has come up in reference to my $9 sample prints.
The first thing I want to do is explain a statement that I make on my sample print page regarding the fact that the prints are "work" grade prints and not final "art". This does not mean they are flawed or somehow extra prints that I normally throw in the trash. It means that they are strait prints where I spend no time on "special effects", local adjustments, split contrasts, bleaching, toning, dry mounting, matting, etc. It also means that even though I use my normal archival fixing and washing process that I do not test the individual prints for residuals.
Now that that is out of the way I want to tell you a little bit about my philosophy on selling "art" prints. I do sell prints but my feelings about doing it on-line are very mixed so for now I do not and probably won't for a while if ever. I have toyed with the idea but there is something that irks me about selling a print to someone sight unseen with a completely unacceptable representation of it on-screen. It also bothers me that there is no context associated with the print. What I mean by this is that the image is isolated by itself and not really supported with any context of when, why, or what other images were made in relation to it.
These factors make me uncomfortable with charging what I absolutely must charge for the materials and labor required to make a final "art" print to someone online. Of course I could deal with a policy for that but there is no way I am going to put a policy out there that has me producing finished "art" work where I have to eat all the costs involved if a customer is not satisfied. There is also no way I am going to charge someone several hundred dollars for a print that they are not absolutely satisfied with.
Here is how I sell "art" prints - I sell them in person with a context. If an opportunity comes up that I am interested in and seems to fit projects that are either complete or have made progress I will show a few prints from that one project and sell them if anyone would like one. As of today I do not sell inkjet prints - not that you shouldn't and I probably would if I contemplated that type of project in color. Maybe I will someday. Right now I sell 11x14 to 20x30 black and white silver prints. Handmade by me. That's it. Usually ones from a recent project that I am still interested in.
For instance - the image at the top of the post. This is from a project that I have been working on for a while. I plan on showing a print of it with several others from this project in late february at a small local gathering wine and cheese - artsy fartsy type thing. I will price them realistically and if someone wants one I will sell it - as is. Meaning as displayed.
I am thinking about other ways to deliver some of my images in the context of projects that still interest me and are recent but right now I do not have them on-line and have not worked out a suitable on-line venue for my tastes and motivations. If and when I do I may make some prints available but they will NOT be hundreds and hundreds of dollars. I believe that that is a transaction that is best done up close and in person.
Ps. The connection between this image and the "sample prints" is that I have used this for a couple of special requests on sample prints - namely people that want to see what TMAX 100 in MF looks like, etc. So… I am going to make this image available as an option for a sample print. No I am not a landscape guy but this project is a long story - maybe I will share a bit of that story in a post about personal projects.