Over on learningphoto.com I am posting the full raw camera files for each of the review images I post. They are covered by a Creative Commons license and allow for copying, display and distribution as long as my name and URL are displayed. As long as you have a raw converter, you are free to print them out and post them in your office, show them to friends, put them on your web site, or see how different settings affect the raw conversion.
I have long thought that artists should be much more free with their work, especially in the digital age, where copies do not prevent the artist from making money off of a work they give away. So I’m going to stand behind it. Call it a grand experiment.
I have been thinking long and hard about how to sell photos online. There are many successful photographers out there. Even a good handful of landscape photographers who make a living from it (which is hard). But I have yet to see a successful online fine art photography sale site. Most landscape photographers seem to make their living working art shows or setting up displays at prominent locations like galleries.
It’s hard to sell art that people don’t have in front of them. People want to see what they are taking home. Even when someone sees the image online, its hard to gauge the impression it will make in person, in a matte and frame, or what it will look like on your wall. How do you over come that?
I don’t have any easy answers. Many photographers use their on-line presence as an extra sales tool. If someone doesn’t have the time or inclination to buy at a show, you can hand them a card with your website address, and maybe they will buy from there. I would like an online store that is at the core of my business rather than the periphery.
Undoubtedly, someone like Micheal Reichmann over at Luminous Landscape could open up an online store and make money like gangbusters. I’m still curious as to why he hasn’t.
What I am banking on is that people will be exposed to my work through free distribution of some of my frames. Let people print them, show them to their friends, bring them to shows. Get the name out there. Offer affordable prints of the images that I have up for review. So how do I make money? Hit shows like everyone else, sell only my best prints there, which will not be distributed. Get an online store going to sell non-review prints of stunning quality.