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Armed with his new plastic camera, David Morgan didn’t know a thing about photography (or pricing photos to sell) when he hopped on a plane bound for Tokyo. Six months later, his photos were selling on coffee shop walls for $200 a-piece. Check out his story below… — Lori Lori Allen Director, Great Escape Publishing P.S. David did a lot of traveling when he first started taking and selling photos. You can, too.  OR… you can start in your own hometown. Find out what sells and what doesn’t in different photo markets, including fine art, editorial, and stock.  And how you can get started in your own backyard at The Ultimate Money-Making Photo Workshop this April 16-18 in Nashville, TN. ******************* February 26, 2010 The Right Way to Travel, Weekly Photo Tip *******************

HOW TO PRICE (AND SELL!) YOUR PHOTOS AS FINE ART

By David Morgan in Knoxville, TN When I finished college more years ago than I care to count, I took some money I had saved from working construction in the summers and left on a trip to Asia. I got a plastic-bodied Vivitar SLR camera as a graduation present, which I’m sure cost less than $100, but it had a great lens. I didn’t know a thing about photography (or pricing photos to sell) back then. I read the camera’s manual on the flight from New York to Tokyo. I started taking a few pictures in Thailand, then in Bangladesh. A few weeks later in Kathmandu, I got the first few rolls developed.  (This was back in the film days when you had to wait to see how your pictures turned out.) To my surprise, one or two pictures per roll were the sort of thing you’d see in a magazine… or hanging above a café table. So I started taking more photos. A month or two later, in India, I had the good fortune of traveling with a young artist who taught me a great deal about composition. And then when I got kicked out of Tibet, I traveled with a German biology professor whose true love was photography. He taught me the interplay of shutter-speed and aperture, and how to manipulate those to create even better photos. ** FROM WAITER TO PRO PHOTOGRAPHER IN SIX WEEKS ** When I got home to Tennessee, the only job I could find was waiting tables, which I hated. One day, after months of misery, I went to work but just couldn’t bring myself to open the door. I got back in my car and went home. That was the day I committed to “making it” as a photographer. I took some prints to a coffee shop near the local university. Most of the clientele were students and faculty. The owner liked the photos, and he said I could hang them for sale the next month. He didn’t charge a commission. (He should have charged the standard 15%, as he went out of business about a year later.) I needed money desperately, so I decided to try pricing photos to sell. To keep costs down, I mounted and matted the photos myself. Each photo cost me $17 to print and mat. So I decided to sell them for $35 each. The local student paper printed a story about my travels and it drew a crowd to the café on opening night. I read some poetry I had written on my trip and told the stories behind how I got some of the shots. The first week I sold five or six photos. The next week I sold even more. I was working like a dog to get the photos mounted. My ego was sufficiently stroked with all the praise I was getting.  But I wasn’t really making enough money to live on. So I raised the price to $75. Suddenly I was selling fewer prints. Students weren’t buying them anymore, professionals were. And I was making slightly more money while working less. The last week of the show, I raised the price again to $200 a print. It was more money per print with much less work. And a funny thing happened. People started taking me seriously as a photojournalist and art photographer because I was charging more. Later that week I was asked to shoot a wedding documentary-style, even though I didn’t know the first thing about indoor lighting.  And, soon after, a geography textbook author asked for rights to several of the photos for her book. Today, if I could offer up one piece of advice for new photographers, it’s this – don’t underestimate yourself and sell yourself short. If I can do it with a cheap, plastic camera and no formal training, you can certainly do it with the auto-everything cameras on the market today and the training you’re getting here at AWAI. Lori has asked me to speak at your upcoming photography workshop in Nashville and help out in some of the studio shoots.  I’ll be glad to help anyone that wants it. Hope to see you there! BONUS TIP: If you decide to take the road I did and sell your photos on coffee shop walls, here’s a piece of advice — size matters. Big prints look more impressive and professional and you can ask for more money for them. For a nice 16×20 photo, you can ask $200 or more if you’re in the right location. For 8×10″, keep the price under $100. And don’t bother selling prints under 8×10″. Most importantly, have fun! [Ed. Note: David also gave us a few photo subjects that sell well as fine art, including pictures of old, young, or exotic-looking people, wildlife, and local monuments. Professional photographer Rich Wagner sells photos of more than local monuments in his hometown… some of his popular fine art shops include the local bagel shop, egg farm, and pumpkin patch. Find out more about how to turn your hometown or neighborhood into a photo goldmine at The Ultimate Money-Making Photo Workshop, coming up this April 16-18 in Nashville, TN. Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.  Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]

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