Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Artists are often confronted with the question of, "How much should I charge for my work?" Some photographers choose to charge a relatively high per-piece price point and try to maximize their profit at the high-margin, low-quantity point on the demand curve. Other photographers may choose to go for lower margin-per-piece and higher quantity. Brooks Jensen has written a good argument in favor of the latter, arguing that if you charge more than $20 per piece, then you're pricing 99.999% of the world out of your market. At a recent night photography show, one of the featured photographers told me he was surprised how well his 8"x10" prints were selling when he set the price at $20.

Along those lines, Jen Beckman is announcing a new on-line photo gallery called 20x200. The concept is that all photos will be for sale for $20 each, in limited editions of 200. If you're a photographer, and if you believe in the more-sales-at-twenty-dollars business methodology, then this new site may sound great.

But there is a catch. In order to be represented in this gallery, your work has to be selected from Beckman's Hey, Hot Shot on-line photo competitions. Fair enough? Not if you remember that the entry fee for Hey, Hot Shot is $60.

For low-end collectors, this site looks very promising. But for photographers who are looking get on-line representation, I'm less excited. If your work gets selected, then you obviously need to sell a handful of prints just to recover your $60. But if you're work doesn't get selected, then you're out $60.


Blogger Tyler Roemer said...

I agree that is a tough decision, I have never sold any of my work. But I would start out at a low price. Cool website and blog by the way.

10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Point of clarification - the only way that unsolicitated work is going to be considered, is through Hey Hot Shot. 20x200 is a site that will be curated, artists will be contacted and asked to contribute a piece of work for sale in partnership with Jen Bekman. It's not just Hot Shots that will sell work. As for the 60 dollar entry fee for the Hot Shot competition - it's really not that much, look at Photolucida which totals 300, or other competitions which charge per submitted file.

12:13 PM  
Blogger Andy Frazer said...

I'd like to address the previous Anonymous reply regarding 20x200 and PhotoLucida. I have to disagree with your comparision between the Hey Hot Shots entry fee and the PhotoLucida entry fee. To the best of my knowledge, PhotoLucida is not a contest. The entry fee gives you the opportunity to have face-to-face time with, I believe, three critics (gallery owners, writers, academics, etc) who will critique your portfolio.

I'm not endorsing PhotoLucida, I just want to clarify the difference.

7:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whee clarifications :) - It's "anonymous" again: Photolucida does not offer you face time with anyone. It takes the 150 finalists, asks for 250 more dollars atop the 50 entry fee, so that they can produce a cd and binder which goes to all the reviewers. The entrants also get a CD to see all the work submitted. There is no feedback, or critique - it is a competition. The hope when entering is to have exposure to people you would not otherwise be exposed to, the same stands for Hey Hot Shot - you're not likely to get Leslie Martin of Aperture to look at your work unsolicited (unless you enter the new Aperture Prize! competition which is 25 dollars for the fee and the cost of a subscription which is 44 dollars, 69 dollars total). I think the larger question is the fees for entering competitions.

I understand it, there is a large debate about it, but I see it from both sides. When I enter a competition that has a great panel I'm entering in part to have my work in front of people I don't have access to. As a result of doing that, I have gotten inquiries from people, even if I've not been a winner. The question for everyone is what is the cost an artist is willing to pay for their own marketing - and these competitions are part of that marketing cost.

7:08 AM  
Blogger Tim Baskerville said...

In a related blog entry today, Brooks Jenson touches upon what might be PART of the problem - http://www.lenswork.com/podcast/LW0375%20-%20What%20the%20Coffee%20People%20Know%20That%20the%20Gallery%20People%20Dont.mp3

Also, look at http://www.lenswork.com/lensworkpodcast1-1.htm - for his comments re: a recent PhotoLucida he participated in.

2:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm comfortable with the fee I charge as it relates to the opportunity presented. I spend lots and lots of money mounting and promoting shows without any guarantee that I'm going to be reimbursed for those expenses, and it often doesn't work out that way. (Although things are improving as my gallery gets more established.)

These risks I take are part and parcel of the extremely risky business I've chosen to get into. Making a name for yourself is tough on both sides of the table. I didn't open my gallery with much (I had about 10k, I believe) and I had no reputation whatsoever as I had never worked in the business before. I didn't have connections or a trust fund, or stock options to cash out or anything like that. Believe me when I say that I understand how hard (and expensive) it is to establish yourself in this field.

Also, as anonymous mentioned up there, I'm not exclusively curating 20x200 out of entries from Hey, Hot Shot! The competition is the only way I review unsolicited materials, but it's not because I'm greedy. It's because I'm trying to maintain my sanity AND give a lot of emerging artists an opportunity to exhibit in a professional setting. So far, it's been a smashing success.

It's up to photographers to decide what's worthwhile, but to me an opportunity to exhibit work, get online exposure and work with me one on one is absolutely on par with the opportunity offered by Photolucida. (And again as anonymous mentioned, getting onto that CD you mentioned costs considerably more than HHS does.)

I do what I do because I'm passionate about emerging artists. Check with anyone who knows me and has worked with me, and I'm pretty sure they'll tell you that my heart is in the right place. I work really hard, and believe me, if I was truly motivated by money, I wouldn't be hustling $60 and $20 transactions.

On to 20x200: Keep in mind that each time a photographer does an edition it'll be available in three sizes making the total possible revenue from a single image $12,000. That's not so bad. And even if you just stick to the smallest 20x200 edition, I expect those to sell out quickly, not to languish. It's not a bad deal for anyone.

One last thing about my approach: I'm not interested in creating some ghetto of artists who sell huge editions of work for rock bottom prices. I AM interested in presenting unique opportunities for someone to buy work that is normally much more expensive for a song. I don't intend to have a lot of repetition in my program - most artists/photographers will do an edition for me as a one time thing.

I've already gotten a lot of great people on board, and I see the program as a win-win-win: It's good for the gallery, the artist and the collector.

Thanks for writing about the project - I'm happy to talk about it more, just let me know if you've got more questions.

One last, unrelated thing - my name is misspelled in your post. The correct spelling is Bekman with no "c" in it.

3:02 PM  

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