We had such a great time at the Victorian Christmas Fayre in Melton Mowbray at the weekend! Dressing up is always good fun, and Andrew loved getting into character and brandishing his duck headed cane around with gusto. Huge thanks go to my lovely sister for my fabulous apron - it received so many complements, it really is something special! Very tempted to make Andrew wear it, along with the bonnet, while he cooks Christmas dinner... I'll be sure to post some pictures if I succeed!
Over the last couple of markets, we've had a few people comment on the pricing of my pictures, and not always in a positive way! I wanted to jot down a few reasons as to why I charge what I do, and that in fact, the prices are extremely reasonable when the process of creating them is broken down.
We don't pluck the prices out of thin air! If anything, the prices are in a state of flux. The business is very young, and we are still getting to grips with what works and what doesn't in terms of marketing and pricing. As an example, below are a few things that we factor into the price of the website sold mounted limited edition prints.
The initial photograph.
This is probably the most enjoyable part of the whole creative process for me, but also the most time consuming. I spend a lot of time watching and waiting, and planning and anticipating my images. I'll maybe shoot half a dozen or more, and won't be happy with any of them the first time round. I'll reposition, try a different angle, adjust my camera settings, take another half dozen, and maybe be happy with one or two. I'm a bit of a perfectionist. Sometimes an image is down to luck and being in the right place at the right time and it's great when that happens. But more often than not, I can spend an hour, two hours, sometimes even three or more on one shot.
Post processing. I do try and keep this part to an absolute minimum if I can, bar a few tweaks, dust speck removal, and a crop if I'm not happy with the framing of the subject. I use Adobe Photoshop for any tweaks that I do have to make. We have a large amount of network attached storage at home due to the sheer quantity of images I take, and I also pay a monthly fee for additional online backup of all my images.
Ordering the prints. As a small independent business, I try to support other small independent business whenever I possibly can. My supplier of the prints is a local family business about 20 minutes away. I upload my files to their system, choose the paper I'd like, specify the size of the print required, and then they work their magic. If I wanted to, I could just have glossy photographs printed for a few pence by a big national company. But Steve at the printers does such a fantastic job, and the finished prints look like paintings. The paper I choose for the prints is Hahnemuhle German Etching, which has a gorgeous texture and, along with the printing process, produces some of the richest colours I've ever seen.
Steve colour matches to my file so that the reproduction is as faithful to the original image as possible. It's not just a case of him receiving the file and clicking print! The paper also has to be brushed before it is used to ensure that there are no loose fibres that would lift and leave ink free spots on the final image. The end result being beautiful prints, age and light resistant, printed on fine art paper with conservation quality inks. Then I go and pick them up :)
Mounting. At the moment, I mount the prints myself. I order ready made conservation grade mounts and backing boards and spend a few hours painstakingly mounting a dozen or so prints. As it's not something I've ever been trained in, I've taught myself, which means that I can keep costs down to a minimum. Again, I could pay someone else to do this for me, but that would add even more to the cost which would then need to be passed on to the customer. And it's actually very enjoyable! There's something very satisfying about going outside of your comfort zone and then seeing the results of your efforts.
Photographing the prints.
Before they can be listed on the website, they need photographing themselves! And to make them look appealing to potential customers means using props, backdrops, and different techniques to those employed when I'm outside photographing insects.
Listing the prints on the website.
I designed and created the website myself, using Squarespace. I pay a monthly fee for the service, which means I have the freedom to make changes to it whenever I want to. Everything that is on the website has been added by me, and I take a lot of time and pride in making it look good.
Marketing and Social Media.
I do enjoy this bit! Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are all free to use, but a lot of time goes into creating posts and tweets. Some work, some don't, it's a learning process. But the pleasure I get from interacting with people and chatting about wildlife and gardening makes it worthwhile.
Postage & Packaging.
I made the decision to have recorded postage included in the price of the prints as I didn't want an additional (high) postage charge to be a barrier to people purchasing.
All of the above for the current sale price of £29.99. I don't think that's too bad, do you?!
These points apply to all of the products listed on the website. I'm very open to suggestions and criticism, so please do let me know your thoughts. I'd be very interested to hear from you :)