Selling a picture: Electronic file or printed photograph?

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by vic_., Oct 26, 2009.

  1. Greetings,
    A friend of mine (based in the US), who is not in the photography business and not a forum writer, has her pictures posted on a few websites. Someone from Western Europe wrote to her about buying one of her pictures. The European wanted her to email him an electronic file so that he could print it over there to his specifications.
    I told my friend that she should be careful about sending an electronic file, as the buyer could potentially make as many copies as he likes and sell them at will, and my friend would be unprotected. It's not that she doesn't trust the buyer, it's just that she is unsure about what to do, as she has never sold a picture before.
    (1) Do you sell an electronic file of a picture or do you sell a printed photograph?
    (2) How much is a reasonable charge for a picture (8x10)? She's never sold anything so has no clue.
    Thanks for your insight!
  2. "How much do you charge for an 8x10?" is probably the question photographers most often hear from potential customers, but the answer isn't as simple as it might seem. It's kind of like asking Tom Clany or John Grisham how much they charge for a paperback book. The expense isn't in making a print of the image but in the effort and creativity that goes into the creation of the image. $20 and up is the going rate for an 8x10 print of a wedding or portrait photo, but only after the photograph has charged maybe $100 to $500 for a portrait sitting or $500 to $2,000 (and up) to shoot a wedding. Photos being sold at a craft festival -- anything from cute kittens to breathtaking landscapes -- can sell for anywhere from $20 to $50 for an 8x10, sometimes more if matted and framed and definitely more for larger sizes. A "fine art" 8x10 in a gallery might sell for $250 or more. It's all about the effort that went into the photo, whether you're doing this as a business or for fun, and what the market will bear. If your friend isn't in the business of selling pictures the easiest thing for her to do is just ignore the request. She's under no obligation to sell her pictures. If she does want to sell a copy of the photo, I would tell the buyer how much for a given size print and tell them she doesn't sell electronic files. End of story, take it or leave it.
  3. If she is not in the business, why not take a substantially higher price for the electronic file, and leave it up to the buyer how many prints he will make. If he wants the file, he must pay a premium. Just remember to fill in the IPTC-data regarding copyright, and make a statement such as this: "This picture is sold to.... for the sole purpose of.... " Any other use without prior written concent is illegal and subject to criminal prosecution" ...or something like that which some of the lawyers here at surely will help you with.
  4. ANd yes, I forgot, send the buyer the jpg file, not the RAW file!
  5. Thank you very much for all your responses. I'll pass them along to her.

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