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Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide

Lesson 86 of 138

Pricing Strategies


Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide

Lesson 86 of 138

Pricing Strategies


Lesson Info

Pricing Strategies

We're gonna talk about pricing, and I really hope that you find this valuable because I really find pricing to be a very difficult thing to find information about. You know, short of going in to galleries and writing down different artist pricing, which I don't necessarily recommend doing. It can be really difficult to find artists who speak openly about how they have priced their work. And I just hope that part of my journey is helpful to you in figuring that out. So, some things you have to consider with your pricing is how much time did you spend on each individual image? And this might lead you to want to price your images differently, you know, from one to the next to the next, and I would very much discourage you from doing that, because that is a lot of information to keep track of. So instead, I would take averages of these things for your general body of work that you're pricing. But, how much time did you spend making it? What materials did you use? So, what was the cost of t...

hose materials? Were they high end materials or not? You know, just things like that. What was the total creation cost for you? You might factor in time spent; so, paying yourself, for example. Printing cost. You know, what does it cost you to literally make that print? Something really good to consider. Shipping cost. I'll be talking a lot more about galleries, and artists, and who does what, in terms of contract terms and conditions and things. But, in terms of shipping costs, that's usually the artist's responsibility, unless the work is already with the gallery, then that'll be their responsibility. But, in general, shipping cost comes from me. So, something to factor into your final cost. Framing cost, which I actually would like to advise caution on this one, with framing, because I would say probably 80% of the time, maybe more, I do not sell framed prints. So I wouldn't wanna factor in the cost of framing if I usually don't actually frame my prints for my clients. We'll talk a lot more about that a little bit later. And then originality, and rarity. So we have already talked about a little bit of what makes something rare, in terms of limited editions, how limited your editions are, how many sizes you offer, how many images you will present to people that are for sale. Originality, I think, is a really interesting one to consider, and it's one that we definitely can not put a price tag on because that's kind of up to you. Let's say that I have an image that I think is just the most beautiful thing I've ever created. I feel like it's my masterpiece image. I might want to price that image higher than others, and that's okay. And that's what I've done with my new series, is I've priced that higher than my other prints because they are more rare, and more original than the other ones; given that it's a small body of work that has a certain look to it. So there are things that we're considering, and it's a lot to consider. So, now we're going to get into the nitty gritty of pricing. And we're going to... I'm telling you, in the next 20 minutes, you're gonna know your pricing. Well, maybe not. But we're gonna get so close. And hopefully this will be helpful. So, I've One-Time Costs, and what I'm referring to, when I talk about these one-time costs is this Fourth Wall series that's I've created, okay? So this is just in relation to this particular image right now, that you see here. One-time costs. I built a room for this picture, and I decided since I ended up with nine images, I took the cost of building that room, which was $900, and divided that and got $100 per picture. So, if I consider the cost of the room, for that one image, I decided $100 is good. Does that make sense? Am I already being confusing? Oh no. This is so hard to talk about. Okay, so we've got the room cost, and then we've got the bath tub cost, which was $375, although we just found a totally free one on the farm, and now I have regrets, but it was $375 for the bath tub. And then we've got the wax that was $50 to purchase. And that was wax that was safe to go on her skin. At least that's what I'm gonna tell people. No, it was. A crock pot, which was like, a small thing that I had to buy, but nonetheless, we had to heat the wax. I didn't have a crock pot. $25. The model, $200; as an expense. My assistant, $200 for this experience. Movers for that bathtub because I couldn't move that thing to save my life. Especially to the second floor of my studio. So, movers were $200. Total time spent for this one image was 15 hours. And then we have our total. So the total cost that I spent that day, or that week that I was working on this image was $1,150. So that's my one time cost spreadsheet of what I had to pay to make this image happen. Okay, so then we have a little bit of a different idea here. Instead of just factoring in every single one time cost, well, what about the editions that you're creating, right? So, I could sell five of that image. So it makes sense to take your cost and divide that by your edition number. So in my case, that's $1,150 divided by five, and I get $230. Okay, so for every single print of this that I sell, $230 is my expense per print. Got it. Okay. This will all make sense in a moment, I hope. Okay, so my printing cost then is $ for a large print, okay? My 42 inch size print will cost me $200 to get that print on a piece of paper. Shipping cost, $400 to make sure to make a little crate for it, to make sure that it's all secure, getting it to where it needs to go. Framing cost was $800 for that large print, and then the rarity factor, which is our $230, because that was our cost for the image divided by our edition, $230. So my total cost for this image, all together, was $1,630. Okay, this will all make sense. (laughs) So my costs incurred, if we do this per edition, is $1,630. The gallery takes 50% of the sale price. So we're factoring that in. The gallery price that we're selling for is $ for one of the large scale prints. My split, if we sell it, is $4,500, minus my costs is $2,870. So now if you think about this, that's going to get me my money back. Almost in totality. But what if you decide, well I don't know if I'm going to sell all five of those images. I mean, what if I only sell one? I still really wanna make my money back. And then let the rest of it be profit, which, I think, is probably a good business decision. So you might go about this where you don't take your costs incurred, divided by your edition, so that you make back your money in one print sale, when it comes to pricing your work. It's just an option, and we'll see what you feel most comfortable with. Okay, so just going over this one more time. We've got my costs incurred, right? And I didn't assign any sort of number for my time spent here. So you might do that, you might factor that in. You might decide, I am worth at least what a lawyer is worth. I'm gonna pay myself $200 for my time spent per hour. Maybe you do that. Maybe you don't wanna assign any sort of specific price per hour, so you just sort of think to yourself, maybe in terms of pockets of time. Maybe if this takes me one to five hours, I'll add in this much more money, or you know, five to 10 hours, or however you might wanna do it. So if we get rid of the rarity factor here, then that means that my total cost is $2, for one image, for one print here. So then if we go through this again, if I keep the same gallery price, and I divided the 50% here, my split stays the same, but my cut of that goes down, if you're factoring in without the divided edition. If that makes sense. So if I just go back here. Okay, I'm simply taking out that 230, and I'm adding in the 1,150. And my point in showing this to you is that I did not change the price of the print. This is the price of the print. So, I'm not saying, you know, well given this, I should take my price up. What I'm saying for you is, you have that option of how you wanna price your work. Do you want to have all of your one time incurred costs covered in the first sale of that image, or would you rather get your money back over that sale of all your editions? That's really the difference here that we're talking about. But I hope that this break down gives some indication of what you might wanna factor in when you're creating your pricing structure. So now let's talk about if you have no costs incurred. Like me most of the time, right? Like, I use bed sheets, cost $10; it's not a huge thing. So if you have no costs incurred, then this is my recommendation, which my printer actually gave me right when I started. He said, okay, how much time do you spend on your images? How much time do you do this? How much money do you spend? And basically after me giving rambling answers for a long time, and not really having a good sense of how I work yet, he just said, well listen, if you take your printing costs; just the cost to print an image, and multiply that by 10, that's a really good starting point for what you might wanna sell your images at. And that was like a really easy thing. I'm like, oh, I can multiply by 10. That's something I have the ability to do. So, if I print that image at that size, the 42 inch size, that'll cost me $200. If I multiply that by 10, I get $2,000. The only issue with this is that this is not factoring in any of the rarity, originality factors, right? So, if I'm assuming that this didn't cost my anything, if I didn't have that 2,000 plus price tag of what this image cost me to make, then yeah, this makes a lot more sense. But, I still have to factor in, what is my edition size, how rare is this series, and how much time did I put into this? So this price will go up based on those factors. And I like this starting point for somebody who doesn't have a lot of cost incurred, because it's just so simple. And you might decide that you need to go down on that number, or you might wanna go up on that number. That's totally up to you. So, okay. So let's break this down again with this new method of pricing. So, if my costs incurred are now $200, just for printing. I'm not framing, I'm not shipping. Just $200. The gallery takes 50%. Now, if I sell at my normal price; this is my normal price for a 40 inch print, okay? So, not this image that we see here. Not for my Fourth Wall series. My general body of work. Remember how I showed you the two different sizes and editions for my general body versus my Fourth Wall series? So this is my gallery price for a normal 40 inch print. My split, if sold, is going to be $1,700. My cut minus costs is $1,500 for my normal process of creating a 40 inch print, where I don't spend all that crazy money to make the image. So, it works out pretty well with this pricing structure, I feel. And what I did to get this gallery price of $3, was I took that $2,000 price that we, let's see... Oh, where was it? There, there. (laughs) $2,000, and I went to my gallery with that price, and we were very first starting out pricing my work, and I said, what do you think about somewhere in the range of three to $4,000, and she said, yeah, $3, sounds good. And the reason why I said three to 4,000 instead of just saying 4,000, which I'm just doubling 2,000, because of the 50% split, is because I didn't have a career yet, really. I hadn't really sold a lot of works. And I think that's a very valuable thing to add in here, is, how many pieces have I sold? How many collectors are following my work? How many exhibitions can I put on my resume? And if the number is very low for all those things, then you might start out priced slightly more reasonably than somebody who's been working at this for 15 years. So you're always having to consider, where am I in my career, and how does that factor into my prices? It's very easy to take prices up. It is not so easy to take your prices back down. You know, if I sell a print, you know, as we see here, at $3,400, and in two years, I'm like, I think that's too high, I'm gonna take that down. Well how do you think that person who bought that print for $3,400 is gonna feel? You can't do that. It's not like a department store where you can just put things on sale all of a sudden, and then no one's mad about it. You know, people are gonna be pretty mad. So, all right. So this is just another example for my 20 inch print, which is my most common size. That'll cost me $40 to print, times 10 is $ if I've done that correctly. And so that's my starting point for what I might begin to sell that image for. If I double 400, that's 800, and that's exactly the price range that I was in, when I started selling my works. So when I first started out, when I was just putting my images out there for the first time, my works ranged from, anywhere from about $ up to $1,000. And that was my, sort of, price range. And I felt that it was reasonable at the time. So, just to give an example of what maybe collectors will be looking for, or art buyers, or whoever you're trying to sell to. If you're just starting out, a range under $1, can be a really good idea. And I am by no means telling you to not charge whatever you wanna charge. At all. But, when you go into galleries that aren't necessarily representing artists where they are making their money by the artist paying a fee to be in that space or something like that, you're generally not going to see a lot of works that are priced about $1,000. Just in general. So this is just more market research on my part, of walking into those galleries and seeing how people are priced. And actually seeing what's selling. So you have two options. You can price your work to sell, and one reason why I would caution against that is that when I walk into those galleries that are very, sort of eclectic with what they carry, where they turn their shows over really frequently, where you maybe have to pay a fee to get into the gallery, the prints that are selling in those spaces in general, in my experience, have been between $50 and $100. And they're very like, mass produced works that people coming in have the money in their pocket, they can just pay right then, and walk out with their print. Whereas art buyers know that they're not gonna walk away with their print. It's gonna be an investment. That print will probably hang on the wall for a while, then it'll be nicely packaged and installed in their home. And it's just a totally different way of selling art, in my opinion. So, thinking in terms of your starting range, there's either that method where you price it to sell immediately on those walls, of those galleries, who are not necessarily representing you. Or you'd price your work, knowing that you're goal is to get into a better gallery later. And so maybe you know you're not gonna sell that much at your price point in these smaller shows that you have. But at least you're getting into those smaller shows, you're building your resume, and then when you take those works to the gallery, you'll be able to say these are my prices. Again, prices can go up, and they cannot go down. So, I wouldn't say you're in trouble if you start low, or anything like that. I would simply say, don't sell yourself short. But also be realistic about where you are in your career thus far. And my prices are always changing. You know, they change about every couple of years, and I'll notify all of my galleries that my prices have gone up slightly. And the way that I choose that is usually with my flagship galleries. So the gallery that I've been with longest that I have the closest relationship to, we'll usually have a conversation every couple of years, and I'll say, you know, is it time, or she'll say, is it time, and we'll have a conversation and just raise the prices slightly. Yeah. When you raise your prices, do you raise them for your whole portfolio at that point, or do you, Yeah. the older works are still at the lower price, and the newer works... I mean, this set aside. But... Right, yeah. That's exactly. I raise it for everything. So, if I've got this image, which is from I think, 2011, or something like that. It's much older image of mine. If I've got new body of work that, sort of, fits into my general portfolio, the price of this print will also go up. And that's not necessarily standard. You can do it any way you want. So if you say to yourself, you know what, 2016 and before, that sort of, that work is now old to me, whatever comes after that I'm gonna raise the prices on. You can totally do that. So, it just depends on how you wanna do it. I'm not a super organized person, so it's just so much easier for me to just tell all the galleries, hey guys all the prices are raising right now. You know? And that's pretty standard too. It's much more an expression of, okay, I was at one point at this place in my career, now I feel like I've moved on to a different place, and therefore this work is worth more now, because my name is associated with it. Not saying my name, I'm not... You know what I mean, right? This great artist's name is associated with it.

Class Description

Creating a great photo for a client is one thing - but turning your passion and ideas into a series that is shared, shown, and sold is a whole different business. If you do it right, you’ll be shooting what you love all the time. Learn how to choose which ideas to create, how to turn your concept into a production, and steps to getting your work seen and even sold in Fine Art Photography: A Complete Guide with Award-Winning Photographer, Brooke Shaden.

This is an all-inclusive workshop that provides the tools you need to run a successful and creative business as a fine art photographer. You’ll learn creative exercises to find and develop your ideas, how to create an original narrative, how to produce your own photo series, post production techniques and skills for compositing and retouching, how to write about your work, ways to pitch to galleries and agents, and how to print your pieces so they look like art.

This workshop will take you on location with Brooke as she creates a photo series from scratch. She’ll walk through every step for her photo shoots including set design and location scouting, she’ll cover techniques in the field for capturing your artistic vision, post-production and compositing techniques, as well as printing and framing essentials.

She’ll round out this experience by discussing all of the details that will help make your career a success like licensing, commissions, artists statements, social media plans, gallery prep, and pricing your work.

This comprehensive course is a powerful look into the world of fine art photography led by one of the world’s most talented photographers, Brooke Shaden. Included with purchase is exclusive access to bonus material that gives exercises and downloads for all of the lessons.


  1. Class Introduction
  2. Storytelling & Ideas
  3. Universal Symbols in Stories
  4. Create Interactive Characters
  5. The Story is in The Details
  6. Giving Your Audience Feelings
  7. Guided Daydream Exercise
  8. Elements of Imagery
  9. The Death Scenario
  10. Associations with Objects
  11. Three Writing Exercises
  12. Connection Through Art
  13. Break Through Imposter Syndrome
  14. Layering Inspiration
  15. Creating an Original Narrative
  16. Analyze an Image
  17. Translate Emotion into Images
  18. Finding Parts in Images
  19. Finding Your Target Audience
  20. Where Do You Want Your Images to Live?
  21. Create a Series That Targets Your Audience
  22. Formatting Your Work
  23. Additional Materials to Attract Clients
  24. Which Social Media Platforms Will be Useful?
  25. How to Make Money from Your Target Audience
  26. Circle of Focus
  27. The Pillars of Branding
  28. Planning Your Photoshoot
  29. Choose Every Element for The Series
  30. Write a Descriptive Paragraph
  31. Sketch Your Ideas
  32. Choose Your Gear
  33. How to Utilize Costumes, Props & Locations
  34. What Tells a Story in a Series?
  35. Set Design Overview
  36. Color Theory
  37. Lighting for the Scene
  38. Props, Wardrobe & Time Period for Set Design
  39. Locations
  40. Subject Within the Scene
  41. Set Design Arrangement
  42. Fine Art Compositing
  43. Plan The Composite Before Shooting
  44. Checklist for Composite Shooting
  45. Analyze Composite Mistakes
  46. Shoot: Black Backdrop for White Clothing
  47. Shoot: Black Backdrop for Color Clothing
  48. Shoot: Black Backdrop for Accessories
  49. Shoot: Miniature Scene
  50. Editing Workflow Overview
  51. Add Fabric to Make a Big Dress
  52. Edit Details of Images
  53. Add Smoke & Texture
  54. Blend Multiple Images Into One Composite
  55. Put Subject Into a Miniature Scenario
  56. Location Scouting & Test Photoshoot
  57. Self Portrait Test Shoots
  58. Shoot for Edit
  59. Shoot Extra Stock Images
  60. Practice the Shoot
  61. Introduction to Shooting Photo Series
  62. Shoot: Vine Image
  63. Shoot: Sand Image
  64. Shoot: End Table Image
  65. Shoot: Bed Image
  66. Shoot: Wall Paper Image
  67. Shoot: Chair Image
  68. Shoot: Mirror Image
  69. Shoot: Moss Image
  70. Shoot: Tree Image
  71. Shoot: Fish Tank Image
  72. Shoot: Feather Image
  73. View Photo Series for Cohesion & Advanced Compositing
  74. Edit Multiple Images to Show Cohesion
  75. Edit Images with Advanced Compositing
  76. Decide How to Start the Composite
  77. Organize Final Images
  78. Choosing Images for Your Portfolio
  79. Order the Images in Your Portfolio
  80. Why do Some Images Sell More Than Others?
  81. Analyze Student Portfolio Image Order
  82. Framing, Sizing, Editioning & Pricing
  83. Determine Sizes for Prints
  84. How to Choose Paper
  85. How to Choose Editions
  86. Pricing Strategies
  87. How to Present Your Images
  88. Example Pricing Exercise
  89. Print Examples
  90. Licensing, Commissions & Contracts
  91. How to Keep Licensing Organized
  92. How to Prepare Files for Licensing
  93. Pricing Your Licensed Images
  94. Contract Terms for Licensing
  95. Where to Sell Images
  96. Commission Pricing Structure
  97. Contract for Commissions
  98. Questions for a Commission Shoot
  99. Working with Galleries
  100. Benefits of Galleries
  101. Contracts for Galleries
  102. How to Find Galleries
  103. Choose Images to Show
  104. Hanging the Images
  105. Importance of Proofing Prints
  106. Interview with Soren Christensen Gallery
  107. Press Package Overview
  108. Artist Statement for Your Series
  109. Write Your 'About Me' Page
  110. Importance of Your Headshot
  111. Create a Leave Behind & Elevator Pitch
  112. Writing For Fine Art
  113. Define Your Writing Style
  114. Find Your Genre
  115. What Sets You Apart?
  116. Write to Different Audiences
  117. Write for Blogging
  118. Speak About Your Work
  119. Branding for Video
  120. Clearly Define Video Talking Points
  121. Types of Video Content
  122. Interview Practice
  123. Diversifying Social Media Content
  124. Create an Intentional Social Media Persona
  125. Monetize Your Social Media Presence
  126. Social Media Posting Plan
  127. Choose Networks to Use & Invest
  128. Presentation of Final Images
  129. Printing Your Series
  130. How to Work With a Print Lab
  131. Proofing Your Prints
  132. Bad Vs. Good Prints
  133. Find Confidence to Print
  134. Why Critique?
  135. Critiquing Your Own Portfolio
  136. Critique of Brooke's Series
  137. Critique of Student Series
  138. Yours is a Story Worth Telling


April S.

I tuned in for most of Brooke's lessons in this course and watched some of them more than once as they were rebroadcast. First I want to say that Brooke is a very good instructor. Her easy-going, friendly, down-to-earth, somewhat quirky manner cannot be mistaken for unprofessional. She is very prepared, she speaks well (not a bunch of hemming and hawing), she is thoughtful, she is thorough, she is very relatable and at ease, and she is definitely professional in her presentation. I really thought when I first tuned in that it would mostly be background noise while I was at work, sound to keep me company. Not because I didn't like Brooke but I really didn't think I was into fine art photography nor did I think I cared about the business side of things much. Not now anyhow. I was really wrong. Brooke sparked a deep interest in me to delve into fine art photography, to consider creating images for myself, from my imagination. In fact, I realized that this was something I'd been thinking about for a couple of years though I hadn't put a name to it (the idea of creating pre-conceived images based on my own creative goals). I gleaned many little treasures from her about image sizes, working with printers, different types of paper, selling, interacting with galleries, and so much more. I may not need all of what she taught right now because I'm definitely headed in another direction at the moment, but she planted ideas and information in my head that I know will be useful at some point. Things I may not have thought of on my own, but that seed is in my head now so when the time comes, I'll know. I'd really like to buy her course but at the moment, with the holidays right around the corner, it's not in my personal budget. I'm grateful to have caught the live and rebroadcast lessons though, and her course is on my list to own. I think it's a great reference to be consulted over and over again, not watched once and forgotten. Kudos Brooke for really putting together an excellent course.

Ron Landis

I'm retired now, but spent decades in the people and training business. Brooke is extraordinary! Even though this course is extremely well organized and she's left nothing unattended, she moves through it with friendly conversational manners and without a sense of it being stilted. It's as though we are all her friends, not students, as she shares her heart and passion with us. What a joy it is to listen to her. And what a clear, unambiguous command of her subject. Wow! She explains it with such ease using explanations and techniques that won't overwhelm artists just starting their portfolio or the Photoshop-squeamish among us; but despite its simplicity her resulting art is breathtaking and beyond original. I wish more of my professors at school were as engaging. This was by far my best buy at Creative Live yet.

Angel Ricci

When the title says comprehensive, it means comprehensive! I loved every part of this course. It's inspirational, motivating, and insightful towards creating art work. Even if you are not necessarily considering a fine art specialty, the concepts discussed in this course are applicable to many areas! I find this super useful as a videographer and photographer and look to apply all of these exercises and concepts for my personal and business work moving forward. It is lengthy, but you will not regret a single minute. Brooke Shaden is an amazing artist and educator. I recommend keeping up with her work, presentations, and any future courses that may come in the future.