There has recently been a post by David Stein - 'New Year's Challenge' asking us to post our web site addresses for others to view and I've also just been corresponding with Paul Schilliger in Switzerland and he raised some interesting questions about web sites and galleries and their effectiveness as sales outlets.
My thoughts on web sites and galleries are this:
I've always thought of the web as a good means of marketing rather than as a sales outlet. I think it's ideal to be able to show and reach a large audience at a small cost and a perfect way to present a portfolio and for people to view a large number of images, but I've always been skeptical of it's potential as a sales outlet. I buy lots of things via the internet but when it comes to prints or pictures I think I would prefer to see them in person before paying out for them. Even buying books can be a bit of a disappointment if you can't first browse through them in person.
Now galleries are different. I believe these to be a great way to market and sell photographic prints and they seem to work well here in Australia, but I have also heard that some well-known American photographers are having difficulties selling their products through their own print galleries. Is this true or have I just been hearing about isolated cases? Perhaps it is an American problem, for I know of at least six photographers (I'm sure there's more) here in Australia who are shooting in a similar way (landscapes/nature/wildlife) and who are doing very well and commanding high prices for their product. They all have at least three galleries each, have their images selling through large "chain' stores and Post Offices throughout Australia and a couple of them have even ventured into the American market, opening galleries on the East coast, and they all have produced "tourist & coffee table" type books. My girlfriend's employer just recently bought three panorama images from one of these photographers, for their offices, for a cost of over A$5,500.00 and this is not out-of-the-ordinary for this photographer. He has also just opened another new gallery, last month.
So I'm wondering, why should they be doing better than their American cousins? Do European galleries have the success that the Australian photo galleries are enjoying or are they having the same difficulties as the American photographers?
I'd be interested (as I'm sure others venturing into this way of selling would too) in answers to these questions and also:
1) Do you know of people having success (or failure) with their web sites either as a sales outlet or as a marketing tool and why?
2) Do you know of other photographers who have been successful (or unsuccessful) with their own print/photo galleries and why?
All comments gratefully recieved, but perhaps those of you who have their own websites and/or galleries could comment on how effective you think they are or have been?
Kind regards Peter Brown