Have you ever sold your art?

I’m an amateur photographer, and after some years of practice I think I might have 20 or 30 photos good enough to sell. I’m not thinking big-time business or anything, maybe not even enough to make a profit, just something to try to see if it’s something I can do and to see if I’m good enough. Maybe just get them placed in a local coffee shop or two.

What do I need to know to do something like this? I’ve never taken an art class or a business class, so I’m at a loss at how to start. Do I need to create a portfolio to show the business owners? How should I price the photos? Do I have to get receipts for everything to declare on taxes?

What advice would you give to someone who wants to jump into this endeavor?

Thanks for your advice!

Have you searched for “how to sell photographs”?

Many hits.

I have not sold many photos in my career as a graphic artist, per se, but many of my photos have been used in my artwork and sold as a package.

I made some greeting cards from photos for my own use. That could be another market for you.

Aside: I was working as a reporter/photographer covering a beauty show in the late 70s. They wanted me to shoot their show booth with a model they had on hand. The display was a bunch of beauty products.

The model turned out to be nude from the waist up…with a live boa constrictor around her neck.

Needless to say, I dragged out that shoot as long as I could.

“Zoom! I need more zoom!”

My only personal experience in this is that a few years ago someone bought some photos I had donated to our local PBS station for their art auction, but I have several friends who’ve had their own art shows and such.

It seems like the thing to do is, as you’ve guessed, start with small businesses. Coffeeshops are a great idea, and some neighborhood bars here have art by locals on their walls. Go to the owner of the place and ask if they’re willing to take a look at your portfolio. I would think (but don’t really know the etiquette on this) that it’s OK to have only smallish prints at this point, like 8" x 10", instead of already having big, hang-ready prints.

If they like what they see, you’ll need to go get the big prints made, framed, etc. Go to a professional photo place, of course, and not your local big-chain photomat. You’ll want individual color correction on each print and so on. (This can get pretty expensive.)

Every person I’ve known who’s done one of these has had an “opening,” where there’s music and booze (often paid for by the artist, especially if the artist is an unknown), and they’ll alert the local paper’s arts section about it, so it can be included in the weekly “Things To Do” listings.

That’s all I got. Some of it may be wrong; I’m just inferring from having watched friends go through the process.

Good luck! Can we see some of your photos on-line anywhere?

My tip–based on my uncle’s ongoing attempt to avoid needing to get a job by selling stuff at craft fairs–Make up a bunch of business cards, with contact information on one side, and information about particular works of art on the other. Carry a few business cards with you all the time and never let an opportunity to say “See my latest artworks? Don’t you want one for your wall/business/nephew’s wedding present?”

Business cards are a great idea. There are sites like moo.com (and, no doubt, many others) that can make neat little cards from your own photos.

Have you ever entered them into a show? It’s good exposure and my friend sold work that way.

You could sell them on etsy.com.
Another suggestion: make some of your photos into greeting cards, if appropriate for your work. I’d be much more inclined to buy a set of greeting cards from an artist than to buy a print, because it seems more useful, and less of a commitment of wall space/money.