While on tour this summer, teaching the business side of our craft to hundreds of photographers across the country, there was one thing I would consistently bring up as a way of creating a unique product offering for our clients: fine art prints.
Seems like in today’s digital age of instant gratification and standard lab prints, the fine art print has become a lost art altogether. I would say over 98% of the people I met with this summer were not offering fine art prints as part of their package.
For us, this unique product has really become extremely popular. And best of all, it’s not really all that expensive. However, every time we show this option to our clients they are blown away stating, “We have never seen anything like that!” Personally, I love it every time I hear that response. How does the saying go… what’s old is new again?
Create an Elite Line of Products
For us, this really was a no-brainer to add to our Signature Series line of products that we offer to our clients. Our Signature Series is our top-level line of products that are handmade or have that handmade look and feel—basically, they include the most elite products we carry in our studio. You don’t have to call your top-level offerings by the same name; however, I do suggest you create some level of distinction between your regular line of products/prints and your more elite offerings. First and foremost, this establishes a completely separate price point, typically a higher one. Secondly, it establishes with the client that they are paying a premium because of the limited or unique nature of this product. This, by the way, is very important to any pricing strategy.
Where to Begin
I find that a lot of people tend to freak out when they hear the words “fine art prints.” “Well, I don’t know how to do that”, is the typical response.
Well have no fear, most labs offer a fine art paper option. So, look to your labs for guidance, but our lab of choice is Simply
ColorLab.com. They have a great selection of fine art paper that will without a doubt give your product offering the unique kick it needs to charge a premium for.
If you are a little more adventurous, we love printing these in our own studio. We have an Epson 7900 and use Canson Arches Velin Museum Rag 315 paper. We love this paper! The quality and the colors are just amazing and most of all, our clients are blown away when they see their images printed on this paper.
Cost of Goods
The great part about all of this is your cost of goods. Whether you print in-house or outsource to SimplyColorLab, you have great margins. The value to the client is in this being a unique product, so they are willing to pay a premium. For us, we offer this as an 8 x 12 (cost approx. $6 printed in-house) mounted to a 16 x 20 mat board (cost approx. $5).
Selecting the Right Image
Now, before you go fine art print crazy, keep in mind not all images are created equally. The key to success here is finding the right image that makes sense as a fine art print. In addition, the edit is equally as important. We tend to lean towards a more texturized image or something a little more de-saturated and of course, black and white always looks great.
Remember, you are positioning this as a piece of art work for their home, so picking the right image is key to this being attractive to the client. Also, it doesn’t always have to be a picture of the couple. If we shot in a unique location, we typically opt to offer a unique landscape shot like the Statue of Liberty.
What we like to do is use our fine art prints as a way of up-selling the client. So, of course, this is in our top-level packages and on our a la carte pricing. We price these at about the same price point as our canvas, because it’s very important that we establish these as unique and valuable items. Price is a great way to establish this.
But why stop there? Imagine this, you pre-print the image and have it on display when the clients arrive to view their wedding images. We typically do this to showcase their premiere image. When they walk in, the first thing they see is this image mounted and sitting on an easel. They are blown away and immediately fall in love with the print.
Now, you can try and sell this image outright to them, but I really like to offer this as more of an incentive to buy into one of my top packages. At this point, they are in our studio looking at our wedding collections. They are already there to make purchases. Once I get a sense of where they are at, I might offer them the fine art print as an incentive to book into one of my larger collections. This works 90% of the time.
They fell in love with that print when they walked in the door! Now, I am offering this to them for free if they book into one of my top collections. For them, it is a huge “perceived value, but for you and your studio you have a cost of less than $20! Would you spend $20 to make an extra $500 or $1000? I would, all day long! It’s a very soft sell that creates a win/win for the client and your studio.
Regardless of how you position your fine art prints, offering unique products is a great way to create even more separation between you and the competition.
Sal Cincotta, @salcincotta, is an award-winning photographer, author and educator. For more information, please visit behindtheshutter.com