Several days ago a client brought in an article from The Wall Street Journal regarding reproduction work for paintings. The article was about photographer Tom Powel, and his work photographing other people’s artwork for reproduction. Hey, I’m involved in that…..!
The article (linked above and right here) talks about Mr. Powel’s job photographing other people’s images for reproduction, listing in catalogs, etc. And early on it states, “For his pictures of her pictures, Mr. Powel earns $2,000 a day.”
Now I know other studios and reproduction shops around the country demand a higher rate than I do. And recently I’ve bumped my pricing for shooting and color matching paintings for reproduction. I hadn’t been doing that regularly due to lack of studio space, appropriate shooting environment, etc. But now I’m seriously wondering if I’m still too cheap. See, in my model when I’m done imaging for a client I’m usually printing for them as well. So it’s a win win. But I do spend a fair amount of time working on color matches, especially for the high end painters I work for.
Last Spring when I took on a new client I was blown away by a few things regarding how other shops operate when setting up for a reproduction. The client came to me with a disc from a shop in California. He had sent a painting out to them to be imaged and proofed. Once the company had imaged the painting they returned it to him along with a disc of the digital image, and a smaller proof print. Price?
The best part? The proof wasn’t even close to the original. I mean we’re talking WAY OFF! I didn’t even need to see the original to know the proof stunk on ice. Rather than going around with this particular imaging company the client came to see me. I took a look at the digital file, made a slight alteration, and ran a proof. It was about 20 minutes of my life, no more. The proof that came out was so close to the original that it immediately got me a new (and good) print client. My hourly charge for doing digital work is $65.00 per hour. I charged the client for 1/4 hour, so that was $16.25 for the correction and accurate proof. Hmmmmmm……. The guys who didn’t do the job made $600. Clearly I am going to need to start rethinking my model. After all, the quality that I yield is on par with some of the big names on this side of the business.
The issue of course is my current location. People’s eyes roll back when I tell them my price for imaging paintings, color matching, and proofing. And the whole service is under $100.00. Often times I hear, “Well, I’m on a fixed income,” which I’ve started responding with, “I own a small business, therefore I’m on no income.” It’s a catchy and accurate retort which limits the, “Can’t you cut me some slack,” conversation. Still, I’m trying to make my services available so I add more successful print clients. It’s an interesting line to walk. Clearly I’ve got some more homework to do, and research as well.
In the end though I thought I’d share with all readers the fact that shooting original artwork for reproduction, etc, is a highly specialized business, and it ain’t cheap. Well, if you’re in Prescott it is, so I hope clients reading this locally understand what a great proposition I offer to them!