Survey: photographic print buying

_G007395 copy

Mingthein.gallery has been running for a little while now, with what I think of as moderate traffic and moderate response. I’d like to find out today how to make it better, by understanding my audience a little better. As such, I’d really appreciate your help with a little survey. The aim is of course to create more work that balances what my audience would like to see with the content I would like to create. And hopefully, we all benefit in the process. Thank you in advance! MT

Thank you all for participating! MT

__________________

Take your photography to the next level: 2015 Masterclasses now open for booking in Prague (9-14 Mar 2015) and Lucerne (17-22 Mar 2015)

__________________

Visit the Teaching Store to up your photographic game – including workshop and Photoshop Workflow videos and the customized Email School of Photography; or go mobile with the Photography Compendium for iPad. You can also get your gear from B&H and Amazon. Prices are the same as normal, however a small portion of your purchase value is referred back to me. Thanks!

Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and join the reader Flickr group!

appstorebadge

Images and content copyright Ming Thein | mingthein.com 2012 onwards. All rights reserved

Comments

  1. Hi Ming,

    This is an interesting and relevant thread. I’ve enjoyed your site for it’s reviews – some of the best ‘camera porn’ on the web. And you seem like a tireless and highly competent photographer in the commercial field.

    Now, when it comes to selling fine art prints you seem to be doing pretty well compared to many, but you seem to have hit a wall. I will off some advice, but it will be frank, as I often am (esp in critiquing others work). The problem lies with the fact that you have fallen into what I call the ‘tester trap.’ Look at the great photographers of our time – they often worked for years on the same subject, using the same camera and lens. Anymore people spend an afternoon shooting some place new and they call it an ‘essay’ or a ‘work’ or project.

    Go shoot a very specify subject over the course of a year or more, and then boil those thousands and thousands of frames into 30-60 pictures and now you have something that might have some legs. And don’t post those pictures anywhere until it’s finished. I think it’s the inability of being able to keep things close until ready that’s killing photography more than anything else. Honestly I (and most curators, gallery owners, etc) could care less about whether the print was mega or ultra, but instead are looking for bodies of work that resonate with a universal appeal and appear to be the result of hard work over a period of time. Or images that are truly iconic. For example, a typical trope of what is now called ‘street’ photography is some person walking in shadows with a wide composition. But do any of these really hold a candle to Rene Burri’s men on the top of a Sao Paolo skyscraper? If they don’t, then why buy a print from a peer rather than just going and making a more interesting one (esp after having invested in $$ of gear to)?

    Anymore one needs an extremely unique point of view and/or subject and the wherewithal to stick to it instead of the internet age disease of always moving on to the next best thing. The most important part of photography I teach my students is how to edit. And how to edit to tell a story. And then how to tell a ‘story’ in a single image. That’s ultimately what people want. It’s not about the ‘camera of the month’ or corner sharpness or any of those things. It’s about emotional resonance, and intimacy, and scale, but not just for scale’s sake (and I’m talking small and large) but to the purpose of what the photograph is trying to say.

    A few years back a peer of mine who is a well regarded NYC celebrity photographer wanted me to ask my book publisher at the time for an introduction. ‘Was it all magazine pieces?’ they asked about him. Yes it was. Then not interested. Because you see, as prolific as he’s been, his name is better known by photo editors and art directors than by the public at large, and by being largely posed assignment work dated itself almost immediately. He did end up doing a book, but by only focusing on small part of his work during a certain period of time.

    This is a must read article for being a photographer in the digital age.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/10/arts/design/sidestepping-the-digital-demimonde.html

    The takeaway: don’t post everything you do, one iconic image is worth more than a thousand ‘nice’ or ‘interesting’ images, edit, edit, and edit some more, pick a style and format and stick to it at least per project. And work that shit out, so to speak. I’ve been working on a project of my children now for six years (since the first was born). Many times I think its ready and then I put it away and go back and realize its not even close. And by doing that, over the course of a few years, I’ve come up with something that I think is really strong, and moves beyond the ‘nice pic’ mentality to something more universal (plus kids are a super land mine of a subject when it comes to cliches etc so really need to tread carefully). I’m down to about 37 images from probably about 65,000 shot total (most with M9). Sure I’ve got great shots of course within the rest, and have had to painfully edit many out, but they’re not for this specific purpose (which is more abstract in order for it to be more universal). For FB, grandma, basic memories, and even some not for public consumption at all. But not for this, and if I watered it down too early then that would be that.

    So one needs to make the print buying client feel as if they are purchasing into something bigger than just a daily blog (everybody does that now anyway). Whether it be a place, a history, an emotion, etc it has to bigger than you, or the camera it was taken with, or the printer used. None of those things should even come into the equation, and rarely do outside of photo forums. Even if it needs to match the sofa.

    Sorry for the rant, but I think these are some important considerations, not just for you (and me!) but for everyone at large. Best of luck with everything. BTW I got here because I just picked up a Coolpix A for $329 and was checking out some reviews retroactively. At that price really loving it, though my main cameras these days are M9 and Monochrom.

    Take care,

    Charles

    • Thanks for the advice. I was seeking general thoughts on buying behaviour from my readership. On editing and curating…sorry, but you’re just telling me what I already know and have been doing for years. 🙂

  2. Sorry for replying so late, Ming.Two comments from my side:

    1) The gallery web site may lead to more sales when set-up more as a shop, providing an experience different from your main web site. Nice portal, easy browsing of the limited editions, and easy browsing of a curated set of other photos that are available. Make the images look desirable on the page (some web sites show you a “framed” version of the image), not just being immersed in articles. And not linking to Flickr.
    (I myself plan to buy an Ultraprint. Because I like your work, and because I would like to have one as a reference as to the ultimate printing quality that can be achieved. The one photo that was my favorite so far is not the best candidate for an Ultraprint, though. When this article of yours came out, I remembered there was another picture very high on my like list, a landscape from New Zealand. I was trying to find it again, to now avail, though. My memory may be playing tricks on me. But the process of trying to locate the image certainly left me with the thought that the search process could be more efficient.)

    2) You calculated that publishing a book is not a good economic proposal. How about e-books? Again, even if these are the same images somewhere available on your web site and on Flickr, a nicely curated e-book still provides a different experience to the reader. And if it is priced from $10-20, many people may not think long and just order it. A series of smaller books would then draw more business compared to one thick volume. It may be a low risk business trial, parallel to the videos. (Or are you afraid that an e-book opens up the risk of image theft?)

    Best regards

    Frank

    • The issue with e-books for images is that the viewing experience is still limited by the viewing device, which is not an issue for text but it is for images – resolution, gamut and calibration are completely different across different devices, which makes it impossible to have a deliver a consistent experience and the images as intended.

      • Frank Sauer says:

        I agree, Ming. You do not have control over the final user experience. I still see it as an upgrade from the web site / Flickr experience. You can present your images in a clean, well designed layout and context. And people would have an e-book in their personal collection to pull out whenever they feel like looking at it. Whereas pictures on the web site and on Flickr get snowed under over time and are not easily accessible anymore.
        I also wonder how much it matters in practice when you give up the final control. iPads have gorgeous screens. I use a Kindle Fire: gorgeous screen. Even if the images may appear somewhat different on both devices, they will be thoroughly enjoyable on both. And if people have crappy screens or screens where the WB is off – these people have adapted to their screen and may just be happy as well.
        And finally: it may just be a low risk business proposition …

  3. Hello Ming,
    Great topic once again, that really gives me a headache! :), I guess the grey matter is still working! I really enjoy having a coffee break or a beer or two with all of your readers, too.
    If you are not aware of this post yet, maybe it will be useful in some way.
    The link is, https://luminous-landscape.com/self-publishing-a-photography-book-part-deux/
    My visual background and training are rooted in film a more of an analogue representation of reality. Chromes, almost exclusively and Cibachrome printing. The craft of printing cibachromes as an apprentice, or if you like an artist in training was rudely interrupted by the turmoil of digital photography and horrid experiences with inkjet printing!
    I was discussing with my friend the reasons why I was not willing to upgrade my camera equipment. Well, the complete lack of affordable reproduction for the digital master files vs. what was possible while most of us was shooting film, was high on that long list. She pointed me to your site, to the blog entry on your Ultraprint.
    While I have seen very pleasing inkjet prints exhibited as Fine Art prints, sold even… in Galleries around town, I was drawn to them because of the subjective impact, and had to step away with a frown on my face after seeing the technology used to produce them. Thus, I thought on your presentation on the Ultraprint, here we go!, finally a major step in the right direction… until, of course I discovered the singular nature of this printing process.
    I did not fill out the survey for your consideration because I do not understand your apparent oversight of your own resources.

    You are a visually gifted individual, very articulate, a teacher, an innovator, you have access to the best contacts the Internet can provide, you travel to major centers all over the world… You have more tools at your disposal than ten of us, your readers, combined.
    I would think that as a teacher and technician would at least grant you a serious appointment with the right galleries, agents, armed with a portfolio Ultraprints in any major city that you wish to go! – directly or on a workshop…

    I would pay for a subscription to your site, I would buy a book of your images on urban and natural landscapes, an essay on Venice :).
    I would buy the necessary tools to be able to create and print once again in a way that the media and the technology is no longer part of the presentation,… true transparency. An “Ultraprint” RIP if you like! I would hate to buy an Ultraprint knowing that it would be of a technical and visual standard that I would not be able reproduce myself on other subjects! After loosing the ability to print Cibachromes as I was slowly climbing the learning curve, I do not need another disappointment in my life!

    It has been mentioned, have you explored the possibility of reproducing your Ultraprints for digital presentation? We have a cable channel that is called Frame, there are others as well, point is, I have seen really bad images on it and also really highly detailed ones!
    I can envision a Venice portfolio of images in Ultraprint format from a BR disc would really sing on any modern HD or UHD flat screens.

    Clearly, the logistics of distribution and shipping would be marginal to actual print production and delivery. Colour fidelity, contrast matching and security issues are possible to overcome… and frankly, if I were to pay several hundred dollars for this BR disc, would I rip myself off by giving it to friends for free, or attempt to print it with a lousy printer?

    It is possible that all the functioning Galleries on the web has the same issues, and their experience and logistic issues are similar, yet it does not mean that it would seamlessly be transferable to everyone else, who would like to engage in this method of distribution!
    I understand why you are having thoughts of frustration and sustainability on a 7 to 3 ratio!
    I certainly lost many night sleep over these issue many years ago, as I live in Canada’s West, where foreign truism is high and the landscape is diverse and not so well documented. Yet, how one, as an individual Artist sees the 16×20 Cibachrome print will be taken home, and it was a problem before restrictive baggage policies.

    I wish you success in finding some answers!
    Tony

    • Sorry Ming, one more thing…
      http://christopherburkett.com – well, he is my idol, as a photographer and as a craftsman master printer. His price list is in line with your desire to provide the highest possible technical quality with your prints.
      Cheers, Tony

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Tony. It’s not possible to make an Ultraprint RIP because it requires hardware changes to the printer. Makes no sense digitally either because no screen can present all of the information, and you don’t need a 500MP file for a 40″ screen 🙂

      Reality is, without introductions to galleries, the door gets slammed in your face. Tried and the response is always the same.

      Could we offer the print as a service? Possibly, but it’d be after I have some way of physically showcasing what the process can do, which is impossible digitally.

  4. MajorLeeg says:

    Regarding the Ultraprints, what I think would really turn the tide for me is to see and hold one, even a small one, in person.

    My suggestion is that you offer a couple prints in a small size, say 4×6 in., at a very reasonable price, including shipping. This would allow people to see the quality first hand, and if the quality really is as excellent as I imagine it to be, then they’d be encouraged to buy more/larger prints.
    One suggested subject for the small prints might be a center crop from a larger print, say a 10×15 in. Obviously both compositions would have to work independently of one another.

    To me your landscapes are your most evocative and emotional images, and I think the ones that people are most likely to want to hang on their walls. At least would be true for me.

    Also, I’d be will to pay a reasonable yearly fee for extra content/ reviews/ images that were not accessible to everyone.

    Finally, even if you don’t include frames or mats, if you included directions on what size/ color/ thickness of mat and frame you’d recommend to go with each particular print, that would be one less thing for buyers to have to worry about dealing with later. Time is money, and people are more willing to buy something that is packaged for them, where they have to make fewer decisions on their own (provided the end product is good, of course).

    Just a few ideas.

    Best Wishes,
    M

  5. As a painter, I have spent a lot of time thinking about why people buy art. Here is what I think it boils down to:

    1) Commercial work — the art helps to sell a product.

    2) Investment/status/power — Some folks buy art because they think it will appreciate in value. Closely related are the folks who buy art as a status symbol. For example, “I have an original Picasso, and you don’t.” This is a tough market to crack. Basically, you have to have the blessing of a well-known art critic who is willing to tout you as the next big thing.

    3) It goes with the drapes. This may be over-simplifying a bit, but there is a pretty substantial market with interior designers (both residential and commercial), who buy art that matches whatever space they are designing. They are usually looking for things that match a specific set of Pantone colors.

    4) The buyer has a personal connection with the art. This, I think, is the most important reason most normal people buy art. At its most basic, think of wedding photography or portrait painting. People also buy art because it reminds them of a place they visited or a place they live or where they went to school, or a milestone in their life, or a pleasant experience. As someone noted in an earlier comment, sometimes it can help to team up with a non-profit or advocacy organization. If you want to sell forest pictures, team up with people who are interested in preserving forests. Also, people buy art because they want to be able to do what you do. A sell a lot to folks who have taken my workshops or classes. Once again, it’s some kind of personal connection.

  6. Ming, I enjoy your blog. Thank you for keeping it so active.

    Here is my feedback:

    I went through the gallery a few times. Unfortunately, the photos in your print gallery seem very cold to me. They generally don’t evoke any strong, or positive, emotions. Most of the work has a hard-to-describe feel – like a negative pinging on the back of the neck. The word “corporate” keeps coming up in my mind.

    Have you thought about taking a chance and switching up the subject matter? Perhaps focus on compositions that are less sterile?

    Lake Hawea I is an exception. I gasped when I saw the mountains.

  7. Lucy March says:

    An income stream you might want to consider is making parts of your blog available to the public and additional content by yearly subscription. Andrew Sullivan, one of the most prominant public intellectuals here in the US, followed this model with his blog, The Dish, with considerable success. Like you, he put in a tremendous amount of work into his blog, in his case for fifteen years. For some of those years, he was affiliated with The Daily Beast, but about three years ago, he started making parts of the blog available only by subscription. Having built up a loyal cadre of readers, he was able to get 30,000 subscribers who paid at least $20/yr, with many contributing more. The blog is no longer active — Sullivan and his staff have moved on to other things — but it’s still on the web in it’s entireity, including the details of how the subscription worked and how long it took to generate considerable income..

    As for a book of your work, I can see how the economics of producing your images in the quality you want could be prohibitive. I think you would have a great deal to offer, though, in an instructional book. This could reach a wider audience and would, in turn, expose more people to your work and potentially generate a wider audience for your prints.

    In any case, I wish you all the best.

    • Additional content would be difficult given I’m publishing every alternate day and spending about half of my time doing it. A subscription model would mean the end of the free site.

      • Lucy March says:

        Sullivan kept most of his content free (and all of it free of ads and “sponsored content”) and was publishing almost every hour (he had a staff he employed). My thought was not for you to do more work but just to restrict acess to some of the work you would already be putting up, be it a number of images images, some reviews — whatever you would find easiest to segment off (and which would entice folks to subscribe). I do suggest you check out his site and the history of how he introduced and managed the subscription process. In any case, I think you have a good number of loyal, appreciative readers who would be only too happy to pay something yearly to help support your site. I know I would.

        • I agree with Lucy. I’d definitely pay a reasonable subscription rate for Ming’s site. I’m not a gear freak, but I certainly have learned and continue to learn quite a bit from Ming’s blogs and his photographs.

  8. Hi Ming. Another great article and thoughtful comments.

    I’d like to add, I’ve ventured into my first foray with selling prints and the support has greatly exceeded my expectations. Why? I decided long ago that I wasn’t going to sell anything unless it can do some good, and was connected with helping someone or something. Money in the wallet isn’t enough.

    With this project I’m selling limited edition Kauai island prints to benefit a friend’s kid with leukemia and the Children’s Hospital. Sales are slow but steady (pretty much what I expected) but the support has been wonderful. They may be just pretty pictures to some but I love them, and when someone else loves them as much as I do, it’s incredibly gratifying.

    Have you considered partnering up with a cause? Your forest Ultraprints have great appeal to not only art lovers, but conservationists and environmentalists as well (and me too!).

    As for your Ultraprints distinguishing themselves among others, I’m not sure you can translate the ineffable qualities of a great print to an online medium. Word of mouth is everything. My printer is the founder of a well-known video equipment manufacturer (who is very low-key and wants to be kept anonymous) who creates phenomenal prints as a side hobby. For those that haven’t seen prints from a master printer in person, they would be blown away. There’s nothing like a quality physical print. Nothing. And I’d rather get lost in a large print than a book of small prints any day.

    Keep up the good work and good luck on everything! I’m a big fan.

    Oh yea, here’s my project if you’re curious.
    http://www.jaredschoenemann.com/blog/2014/11/kauai-prints-for-ryan

    • I suspect that some of your success is due to the purpose of the sale. As a three-time cancer survivor, I decided to have a small exhibition of photos two years ago to celebrate the end of my treatment as well as a milestone birthday. I had no intentions of selling any pieces, but I made small photo-related items available to guests if they wanted to make a donation to a local cancer charity fund that helps uninsured patients. The response was quite strong, and I had so many inquiries about the images that I displayed, that I ended up letting them go for even more charitable donations. It was great to be able to use my love of photography for a charitable purpose, but I truly suspect that I would not have had nearly the interest in my prints if the purpose was purely commercial. As I mentioned in a reply to another post in this thread, emotion can have a great deal of influence on buying habits, in commercial as well as altruistic actions, and your success as well as mine are good examples, IMHO. I am sure it is not the only way to get people to spend money, but there is a lesson there about buying habits. Effectively applying it to Ming’s situation, however, may take somebody more savvy at marketing then me.

      I wish you continued success in your fundraising.

      –Ken

  9. Ming, Do you (or any posters) know anyone who makes a living selling digital prints online?

    I doubt that people are going to pay a lot for them on spec. Prints are an infinitely reproducible commodity. Unless potential buyers have some connection with you (and want to show it off) or they think that the value of the print will appreciate, why would they buy yours? Internet = cheap and impersonal, the antithesis of the art market. Few of my painter mates have made a living from their art. They have diversified into illustrators or animators or creators of installations. The one that has made it had a family with a lot of rich banker friends and he has to spend a huge proportion of his time socialising, going to parties, dinners, etc, cultivating his market. (Nice work if you can get it!) His pictures are landscapes and the painting equivalent of street portraits from all over the world.

    Your picture style is rather clinical, which, some would say, is exacerbated by over sharpening, This is very stylish (although even your self-portrait draws attention to the sharpness of the creases in your T shirt, more than it does to you) but maybe not something that you’d want to have in the warmth of your own home, where people will want things with which they have some sort of emotional connection. Some businesses may want to project an image of cold, clinical efficiency or clean stylishness (opticians, dentists, architects, trendy lawyers?). But even here, I would expect them to want to project the warmer persona of someone with whom business can be done. Some professional firms have paintings or sports events, mixing the “we are someone with whom you could have a beer” with the “we have taste and are successful” (because we could afford to buy a unique piece of work with a connection to the past — painting).

    If you really want to make this work (a) go and live in a place where people are used to paying money for art (London, NY, Paris, …) (b) get an agent with a gallery and be prepared to spend a lot of time schmoozing (c) reassess your style, for your target market (.1%, businesses, etc). Are they going to want the work of a craftsman or an artist or someone to capture an event in their lives or visit or connect to the past (all those aeroplanes shots)? Get the Leica out and try some older, less well-corrected lenses! (d) find a way of limiting your editions. Print, to order, on pillow cases. (e) reassess your self-portrait. Is razor sharp smart-casual, with a watch that suggests that you are quite competitive, the image that is most likely to connect with your target market?

  10. William Rounds says:

    Ming,

    I have never seen an ultra print. To take part in a discussion, or even present opinions and purchasing preferences about them, is premature. At least it would be for me. I have had the pleasure of seeing Nick Brandt prints in a gallery and while I didn’t have the wherewithal to buy one, I have purchased two of his books since then. I think you need to get the Ultraprints out there where people will see them. Since I know nothing of how curators or gallery owners make decisions about what they display, I cannot offer any other point of view other than you being able to say, “You can see my work in London at the X Gallery, Paris at the Y Gallery and in Los Angeles at the Z Gallery.” I’ll go look.

  11. What an interesting thread of views. Many sage thoughts and opinions from a large number of people that I have enjoyed reading.
    As a first time foray into leaving thoughts, perhaps I should have chosen one of the excellent subjects / essays from which I have learned a great deal – as a safer intro….. The post is about the buying of photographic prints and seeking thoughts ref. how to upscale / develop so I’ll try to stick to task. I suppose I write as the quantitative questions stimulated qualitative responses – and I write in way of thanks to you for the improvements in my photography since following you online.
    I haven’t bought a print – yet…. I may do, and I have to say that I look regularly , since finding the site 2-3 months ago. I don’t access the site specifically for the prints, but most definitely for seeking thoughts / advice for my own photography and to a lesser extent for ideas about equipment.
    It is the teaching / learning element and uniquely detailed and honest approach to your writing, Ming, that I appreciate. I have my own images on the walls of my house as a means to generate memory recollection and a unique atmosphere, but when the print is right (for me – and my wife), I’ll buy it. The “wow” factor has overcome issues of geography, finance, practicality and many other features in our married life!
    Your gallery will continue to be visited by me as a result of thought provoking articles and teaching. I have purchased a significant amount of the videos – how to see / B & W / photoshop and this generates a connection of …… style / appreciation / familiarity that creates a connection to you, Ming Thien – which in turns creates a value above monetary terms to any print(s) that I may wish to buy in the future.
    The old – pretty worn out ” give a person a fish to eat for a day or teach the person to fish to eat for a lifetime etc etc” is simplistic and grates a bit when I write it, but to take the analogy further, to partake of the “catch” of a tutor having learned how to fish……..adds another taste beyond what can be appreciated by taste buds alone! [for example – I attended a weekend course run by Colin Prior a couple of years ago in Scotland – and since then, I am far more likely to turn my head when I see something of his, on show.]
    Keep at it, kawan saya – your uniqueness of approach and style is one which is good and pleasurable to follow and appreciate.
    Apologies if this seems too ….. qualitative, but it is meant as a note of appreciation, encouragement to you in your profession as well as feedback that is specific to task.
    Kind regards.

  12. DynaSynergy says:

    Just trying to help
    1) It would be nice if you could produce an affordable book for your readers to purchase
    ( rectangular & not square – more impressive ) of all the photos that you have taken todate or just the better ones and number them as a catalogue to enable readers to select & order them at sizes that they would prefer or with small sized ultraprint samples included or just a sample ultraprint or
    2) Have an album on the web for viewers to place orders to the size they prefer at 4r sizes onwards
    Though not everyone could possibly appreciate all the pics that you have taken,
    there are some very impressive gems that readers and myself included might like to purchase from you if they are attractively priced
    Make it easy & attractive to purchase
    Make it small- sample sized 4r prints ?
    Make it affordable as a start
    Make it irresistable Great Value
    and you would eventually be rewarded enough thru economies of scale of orders
    Once we have a taste of the quality of the ultraprints then larger prints could be a possibility if they are truly impressive !

  13. Evening Ming,
    I thought I might chime in here as you seem to be after some information… Of course everything I say is based on a very limited amount of information about your specific situation, what I have read here, commentators and your responses. Forgive how I ramble and hopefully I can get across a few ideas, which I am sharing to be of help.

    Making money from art is a very difficult exercise, and while the internet, lauded as a volume medium that brings people together, the conversion rates are minuscule. You probably touch on a few reasons in your survey. But if memory serves (and your approach to many things supports this) you come from an engineering background. And rather like someone who has studied the sciences you are solving a problem here.

    So you have four products on here, educational videos, educational events and print sales (your commercial photography is probably relatively unrelated to this site)… The fourth is your writing. The first two products seem very much related to photographers, and especially enthusiasts, it ties in with much of your writing. The second product is your art sold as Ultraprints. The writing meanders around these subjects but is a product of yours none-the-less.

    The gist of your questionnaire leads me to believe you are wanting to sell your readership more of your prints… I know, I know, I am genius 🙂 But many of your visitors are readers, they are interested in your writing product (while it is free)… Many will glean nuggets of learning, a few will then sign up for your educational videos, and a few more come on trips. These readers seem very interested in your art in the shape of a book (not a surprise for a bunch of readers).

    You are very much focused on the quality of our product, the quality of your book, the quality of your ultraprints. However this drive for quality drives up prices for obvious reasons. As prices climb the perceived value drops (especially with this medium where your readers have “seen” the picture you are selling). As such you have ended up in a no-mans land where your pricing is too high for the readers of your site (generally speaking) and you haven’t broken through to the “next level” leaving all this behind.

    So, you can introduce some type of “volume” to your Ultraprinting to bring your costs and prices down and aim for more sales by lowering your prices while maintaining your margin… Or you can aim higher. Spend less time appealing to “readers” and spend this saved time elsewhere. Selling far fewer of what you produce to a clientele that will pay significantly more.

    I don’t know how much time this site takes, but you reply to many of your readers, and produce a fair amount of content. Imagine what you could achieve spending this time elsewhere. There is a fun small book by Seth Godin called “The Dip”, it is a fun read and has interpreted an idea I came across in “Mere Christianity” by CS Lewis he related to the birth, the death and the resurrection. But Godin talks about the dip, a long and difficult path you have to cross to reach the other side (and success)… But that wasn’t what struck me in his book, it was a small part where he talks about giving up. Basically, giving up is okay if you recognize you are not traversing the dip, but simply treading water and going nowhere. If you are, stop, give up, refocus and try something else.

    You have probably thought if all of this, you seem to be a thinker (as well as a writer) 🙂 Why would I bother, sometimes hearing it from someone else can help. Just a little background so you know who is delivering this. I run a design studio, with 2 offices, one in Manila and one in Toronto. I have been doing it for 10 years (my business) and have gone through a few moments where I take stock of where I am, where I am going, and where I want to be.

    What course are you on, and is it taking you where you want to be?

  14. Just a few comments

    Firstly, I really suggest you make an online gallery on this site or another with all your ultrapint-able photos listed, with prices and maximum print size (and number remaining, since you want to stick to limited print runs), to make it easier for casual browsers to order your work on the spot. Yes, everyone can go to flickr, browse there, and then contact you, but I think if you make it easier for people you will sell more, without compromising your standards. It also makes it easier just to browse your work – I was trying to find a picture on your site the other day to show someone and it took quite a long time to hunt down.

    Secondly, I notice the book question had “street / reportage / people” as the most popular option, while “landscapes” is the most popular for prints. I’m sure you have more data on this, but I think that these really are two separate markets and you can sell “technically less high quality” work of different subjects in a book, without affecting your Ultraprint market.

    Thirdly, the reason I don’t buy prints is because over the last 4 years I’ve moved 7 or 8 times, several times packing all my possessions into the baggage allowance of an international economy flight. Books are OK, family members are generally happy to take care of them, but prints are difficult. I’m not saying I’m typical, but many other readers will have their own reasons – sometimes there is nothing you can do to change it. Not everyone will be an Ultraprint customer, but that doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong!

    And finally, do keep up your amazing work. Your photography is truly inspiring, and your writing and teaching videos are really helping me understand what I need to do to improve my own photography. I would hate to see you become disillusioned with the photographic world!

    • I noticed the disconnect between subjects and prints also, though my ‘people’ work is for the most part also Ultraprintable. I don’t compromise in quality full stop. And honestly…the difference between the books and the information that’s actually there makes me cry – you’re talking about 75% or more of the information in the file not making it and being left behind; that to me is incomplete presentation.

      Reworking the gallery is a good idea, though. It’s probably far too complicated at the moment.

      • To be honest, I don’t really expect to convince you about the book 🙂 I can understand where you’re coming from regarding quality…

      • It’s contextual. People photos belong in a set as displayed in a book, in a digital album, or with accompanying photos on a dedicated wall space. For a centerpiece, or a ‘single piece’, a street photo is an ‘odd’ one to have behind ones couch.

        Thus, while I shoot both, it’s mostly the landscapes and abstracts that gets printed and displayed

        • Agreed, because we cannot relate to the people in random documentary it generally makes us uncomfortable. It’s one of the reason I would never offer a street print – aside from the obvious lack of permission – unless the figures are anonymous.

  15. “This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” Make the pictures YOU want to make. Do not compromise or waste your precious time and talent seeking the advice and approval of others. Clearly money is important so use your analytical and creative skills to expand your teaching revenue (books, speaking, videos, software, etc). This is not success http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/22/business/peter-liks-recipe-for-success-sell-prints-print-money.html

  16. Ming, I think you need to ask some other questions and recheck your expectations.

    To those who have bought your work: Why? Where did you hang it or place it? And in what city? Did you dry-mount it on board or heavy stock, or have it framed under glass? Cost? Are you still happy with your print? Still in its shipping tube?

    Who do you want to sell to, Ming? Your blog is great, but who follows it? Students, photographers, gearheads? And others, but who are they? Students and photographers have their own work and rent to pay. They would buy a book or a bargain print while a few who have the means will buy large expensive prints.

    Pros sell to galleries or exhibit in person, pros sell to interior designers, to magazines and do commissions for corporations and the rich. But most visual artists are in your shoes: they teach. Some get by on Sundays in the park with their easels or turn their houses into studios and galleries. What would you like to do? You’re already doing well, much better than most.

    One thing to watch: You have a lot of ambition and unfortunately that doesn’t sit well with an artist. Ambition casts a long shadow. It starts to whine after awhile. And get fat and ugly when successful. Better an agent or a wife or friend that can push your work out to the public.

    Then you say quite rightly that production and shipping costs are high because of where you live and work. If prints are that important you might consider moving to where your audience lives, where you can buy what you need. You’re like a one man army in the jungle without supply lines. You know where the money goes, to DHL and full retail plus customs and brokerage fees.

    Anyway you’re not alone. You have a lot of support right here on these pages. And you have a lot of talent.

  17. Heinrich has your answer – you need to bring your technical excellence to popular locations / subjects to sell lots of prints. People buy things because they like the subject, not because of the excellence of the execution. What’s your best-selling shot? What resolution is it? Would it sell more if it was in a higher resolution, or if it was cheaper? I only own one print – http://www.alphapix.com/phare02.shtml The resolution’s not brilliant, but the subject is awesome. It has sold over a million copies.
    On the subject of ultraprints, the problem is that people cannot appreciate them until they see them, and the price is too prohibitive to take a punt on. The only way to change that is to get them out there, either in galleries or museums – If you could get one in somewhere like the National Museum of film and photography in the UK, or the Deutsche museum in Munich as an example of “The highest resolution photo in the world” (does anything exist that’s more detailed than ultraprint?) with subject matter that everyone can enjoy scrutinising (like the Favela in this video https://vimeo.com/119343870 ) then you would sell more. Think of all the famous photographers – they’re famous for the things in their shots, not the technical standard of the shot. I think your landscape direction is the way forward – you can indulge your technical excellence and ultraprinting desire with subject matter that will sell.
    Ps. The shot in Ryan S’ post is brilliant :-).

  18. Peter Wright says:

    I am amazed at the number of people who seem to believe that the only reason for a print to exist is for wall decoration. Some of the best pictures I have seen I would never want on the walls of my house. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love to get hold of a print! Perhaps we can try to see the print as an art object in its own right? It can be exhibited or not.

  19. Hi Ming – I hope this feedback is of some value to you. I’ve wanted to own this image sine I first saw it and it’s always stayed in my mind.

    _8A02233 copy

    So why haven’t I approached you about purchasing it? 1.Not sure if it’s an image that lends itself to printing, and if it does, at what size? 2.I’ve never framed anything and assume it will be potentially time consuming and costly. 3.I would have a hard time w/ framing someone else’s work b/c I would want the end result as the artist intended it. 4.As much as I love the image, there isn’t a place in my house that particularly matches the style. I’m sure I could make it work somewhere, but it’s hard to commit to a print on the wall.

    A main reason that I got into photography was to decorate my own walls, but I’ve struggled for the same reasons. Prints are tough.

    Like everyone else, I’d love to have a book. If you find a way to produce one that you are happy with I would pay as much for it as I would a print. I understand the part about not being taken seriously w/ the Kickstarter route, but yours might be so successful that it changes perceptions. I would kick in $300 for the campaign. Maybe up to $500 for a special edition or with a small Ultraprint thrown in.

  20. Hi Ming,

    I find your tone slightly insulting to your regular readers, including myself. Suddenly, we are now just called ‘internet’, despite reading and following you for a long time. It seems you want answers to help you move forward with regards the printing of your work, but haven’t accepted anyone’s answers. You seem to be doing the opposite and not listening, when maybe you should. Many of the comments here are very constructive and I think you would do well to take the time to digest them and work out what is right for you. I would buy a book, no problem as I have purchased many photo books in the last 5 years. An Ultraprint, as amazing as I believe it is, doesn’t appeal to me personally. I have limited wall space, and the space I have is used for my own experimental prints. They just hang there, but at least a few times a week, I sit back and peruse one of the photo books I have and get lost in them. A bit like how I imagine many of your reader’s get lost in your photos from various posts, whether on their phone, tablet or computer.

    Digital to paper appears to be a difficult transition these days, but I truly hope you do find a solution that works for you.

    James

    • A little strongly worded, but I think you make a valid point. Asking for help and being receptive to help are two entirely different things. BUT Ming is a smart and talented guy. I think you are seeing his gut reactions to responses he probably didn’t expect. Give him a week or so to think about all these comments and he might decide to accept some of these suggestions (at least to some degree).

    • I apologise if it turned out that way, but that was not the intention. I have no way of knowing who specifically reads or follows unless they interact.

      I haven’t accepted anybody’s answers YET because if everybody who wanted to do something differently just listened to people who said ‘don’t bother’, the world would be missing quite a lot of things that we appreciate every day now…

  21. I think you should stop asking what people want (often people don’t even know this themselves) and focus on creating the most amazing prints that you as an artist want to create and can create within your financial reality. Take a limited risk and see how it goes. I guess that’s what you’re doing with the prints you’re already selling. I’m sure the success of those will tell you more about actual interest than these polls do.

    And to be honest, I sense a bit of irritation or maybe frustration in your replies to some people who comment here. As an artist myself, I can relate to that. Hence my tip to just do what you feel is right instead of asking what people want and getting worked up at their uninitiated responses (big prints, small money). Good luck.

  22. Ming,

    A lot of the comments are on the money as far as my thoughts go. I’ve bought two prints in my 50-year life. One was of an Ansel Adams and the second by John Shaw of Mirror Lake in Alaska. The one by Ansel was purely because of the photographer, and I had been to Mirror Lake so that was for the memory. I would have little interest in another print because of the space available in my home. So, a book is more interesting for me, and the quality is not the first thing I’d judge. Rather, it’s to see the composition, framing etc. I would never expect ta book to achieve the quality of an individual print. The kickstarter idea sounds like a good one.

    • Ming: I mirror Joe to a T. I don’t think we’re your audience here for prints. I’m not. I have my own work on the wall. I also in 45 years as a photographer purchased 2 prints. Also an Ansel Adams print when we were at the gallery in Yosemite. And B/W from another photographer who was at an “Art” show near our office. I have bought several books however.

  23. The trouble you’re seeing here is this: your audience is photographers, leaning toward the gearhead side of the spectrum. This means that, as a somewhat unfair generalization, your audience is more interested in cameras than in pictures.

    Your pictures also speak to this. You make photographs for photographers. They’re not Fine Art (as you’ve discovered), they’re not decor (not being primarily composed with two complementary colors and often not being very pretty), and they’re not retail photography (you’re not selling people pictures of themselves). Your photographs and your printing methods and so on are largely about surmounting technical problems. They’re photographs that are mainly interesting to photographers, and much less so to anyone else.

    Your Ultraprint pitch, and your discussion of your own work, wraps the whole thing up in a package. Your marketing message is focused on stuff that only photographers care about: resolution, color fidelity, multi-image stitching, all made with expensive gear. If you’re going to say “Zeiss Otus” in a pitch for a picture, that says a lot about you and who you think wants to buy it.

    The mass market doesn’t see much difference between a Ming Thein Ultraprint and an $8 print from Mpix.com because, to be honest, the differences are pretty subtle. The mass market doesn’t see much interesting in your pictures, either. They don’t go with the couch at all. They’re exercises in form, for the most part.

    Think this over carefully: Who’s going to hang most of these things on their wall, and why?

    If you want to make money selling prints, you need to figure out who you’re trying to sell them to, and why they want to buy them. You’ve discovered, I think, that the market for people who want to buy prints because they’re super-duper sharp is quite small. You can either be satisfied with the small market, pivot, or find something else to make money at.

    • No, you’re entirely missing the point. The reason the limitations need to be addressed in the first place is because I cannot translate what I’m seeing and intending in screen or conventional print. And you making a premature judgement – “they are prints for photographers and not art or decorative or retail”. It’s not about sharpness, it’s not about resolution, it’s about translation of an idea.

      Finally: how do you know nobody can tell the difference without having seen them? People can see the difference between a normal phone and a retina screen phone quite well. The difference here is even bigger.

      • You seem to be fixated on “no no ultraprints are awesome” and ignoring the “your marketing message is clearly aimed at gear lovers” part of my remarks. And that’s the part that actually matters.

        Still, you might just experiment with throwing an very high resolution file at Mpix, paying your $8, and doing some blind testing.

        • And you’re ignoring the fact you’re making a judgement without having seen something. I actually HAVE made a lot of comparisons between what I do now and ‘professional’ services in the past, which is the reason why I’m doing it: I couldn’t find any that were good enough. I wouldn’t be wasting time and a significant amount of money otherwise. I am trying to run a business here after all.

          • I’m happy to stipulate that everything you say about Ultraprints is absolutely true. My opinions on the matter are entirely beside the point.

            By my read you’re trying to work out how to turn half a million or so hits a month in to a dozen print sales a month (the numbers are guesses, “a lot of hits” into “more sales” seems to be the point, though). It seems like it ought to be tractable, but self-evidently it’s not. You’re selling a product, and people are not buying it to the extent that you want them to.

            The obvious statement is this: you need to change what you’re selling, how you’re selling it, or who you’re selling it to.

            I don’t think you can change what you’re selling. The Ming Thein brand is all about high end ultimate technique, ultimate everything. You’re selling a super-premium luxury product and there’s no changing that and more than a Rolls Royce econobox car makes sense.

            You can and probably should change how you’re selling it. You’re pushing the technique and technical details far too much, at the expense of the emotional impact. Reverse that. Just enough talk of tools and methods to support a message of differentiation, and then hit the emotional part hard. That’s what you seem to think you’re doing, but I am here to tell you: that is not the message that comes across. All I hear is “Zeiss Otus” “Medium Format” “720dpi” “recursive sharpening algorithm” when I read any of the pitches. If you want to sell a special experience, then sell that. Don’t sell me a bunch of gear, sell me the idea of actually being there when I look at the print. Sell me the smell of the forest.

            Who are you selling to? Well, you have a super-premium luxury good. Who buys those? You probably have a few of those people reading your blog, but not very many because there just aren’t that many. Your job isn’t to figure out what the rank and file blog readers will buy, because you already know they won’t buy super-premium photographic prints. That’s well established.

            Figure out how to reach out to those people who DO read your blog and who DO buy these kinds of things. Your polls do not include household income, and to be perfectly blunt, they SHOULD. They should include include questions about other luxury goods your household has bought. Pitch out everything said by anyone who makes less than half a million a year, or who hasn’t bought some reasonably high end luxury item.

            Then reach out to those people personally.

            Now figure out how to reach those consumers of premium luxury products who do NOT read your blog.

            You want Peter Lik’s customers. Guys who pull down enough to afford to drop 5 figures on a suit 6 figures on a car, but who don’t have enough to pay people to tell them what to buy. Where are they? Go get ’em.

            • Andrew, I think your comments are spot on. Combine focusing on the emotional side of the photographs and finding the right customers with an earlier recommendation to get his stuff into museums and galleries around the world (the all important name recognition factor) and I think Ming’s photography could bring him a steady and a significant income!

            • Points valid and taken. You’re right, I can’t change what I’m selling because the end print product just feels like a compromise otherwise because you know you can do better. I simply don’t have access to those half million a year plus people; I’m not in the right clubs or live in the right areas or have friends who could introduce me. I have no idea how they buy or think because I’ve never been there (and likely never will be, as an artist). I suppose this is where agents and reps come in and we’re back to square one with galleries. The odd thing is I suspect a few hundred a print is too cheap for that crowd; maybe I’ve already shot myself in the foot by trying to make them at least somewhat accessible for proliferation of viewing.

              • I’ll just chime in here to say that I suspect you’re actually a lot closer to the half million plus market than most photographers, thanks to your work with watches…. to me, that’s another world almost as far away as Peter Lik’s high end sales. (I remember was reading the economist as a student one day and found a survey that included the question – “how much did your most expensive watch cost?” I laughed out loud at the first of five options being “$10,000 or less”.)

                Anyway – how are expensive watches marketed and sold? I seem to remember from an earlier blog post you like cigars – how are expensive cigars marketed and sold? Perhaps you should not be looking at other photographers, but at the producers of hand made luxury goods. This contradicts my point above about having a more easily accessible gallery site, but if you are serious about moving up market, drop the low end entirely and sell nothing under a couple of thousand dollars and focus attention on marketing to high net worth individuals only. (Personally, not being high net worth, I’d be disappointed, but I’d understand completely if that makes more business sense to you.)

                • Wow. Interesting post with may interesting comments. Much of the ground has been covered, but Andrew and JJ sparked an idea that you may want to mull over. You have a love (and passion) for watches, and I am assuming that you still have connections in the industry. Why not run an very exclusive series of Ultraprints of a specific watch model and see if you could market/sell the prints in an exclusive package with the watch model. Even if a manufacturer may not be interested in teaming mu with you, perhaps a regional distributor or local dealer would want to do so. If I was going to spend money on a very special JLC, Vacheron Constantin, or whatever brand you wish to fill in for an example, I would be thrilled to have an exclusive Ultraprint photo to make my special purchase that much more special. It hits on the emotion that others have talked about that gets folks to spend. And I suspect that watch collectors are enough of gear heads to appreciate all of the effort that you put into your Ultraprints. It may not be where you want to spend your marketing time in the long term, but it may allow you to open doors for future sales. And, I do not believe that there are many photographers who can make a watch look like you can. I could say the same for cars, but that market does not seem as exclusive, and you really need to be targeting your skills at folks with disposable income.

                  Good luck,

                  –Ken

              • Here’s a set of ideas, maybe you can find something you can use in here. It’s in two parts.

                Part One: The pitch.

                Select a couple of images that you think would fare well as Very Small Ultraprints. You want them to fully convey your vision in as small a print as possible, because these are going to be a high end freebie (but see part two). Print a bunch of them. These go into a package, in a sealed envelope with a beautifully printed card with instructions: “Block out 20 minutes, get a soothing beverage, sit down, with the light such-and-such, and start the following youtube video”. The video is, of course, just audio, and is a sort of guided meditation, it’s you, giving the pitch for the emotional appeal of the small picture they’re taking out of the sealed envelope. You’re walking them through that first moment, that first glance, and the few minutes afterwards where they drink it in.

                You want to get these things into the hands of qualified customers. The guy with the Rolex, the Ferrari, and in interest in fine photography. He’s not as rich as the guy who sends a minion to Christie’s to bid in the Cindy Sherman, but he’s doing pretty well.

                Part Two: Finding These Customers

                You probably have a couple of these Rolex and Ferrari guys reading your blog now. Hi guys! But, you need access to more, if you’re going to get your product out there.

                Your readers cannot all afford these luxury items, BUT they like you, they are interested and want you to succeed, and some of them may be motivated to be part of your success. So, make them in to commissioned sales people. Split the cost of the “pitch kit” with people who apply (you want your sales associates to have some skin in the game, otherwise everyone will sign up to get the free print). Make a sale, get a commission, OR get credits toward an ultraprint of your own, or whatever.

                On the one hand it smacks of a multi-level marketing scheme (ugh) but on the other hand there’s only one level, and you’re interested only in recruiting people who feel a personal connection with you and your art.

            • Another vote for this comment from Andrew. I tried to say something similar, but fuzzed out by not speaking bluntly. Time to simplify: emotion sells, technique doesn’t. And, that portion of your audience which can afford Ultraprints is tiny; you need to reach beyond us to the people with deep pockets.

      • I have sheet film contact prints on my walls and have for years. I’ve seen your closeups of your prints, and I’ve made my own close examinations of cheap commercial prints, good enlarged prints, and of good contact prints. No I don’t actually know what your prints look like but I have a pretty fair estimate. Things which matter to you don’t matter to most people who buy photographs. And most people don’t buy photographs in the first place.

        • “No I don’t actually know what your prints look like but I have a pretty fair estimate.”

          “I’ve seen your closeups of your prints”

          Which is true? I’m 99% sure you haven’t seen a print, so the closeups you’ve seen ARE NOT A PRINT. Surely somebody who has such experience with prints should know there’s a big difference in impact between one square inch and 10,000 square inches.

    • First: I print my own work and hang it (and sell it), and I buy other people’s prints and photo books as well although not all that often. I’m not unfamiliar with fine art printing.

      I think your comment is right on the money. It’s amazing how many people who call themselves photographers do not print at all and have no appreciation for fine art printing. I’m not saying that learning the ins and outs of printing is something all photographers should know about, just that it seems that a high percentage of people who know something about the technical aspects of using cameras don’t seem to have explored fine art printing with the same enthusiasm.

      That might not prevent them from buying one of Ming’s prints but it probably influences their answers to the questions in the poll.

  24. Since I received your ultraprint and started work on printing my own photos, I’ve been wondering about the idea of the “professional” photo album, as an interesting way of having a selection of photographs by an artist together that didn’t run into the pit falls of the photobook. Obviously they’d be expensive to make, but I think done well, they could be a really interesting art object in their own right.

  25. NeutraL-GreY says:

    I want to buy prints on a regular basis. Ideally price will be an after thought at some point in the future but at the moment I’m a collage student and the little money that runs through my hands goes to advancing my art. I have a long list of books and prints from various photographers (other types of artists as well) that I WILL buy when I can. If you are still doing what you do now years down the road I will buy a significant amount of prints from you.

  26. ‘Tis a puzzlement. My own responses to the survey are not fully accurate. I found myself floating between “What is a fair price?” in the abstract, attempting to look at the market — and what I can afford to pay. My means are very limited. I have purchased prints from photographers in the past two years, but only at prices you would probably find insulting, or, at best, wildly unrealistic.

    The explanation setting up the survey seems to imply an interest in shaping the product to increase sales to your existing audience, the readers of this blog. That is most sensible. By definition the the potential market, the audience, already exists. It’s a matter of preaching (or in this case, selling) to the choir. No need to evangelize in search of converts. No need to change your approach to content in order to appeal to a broader market. No compromises required.

    That being the case, I think an analysis of the reader reaction to images seen online offers one path. Not just a ranking of published images by the number of faves received, but something more in-depth. Determine which images in your posts generate the most direct click-through responses to see it larger and with a dark surround. Which of those prompts the next move, hitting the L key to see the image even more showcased in the less cluttered display. These are the images in which there is the highest emotional interest.

    An additional level of interest may be found in those which generate a query for access to the highest available resolution, but those responses may have more to do with fixation on technical qualities rather than emotion. Emotion sells. Technique, not so much. In fact, back in the heyday of ’50’s-60s modern jazz there used to be a joke in which a musician is heard to ask, “Have you heard my latest recording? It’s called ‘Technique’.”

    Finding the key to analyzing emotional response may be an aid in curating images in terms of what will sell.

  27. Try asking a lot less, smaller prints, gain exposure. I saw this done successfully a few years ago but I can’t remember who the photographer was. I think someone from Lenswork magazine. For your readers, spending hundreds on a print means perhaps foregoing another lens purchase. They don’t want to be comparing the cost of a print to the cost of a lens, at the same time thinking that the next lens or camera will move them to a higher category of professionalism. Why else do we spend big bucks on cameras and lenses except to create our own art? We admire your work, but we have our own dreams.

  28. Peter Wright says:

    It seems from the comments that print making is primarily seen as being either for interior decoration, or investment. We can achieve the first of these with our own work at low cost or buy low cost reproductions of van Gough. To purchase a print as an investment, the artist needs to be famous (ever priced an original Ansel Adams print?). Speaking for myself, I make my own prints and buy other photographer’s prints (including one ultraprint) for the art they are. I don’t frame them or hang them up except occasionally – I don’t have the room. Instead, I put them in archival slips and boxes and get them out for viewing or showing from time to time. I have no idea if this ‘collection’ will be worth anything when I’m gone, but that is not my concern.

    I am much more interested in the subject matter, light, composition than the technical qualities of the print (although print quality certainly does matter). So ultraprinting per se, will not get me to part with my – very finite – spare money. The size also has to be reasonable as I need to store and handle the print. (I actually threw out a commissioned oil painting (4ft x 5ft) of my family that I inherited but couldn’t store and didn’t want to see every single day.)

    I also purchase books, but only about three of the ones in my collections feature living photographers (Salgado, Bailey, and Martin Parr). So the photographer really needs to be a long established artist with a massive oeuvre, and a clearly developed style over many years for that to make any money. Even books by stratospherically well known photographers like Cartier-Bresson, only sell in the 2-3000 region as far as I know. I recently bought ‘The Decisive Moment’ hardback reprint by HCB complete with the slip cover by Matise, for about $80. I don’t see how photographer can make a living at that level with books.

    • You have this collecting and investing business back asswards. If you wait until a photographer (or any other artist) is famous before buying their photographs (or their books), then the marginal increase in value is almost always going to be small. An original Ansel Adams print today may be very expensive but, when inflation is taken into account, it will generally hold today’s value for a long time in the future. You have to recognize art and skill and themes in a photographer’s work when he or she is unknown or relatively unknown. A first run copy of Ed Ruscha’s self-printed “Twenty-Six Gas Stations” is worth quite a lot of money (the original was six bucks). Along the same themes you might look at Tom Hindle or Greg Disch.My advice is to get a copy of “The Highway as Habitat” and focus on Roy Stryker’s work from 1943 to 1955. My black and white road and Americana collection that I started in the late 60’s when I was 26 has become not only a great investment but something that I really, really enjoy viewing and sharing.

      • Peter Wright says:

        I don’t think I have anything “back asswards”. What I am saying is that I buy what I like without any consideration for the investment potential. If by some chance it grows in value, so much the better. None of that however helps Ming in his quest to understand what people are likely to buy.

        • Perhaps I did. But you did say “To purchase a print as an investment, the artist needs to be famous (ever priced an original Ansel Adams print?).” I was saying that if buy an original Adams print for $10,000 you are already paying the seller’s markup. So the street price is probably around $8,000. Now I have a $10000 investment in the print. How long do I need to hold on to that print for it to double in value? Taking into account inflation, and since the price is already inflated for “a famous photographer”, you’ll have to will the print go your grandchildren before anyone can pull a decent profit from your investment.

          I also only buy what I like. And while I am almost 70 years old, I started collecting in my twenties. I have a large B&W collection with sound provenance that has steadily increased in value because many if the photographers were mostly unknown to the public in the 60s. Some still are. But the quality and composition and coherent themes of their work makes their images valuable to a small but aggressive group of collectors.

          While I wouldn’t buy Ming’s uktraprints (I’m not wild about forest views regardless of their resolution), I would certainly buy, if they were priced right (a few hundred dollars) professionally printed images that I see in most of his blogs!

          Just some thoughts.

          • earldcox says:

            Sorry for all the typos in that post. Typing quickly on my iPad, in back seat of moving car, at the mercy of autocorrect and fat fingers!

            • Peter Wright says:

              I think we are in agreement. However, just so you know; an ultraprint does not have to be of “forrest views” or anything else for that matter. The ultraprint that I have is of a London street scene that I asked for specifically (so as far as I know I have a print from a run of exactly one), and the price was barely “a few hundred dollars”. So have at it and add a Ming Thein to what sounds like a very nice collection!

              • I agree about the forest subject matter. It was simply a reference to Ming’s statement, in a previous post, that he wanted to bring the experience of being in a forest to people who have never been in one, hence the ultraprint series of forest scenes.

          • Earl, the ultrprints that aren’t forests ARE a few hundred dollars (and have always been) and according to everybody who’s viewed them physically, better than anything else they’ve seen. It isn’t so much about the printing but the transparency they lend the idea and the image and how the whole package works together.

  29. I answered the poll questions, but I’ll leave a few more details here. Possibly none of this applies to no one else, but then again maybe you have other readers in a similar situation.

    I’ve looked through the gallery and seriously considered buying a print. I’m a graduate student, though, and so I’m going through that period of life where you have to pick up and move every 8-12 months to a new apartment or city for school or work. Every time I pack up all my possessions and try to fit them in the back of a truck (and every time one of said possessions gets broken in the process) it teaches me to cut down on “stuff” as much as possible. So I can’t justify a print at the moment, neither of my own work nor of yours.

    The other issue is income. As a student with rent and tuition and groceries to buy, my monthly spending money is about $200 USD. That means that every time I buy one of the videos even, it represents a huge investment for me. I think it’s worth it when I can afford it, but that’s not as often as I’d like. (The videos ARE nice, though, because they can’t get broken in the back of a truck :)). The prints I think are priced very fairly for what you get. Not being able to see them in person is a bit of a concern, but at the end of the day it comes down to trust, and I’ve followed you for long enough to know I can trust you to only sell work you’re proud of. But for myself, even a fair price is out of reach at the moment. That is not a problem with your business model, and I hope it will change soon. Then I’ll buy one.

    Anyway, hopefully that was not too much personal information for no reason. But maybe you have other transient or poor fans in the same boat.

    • Hey, grad student, how about “none of this applies to anyone else”?

    • Thank you Robyn, and I can fully appreciate that. I can’t make them any cheaper because a) postage costs me $60-70 depending on destination, and b) we have to import the paper because we’re the only people in the country using it. Each print has to be proofed several times to get to perfect, too. Production cost because of this is probably 70% of the price…

  30. I am really struggling to understand the majority of the comments here. As an artist, Ming has to protect the integrity of his work. You can’t do that by devaluing it. Having seen and purchased an Ultraprint, they represent excellent value. More than that, they support the artist and not simply by covering their costs. Full time artists can’t go around producing work and selling it at prices that only cover their costs plus some small nuisance fee; they need to pay rent, eat, transport themselves to locations where they are inspired to make their art in the first place etc. I wonder how many people would be comfortable with a paycheque that barely covered the cost of gas they had to spend getting to and from work? Also, I doubt very much that if you asked any established artist that works in other mediums such as painters, musicians, textile artists, sculptors etc. what kind of work they prefer to display in their home that they would say they only like displaying their own work. I know enough artists to know that that is emphatically not the case. Not only do they need to be surrounded by and inspired by the work of other artists, as fellow artists they know the value of their colleague’s work and know that they need to be appropriately compensated for it. In short, artist have a sense of community. Perhaps the people that want large prints sold, packaged and shipped around the world at prices that wouldn’t cover Ming’s costs let alone allow him to put food on the table or a camera in his hands suggests that these people are more collector’s of gear than genuine artists. Perhaps these people even produce some good work but they don’t share the sentimentality of an artist. Someone that did understand artists would better understand the costs involved in producing the work. Go to any commercial gallery and the gallerist will tell you; selling art is an uphill battle trying to convince potential buyers of the rigour of the artist’s work and their reputations in the art community. Art isn’t made in a vacuum.

    Ming: keep doing exactly what you are doing. Every artist runs in to loads of opposition from people that don’t understand their work. I know I’m not alone in believing in what you’re doing.

    • Dave,

      I think the problem here is that with the ubiquitous nature of the internet (and its contents) people seem to have become accustomed to an attitude of more for less (or free). To put it simply, people say “Why buy a print when I can just head over to XYZ’s website/Flickr page/blog and look at the images for inspiration.?”

      I agree the Forest series may be quite a stretch for most people and a tough pill to swallow when they haven’t experienced an Ultraprint firsthand but Ming has always stated that you could order a print of any other image from his Flickr stream at your preferred size provided the resolution and quality of the file holds up. I have taken advantage of this and will soon be a proud owner of 2 more Ultraprints printed at a convenient size and reasonable price (for me at least).

      There are also a couple of people who asked Ming to open the Ultraprint process to anyone willing to pay for it. Anybody who has taken the time to read up on the science behind the Ultraprint will realise that the requirements for a file/image to be Ultraprintable are very, very (almost prohibitively) high. A 24Megapixel file from my Nikon will only yield a 6×9 print! And that’s just the scratching the surface of how complicated an Ultraprint gets.

      I find that most people don’t understand or bother to read up on what an Ultraprint is. They are therefore comparing an apple to an orange and saying one is too expensive! Before I purchased any of Ming’s videos or prints I approached a few of the members of his Flickr group and they were more than willing to give me their opinion on his work. So there is no dearth of information on the quality of his prints and videos for people to be especially apprehensive about buying one.

      I thoroughly agree with your statement, “Not only do they need to be surrounded by and inspired by the work of other artists, as fellow artists they know the value of their colleague’s work”. For me, the Ultraprints (and Nick Brandt’s books) have been the photographic equivalent of a motivational poster. Something to remind you of what is possible with enough time and perseverance and push you towards it.

      Unfortunately very few people seem to relate to this.

      • Thank you, Praneeth. Perhaps the problem is one that cannot be solved by the internet – it is one of real seeing, and that was the whole intention of the prints in the first place – to overcome the limits of digital media.

    • Thank you, David. As you say, in person is really necessary before making a judgement…

  31. Hello Ming, i like the way you try to make your Art work. In the above comments you can find two main Points, and i think an i agree with them.
    One Point is, most of them are Photographers and they like to hang their own Work on their walls.
    The second Point is, they appreciate the quality of your Ultra-Prints. They also like your Art-Work, but in a book (typically for a Photographer i think) and not on their walls.
    So as you can see, the demand is there. You have developed an unique and – as it seems – wonderful technique to print Pictures. So why don´t you offer Ultraprints to the people for their own Pictures. So, if it works for you, you can lower the costs and you can also Print more Ultraprints of you own work, show them to the public an sell them directly. In my opinion Ultraprints must be shown in person to value them, not online. It could be a win-win Situation, even if it is – or might be – a lot of work for you.
    Selling your own Prints to the right Audience might be not too hard if you use your good contacts to the business-world and present them in a style the companies prefer, for example printed on Alu-Dibond so the can hand them on their walls?
    Like your blog very much, regards, Ingo.

  32. Hi Ming
    I followed your blog for some time and I have always enjoyed to read it. I usually buy few works in a year from different artists. When I started buying almost 14 years ago it was just a hobby like collecting books (yes I collect books) now I see it like a form of investment and I can say that half of the works I have acquired can be resold for the same amount or the double. It is true that I only buy numbered limited editions like when you adquire a lithographic prints. Have you considered an Artists’ book or art book. They are often published in small editions, though sometimes they are produced as one-of-a-kind objects referred to as “uniques”. I´m thinking in making the book separated from the prints but contained in the same packaging in some sort of special edition. I consider you an excellent teacher and professional photographer but of course I can only base my opinion on your digital path. I wish you all the best and good luck.

  33. Alex Carnes says:

    Hi Ming – I’ve just been having a browse through your gallery, and I’m left wondering if perhaps the ultraprint has become a bit of a commercial and perhaps even artistic hindrance? I say that because you only seem to offer for sale images with enough resolution for those prints, which means some of your work that I admire doesn’t seem to be offered for sale; and also, if you’ll forgive me, some of the photos, like forest scenes etc., seem designed to show off the technical achievement of your printing process rather than your finest compositions. I’m sure they look amazing ‘in the flesh’, as it were, but as you know better than most these days, it’s the composition that has primacy. Look at your gallery site with fresh eyes, if you can, and ask yourself if it really showcases, in a clear and obvious way, your most striking and original images. Should ‘Lake Hawea I’ and ‘Below the horizon’ and ‘Fog, Vienna’ really share space with ‘The inner workings of a tree’ and ‘Division’? I’m sure you’re going to tell me that I’d appreciate the latter two if I saw them ultraprinted, but the fact remains that I’m not convinced the site as it stands really represents a testament to The Art of Ming Thein; it’s more of a showcase for a printing method, which we can’t appreciate anyway without taking a financial leap of faith. I’m sure it’s amazing, but only if we look so closely that we can’t see the entire composition. ‘Forest III’ – I’m sure the detail is amazing, but…

    Just thinking out loud. To sell art, you need to concentrate on images with special emotional force and appeal, and perhaps find a slightly neater and more direct way of showcasing them. I know you’re going to say I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I just wonder if you’re a bit too attached to the technical achievement of your printing method.

    • I mostly agree with Alex here. Ming, you are a brilliant photographer, but I do think the “ultraprint” approach starts to blur the line between true art and novelty. Don’t get me wrong, I admire and applaud your drive to push the technical boundaries, but at the end of the day, a true work of art cannot succeed solely on its technical quality. I’m not suggesting that your current work lacks creative intent, but I think there is something inherently wrong with having to, in a sense, sell your work on the basis of having to see the print to truly appreciate the work. I equate this approach to the early days of IMAX films, where the content was highly driven by what made best use of the large format/high resolution viewing experience. They were stunning films to see in the theatre (mostly for the effect), but ultimately, were never the films you wanted to own and watch again and again.

      A truly great photograph should appeal to the viewer regardless of the viewing size or medium. Sure a great photograph is made better when seen as the photographer intended, but it should not be a requirement to understand its overall appeal. Concept, composition, and emotion will trump technical quality every time.

      • I disagree entirely. An oil painting that is made magical because of the nature of the medium and the richness of the colours wouldn’t work as a watercolour or pencil sketch. The difference between screen – most people read this site on their phones – and print is massive. Suggesting otherwise is rather illogical.

        • “most people read this site on their phones”

          Wow, that surprises me. Are you sure about that?

          If that’s the case, I’m not sure those are the people who will appreciate high end printing.

          • That’s what my site stats tell me – Safari iOS seems to be a good 60%. I’m not pitching to everybody, but there is probably a big enough market out there.

        • Alex Carnes says:

          Ming – Yes, I know what you mean, and I’ve no doubt that your ultraprints are superior and very lovely. BUT, I’m sure you’d be the first to admit that most (all?) images that look great at 720 dpi would also like absolutely fine at 300 dpi; indeed, if you were standing even at the minimum distance necessary to see the whole image without moving your head, you might well struggle to see the difference.

          I think the point I’m making is simply that your gallery site looks like you’re pushing this technical aspect of production too hard. The first thing I would want to see on your gallery page is a small selection of the most striking images you’ve ever made. Instead, I see a few images of trees. I mean, they’re not bad photos; they’re very good, and honestly, I like them! But they’re nowhere near your best are they? They’re there because they contain lots of high frequency detail, and that shows off the benefits of your ultraprint technique (plus attendant high res cameras, sharp lenses, shot discipline etc.) I’m not saying don’t ultraprint; I’ll probably buy one or more at some point because I’ve every faith in your judgement, and I like your photos. But your commitment to the printing method just seems to be skewing the way you present your work in the wrong direction. With my Canon iP8750, I can see the difference quite easily between images I shot at 16, 24 and 36 MP (printing at A3+), but that wouldn’t cause me preferentially to showcase only those images I shot with my A7R!

    • Well said.

  34. I prefer to have large’ish prints. A2 or minimum A3+. The few times I’ve tried from various people, the vendor flat out didn’t support shipping those sizes to Europe finished in-frame or even in-canvas, and/or the price/cm^2 became astronomically high compared to A3/A4/lesser sizes. Although I do print and mount at home (13″ inkjet), I can’t be bothered to buy raw prints and frame them myself….those should come as finished products

  35. Ming,

    I know that the book option might not be feasible, but I cannot be alone when I say that an educational themed book by you would certainly get my money, or any book for that matter!
    Best of luck with your endeavors!!

  36. Ciao Ming, I think my two cents are the same as many of other readers. We usually prefer to hang our own photos, those times we decide to have something printed.
    I know the Ultraprint quality marks a big difference and experience (well, I assume this from your posts and buyers comments) when viewing them, but I think it’s also “not enough” to regularly substitute our own photos.
    Don’t take it bad, I’m simply saying that personally I think that a photograph really comes to life when it’s printed, and when we take a good one we prefer to show our creation.
    I add this: a friend of mine owns an original E.Erwitt print in his office, something I would like to have but cannot afford.
    This makes me think of another factor, the name of the photographer.
    I don’t want to compare apples to oranges, but it’s something to take into account.

    About printed books: I love them for different reasons, the main one is that through the images you can get an idea of the photographic philosophy of the author. Then you enjoy images, and learn something through each of them. Add some interesting text about the subjects and project and you get my attention.
    I understand that you can’t afford an Ultraprint quality throuout the whole book, but it would be cool to insert an example: in this way the book could also work as a catalogue.
    The last books I bought in the last two months are The Decisive Moment by H.C.Bresson (big, heavy and perhaps a little bit too expensive, considering the quality of paper), Tales Of Tono, by Daido Moriyama (a little, cheap book soaked with black ink: perfect only for his style), and a beautiful book by Beth Moon: Ancient Trees, portraits of time.
    This latter was a surprise: the photographs are nice copies of platinum-palladium photos. Quality is good, it was a pleasure to look at the images and read some captions at the end of the book. Since it was sold out, the only copy available through Amazon came for 300$, but I simply waited and got mine for 50$, a price that I consider cheap.
    Back to you: I would spend 100/150$ for a similar quality photo book from you (assuming that the subject is of my interest).
    (No, I’m not rich at all, but I really appreciate your work)

    Sorry for the river of words. 🙂

  37. Steinar Knai says:

    Hello MING, I think most of us who are photographers prefer to print or have printed our own images. I much prefer hanging my own work to buying a print and the commercial printers like whitewall do a pretty good job. With digital photo and good software I find that my own work is more than sufficient to hang in a A3 or A2 format.
    Kind regards, Steinar

    • I second that.
      A book with a nice print quality would be another thing, but only with a full online preview of what I am getting (low res of course).

      • Heinrich says:

        I would partially agree but I think the motifs of your ultraprints could be an issue! I think most people if they would spend a lot of money for an ultraprint/wallprint, would like to have a WOW Effect (not just overblown by the print quality –> “was it photographed or painted??” ) from a place (landscape/cityscape) which is commonly known e.g Venice,. Niagara Falls, Grand Canyon, Yosemite Park, Bryce Canyon, Ayers Rock, New twin towers, petronas towers, Singapore Mandalay Bay,Tiananmen Square etc……it is somehow schizophrenic and contradictory but i think most people would buy and have an ultraprint of a more ore most known, popular motif/sight or of avery interesting/spectacular place or unique design building whatever it is architecture/cityscape, landscape …(so it doesnt have to be really widely known but if this is the case than it has to be unique, spectacular to justify the price tag, to get this printed as an ultraprint, hanging it on the wall and for some to accept it was made by someone else…… Additionally for some people it could be a another reason to buy one if they might have been there a few years ago and have emotions connected with the motif due to their experiences holidays or stay some years ago even more than it was jsut an impressive print, widely known, spectacular capture (WOW)…
        This could be boring for you because a lot of sights or motifs are often photographed or known as the visitors hot spots but it seems for me they are not capable of having neither the knowledge /education (how to see like you, framing/composing to capture really the uniqueness/magnificence of the place, technique of photography, making ultraprints etc..) nor the gear to make it….but maybe with your excellent eyes and educational background you see details which hasnt been seen so far even the sights are often photographed
        They just make pics often selfies to impress the family and or friends “i was…” esp. in asian world it is the case due to the fact of having so less holidays 14 days per year or even less and to show their social status i can afford….

        I think these facts couls increase the chances of selling more ultraprints because photographs/art has to be emotive (not just transfer ambiance of the scene, also create new within the individual looking at it to buy it in the end!) My 2 cents…

        Sorry for any typos and i hope you understand my points my english is not the best..;)
        Take care and keep it up!
        Regards Heinrich

  38. I don’t know that even my wife feels the same way, so I can’t say this is global, but when looking for wall decoration I am looking not just for nice images (or pieces) but something that says something about me. The obvious match is photos of my own, but it needn’t be that narrow.

    What do teenagers hang on their walls? Band posters and Lamborghinis. (Okay, they did when I was young.) Or look what people post to their Tumblrs, which have replaced bedroom ceilings for many youths. These days, I find myself more attracted to wall-hanging photos of local California, waves, and ribbon highways rather than beautiful landscapes of exotic places, or foreign architecture. The other stuff might be photographically more excellent, but I’ve just bought a bunch of old, worn road signs to hang on my walls because I identify with them more than beautiful photos someone else took somewhere I don’t associate with.

    Ming, I think you take some fantastic photos, certainly technically stellar (maybe genius) but rarely subjects I personally identify with. Your photos of cars and people in Cuba are some of my favorites, I stared at them a long time, but I still don’t know I’d buy them to hang on a wall. And it’s nothing to do with the quality — they’re incredible photos that make me wish I’d shot them, but apart from that they mean nothing to me. I’m not Cuban, I’ve never been to Cuba, and while I want to look at your photos I don’t want to hang them because, I suspect, they say nothing about me.

    This is a long way of saying, not that your photos aren’t excellent (many are), and not that your photos are unmarketable (if I were Cuban…), but that selling art for walls is about more than photographic excellence. It’s finding the market for your images, and that might be a lot more narrowly targeted than an online storefront seen mostly by your readers. Or, alternatively, identifying a potential market and producing work to target it. A series of San Francisco photos might appeal to me more than a series of Kuala Lumpur, but for your neighbors the opposite.

    The art book, however, is an easier broad sell. I am quite sure I would buy one, especially if it had a few of those Cuba photos. Because it wouldn’t go on my wall, it doesn’t have to be a reflection of myself, and because it’d come from you I would comfortably expect top quality print despite buying online. Even if it’s no ultra print…

    • Brilliant comment.

      There’s a difference between enjoying looking at an image, and wanting it up on your wall. Many ways to do the former (online, book, notecard, postcard) but the latter involves a bigger commitment and in the end, you might not want it there after a while. Then what?

  39. I’ve been reading your site for a year or two now and have really enjoyed it. I read it for the knowledge just as much as I do for the images. I think an ultra print sounds wonderful and would love to get to view one someday. However, I doubt I would ever buy one or any other piece of fine art for that matter. Personally, I go to museums for such things. So if you could sell a print to the St. Louis art museum in Missouri that would be great. Now a book is something I would buy. So much more content in a package which doesn’t take up as much space. It’s like a mini museum. It’s also hard for me to mentally justify buying something intangible like your videos. It may be irrational, but I want something I can touch, feel, hold, and take with me anywhere. A book would do that for me. A great example is Chris Schwarz and co. at http://www.lostartpress.com. He’s a woodworker but an artist like you. I see many similarities between you and he. I haven’t bought any of his videos, but I’ve got 5 or 6 of his books. In the end, knowledge in a format I enjoy is what I crave the most.

    Just my two bits.
    Sorry for the long winded comment.

    • I’m going to suggest an alternative viewpoint: I have to experiment and push and print to do the creative stuff that you and the rest of the internet seem to appreciate but don’t want to pay for. Books are loss making or at best very slightly profitable but with an enormous upfront outlay which most photographers (me included) cannot afford to risk or don’t have. It’s a very unsustainable and contradictory state of affairs…

      • You’ve asked for our (your readership’s/”internet’s”) opinions to find a way to tailor what you do to your possible costumer base. Everyone of your replys to the comments posted seems fairly jaded so far. Personally, that doesn’t seem like a good tactic to maintain said theoretical costumer base. If you can’t handle the response with an open mind, then don’t ask the question. I, the consumer, don’t need you. As a producer, you need the consumer. The only reason I’ve taken the time to comment is because I’m trying to help you out and give you as much information as possible about me, your consumer. I think you’re a wonderful photographer and you’ve found a way to disseminate information in an interesting and engaging manner. If you want me and others like me to provide you with business, then a book is the way to go. Others have found ways of making it profitable otherwise there wouldn’t be so many photography books out there. Personally I think you would create something for which my hard earned money is truly worth paying.

        • Well, that’s because most seem to want something that isn’t possible. You’re right on two counts: the customer base for this is largely theoretical, and as much as the customer doesn’t need something they don’t want, it isn’t in my interests either to produce work that I’m not happy with to satisfy customers for small amounts of profit. I might as well go back to working for a big company in that case because a) the satisfaction of creating something you as an artist is happy with is totally lost; b) we don’t produce anything most of the time anyway especially in finance/consulting, and c) the pay is much better.

          It’s not that I’m not trying to make a book work – the complete opposite – it’s just that the reality of it seems to be a) most people lose money unless they are extremely famous or sponsored, and b) the price/cost/quality ratio does not have a happy meeting point. Either the cost is astronomical for the quality level desired, or the quality is so bad it doesn’t do justice to the images. I have been told by many privately who have published books that they would not do it again other than for the publicity/ profile. It does not at all justify the investment.

          • I think the money now is in education, as it is within many people’s grasp now to have a big print sitting in their room that they took, that looks 80% as good to them (and therein lies the rub..) as something taken by a real master. I don’t know how rosy tinted your glasses are looking back at finance and consultancy, but eating crap and creating nothing are a serious opportunity cost, and coming from a similar sort path, I spend most of my days thinking of my photography and how much captial I need to accumulate before I can safely just spend the rest of my days shooting 😉

          • I can definitely respect your artistic choices. As a teacher, I tell my students everyday that money isn’t everything That if they devote themselves to something and become the best at it someone will pay them got it. Happiness is what’s important. My last thought is perhaps you could start a kickstarter campaign. Not just for a book, but anything you want to try. It can be a method to get money pledged for items before you put in a huge self investment.

            I wish you all the best in your endeavors.

          • Frans Richard says:

            Hi Ming,
            I’m sorry it seems things are not turning out the way you wanted or hoped for. Continuing on what bmhingst said, it seems to me you are not looking at the results of your market research with an open mind. The logical conclusion from the results, in my opinion, can only be that the customer base for your ultraprints is very small (at least amongst the readers of your blog). This may, perhaps, not have been entirely unexpected, but it seems not to be what you hoped for. Now you can keep lingering in negative thoughts about that, but that will not get you anywhere. I would like to suggest you try to take a step back, take a helicopter view, and think about this with an open mind: do most seem to want something that isn’t possible, or do you want something that isn’t possible?
            I think you should try to let go and move on to something else. That something else could be a book. The results clearly show there is a customer base for a book. A book at a certain price level. You probably think that price level is to low for the quality level you strive for, but is it to low for the quality level your customers expect? Are you willing to make a book at a quality level that is not at the perfection level you set for yourself but acceptable for you and good enough for your audience? If so, I think you should consider going for the book.
            I wish you all the best.

            • Negative? I’m still doing this and trying to find ways to make it work, so I don’t think that’s really a fair comment. I don’t need or want to appeal to everybody; a small number of the (large) traffic of this site is more than enough.

              As for the book, it’s not even about ‘good enough for me’ – the people I’ve shown samples to agree that it doesn’t meet expectations even at cost price.

  40. It will be interesting to hear about the results!

    • It seems to be skewing towards very large prints for cheap…I suppose that should have been expected from the internet.

      • Which is a pity. Because I think there is something about 13×19 and 10×15 Ultraprints that makes them distinctively different from large prints. And I personally would have several smaller Ultraprints than one Forest if I had to chose.

  41. Ming

    I did not vote in a couple of cases, as my option was not there. Two of these are below.

    The images I was interested in were not offered as prints.

    The print size & price combination I was interested in was not available.

    PaulB

    • Thanks Paul. The first problem can be easily resolved by asking 🙂 The second problem – well, it’s usually not big enough and too expensive; there’s a reason why prints cost what they do…

Thoughts? Leave a comment here and I'll get back to you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: