Thursday, September 15, 2011

Launch of New Web Gallery for Craig Corl Photography and My Philosophy of Selling Photography


For the last year I have been playing around with setting up a web gallery for viewing and sale of my best photography.  One such test site is a gallery dedicated to Southern Maryland photography; Southern Maryland Photography by Craig Corl.  The Southern Maryland Photography gallery has a beautifully clean interface and is hosted by SmugMug.  I chose SmugMug based on recommendations from fellow photographers who had flattering things to say about the interface, ease of use, and the ability for visitors to purchase photography directly from the site.  All I had to do was sit back and let the money roll in.

I have been very happy with SmugMug and have sold a respectable number of prints.  Here is the catch – while I am paying for e-commerce capability and integrated printing, all of my sales have involved personal contact.  I have yet to make a sale and have the proceeds miraculously show up in my bank account.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy and actually prefer the personal interaction.  But why am I paying for these unused services?  I believe one of the reasons I am not riding the auto-deposit wave is that ordering a print can be a daunting task.  There are tons of options with respect to the print medium, size, price, mounting hardware, framing, etc. that would make even a serious photographer’s well trained eyes cross in confusion.  Compound this with the fact that most of the people purchasing my photography simply find something appealing and would like to have it hanging on the walls of their home.  They are not photographers and find dealing with ordering photography as appealing as filling out their tax statements.  The 1040EZ form is a piece of cake compared to ordering a print.

I find the person to person method much more approachable.  Not only do the buyers get to talk to me directly about the photography and develop a relationship, but I can cut through the mind numbing photography purchasing maze and offer some advice based on what they are trying to achieve.  Framing materials, paper, printing process, matt color and size, grouping, etc., are all things I can either help solve or make completely transparent to the buyer.  Oh, and to make things even worse, only about 50% of my photography is a standards size.  In other words, I am a firm believer in cropping photography to achieve the desired composition.  This approach nearly always results in non-standard proportions.  Not all printing companies deal with custom sizes easily…death to online sales.  In the end, it makes more sense to deal at a personal level, and along the way, we may even get together and have a glass of wine.

Another important aspect of online sales is pricing.  When I set up the Southern Maryland Photography gallery, I set prices for each photograph proportioned to the print size.  Blanket pricing such as this runs contrary to my philosophy of selling photography.  Blanket pricing puts quality photography out of the reach of many household budgets.  I prefer a pricing model that is aligned with what people are capable of paying.  Printing and framing are not inexpensive and can still be a challenge for many people.  However, I am committed to do may part to make art more financially accessible with my model of “pay what you can.”  This model is a sum of three components:

  1. The cost of printing and framing.
  2. A small margin for my effort of ordering and shipping/delivery.
  3. Pay what you can to the artist.

The third component is the only variable, and I have yet to be disappointed.  I have sold prints, shot family portraits, shot events, and made personal and professional portraits based on this model and have been more or less fairly compensated in every instance.  Those who could not afford what might be considered “market rates” were balanced by those who were grateful enough to be generous.  I find that people want to be treated fairly and generally feel the same obligation to treat others fairly.  So until I am consistently and dreadfully proven otherwise, I plan on sticking to the “pay what you can” philosophy.  I don’t want to discount the value of the artist – me – in making the photography, but I want to create a just space where people can afford access to art while fairly compensating the artist.

Without the benefit of a catchy segue, I return to the subject of my new photography gallery.  I have decided to host the best of my portfolio on  I am still building the gallery, but you can visit Craig Corl Photography to see the work in process.  You cannot buy my photography from this site.  However, you can take the preferred route of finding photography that appeals to you, contact me, and we can chat.


For those of you who have visited Southern Maryland Photography by Craig Corl and are considering a purchase, don’t worry.  The site will remain active through the end of the month (September 2011).  Most of the photography from Southern Maryland Photography by Craig Corl will migrate to the Craig Corl Photography gallery.

When you get the opportunity, visit my web gallery – Craig Corl Photogrpahy – and let me know what you think.  Your thoughts on my pricing model are equally welcome.

Have fun and go make some great photography.


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