Saturday, January 18, 2014

Thoughts on Quesofrito

Emiliano Granado answers a few questions about his new site Quesofrito, which offers "Three prints of one photograph every week during 2014. First come, first served. Ten bucks."

BA: What motivated you to try this sales strategy?

EG: I'd clarify first by saying this isn't a "sales strategy." It's an experiment. I have a lot of unpublished work that I really like and this is a good way to get that work "out there." I'm very interested in having this site live as a showcase for 50+ photos at the end of the year. Otherwise, the photos would be sitting on a hard drive. Also, I'm doing super limited runs each week. I want to sell out immediately, so that's the price I set. This minimizes the shipping/printing logistics. 

How do you choose the images? Is there any sequence or overall theme?

I don't have a theme or conceptual thread figured out yet. I think that's part of the experiment. Maybe something will emerge. Maybe it won't. Either way, it's important for me to think about that weekly, at least. 

What response have you gotten so far?

It's pretty great. Both weeks' prints have sold out in 10-15 mins. People are emailing me asking to set prints aside. A friend asked if he could just pay me up front every month, etc. Of course, I said no. The whole point is that every week I have to choose a photo and publish it. Then people need to jump on their computers and try to buy it. The pressure is on me and them. It's interesting.

Why only 3 prints per week?

Anything more than that seems like a lot of work. Especially if I'm probably losing money on the prints. 

How much does it actually cost you to make these prints? Is it less than $10?

After paying the shipping, ink, paper, and packaging, I'll probably break even. If you consider the time involved in scanning/retouching, I definitely lose money. But looking at it that way is so one-dimensional. There's value in pushing yourself to publish work, in getting people excited about your work, and creating a community of people that dig what you're doing. 

If you think about all that, then it's a win-win, for sure.

Why is it important to get the work out there as prints? Why not just put a new photo online each week? 

Having my work exist analogically is important to me. I still love doing printed portfolios, I still envision my personal work as prints or books. Also, I think it's powerful to take a few million pixels and turn it into something tangible. Theres a grace and beauty in that. I also think it marks me as a photographer that produces. Most photographers take photos. Some of those publish those photos. And some of those that publish PRODUCE something with it. I think that's important - to do something. Create something. 

What success have you generally had selling prints at more "normal" prices. I'm not sure what normal is but let's just say higher than $10.

I haven't really tried too much. I've had a few shows, mostly for my Time for Print project, but didn't sell very much. 

What about the argument that selling photos so cheaply will condition buyers against normal gallery prices?

Answer A) That's a good argument. It's probably correct.
Answer B) These prints are so inexpensive, that I can't believe anyone is comparing them to a gallery experience. I hope everyone sees this as something else. Something parallel to the gallery experience.
Answer C) So what? What's wrong with that? 
Answer D) I don't think the person that just bought the 4.3M Gursky is hitting refresh on every week to buy my print. Different markets. 

What do you think the role of limited editions is in photography? 

This quesofrito project isn't a statement about democratizing photography, if that's what you mean. But editioning work is a market strategy. I dig it. I don't have a problem with it. But I also don't have a problem with making large editions at lower prices. Larry Clark's prints are selling for $100 in a gallery right now. And I think that's cool. But Gursky's $4.3 million print is cool too. 

I think what your experiment puts on the table is the fact that the marginal cost of producing a nice print is actually quite low. It makes the idea of limiting prints to say 10 or 20 and raising price to $1,000 seem quite manipulative.

To try to answer this question is above my pay grade. Some economist or academic could give you a better answer, surely. I'm not qualified to talk about markets and supply and demand and who is buying what and why. How much does an Hermes handbag cost to manufacture? How much does it sell for? Why? I don't know man. 

No one is actually arguing that the price of a print should be based on the cost of the raw materials to produce it, are they? If you want my opinion on that perspective . . . well, I think that's incredibly naive. 

Maybe if more people were willing to pay $100 for a print, we could make editions of 1000 and sell them for much less. I think if I raised my print prices, even to $50, I'd have a much harder time selling out of 3 per week. Maybe I can experiment in 2015?

What prints have you bought in the past year by other photographers?

I bought a couple hand made books by my friend Graeme Mitchell. I've been trying to get Jody Rogac to make me a print to match the one I already have in my house. I'd love to get something from Daniel Shea. And Ryan Pfluger and I did a print trade. If I had money and more wall space, I'd buy a lot more. 

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