Our February OKC SMUG meeting featured local fine art photographer Romy Owens, teaching us about how to create, market, price, and sell fine art photography. Romy is an incredibly accomplished and well-networked fine artist – you know, the rare kind that have actually been able to make a living with their art. I’ve admired her since moving here and was so personally excited to have her as a SMUG speaker.
To open our discussion, I shared an article attempting to justify the most expensive photograph ever sold, and another showing the 15 most expensive photographs in history prior to the sale of Rhine II. In stark contrast, we considered the most well-known, widely-distributed, and underpaid photograph of recent memory: the infamous “Space Shuttle Twitpic.”
Romy took it from there; she’s a generous soul and was very open with us. Here are some highlights.
How to Sell Fine Art Photography (per Romy Owens)
- Find your unique style. Don’t be afraid to redefine what others consider “photography.” Romy cuts apart photographs and stitches them together with thread by hand, creating three-dimensional, multi-media photography. She prints the individual photos on 300-lb. paper, and hangs them unframed via grommets that she adds to the top corners. As she works on a piece, she jots notes on the back in pencil about what is happening in the world or her personal life that day. (For example: “last space shuttle launched today” or “lunch with mom.”)
- Give viewers a reason to pause. People stop and look at Romy’s work because it’s mysterious, unexpected, and not just a flat print.
- Develop a thick skin. Not everyone will like your work, and that’s okay. There’s someone, somewhere, that does like it.
- Promote yourself by promoting others. Romy has made herself a visible figure in the OKC arts community by promoting the work of others, attending exhibits, and volunteering as emcee for events such as the OKC MOA Photo Slam.
- Actively participate in local arts organizations. Romy is a member of OVAC, IAO, and the Paseo Arts Association; she is involved in the City Arts Center and has served as a jurist for multiple competitions.
- Don’t undervalue your work. Romy carefully prices her pieces to reflect her production cost + time. Additionally, when donating pieces to auction, she offers a piece that’s commiserate with the value of attending the event.
- Add value to your work. Romy talked about three major ways she adds value to her pieces: 1) making them one-of-a-kind (original only, no reproductions), 2) spending more time on each piece than simply taking and printing a photo, and 3) adding personal touches such as her hand-written notes mentioned above.
Thank you, Romy, for an inspiring and educational evening. You are simply the best!
Hope to see you all at the next SMUG! Everyone is welcome.