How To Sell Photographs at an Art Fair

During the warmer months, arts & crafts fairs are popular gathering spots for local community members. Artists and food vendors set up booths in hopes of marketing and selling their work. Have you ever wondered whether your work would make a profit at such events? Getting in on the action can be achieved in a few simple steps.

Things You Will Need

- Several High-Quality Photographs
- High-Quality Photo Paper
- Canopy Tent (10' x 10' should be a reasonable size)
- A Few Dollars in Change
- Business Cards (Optional)
- Frames (Optional)
- Registration Fees (May vary between art fairs)

Step 1

To begin the process of marketing and selling your photos, scout out upcoming community events that include arts & crafts fairs. Flea markets will work as well. The first places you should check are local newspapers and your city's official website. Both should contain a calendar section, outlining upcoming events.

Step 2

Once you locate an advertisement for an upcoming art fair, find out how to contact the event organizers. Sometimes, this will be as easy as calling a phone number listed within the event's advertisement. At other times, you may have to hunt down the community organization sponsoring the event. However, more often than not, contacting the event organizers will be relatively easy (if it weren't, then how would they attract vendors?). Ask them if there are positions available for you to exhibit and sell your work. Be sure to inquire about registration fees, deadlines, regulations, and other important information.

Step 3

After successfully securing a spot in an art fair, the true labor must begin. The first action you should take is to sort through your photographs, and select roughly 100 that you think would be of interest to the public. Obviously, you may not have the room or monetary investment to sell 100 unique photos; this is just a way to narrow down the possibilities.

Step 4

Sort your 100 selected photos into categories, such as Nature, Portraits, etc. This step should reveal what kinds of photos you have the most and least of. You are now going to want to narrow your selections down to a reasonable 50 photos. The reason for sorting photos into categories, is so that you do not market too much of one type of photo, and not enough of another. To help even this out, you should be really picky when sorting your more popular categories, and more lenient when sorting your less popular categories. When you are deciding, ask yourself if you, as a consumer, would want to buy that photo.

Step 5

Now you have a reasonable 50 photos to work with. In a 10' x 10' canopy display tent, you will be able to hang large prints of your highest-quality photos. Your next step is to decide the size of the prints that you are going to sell (and how to obtain them). If you are only producing small prints (enough to fit on standard 8.5" x 11" printer paper), then you will be able to produce all of your prints from the comfort of your own home. Stock up with a new ink cartridge, and plenty of photo paper. Matte photo paper is better suited for selling at an art fair, because glossy paper will give off a glare that may hinder the viewing ability of potential customers.

Step 6

If you are looking to sell prints larger than 8.5" x 11", and do not have a printer capable of doing so, then you will need to find a local copying/printing facility. There are also several online services that offer large-scale printing. Ordering prints online wouldn't be the smartest idea in this situation, as you are on a tight deadline and need to ensure that the prints will turn out correctly and on-time.

Step 7

The next decision you must make is whether you are going to purchase frames to display your images in (and subsequently re-sell at a price equal or greater than you originally purchase the frames for). By using frames, your display will become more aesthetically pleasing, which will increase your foot traffic and number of potential customers. The style and cost of a frame can range widely. It is up to you to find frames that fit the artistic style of your pictures, while costing as little as possible. Customers typically buy prints encased only in plastic poster frames, as they are the cheapest items available. Depending on the demographics of the area in which you are selling your artwork, using only plastic poster frames may drive your sales numbers way up. It comes down to the fact that people do not want to buy an additional frame with their artwork when there is a cheaper alternative available. In other words, the use of costly frames to increase the sales price of your prints is a gamble on your part.

Step 8

If you are a freelance photographer, or the owner of another business, it would be a smart move to print out a couple hundred business cards. Customers that like your work, but do not have the money on their person to buy a print, can take a business card to contact you about later purchases. As a freelance photographer, an art fair will be a huge boost of publicity for your services. As art fairs are community events, many authoritative individuals will be around for you to impress. Local businesses, schools, churches, sports teams, and individuals can obtain your contact information should they wish to employ you for their events.

Step 9

Congratulate yourself on all the tough work you've accomplished so far. All of the planning should be done by this point. Arrive as early as possible to set up your display at the art fair. Most event organizers will assign you a specific location to set up shop. Try as hard as possible to secure a spot at the "intersection" of passerby foot traffic. Art fairs are organized into "aisles" of sorts, and by selling on a corner, you are effectively doubling your visibility to potential customers. Assemble your canopy tent and display walls before removing prints from your car.

Step 10

Before hanging prints, walk around and acquaint yourself with other nearby vendors. Pass out business cards and ask them to check out your work later while they're taking a break. Not only are you promoting yourself, but you're also getting a little look at what your competition is selling and how they are setting up.

Step 11

After a quick chat with nearby vendors, return to your car for the prints. Do not carry more than you are comfortable with at once. The last thing you need to do is drop a print, damaging the photo and its frame. The categorized sorting that you did in the planning stages will return to help you effectively display your photos. Group photos of similar content together. Potential customers that are interested in a specific subject will be able to see all that you've photographed of it in one concentrated area, driving them to ask questions about your interest and experience with said subject. Categorized prints will give off a uniform aesthetic feel (rather than a haphazard arrangement).

Step 12

During the art fair itself, one of the most effective ways to drive people to buy your photos is to simply talk to them. Customers will take an interest in your work if you take an interest in them. Do not let conversations get carried away; other customers will feel ignored and walk away. Spend equal time socializing with all of your customers. Answer their questions thoroughly.

If you've had a successful day, most of your business cards will have been passed out, and you should have sold enough photos so that, at a very minimum, you have not lost any money on this venture. Even if you did lose money, think of it simply as a price you had to pay for all of the wonderful promoting that you have done. Congratulations, you have completed your work in selling photographs at an art fair!

Tips & Warnings