Focusing on Quality, not quantity

Focusing on Quality, not quantity

A reader had a question about my essay titled What is Fine Art Photography? This question is below and my response is next:

As always a lot of helpful insights Alain. Although I am a little puzzled by your statement: “Creating fine art photographs is not about trying to save money by buying lower-priced equipment or supplies. It is about creating the finest piece possible regardless of cost.”

I sense that what you really mean is that cost is not important? Because surely the expense or quality of the equipment is subservient to the artists vision. Yes maybe your particular vision requires a 80mpx medium format back but that doesn’t mean that “Art” created with cheaper tools is somehow less fine? Cost is always a consideration for the majority of us but its true that as an artist we will sacrifice and prioritize our resources to enable us to fulfill our vision whatever that may be. As an artist we try to create the finest piece possible irrespective of our means.


My Answer:

Hi Rodney,

This essay is chapter 2 in my new book Marketing Fine Art Photography. The jest of the book is to focus on quality, rather than quantity, in order to sell your work at a profitable price point.

In a quality-based marketing model, quality comes first and cost is secondary. The increase in production costs will be more than accounted for with the higher prices you will be able to set for your work. Plus, you built a reputation for high quality work and this reputation, in turn, increases your leverage (pricing in a quality-based model is primarily leverage-based, while in a quantity model it is cost-based).

I am not so much talking about which camera is used because when the purpose is artistic potentially any camera can be used, because camera choice is a function of personal style primarily. Personally, I use digital backs because my work is printed large and I need the resolution. Plus, the increased dynamic range and color space are important to me because my work is in large part about color palettes and color quality.

What I am referring to in regards to quality is the number of hours spent working on a specific image (time is money), the quality of the ink and paper used when printing the image (manufacturer inks and fine papers are expensive), the quality of the materials used for mounting, matting and framing (archival materials are expensive), the quality of the portfolio case or other form of presentation when the work is not intended to be wall art, and so on.

This also applies to the framing equipment. A low quality mat cutter may not make a perfect cut, or an inexpensive mounting press may not produce professional quality mounting, for example. It’s not just about cameras. In fact, its not very much at all about cameras. It’s about the final product, and the final product is a print.


You can read the essay that generated this question here:

Alain Briot

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