At an art fair in the summer of 2014, one booth separated mine with that of another photographer’s.
Interestingly, this bothered a painter, who was located nowhere near either of us, more than it bothered me.
“You Should Complain"
During a slow time of the show, the painter came over and suggested I complain to the show venue about the proximity of this photographer.
This artist recommended that I suggest the other photographer be located much farther away.
When I asked why, the painter stated the photographer was competition to me and thus taking away potential customers.
This artist used their own experience with nearby artists of similar medium, and how, in their mind, the proximity effected sales.
My response caught the painter off-guard. I didn’t view this other photographer as competition, as they had (for most part) wildlife, with only a few landscape prints.
Secondly, the photographer’s prints and mats where much different than mine. Lastly, they were less expensive.
Besides, this wasn’t the first show I’ve been in with a photographer’s booth close-by, and it wasn’t going to be the last.
An Early Lesson
At my very first art show, my booth location was across and down a few spots from another well established photographer. We could see each others’ activity very clearly.
At that time, I had the bare essential display. His, on the other hand, was very professional, Pro Panel display bins and panels, more matted prints and larger display prints. I immediately started planning changes to my display.
After set-up, I walked over to check things out.
Most of his prints where wildlife. They were sharp and well-composed. As we talked briefly, he shared with me a few tips, given that we used the same paper and the same mat cutters.
That short exchange taught me a quick lesson. While we are all striving to sell our prints to potentially the same customer, there is also a silent recognition our photography is distinctly different, and by this fact our customers are not necessarily the same.
Customers are going to purchase what they want and what they can afford.
I’m a landscape photographer. I do not have prints of cities with their landmarks, dogs, or bears.
If someone wants a city print, I point them to the travel photographer’s booth. Those seeking wildlife, I direct them to the wildlife photographers.
Even though the customer is interested in a photographic print, if they are not interested in landscape photography, then they really aren’t a viable customer for my prints.
Recognize The Differences
This is a great question that all business at sometime address.
I use aid-free cotton rag mats, foam board (paper covering is acid-free), and acid-free fine art matte paper. I also print my prints on my Epson 7900 printer.
Few customers ever ask (and most don’t care) about all the acid-free cotton rag information, but they do recognize the distinctly different product this combination provides.
Who Is My Customer?
First and foremost, my customers are those who desire a landscape print. Some like the abstracts, others the grand vistas, and still others desire the macros.
They all share these traits. My customers expect high quality, both in the print (clarity, sharpness, natural colors, etc.) as well as the materials that create the final product.
They appreciate my photographic vision which helps them make that all-important emotional connection to the print.
My customers also are willing to pay for this quality. They appreciate the Powder Hill Photography difference.
Once placed on their wall, they know they’ll have a fine art print which they can enjoy for many years.
We All Support Each Other
Actually, every one of us at a show is in competition with the other, regardless of our medium or product.
Optimistically, we each desire to sell our product to every customer that visits the show. Yet, because there are so many vendors, that will never happen.
We are then, in essence, competing with and at the same time, supporting each other.
By having a good diversity of vendors at any one show, we all help to promote a healthier venue drawing more customers.
And isn’t that, in the end, what we all want?