Peddling my wares – Selling Photography at Art & Craft shows (part 1)

Boxed cards with ribbon

Boxed cards with ribbon


I’ve been selling some of my work locally at a weekly outdoor market.  I have created a line of greeting cards, note cards, and matted prints of various sizes.  I have ideas of expanding into other photo related products, having learned a little bit about decoupage and about jewelry making over the years.  In the past I’ve sold glass cutting boards with my photographs on them and could see that going in the direction of ceramic tile, glass coasters, and other home décor.


Cutting board rocks whole

Cutting board with rocks

If you have ever looked at sites like,, or even or, there are so many things you can do with photographs.  The whole web is virtually teeming with ways you can turn your photography into something . . . else.  Photo books, coffee mugs, tshirts, mousepads, laptop covers, throws, calendars, and keychains.  While those items are very popular gifts, most of the time, the pricing is not structured for the occasional gift and designed by someone for that intention, not for sale.  There is no margin for profit.  They are priced for the retail market and that’s it.


You have to dig deep to find sources for products priced for wholesale.  You also have to be ready to bear the financial burden that goes with that.  I order mats for my prints from a couple of online vendors.  I’ve used most recently to buy sets of mats, backing board, and bags for shows.  They call this kind of set a “show kit” and it makes perfect sense to me.  I’ve also used, who I think has a better selection of colors and mat products, but has a minimum order requirement (or did last time I tried to order from them) and I didn’t need that much at that time.  I’ve used a few different sources for the prints I sell in the show kits,,, and (here we go) even in a time crunch.


For the cards I make, for a while I used  The have some nice quality card stock, in lots of colors, some blank or bordered and some with quotes and sentiments such as the “thinking of you” card.  Of course, they can outfit you with the plastic sleeves to protect your work from the finger prints of shoppers, and the cards come with envelopes.


Red peppers photograph in card frame from Photographers Edge

Red peppers photograph in card frame from Photographers Edge

I said I’ve used Photographer’s Edge before but I found, again, that without buying huge quantities, the profit margin is very low, considering the time it takes to put the whole thing together.  You have to get your prints separately and coordinate the number of prints with the cardstock and it became more cumbersome than it was worth. I try to match up images with sentiments and color schemes, so maybe it takes me longer than others.  Also, I started to see lots of the same kinds of cards around and want my work to stand out and be priced competitively.  In a different market, perhaps this would work better for me and certainly could for you.


My last few orders have been with a local printer.  They gave me a great price on blank note cards that they printed for me with my images and the envelopes that go with them.  I had a little assembly but nothing compared to the other cards.


Other stuff that I found came in handy while putting together these products – the cards and the prints:

  1. a mini glue gun – to adhere the mat to the backing board once your photo is secure in there.  Some use double sided tape for this too. This is for the prints.  The cards from Photographer’s Edge come with adhesive strips.
  2. a self inking stamp with your contact info – something simple so that people can find out how to contact you when their best friend wants a print, too, but didn’t go to the show. I put my business name, city and state (people here like to buy local) and my website.  I usually also slip one of my business cards into the bag with the print.
  3. a sharp pencil – to sign your print and write a title of the photo on the front of the mat.
  4. a place where you can set all this stuff up and WORK without cats skidding across the table or kids coming to chat with you and touch things while they’re eating buttered toast.


Cards - back white

Cards – back white


To get out there and show your work takes a lot of confidence.  Or insanity.  While at the shows, it’s a great ego boost to have people come up to your table and go on and on about how great that photo is.  It’s not such a wonderful feeling when they walk away without buying anything.  I’ve heard many stories about the niece or neighbor who is a photographer and does “such pretty pictures”.  Depending on the shows you participate in, the buyers might be just strolling through the marketplace as a nice way to spend the day and not buy anything.  They could also be Christmas shopping or looking for something memorable to take home from their vacation.  It really is all about the where and the when and the who that’s going to make a show worthwhile for you.


A couple of things to keep in mind:


  1. Know your market.  Think seriously about whether the crowd that goes to a certain kind of event is going to be the crowd for your work.
  2. Purchasing artwork – yours, mine, any art – is a commitment.  When you buy art, you generally have a space in your home that will be filled with that art, so it can be a big deal.  Think about the artwork in your home.  You see it every day.  Walk past it on the way to breakfast.  Everything around you impacts you on some level, whether it makes you smile to see it or if it reminds you of a time in your life that’s passed.  Be thankful when someone buys some of your art.
  3. Because of #2, don’t disregard the smaller pieces you can sell.  It’s generally more affordable, takes less of a space & life commitment, and gets your work out there.


Selling photography at market

Selling photography at market – Daughter helps with set up

In coming posts, I will discuss other things that need to be considered when looking to sell your photography at art and craft shows.


Such as:


  1. Ideas and resources for displaying your work – things I’ve tried and things I’ve seen.
  2. Show selection – why some shows are good for photographers and some of my experiences.
  3. Other ideas for selling your work – wholesale and consignment arrangements at retail stores.
  4. Other ideas for selling your work – some online marketplaces and my experiences with them.
  5. The bottom line – it’s not sustainable if you don’t make any money.



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As always, I welcome your comments here and love your suggestions.  Keep them coming!

5 Responses to “Peddling my wares – Selling Photography at Art & Craft shows (part 1)”

  1. […] dilemma:  whether or not to continue selling my photography products at art and craft shows.  In part 1 I wrote a general overview about what I sell and the shows I’ve been doing and the fact that […]

  2. […] recap, part 1 was a discussion (a one sided discussion, yes) about what I have been doing to sell my work at […]

  3. […] for this reason, I’m interrupting my “Selling Photography” series for the moment.  I want to share with you some of the images related to the 9/11 […]

  4. […] this series, Selling Photography, I began with a basic question that over the weeks has morphed into an examination of my […]

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