Following a high level of interest in my last post about the above item, particularly with reference to the asking price, I thought I would share with you some thoughts from the seller himself, Mr Albert Tanquero of Broken Heart Gallery, Chicago. Not only is Albert the seller of many of the most highly desirable photobooth photos you can find online, but his customer service is second to none, with every photo arriving with a hand printed card and hand written personalised note.
Hi guys. I’m the seller of this photobooth photo. I bought it for a considerable price at a NYC photo show. If it sells for the starting price of US $399.99, I will be able to make a reasonable profit from that one photo. To give you perspective on how expensive it is to try to sell amazing images, I will share some of the travel costs incurred to find my photos and expenses related to fees on Ebay and Paypal.
Some time ago, I flew from Chicago to New York City and paid for two nights in a hotel to be able to attend one of the best vernacular photography shows in the USA. My flight cost me US $450.00, a room for two nights was US $500 and the entrance to the show was US $30. Additionally there was the cost of the cabs to and from the airport, US $160. Of course there is also the cost of meals, buses and trains, etc. Add all that up and that’s a high outlay just to get to the show.
When photos on eBay are listed for what might appear to be outrageous sums, it is frequently because the cost of obtaining the item was very, very high. If I had bought this photo at a flea market for a dollar it would have been listed for US$ 5.99. (See examples of other current listings, below, which have that starting price).
So what does it cost to sell the photo? Between eBay and paypal (which eBay owns) 15-18% of a sale is taken in commission. So say the clown photo sells for US $399.99. I have to spend to up to US $72.00 just to sell it. I will also accept checks as payment (cutting out the Paypal part of the fee) but that creates more work as I have to go to the bank and then wait for it to clear. I don’t want to make it seem like there aren’t times I sell $1.00 photos for $30.00. It happens, but good photos have gotten much harder to find. That’s the problem I guess. So for me the photo shows have become one of the few places I can still buy quality images but at a much higher cost.
Another consideration is that, when I sell on eBay I’m providing a curated experience. My time sorting through hundreds of inferior photos, my skill, and my eye are valuable parts of the equation. No one selling snapshots on eBay is getting rich. We do it because it’s a great way to connect lost photos with artists, collectors, enthusiasts.
And one last point…images like this one are used in blogs and other sites online for free, and generally without permission. Not everyone who blogs about my photos actually buys them, like Katherine (mostly) does. Everyone that comes into visual contact with images, that I worked very hard to find, get to enjoy them for free. Why wouldn’t I ask a lot of money for things that are expensive to obtain?
I really appreciate you thinking about the seller’s side of the story.