Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Annual Charity Bazaar

Bazaar Booth
Originally uploaded by Dalantech.

As I write this it's Sunday morning, and I still haven't recovered from the two day charity bazaar at the NATO base here in Naples, Italy. Along with the photo at the right here's a short video clip of the area where Scott Knaust (my coworker and fellow photographer) were selling our work:

This year we paid a little extra money for an indoor spot, and with the weather turning cold and raining on Saturday it was money well spent! Setting up inside allowed us to leave everything so we didn't have to take the photos down at the end of the first day and set them back up the next morning. There were also a lot more people viewing our work this year than last, so I don't think we'll be renting an outdoor spot next year. My favorite critique came from a young girl, probably no older than my 8year old, who saw this image...

Early Morning Dragonfly II

...and said "Oh now that's just gross!!". Critics one, Dalantech zero :)

One advantage to doing an event like an international bazaar is that you get to meet people from all over the world and to see the cultural differences between them. Almost to an individual the French love macro photography and think that it's an art form. If I were single I'd find a busy street corner in Paris and just sell photos for a living. I'd probably be eating peanut butter and crackers on a regular basis though :)

I took one poster sized print and one large canvas print with me just as "show pieces" -no real intention of selling them because the cost to produce them is too high. Simple economics governs every event like this one, and people just don't have the liquid capital that they use to. No matter how good your work is you still need to offer someone a quality product at an affordable, and attractive, price. But I like to take at least one large print to the bazaar just to show people how an image will look when printed poster size (lots of detail because I don't crop) and if someone wants a different photo printed large they can just send me an email and I'll give them a quote (it pays to have business cards).

I had three copies, in different sizes, of this image...

Freckles II

...and I thought I was taking a risk by having too many copies made. In addition to the poster sized print I had an 8"x12" and a 13"x19" and the 13"x19" was the very first image that I sold on Friday morning. The smaller copy sold that afternoon, and people were leaving the bazaar and talking about the larger image so much that the people they talked to were coming just to see it. Hind sight being what it is if I had about six more 8"x12" copies I could have sold them. I did end up bringing the poster sized version home, it was just too expensive to produce once I paid to have it framed so I couldn't sell it at an affordable price. But when I choose images to use as show pieces I pick photos that I like, so if they don't sell I can always hang them on my wall. Scott and I talked at length about the need to find a way to make poster size prints that are good quality (worth buying) and inexpensive (easy to sell)...

The pleasant surprise came from a German couple who bought the canvas print: A woman who I completely mistook for a native English speaker looked over this image several times...

Portfolio series 2008-3

...and thought her husband would enjoy it. He's a helicopter pilot and likes the way that dragonflies maneuver :)

I sold a mix of images this year, both natural light closeups and high magnification macro shots. Different images appeal to different people, and I try to bring a wide range of photos. Some get carried away by customers, and some I carry back to my car. There's no formula for figuring out what will and what won't work -I just take the images that are my strongest compositions.

Favorite moment: Several people took photos of my work -don't get me started on how low it is to take a photo of a photo. For 15 Euro the individual could have had the real thing without the plastic bag and the reflections that it will cause (one of the reasons why I bag my prints). But the real kicker was when a guy asked Scott to move out of the way so he could get a clear shot of one of Scott's images with his iPhone. It was like asking Scott to turn so it would be easier to take his wallet...

Now that it's over can I retire, sitting on a beach in the Bahamas with some tall fruity umbrella topped drink in my hand? No way! I did make enough to pay for all the new prints and to cover my half of renting the booth with a little pocket money left over. But that's not important since the real value in doing an event like the bazaar is in meeting new people, sharing what I know with new photographers (and picking up tips from them), and getting feedback on my work -both good and bad. Definitely one of those life experiences where the journey is more important than the destination...
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