Episode 167 – I Bargained for a Better Price at an Art Fair. Here’s What Happened

Episode 167 – I Bargained for a Better Price at an Art Fair


Photography Business Institute
Photography Business Institute

There’s nothing more terrifying than when someone asks you for a discount on your photography.

Do you freeze or stumble over your words because you are unsure of what to say.

Maybe you cave and give them a huge discount.

Photographers, we don’t have to do this.

I think the biggest key is to know that eventually, someone is going to ask you for a discount on your photography.

Being prepared will solve everything for you.

 If you’re prepared and you know what to say and how to say it, you don’t ever have to worry about that happening.

Several years ago when I was early in my business, I had something happen that led me to what just happened this summer.

Years ago, I was at an art fair, and I remember pushing my twins in the stroller and shopping around.

I found an artist who had the most gorgeous artwork and everything was framed.

In my photography business, I was framing myself.

Since I did my own framing, I thought I could ask the artist if he would sell me the artwork without the frame to see if I could get it for a lesser price.

So I asked him, “Hey, can I buy this unframed? I’m a photographer and I do framing and I can do it myself?”

And his answer shocked me. He said, “I can, but I typically don’t because I buy the frames wholesale. So if I sold it to you unframed, it would barely save you anything. And truly, I doubt you could even frame it for that amount”.

Which was a good answer.

I was expecting he would take the retail value of the frame off, so maybe it would be half price or less.

But no, he only took off the wholesale cost of the frame.

He was keeping the profit part of the whole transaction if he were to sell it unframed, which doesn’t even make sense for the buyer.

And what that did was it increased the perceived value of his art.

His art is worth 95% of that price, not the framing.

He was keeping the value on his artwork and that soaked into my core.

Recently, I was at the local art fair with my daughters and we started shopping.

I told them if they see something that you really love, let’s find a way for you to get it.

You can invest in it, but only if it speaks to you.

Don’t just buy it to buy it.

The very first booth we walked to had some really cool, huge art.

They were kind of abstract paintings and they were great colors.

I started looking for some gifts to buy.

One of my daughters is seeing a huge one she likes and the other one is seeing a middle-sized one she likes, and we’re all grabbing things.

I recommended to the girls that we go and walk around the whole art fair, to make sure there isn’t something we like better, which there wasn’t.

I knew there wouldn’t be, but sometimes you need a minute to breathe because I knew we were going to buy a lot of things.

But I thought, you know what?

My girls are around the back of the booth, and I’m going to do what all photographers fear and I’m going to see if, maybe they’ll give us special pricing since we are buying so many pieces.

So I walked over to the artist and it was a husband/wife team.

I didn’t know who the artist was, but the husband was the one taking the money, so I spoke to him.

I walked over and told him how much my girls and I love their work and that we’re probably going to buy a couple big pieces and a bunch of gifts.

Then, I asked if he could do special pricing for us since we were buying a lot.

And he didn’t miss a beat.

He looked at me and he said, “Oh my gosh, yes. We give all of our customers the best hugs.”

And then he kept packaging up what he was doing and gave me the biggest smile.

It was perfect and I smiled at him and I made that contact like, you’re right, buddy.

You’re awesome, and I loved the answer.

So I left knowing we were paying full price because he values it.

Both of the artists answered the questions that made me feel better about my investment.

They made me feel better about paying a lot of money.

Had they been wishy-washy, or even offered a discount, I would’ve devalued their art in my mind.

I might’ve even second guessed my purchase and how much I was going to be spending.

The other thing I want you to notice is they didn’t tell me how they used quality canvases, or how it took so much time to create them.

They didn’t feel like they had to justify what they were doing, and they definitely didn’t get defensive.

They literally held the value of what they were offering.

And you can do that too in your photography business, especially if you’re prepared for that question.

I want you to make the decision that no matter what people ask for, a special price, you to throw something in, a discount, whatever, you know that you are worth what it’s worth.

So much of what things are worth is based on the belief of the person offering it.

You get to decide.

The best thing you can do for your clients is to believe more than anything that your art is worth more because they will value it more.

Don’t you think that a gorgeous image of your child giggling and snuggling with his sibling on your wall is a better investment than buying a Louis Vuitton purse for $4,000?

I don’t think there’s any comparison.

I want to share a few lessons that I’ve learned over my years in business about things I know to be true.

1. The more confident you are when you present prices in the first place will discourage people from even asking.

I say my prices right up front, because I believe to my core that there’s no better place for people to invest their money.

Time is fleeting and we change so those beautiful pieces of the people that you love (children, siblings, dogs, etc.) are worth it.

I don’t think a new car, sofa or diamonds will give you the feeling that your artwork will give you when you walk into your home and you see it.

So I am very confident when people talk to me about prices.

2. When they ask, you can be prepared.

Without hesitation, you can have the confident answer that they need.

Even if you’re joking and tell them there is no extra charge for hugs and the beautiful package we put it in.

Don’t take it personally or second guess yourself.

Be prepared, and you’ll be fine.

3. When people persistently ask for a discount, have an answer.

When they don’t take my first answer, I look at them and I say, “Hey, here’s the good news. These prices are going up soon. And you know what? You’ve locked in at the current pricing, so yay you.”

And then I move on.

I’m not open to negotiation.

It’s all about belief.

Make the choice right now that you are worth what you’re charging.

You can be confident in your prices because no matter where you are, there’s someone who will see that value in your work.

The more confident you are, the more you’re serving your client.

What we do with our artwork and how we charge is the biggest gift we can give to our clients.

I believe in you, and you just have to decide that you’re worth every penny because it’s a choice.

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Episode 167 - I Bargained for a Better Price at an Art Fair. Here’s What Happened
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