Aaron Reed Photography – Top 10 of 2014

Living Lightning, a limited edition of 200 total pieces and the first piece released to my limited edition collection in early 2013, is growing closer to completely selling out each week after selling the 150Th piece earlier this month. The success of my limited edition collection and the large ChromaLuxe Metal prints that I offer has continued to grow in 2014. On behalf of myself and my family I would like to personally thank everyone who has supported my work throughout the years and especially those of you who have purchased pieces from my collection the past two years.

Capturing photographs that I enjoy personally is the easy part. Knowing which images will speak to collectors and art lovers around the world can sometimes be more challenging. In fact, interestingly enough, the images that I personally would call my favorites are often ones that have little interest or no interest at all to collectors and buyers. I listen to the shared stories from those who purchase my work and their reasons behind choosing a particular piece or pieces. These details give me great insight in the minds and hearts of my customers and this information is invaluable to me as an artist.

The images below are my top 10 best selling pieces of 2014. Please consider sharing these with friends and family and please feel free to comment below about the piece(s) that you enjoy most and why. I have just released a handful of new pieces and will be adding others to my limited edition collection over the next month. You can click on the images below and view them on 500px where you can also find some of my best work. Thank you again for all your support! To see my entire limited edition collection, as well as the rest of my work please have a look at my website at http://www.aaronreedphotography.com and have a great day!

1. Living Lightning – Portland Japanese Garden
Limited Edition of 200 total pieces, 75% SOLD OUT with less than 50 pieces remaining.

Living Lightning - Limited Edition of 200

2. Dragons Breath – Portland Japanese Garden
Limited Edition of 200 total pieces, Over 25% sold out with less than 140 pieces remaining.

Dragons Breath - Limited Edition of 200

3. Eternal Beauty – Mt Rainier National Park
Limited Edition of 50 total pieces, over 30% sold out with less than 33 pieces remaining.

Eternal Beauty - Limited Edition of 50

4. Echoes Of Fall – Leavenworth, Washington
Limited Edition of 100 total pieces, 20% sold out with less than 80 pieces remaining.

Echoes Of Fall

5. The Rise – Mt Shuksan, Washington
Limited Edition of 200 total pieces, 25% sold out with less than 150 pieces remaining.

The Rise Of Mt Shuksan - Limited Edition of 200

6. The Road to Nowhere – Oregon Coast
Limited Edition of 200 total pieces, 50% sold out with less than 100 pieces remaining.

The Road To Nowhere - Limited Edition of 200

7. Stepping Stones – Bench Lake, Mt Rainier National Park
Limited Edition of 100 total pieces, 25% sold out with less than 75 pieces remaining.

Stepping Stones - Limited Edition of 100

8. Poetry In Motion – Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco
Limited Edition of 100 total pieces, 25% sold out with less than 75 pieces remaining.

Poetry In Motion - Limited Edition of 100

9. Zerenity – Portland Japanese Garden
Limited Edition of 200 total pieces, 25% sold out with less than 150 pieces remaining.

Zerenity - Limited Edition of 200

10. Kings – Glacier National Park
Limited Edition of 100 total pieces, 20% sold out with less than 80 pieces remaining.

Kings - Limited Edition of 100

For LOVE or MONEY?

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There are two distinct but quite different types of people who purchase artwork of any variety including fine art photography, the connoisseur and the collector. There are yet others who are a combination of the two that appreciate beautiful art, a great value and the opportunity to see a return on their investment. I would like to share with you how you can have the best of both worlds and how one man in Phoenix, Arizona has turned his business and his love for art into an amazing gallery for all to enjoy.

A collector will usually choose a piece that already holds significant value in the eyes of the general public & the art world. This does not mean they do not also enjoy the piece, it simply means that their first priority is usually the value of the piece and whether or not they expect this value to rise in the future. Before anything else it is a business decision. This type of collector often cares very deeply about how those around them feel about their purchase and many times will choose a piece simply for bragging rights or for show.

The connoisseur simply appreciates quality artwork. As with any form of artwork, the piece still needs to speak to the person considering it for purchase yet the current value and potential investment are less of a concern, if a concern at all. The connoisseur will fall in love with a piece, without concern about how others feel about it. The piece will usually create a deep connection with them, whether tied to a past experience, a precious memory, a friend or family member or simply a beautiful feeling. Whatever the reason, this person purchases a piece for the LOVE of the art.

In the world of nature photography, there are countless photographers offering you their interpretation of the world around them. Unlike a painter or sculptor, any two photographers can stand in the same place and create beautiful images of what they see through the lens of their camera. Both of these visions may be appealing to you as someone considering a piece of art for your home or business, but typically only one will stand out, or speak to you on a deeper level. In my opinion, this is the voice you should listen to when you consider a piece of nature or landscape photography because ultimately nothing else matters. A piece of fine art photography from a well-known artist currently valued at $35,000 may be worth $10,000 or less five years from now. In contrast, a piece from an up and coming artist currently costing just $1,000 hypothetically has much more room for growth in value as well as less investment risk. In addition, if you can find an artist whose work you appreciate for the art itself, you may be able to purchase multiple pieces from them, bringing even greater beauty and real value to yourself and those you are sharing this work with.

For example, world-famous photographer Peter Lik regularly commands prices in the tens of thousands for his work. He offers limited editions that can be as large as 950 pieces, including up to 45 artist proofs. If you purchase one of these pieces, say number 145/950, and the edition never sells out, chances are the piece you purchased will not increase in value over time because the gallery that sold you the piece is still offering this same piece in their collection. One way to determine the actual current value is to take a look on the auction site eBay. One of these same pieces that the gallery lists for $35,000 or more, may be currently offered from multiple sellers, for far below the price currently being offered by the gallery. If you purchase this piece today as an investment, you may find yourself needing to sell it at a time when the market is soft, causing you a significant loss on your investment.

These are just a few of the reasons that I suggest purchasing a piece that you fall in LOVE with first, considering its current and perceived value second to that. This will help protect you from potential disappointment and possible regret in the future. I am a fine art nature photographer who chooses to offer my work at a great value to my clients. Many of the pieces I sell have very low profit margins. While I do operate a successful business with my photography and hope to continue to do so in the near future, I also enjoy being able to offer my customers high quality fine art luxury nature photography at affordable prices.

Last week, a gentleman named Charles, an Orthopedic Surgeon from Phoenix, Arizona recognized this value and capitalized on it in a major way for him and his clients. A doctor’s or dentist office is the perfect place for high quality nature photography due to the aesthetic and soothing properties it can bring to those who view it. Instead of purchasing just one piece of fine art photography for $35,000 or more, Charles was able to purchase a total of 34 amazing pieces of limited edition artwork for his office, transforming it from an uninviting office building into an amazing art gallery! The pieces Charles purchased, were all Limited Edition Metal Prints that I offer ranging in size from fully framed pieces measuring 36″ wide x 24″ tall, all the way to 80″ wide by 43″ tall. The majority of these pieces were larger than 45″ x 30″. After receiving a large quantity discount, for just under $25,000 Charles was able to completely fill the large office as well as every single patient room with beautiful nature photography. In addition, the Limited Editions that I offer range from just 50 to 200 total pieces, with some of them already nearing 75% sold out. The potential for increased value in these pieces is very promising, but this value has already been surpassed by the peace and serenity that has been given to his clients on a daily basis.

The choice is yours, for LOVE or money, investment or real value. The images above and below this post are the ones Charles ultimately decided on and if you ever find yourself on the unfortunate end of serious injury in Phoenix, you may just find yourself in a room full of beautiful art. The much more pleasant way to go of course would be to visit my website at http://www.aaronreedphotography.com and choose a few pieces for yourself. As always, I want to say thank you to those of you that support up and coming artists like myself and hope you are able to appreciate my work for many years to come.

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Dragon’s Breath – Brand New Fine Art Release from Aaron Reed

Autumn has always been my favorite season, long before I became a photographer. The crisp cool air and the changing foliage are two things I have always enjoyed and continue to, year after year. As a photographer, autumn brings opportunity to capture dynamic & changing colors in new and exciting ways. For me, it is like seeing something for the first time, all over again and because it comes and goes so quickly it is very magical to me.

Those of you that follow my work are most likely aware of the popularity of one of my pieces titled Living Lightning. This piece, an image of a famous Japanese Maple tree, was captured at the peak of autumn color and was released as a limited edition of 200 in February of this year. Since that release, it has sold 106 of the 200 available pieces making it my most popular fine art limited edition piece to date. Aside from that fact, there had always been something missing. Something I had hoped to capture but had been unable to…until now.

I have been photographing this tree every year since I first picked up a camera. This beautiful Japanese Maple is located in the Portland Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon. Ultimately, many of these art lovers end up on my website where I offer fine art limited editions of this tree in every season.

This year was no different for me and as the weather changed and the season came upon us I made my plans to photograph this beautiful example of our natural world once again. I spent two mornings creating images with one goal in mind. My goal was to photograph not just the tree, but the change of seasons itself. I wanted to capture the precise time when this tree turns from the green leaves of summer, to the red leaves of autumn and ultimately a fiery orange. This process happens extremely quickly. Once the leaves begin to change it is only a matter of 7 to 14 days to change and ultimately drop its leaves to the ground. The window to capture the tree as I envisioned it was a day or two at best.

There were technical considerations that had to be taken into account to achieve my goal. The leaves of this tree are so fine, they are almost translucent in some areas. Capturing the subtle color shifts took great attention to detail and technical skill behind the camera and again when processing the original images.

When I finally made it home and looked at my images, only one of the hundreds of images that I captured spoke to me and made me feel I had accomplished my goal. I am proud of this image. I set out to capture the very essence of nature and I believe I have accomplished just that.

Without further introduction, please take a moment and look at my achievement, my newest release titled Dragon’s Breath. This image is a limited edition of only 200 pieces, and the price will rise as the edition sells out. To own a part of this piece and honestly a part of my ambition, please see my website at http://www.aaronreedphotogrpahy.com

Dragons Breath

Part IV: Don’t Ask Why, Ask What?

Welcome to part four of my don’t ask why series. In part one we asked why not and in part two we asked how? In part three we asked when and now we…. Ask what? If you are confused already, you may want to go back and read the first three parts of this series. I’ll be here waiting for you….

Now that you are all caught up, follow along with me and I will do my best to share my experience with you and some of the knowledge I have gained along the way. The question I am asked more than any other about my work is what sells and why. Many photographers start out by photographing well-known locations. These areas are often close to their homes and easily accessible so they provide a great opportunity to learn the basics of landscape & cityscape photography and to begin experimenting with their creativity. Other photographers scoff at anyone who photographs well-known locations and do everything in their power to get away from the masses and photograph only the things they perceive as being uncharted territory or off the beaten path. I fall somewhere in the middle, leaning a little further towards trying to photograph recognizable locations, but still trying to get to new areas when I can. Why does it matter you ask? The answer is that it doesn’t, unless you plan to sell your work.

Photographic Fine Art Prints

In my experience, the images that sell are rarely the images we expect to, or hope to sell. Whether it is a large print for someone’s home or office, or an image to be licensed by a business to promote a product, people want and need to connect with the image first. That amazing light that you captured in the back country of the Cascade Mountain Range on your last hiking expedition may make for a great cover of backpacking magazine but not much else. Why? Because the general population does not connect with an isolated area in the mountains. Now take an image of the Golden Gate Bridge. How many people do think have a connection to that in some way? The answer is millions. Does that mean you should only photograph well-known locations? Absolutely not. What it does mean is that you should know who your target audience is, what to market to whom and why.

I am sure that many of you have seen at least one image of the world-famous Japanese maple tree located in the Portland Japanese Garden. Those of us who have lived in or around Portland have photographed this in all seasons for many years. My first photograph of the tree was captured in 2007. My images of this tree have always been great selling pieces for me. Some people purchase prints of this tree simply because it is beautiful and others because it signifies change in their personal lives.

I sell large (up to 40″ x 60″) Metal prints of select pieces of my image collection that range in price from $1000 to $1500. Three of my images of this tree are limited editions of either 100 or 200 total pieces. My fall version of this tree, Living Lightning has sold 90 of the 200 pieces in this edition with the majority of those being large metal prints sold this past year. That being said, people want a beautiful piece for a decent price that has value to them. Producing work and then offering it up for close to nothing will NEVER yield you larger numbers of sales. I have seen many, many photographers fall into this trap including some who produce very nice work on a regular basis. If you are not selling 24″ x 36″ canvas prints for $300, dropping the price of them to $150 is the worst move you can make. Two things happen when you do this…your customers devalue your work as a whole and you yourself devalue your work in your own heart. Your work has real value…if you believe and act like it does. In case you have not seen them before, here are my three versions of the Japanese maple tree.

In addition to offering Fine Art Prints, there are two other main avenues you can take to generate income from your landscape, nature & cityscape photography. The first being retail sales and the second being stock photography. Both of these markets can be difficult to break into for different reasons. Stock Photography is big business and the market is flooded with imagery. In recent years, the revenue that quality stock photography can bring has decreased greatly due to changes in the market, how companies do business and the sheer volume of available material. Even with all of those facts aside, some of the “rules” that we learn in photography do not translate well into stock imagery.

For example, you probably have heard of the rule of thirds by now and have heard that it is a good idea to “fill the frame” with your subject in an effort to create an interesting composition. These are both great points and are widely expressed for a reason. If your goal is successful stock imagery, you should consider throwing these rules out the window….well, partially at least. Businesses need open space when creating layouts and they do not want your image to be so amazing that it competes for attention with the product they are trying to sell. As I mentioned before, they want the image to connect with the viewer, so popular destinations do very well. The three images below have all done very well for me. The first image, titled The Bay Bridge at Night, has sold over 3,000 copies online and in stores nationwide like Target & Kirklands. The second & third images are both in my Limited Edition collection and have sold well as fine art pieces and as stock photography.

The third area of potential revenue is the area of retail sales. Getting your work from its folder on your desktop to the retail shelves of your nearest Target or Bed, Bath & Beyond is not easy but can be done with hard work, a little luck and the right imagery. I currently have 3 images in the retail marketplace and 3 others in the pipeline as we speak. These types of prints typically sell at lower price point, but yield higher returns due to volume. Successful images in this area are composed of a combination of popular destinations and completely unidentifiable ones. For example, Golden Gate and New York bridge imagery does very well in retail. Ocean imagery works very well, but only if it is unrecognizable. As much as most of us love amazing mountain imagery, it does very poorly in my experience. Again, retailers want their customers as a whole to be able to connect these pieces with a trip to the beach, not a trip to a specific beach. Because of this, a long flat stretch of beach with no identifying landmarks is usually desirable. Retail art buyers also follow market trends very closely and these trends are based on colors and feelings. Entire store collections are based on these trends. It is crucial to understand how these trends work and what they are looking for in a piece. If retail sales are an area of interest for you, you can start by paying attention to what is currently being sold in your neighborhood stores. Stay tuned for the final part in this series titled Don’t Ask Why…Ask What Now? where I will share many of the ideas that have worked for me and how you can get out there and start selling your own work.

Thank you for taking the time to read & follow my blog. For those interested, Fine Art Prints of my work can be obtained through my website at http://www.aaronreedphotography.com and my imagery can be licensed through Tandem Stills & Motion here at https://tandemstock.com/browse?q=aaron+reed . I also offer in the field workshops & photo tours in Oregon, Washington & California and more information can be found here at http://www.exposurenorthwestphotography.com

Don’t Ask Why…Ask Why Not?

Eternal Beauty

The most frequently asked questions I receive from friends and strangers alike surround how I market myself & work, what works and what doesn’t. I am blessed that I am able to generate a moderate income from my photography without traveling to the ends of the earth, neglecting the personal relationships in my life, or giving up all hope of retiring one day…..hopefully WITH health insurance.

A few years ago when I realized that I COULD actually generate an income from my photography (thanks for buying those prints Mom!), I thought long & hard about the path I wanted to take and if I wanted to attempt to make this a full time profession at all. I quickly decided that as much as I love photography & the great outdoors, traveling to the ends of the earth 200+ days out of the year, away from friends and family, all without the security of a full time job was just not for me. Aside from the overall risks personally and financially, I just didn’t want to lose the most important part of photography to me…the simple joy that it brings me. As much as we all love to fanaticize about our passion leading to undying fame and untold riches, quitting your job, cashing in your 401k and hitting the road in your Honda Element may not be such a great idea. I mean, if it was THAT easy, I would have tore the sleeves off my jean jacket and started talking with an Australian accent a long time ago.

This brings us back to the question at hand. You jumped in with both feet and bought that shiny new Nikon D800 or 5D3. You have the tripod, the filters and a lens for every occasion. You have Photoshop, Lightroom, Nik, OnOne AND Photomatix and you STILL aren’t as popular as Trey Ratcliff. You are drowning in +1’s, likes, hearts & glitter graphics and even hash tag entire paragraphs online and still….no one is buying your work. This is the point at which most photographers start asking themselves why and questioning whether or not their work is good at all. The question should not be why….but why not?

The images that your photography friends like and the ones you personally feel are your best images are NOT the same ones that will be selling to real customers. Take that glorious sunrise image you captured from the top of Mt. Rainier that you are sure is going to be a hit. The question you need to ask yourself is what can this image be used for? Sure, it could be used for Washington tourism, or to sell climbing gear or some other mountaineering product but the list is short and very limited. The second problem is that the better your composition is (in the eyes of yourself and your fellow photographers) the less desirable it is as a marketable image. Customers need space for their products and information. Your perfectly crafted image does not allow for that. Now ask yourself how a picture of the Bay Bridge in San Francisco may be used. It can sell California tourism and anything associated with California. It can be used to advertise almost any business in San Francisco and the surrounding area. Because it sits in one of the world’s most popular destinations, it can be used for airline & auto industries and almost any aspect of travel in general. The possibilities are endless.

The same is true for fine art prints. 15% of my photography revenue last year came from selling prints. I expect that number to rise to 25% this year. These prints are VERY rarely the images I am most proud of or the ones I would choose to hang in my own home. People need to connect to a piece before they purchase it. It needs to evoke an emotion for them. I’m not talking about a simple emotional wonder of the beauty of a landscape; I mean a deep personal emotion. They are buying it because their youngest child goes to school there, or because they got married there. They are buying it because their fondest memory was created there during a vacation taken with their mother just before she passed away. Sometimes they are buying it simply because it matches the colors of their home and looks good over the back of their couch. I sold a collection of ten 30” x 45” canvases a few months back for over $5,000 and all of them were abstracts. I see you reaching for that macro lens!

The point I am trying to make here is that you can find success in your own backyard without giving up your stability, your free time or your family life. You can continue to enjoy your own personal photography and generate revenue from it on the side without being a full time photographer.

I have decided to take more time to share the things that I have learned in the past few years as a photographer on this blog. Stay tuned for the second installment of this post tiled don’t ask why….ask how? This will come in the next few days and will hold a wealth of valuable ideas on how to market your work. Till then, if you would like to find a personal connection with one of my images or are interested in high quality imagery to help promote your business please visit my website at http://www.aaronreedphotography.com and if you want to spend some personal time with me learning more about photography and how I do what I do, please consider one of my in the field workshops at http://www.exposurenorthwestphotography.com Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to read this article. If you have specific questions that you would like answered in a future article, please leave them in the comments below.