Emotion Sells Fine Art
Text and photography copyright © Alain Briot. All rights reserved.

The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you’re willing to work.     Oprah Winfrey

Focusing your marketing on the emotional impact of your photographs will help you sell more because people buy photographs for emotional reasons, not for logical reasons.

When we started selling my photographs I talked endlessly to customers about the camera I used to take the photographs, the printer I used to make the prints, which ink and paper combination I liked best, which size was the ideal size for a given photograph, and I mentioned countless other technical details to them.

I loved talking about the technical aspects of my work, and at first I thought that my customers enjoyed learning about these aspects as well. However, I noticed that most of the time this did not lead to a sale. Customers would listen to me, nod their head, say something such as, "Very interesting, thank you," and then excuse themselves and leave my booth.

I wondered why this happened, so I paid close attention to their expressions while I explained the technical aspects of my photography. At first, when I started talking to them, they were excited to hear what I had to say. But after a while they showed signs they were losing interest. While my customers were interested in what I had to say, it became clear that my techno-talk was over their heads. While they acted as if they were following me, in reality their attention was drifting away and they would leave as soon as I would stop talking.

Hoodoos, Utah

So I tried something else. Instead of telling them about the technical aspects of my work, I started telling them about the aesthetic aspects of my photographs. I told them about what attracted me to a specific location and why I decided to compose a piece the way I did. I told them about how long I waited for the light to make the landscape look beautiful. I told them about the colors I used, why I selected a specific frame, and shared with them many other details related to my aesthetic decisions. Often, as I spoke to them, the conversation became an exchange between me and them. They asked questions about why I did this or that. They agreed with my choices and made the point that the photograph wouldn’t look as good if it had been taken at a different time, or if I had used a different composition or used a different frame. This was no longer a one-sided talk. It was an exciting conversation during which we exchanged emotional responses about my work.

At the end of this exchange, instead of walking away, most customers would make a purchase, often a significant one. They usually purchased the photograph we had been talking about together. Sometimes they purchased several photographs, and for each one a similar exchange took place. What had been a one-sided conversation was now a passionate exchange, one that resulted in multiple sales.

Through this experience I learned that people purchase photographs for emotional reasons, not for logical reasons. Knowing the camera, the printer, the ink, the paper, and the other gear and techniques I used did not make them want to own my work. What made them want to bring one of my photographs home with them was knowing why this photograph was meaningful to me, why I was attracted to create it, what made me choose a specific place, time, and light, why I matted and framed it a certain way, and why I made other emotionally-motivated decisions. In short, it was my artistic vision they wanted me to talk about, because it is this vision that creates an emotional connection to the photograph.

People purchase photographs for emotional reasons. Presenting technical prowess to your buying audience does not increase sales. Explaining your artistic vision, your passion, and the reasons why you created a specific piece is what generate sales. Being able to relate emotionally to a work of art is the main reason why people invest in art.

About Alain Briot’s Advanced Marketing Mastery Workshop on DVD

I just released a new photography marketing tutorial: the Advanced Marketing Mastery Workshop on DVD This tutorial teaches you how to sell your work in the [post]-recession environment. It is designed complement my book Marketing Fine Art Photography. While my book is a good introduction to the subject of marketing your photography, the new Mastery Workshop on DVD goes way beyond the book by giving you knowledge and information that I have not made available previously. The goal is to show you exactly what you need to do to sell your work profitably today. It also tells you what not to do so that you don't make the mistakes everyone else is making.

It includes a study of limited editions and a detailed ‘manual’ to handling stalls and objections. After reading this ‘manual’ you’ll no longer have customers ‘get one on you!’ You will know what to say, no matter what they come up with. And if there is a stall or objection I forgot to include (unlikely but possible) let me know and I’ll add it to the free DVD Owner Updates Area together with the answers appropriate for this specific stall or objection. In short, you will learn how to make sales to people that before you would have let walk away! Think about how many sales you lost that are now going to be yours.

It also includes much more but I don’t have the space to explain everything here so go to the Advanced Mastery DVD description page to read the rest of the story.

Alain Briot - NPN 2054

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Alain Briot creates fine art photographs, teaches workshops and offers DVD tutorials on composition, conversion, optimization, printing and marketing photographs. Alain is also the author of Mastering Landscape Photography. Mastering Photographic Composition, Creativity and Personal Style and Marketing Fine Art Photography. All 3 books are available from Amazon and other bookstores as well from Alain’s website.

You can find more information about Alain's work, writings and tutorials as well as subscribe to Alain’s Free Monthly Newsletter on his website at http://www.beautiful-landscape.com To subscribe simply go to http://www.beautiful-landscape.com and click on the Subscribe link at the top of the page. You will have access to over 40 free essays by Alain, in PDF format, immediately after subscribing.

Alain welcomes your comments on this essay as well as on his other essays. You can reach Alain directly by emailing him at alain@beautiful-landscape.com.