Thomas D. Mangelsen has demonstrated his success through the quality of his photos, the awards and accolades he has received and the business he has built over the years. He has won wildlife photographer of the year (1994), conservation photographer of the year and currently has some of his work hanging on the walls of the Smithsonian.
Tom’s images are nothing short of breathtaking.
There is no way I can include all the pictures of his that I love inspire me by on this blog – there would just be too many. The best thing to do is to head over to his website and peruse through his gigantic body of work.
However, I will share with you one of his great photographs. The first image of Tom’s that I remember seeing is this one, titled “Bad Boys of the Arctic.”
I love how this powerful and dangerous animal has been captured in a way that show a different side of Polar Bear life. I could extol the virtues of his photography, vision, technique, passion and hard work but I feel it is evident in his photos.
What about the business side?
Just have a look at his website. It is chock-full of great ideas that you may decide to put to use in your own photography business. Not everything works the same for everyone, so you might have to tweak certain things and skip others.
This part of the post is long and detailed – hang in there!
Here’s the information I’ve been able to glean and will contemplate integrating into my photography business:
Each of the titles below is a link to a page on the Mangelsen Images of Nature Gallery website to offer an example of what I’m talking about.
- Limit your prints – you can command a higher price if you limit supply. People will view their purchase as an artistic investment that will hold its value over time.
- Don’t offer too many options within a product range – Sure, there’s lots of size options that will allow you to offer various price points. However too much choice can be a bad thing. Keep things manageable by offering only certain size and mediums.
- Offer different products to allow for lower price-point items – This seems contradictory to the advice I gave above, but it isn’t. Offering things like posters, post cards, etc provides an entry point into your artwork for those people who don’t yet have the funds to purchase a full-sized print. It also gives affordable gift giving options that put you work out there without devaluing your prints.
- Make the options easy to choose – I really like how you choose the size first and then pick the display option. I like how clean it looks, unlike the purchase options on the Smugmug Platform that I use. The advantage of the Smugmug platform is that all the prices are visible to be compared at once rather than clicking on different options. I’m still not 100% sure where I stand on this.
- Artist Proof Prints – These are often the first few prints that are produced to get the final look perfect. Generally they’re one of a kind (since you make tweaks in between each printing) and actually can give an even higher price-point. Tom actually does this a bit differently whereby he prints an addition 10% of the edition number for his personal and/or museum/gallery use. I like this.
- Give your images a reference number – I actually started doing this on my own before – but got a bit lazy to index my entire collection and stopped. It helps to keep your organized and make sure that people are getting the exact right prints they’re after. It also helps with the secondary market (see below). This will be something I action.
- Show people how the photos look in a real room – Most photographers focus on showing their images on black or white backgrounds when presenting their work online. There’s a whole section of Tom’s site dedicated to this.
- Gift Registry – allowing people to register one (or more) of your prints as in a gift registry for other people to buy for them is a great additional method of driving sales.
- Secondary Market – I love this idea. Of course you need a healthy primary market before you start worrying about a secondary market, but by providing a brokering service and showing potential consumers that their purchase will hold (if not increase) its value is genius.
- Collector Favourites – This shows off the prints that other people are buying and are likely to sell out the entire edition. Investors might view this favourably.
- Featured Images – This is a great marketing tool to highlight images that are not getting as much attention as they deserve or those really special photos that have a great story behind them.
Like I said, there’s lots for people just starting out (and those who have already been in the game for a while) to learn from. Learn from the best.
Based on the number of pages of sold out editions and the price-point he commands, the fact he is sponsored by LowePro and the fact he has a number of his own galleries around the United States selling his beautiful artwork, I’m sure his business will continue to be successful.