Selling Physical Photographs Online & Printing Them – All On Your Own

 By Scott Wyden Kivowitz–

Here’s  how photographers can go about selling their photographs and printing the orders on their own. After making the photographs and processing them, it is time to get them onto a website where you can sell them. You could easily create a SmugMug or Zenfolio site which is designed to sell your work. However, with those platforms you don’t print the photographs yourself. Rather, you pick a lab to handle the entire process for you.

I much prefer WordPress for a photography website because it has a lot more flexibly than other options. The only downside is that there are currently no WordPress plugins (software that adds functionality to WordPress) that can integrate a lab except for FotoMoto by BayPhoto Labs. At the moment, we at Photocrati are working on adding eCommerce and lab integration options into NextGEN Pro, which is our premium version of NextGEN Gallery.

For those who do not know what NextGEN Gallery is, you can Google it to find that it’s on the top 10 list of most popular WordPress plugins of all time, with nearly 9 million downloads as I write this. With numbers like that, you can imagine how important eCommerce and lab integration is to the plugin.

If you do not know much about WordPress, then all of that might have confused you. It’s okay because that’s where the Photocrati Theme comes in. We designed the theme to be extremely simple and customizable for any photographer, whether they know code or not. My favorite part of the Photocrati Theme, and the one feature I want to talk about here, is the built-in eCommerce system. It’s a basic system that allows you to create endless amounts of products with whatever prices you want. Because all orders are self-fulfilled, there are no commissions to pay whenever a customer orders. The only fee you would pay is the PayPal fee which is under 3% and taken from the final total of the order. ecommerce-gallery By creating a Photocrati eCommerce Gallery you can specify which products you want available for the photographs in that gallery. A good example is a panoramic photograph. If you are using Red River Paper’s Polar Pearl Metallic, you could offer that product, versus UltraPro Gloss or Satin, and charge different prices for each finish because your own cost is different from RRP. ecommerce-sale This is where the fun starts. Once an order is placed, you, the photographer, get an email from your website with a list of all the file names that were ordered. The same email will include the sizes and quantities also ordered. You then dig into your Lightroom catalog and find the photographs for print. Using the Red River Paper ICC profiles and Soft Proofing, you perform the necessary corrections.

Depending on your original photo size and the output size, you might want to bring the file into onOne Software’s Perfect Resize for improved resolution with as little pixelation as possible. Hopefully, you have the Red River Paper in stock and the Printer Profile in place. Load up your paper into the tray or the roll into the spool. Pick the correct profile setting and print away. Once complete, you can frame, matte, or float mount your photograph as sold and then ship it out.

Oh yes, did I mention you can charge for shipping? Cool stuff, right? So there is a way that you can have a website, sell your photographs, and print them all on your own without a lab if you want to.

I mentioned earlier that we are building eCommerce into our WordPress gallery plugin. The process is underway and will be even easier and more advanced than the one inside of the Photocrati Theme. Future plans are to replace the Photocrati eCommerce system with the NextGEN Pro eCommerce system. We are very excited to bring improved and easier solutions to photographers and can’t wait to hear how you use the system to sell your photographs using Red River Paper.

Scott Wyden Kivowitz is the Community & Blog Wrangler at Photocrati, a photographer in NJ, a blogger and educator.

13 Comments

  1. This is a good article but a few years old now. Does all of this still apply or do you have some updates for what you wrote about here originally. I am looking for a good website to sell my own printed photographs. Thank you.

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  2. Great article Scott, we have been doing “self-printing” and fulfillment from our website for awhile now. We truly enjoy the flexibility and control we have over the paper, final look and feel of our photography. Have yet to try WordPress for a web presence platform. You sure make it sound tempting. Aloha, Tosh.

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  3. Scott, you do literally show up everywhere. 🙂 Good to read about the upcoming NextGen eCommerce. Just recently switched back to WordPress (and Photocrati). You knew I would, right?

    Thanks for all the blogging and guest articles you write! Always informative.

    ~Barb

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  4. As previously mentioned Zenfolio allows you to fulfill your own orders. You except payment, print and ship. You have complete control over every aspect. It’s easy to add a price list to one or thousands of products. No need to use any lab. By doing this and using RedRiver Papers I have the best of both worlds.

    WordPress is a great platform but as you mentioned it still struggles to offer an easy customized solution for something like an eCommerce photography gallery. You have to put different pieces together to come up with a workable solution. Sure you can do it and it can work fine but, something like Zenfolio which is designed specifically for photography/gallery setup makes the process much easier, faster, and is highly customizable. Even though most people just use the cookie cutter templates it is capable of going way beyond that.

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  5. When will the NextGEN Pro eCommerce system be online?

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  6. Hi Scott..

    You mention integrating the sales model/sell with Lightroom..Can one use Photoshop cc instead?..I’m confused..

    TIA

    Eddie

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    • From Scott:

      The preparing for print can be done in Photoshop but the future integration with NextGEN Pro will only be Lightroom. Photoshop does not have that type of capability

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  7. This looks very interesting. The one question I always have is how to sign these prints sold from an outsourced lab?

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  8. Just FYI – I have a Zenfolio page and I can make custom products which I can print and deliver myself. This is how I currently do canvases as I have a local vendor with much better canvas prices than any other place I’ve found.

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  9. Hi Scott 🙂

    I just discovered your page, thanks to RRP; and, I am so happy I did! Your blog piece about platform for selling my photos is invaluable. As a hobbyist that has become finally confident enough to share my photography for fiscal (hopefully) gain, finding an article like yours brings a smile to my face 🙂 Thank You! -Dawn a.k.a West Wind’s Dawn, Spanish Springs NV

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