How to make money selling photography prints

Sanjay Jogia, who specialises in photographing Asian weddings in the UK and around the world, offers his advice on how photographers can monetise their art through printing.
Photographer Sanjay Jogia leans over a Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer, as a large print of a photograph of a woman with long dark hair emerges.

Printing your own images gives you complete control over your work and is far more profitable than outsourcing your printing. "If you're selling prints, a professional printer pays for itself without even putting any mileage on it," says wedding photographer and print specialist Sanjay Jogia. © Sanjay Jogia

In the increasingly competitive world of professional image-making, how do photographers optimise their opportunities and put themselves in the best position for success? One way is to invest in the photo printing side of the business.

Printing has been an integral part of the work of British wedding and portrait photographer and Canon Ambassador Sanjay Jogia since 2014. He specialises in creating vibrant images that capture the visual spectacle of Asian weddings and other high-end destination ceremonies. Based in north London, he runs his photography business, Eye Jogia, in partnership with his wife Roshni.

His output includes shooting photos and video, and he has recently been experimenting with shooting VR content with the Canon RF 5.2mm F2.8L Dual Fisheye lens on his Canon EOS R5, which he may incorporate into his work in the future.

However, for Sanjay, making his own prints and wall art is central to his meticulous approach to shooting and presenting images. "Doing my own printing means I can control the quality and the output and fulfil the final vision of the image, which is really important to me," he says. It's also an integral part of the way he maximises the profit he makes.

Here, Sanjay talks about how he uses the power of print in his business and offers his top tips on making money from photo printing.

A Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer with a large print of a photograph of a woman with long dark hair on the out tray.

Sanjay currently uses the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 for small numbers of prints up to A2 in size. This dynamic printer uses high-longevity LUCIA PRO pigment inks, which make prints that can last up to 200 years in an album or 60 years when exposed to light. © Sanjay Jogia

1. Invest in your kit, paper and inks

Investing in professional printers and materials is crucial for getting the best possible results.

"Although a professional printer may seem like an expensive thing to invest in, if you're active in selling prints it can pay for itself quite quickly," says Sanjay, who calculated that selling around 15 large canvas prints (at various bespoke price points) paid for one of his Canon printers.

Sanjay has used several Canon professional printers over the years, but currently uses two different models: a Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000, which produces A2 borderless prints, and a Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-4100, a large-format printer with a 44-inch production output. He chooses which one of the two to use based on the volume of printing he's doing.

"I'll use the PRO-1000 for smaller individual prints up to A2 size," he says, "but if I'm printing high-volume, I'll use the PRO-4100 because I can print across its 170mm roll and then slice them out afterwards, which is more cost effective. I also print for other professional photographers, and for me, the processing power of the PRO-4100, together with the bigger heads and its ink delivery system, makes it exceptional when I'm printing challenging images."

Both printers use a 12-ink system for a wider colour gamut and increased detail and Sanjay always uses genuine Canon LUCIA PRO inks. "I wouldn't risk compromising quality by cutting corners," he says. "I mainly use Canon papers, but for more specialist applications I also use Canson® papers, as they offer a broader range of textures and finishes."

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2. Work with clients to decide which images to print and sell

The process of meeting and interacting with clients is an essential part of maximising print sales.

"Showing clients the physical prints effectively allows you to conduct business, because they're seeing tangible results," Sanjay says. "If you don't do that, it weakens the negotiation process because clients can't perceive what they're going to have at the end of it. Having something to show helps to align the clients' expectations.

"Having something physical also helps to convey the quality your brand represents. So again, it increases expectations and excitement, and when there's excitement, clients will be more willing to work with you. There's also the psychological effect of presenting physical prints and wall art. When clients see them, they say things like, 'I'd never considered having that, but now I've seen it, it looks amazing.' So that's something you could then engineer into your pricing."

A small white showroom, with a comfortable black armchair in the middle, a large print on the wall behind and a framed print on an easel to the side.

To display his prints when meeting clients for an initial consultation, Sanjay has created a dedicated showroom on his business premises. "Showing prints creates a bit of a 'wow' factor and makes it more likely clients will buy prints as part of the package," he says. © Sanjay Jogia

3. Encourage your clients to see your workspace

When Sanjay invites potential clients for an initial appointment at his studio, he not only shows them his high-tech editing suite but also his dedicated showroom where his prints are displayed. Sanjay believes this approach encourages clients to invest more in his services.

"When clients look at the level of investment in the editing suite and the high quality of the prints first-hand in the showroom, it creates an immediate perception of professionalism, dedication and value," he says. "It allows you to educate the client in terms of how you work and the different parts of the process, including processing, retouches and final tweaks, so the result is exactly what they want.

"I've also found that clients negotiate on price less when they come here and see the set-up, because they can see exactly what we're about. In my view, it reinforces how serious we are about what we're doing."

A large print of a wedding photo, showing a bride and groom next to a cream convertible Mercedes car in front of a grand building. The print is framed and standing on an easel in a red-painted room.

As well as printing images for wedding couples and portrait sitters, Sanjay sometimes makes prints for individual venues. "If we want to get onto a venue's books [so that they recommend us to their clients], we usually give them a print as a gift in return for their business," he says. © Sanjay Jogia

4. Get involved with professional bodies

Sanjay's prints have won more than 100 awards in annual competitions held by Wedding & Portrait Photography International (WPPI) and the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers (SWPP), and for the latter organisation he also holds a fellowship. He attends photography events run by these prestigious organisations around the world, where his prints are exhibited and seen by hundreds of visitors. His association with these bodies increases his own status when meeting potential clients.

"Although it's ultimately not the decision-maker for clients, they like to know you've achieved some status in the global industry and these awards give you some extra kudos," he says. "There are a lot of digital awards around, but those given by professional bodies for printing have a much higher level of rigour, discipline and authority attached to them."

5. Print to make you a better photographer – and reap the rewards

Sanjay firmly believes that the process of printing actually makes you a better photographer, which you can then reflect in your pricing.

"When you print your work, it really exposes every tiny flaw in your images," he says. "It makes you realise what you need to do, when making an image in the first place, in order to create better prints. You improve your craft in-camera so you can improve the post-production and ultimately the print output.

A print of a skier dwarfed by the vast, sheer mountain he is skiing down. Photo by Richard Walch.

How printing can enhance your business

Action photographer Richard Walch says standing out from the crowd is an important factor in retaining clients – and for him, printing his own photos is a key part of doing that.

"Producing even higher-quality results will also allow you to leverage your value and your pricing. You wouldn't go to a workshop to become a better photographer and then not reflect that in your pricing. This is the same thing. Any time you print, you're basically giving yourself a workshop. And that's true for all types of photographers."

A large print of an Indian woman in a deep red wedding sari embroidered with gold, plus gold jewellery and henna patterns on her hands, hangs on a red wall. It is reflected in a plastic panel on another wall to the left of the frame.

Sanjay does all his own framed prints and wall art, including canvas prints. He has won more than 100 awards for his printing. "The accolades are great," he says, "but the challenge of printing at a high level is the wonderful part of it, because it's pushing me to become a better photographer." © Sanjay Jogia

Photographer Sanjay Jogia stands over a Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-4100 printer, as a large print of a wedding photo emerges.

Sanjay's main printer for large numbers of prints is the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-4100. He recently printed a shot of a very dark-coloured dog on a dark background for a pet photographer. "She'd had a print done at a lab and it was awful," he says, "but the PRO-4100 absolutely cruised through it and produced very fine tonality." © Sanjay Jogia

6. Use prints to maximise your profit

For Sanjay, aside from the sense of fulfilment he gets from making prints of his own images, the bottom line is that it boosts the profits of his business. "The power in what we do is in printing, not just the image-making," he says.

"Most portrait photographers will charge a nominal session fee and if they don't sell prints, they're making a loss. They rely on selling something afterwards. If they just do a digital sale, they'll make something, but it's not worth their while.

"If you don't print, I think you're leaving at least 50% of your profits on the table. And obviously the more you print, the more profit you make."

David Clark

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