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Sizing, Editioning, and Pricing Your Work

Most artists have no idea where to begin when thinking about sizing, pricing and editioning their work. The impulse is to put off this decision until the work begins to sell or be exhibited. But it is much better to be deliberate and thoughtful, do your research, and confidently make a decision. This is your work. Only you can do a gut check and value it.

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The current trend seems to be to “go big and then go bigger”. But consider the size that you feel best suits the work. If the images are intimate and would work best in a small size, then stay true to your vision for the photographs and offer just one small size. Think about what you imagine the ideal size for viewing the work should be.

Photographs should typically be offered in two or three sizes. Often the size that looks best in an exhibition is too large for an average collector, so offering a smaller size helps the work be more accessible to a wider audience.   

Also consider the jump between sizes when creating multiple size editions. One standard paper size difference between two sizes is not a significant change. For example, there is very little difference between a 16x20 and a 20x24. Instead, opt for selecting 16x20 and 24x30 and then 30x40 or larger for the largest size. If you are offering two sizes, make sure there is a significant difference between the two options.


While it is true that the old photography masters did not edition their prints, it is contemporary practice to do so. Editioning guarantees that the image a collector is buying is not infinitely reproducible, and therefore will hold its value.

The size of the edition impacts the price. A smaller edition means fewer images will be made, which makes each more valuable. Typically the smallest print size for each image will have the largest edition size and the largest print size will have the smallest edition size.

For example, if you are offering photographs from a particular body of work in two sizes (13x19 and 24x30), you may decide to create an edition of 10 for the 13x19 size and an edition of five for the 24x30 size.

To be clear, once you set your edition for a photograph, you may not print that image again in any of those sizes. This is an honor system, and your reputation as an artist depends on it. In order to reserve the right to print one or two more of each image for personal use (to keep for yourself, give to a friend or family member, donate to a museum, or sell at a high price if the rest of the edition has sold out), you can create an edition size with APs (artist proofs). If you wanted to add APs to the example edition above, you may decide to create and edition of 10 + 2 APs for the 13x19 size and an edition of 5 + 2 APs for the 24x30 size.

 In general for edition sizes, smaller is better. A small edition size means fewer prints will exist in the marketplace, making the image more valuable and more attractive to a collector. While it may seem limiting to the artist to create editions that are small, having images that sell out will create more demand for your work and justify a price increase for your next body of work. 

It is natural to want to have a large edition of 50 prints in every size because you are attached to this work, but it helps to look at the big picture: a large edition means that when you go on to make new work that you care to promote, this older body of work will be left with largely unfulfilled editions.


Determining how to price your work is complicated and often feels awkward. You want to value your work but not price it higher than the market will reasonably bear. It is a delicate balance, and if you are working with a gallery, the gallery should be able to advise you.

When deciding pricing, consider these variables:

What does it cost you to produce the work? 

This should not be the only factor in determining your pricing, but you want to make sure your costs are covered with enough profit left over to make the sale worthwhile. Do not price different sizes the same just because your cost may be similar.

If an image sold, what is the minimum amount you would want to receive?

Keep in mind that if you are selling through a gallery, you will receive 50% of the sale price (in most cases). With that in mind, you must always assume that you will only receive half of the dollar amount you set. In order to protect the investment for collectors, all of your work needs to be priced consistently, whether you are selling through a gallery (and receiving half) or directly (and retaining the full amount). It is unfair and detrimental to your reputation and the value of your work for one collector to pay full price and another to pay half that amount. Your pricing should always reflect the gallery price.

How commercially salable is the work? 

This is a critical question that needs to be fleshed out before you go any farther in creating goals for the project. 

The market for your photography should influence the sale price. If your work is challenging and hard to sell, the price should be lower than if your work flies off the walls.

How are other photographers with similar work and at a similar level of their career pricing their work?

Again, consider where you as a photographer (the stage in your career, your experience, your sales and exhibition history) and where your work fits into to the larger context of the photography market when determining your pricing. Make sure you get out there and go to galleries which are showing emerging photographers’ work and observe the pricing structures. 

What feels right?

You should consider all of the variables above, but at the end of the day, the price has to feel appropriate and good to you. But do not trust your opinion alone. Many photographers intrinsically undervalue or overvalue their work. Ask a few trusted and more experienced friends or approach a gallery owner for advice.

Tiered pricing can be a great compromise between selecting a price that seems too low and a price that seems inflated. Let the sales determine the value. Tiered pricing means the price of an image goes up the closer it gets to selling out.

Here is an example of a three-size pricing structure with tiered pricing.  This is not based on any particular body of work.

16x24 edition of 8, starting at $800

  • Prints 1-3 priced at $800
  • Prints 4-6 priced at $950
  • Print 7 priced at $1100
  • Print 8 priced at $1300

24x30, edition of 5, starting at $1200

  • Print 1-2 priced at $1200
  • Print 3-4 priced at $1450
  • Print 5 priced at $1700

30x40, edition of 3, starting at $2000

  • Print 1 priced at $2000
  • Print 2 priced at $2500
  • Print 3 priced at $3000

In deciding about a size, I recommend to all artists to print the image in three or four sizes and pin them all on the wall. Spend the next three weeks looking at them. Do not make a quick decision. You will notice that certain images, portraits, and narratives transform and translate very differently in various sizes. It is important to know how a photograph will look as an 11x14 (11x17 digital) up to a 50x60, depending on how the image is taken. Then give it time and more time. If you are using a traditional 8x10 or 4x5 format, you will find that the photograph can handle larger sizes. However, many photographers using smaller format cameras make the mistake to print larger when the image cannot handle the size, and they willingly sacrifice the quality and resolution. Big mistake. Many dealers are interested in quality and look hard at the print.  If the print loses or breaks up digitally at a larger size, it is technically weak. Make sure your photograph is technically strong.

Be very careful in creating an edition for your image. It would be to your advantage to consult an art lawyer to find out the editioning laws in your state. Many artists will create an image, then the size, then edition, and lastly the price. Then later you will see that artist decided to add a new size/edition because they sold one image quickly and now it is no longer available. Suddenly you have a museum calling you to buy this piece or you are asked by a huge collection to make a one-time commission in a huge size of this fantastic image that sold out. Agreeing to do this after the edition has been set compromises the value and is unethical. When you determine your editions and sizes, you can decide on three sizes and editions but only offer two in the beginning, knowing that you have the option to open up the third size later. What you cannot do is decide on two sizes in an edition, then add another edition and size later. It is always good to consult someone in the industry as you are making these important decisions. These decisions have a tremendous impact down the road.

As for pricing, I have several thoughts. I sometimes disagree with the step/pricing structure, because it can cause more work than it is worth and complicates relationships if you have more than one gallery representing your work, and editions have to be split up between them. My recommendation, which is also the same policy with several reputable NY dealers, is to price each size differently, but all of the editions within that one size are the same price. Perhaps the last edition is higher or the AP. This way everyone has the opportunity to sell or purchase the work at the same price, and you avoid angry avid collectors that were "unavailable " when the work was released or the entitled dealers that want to hold "lower" less expensive editions for an exhibition or art fair, leaving the more expensive editions available to the other disgruntled dealers. Keep it simple, the art world is hard enough.

– Anna Walker Skillman, Gallery Owner at Jackson Fine Art


This article is an excerpt from Crusade for Your Art: Best Practices for Fine Art Photographers, Crusade Press, copyright 2014 by Jennifer Schwartz, reproduced here with the permission of the publisher. This excellent book is available from Amazon, here.