“Having the venue to make all this work in a streamlined and organized manner from orders to invoices lays the groundwork for responsible business practices.” — Ben Lowy on his virtual storefront, made with Squarespace.
In my recent interview with commercial and editorial photographer, Ben Lowy, he talked about how designing a second website for his commercial work was a great way for him to differentiate the heavier subject matter of his editorial journalism (often shot in war zones) with the more lighthearted (yet still narrative) commercial work. But in addition to these parallel careers, image sales are also an important revenue stream for the photographer. One unique aspect of Lowy’s new Squarespace website — which is an all-in-one platform — is the inclusion of a storefront in which clients and fans of his work can purchase prints. We asked him about launching and selling work through his personal online Squarespace store.
“Rainroom.” New York City, NY. June 24, 2014. Editions starting at $125.
How do you decide which images you would sell on your store?
“We started with specific images that have been popular over the years. We also wanted a place where we could sell my popular and often requested Instagram images.”
How did you manage different print editions with the Squarespace store?
“We initially enter the print edition size and Squarespace’s database keeps track of which have been sold. Potential collectors can even request a specific number from the edition if they want. It is a lot better than keeping a powerpoint spreadsheet and checklist on my studio refrigerator.”
“Darth Vader and Tutu.” New York City, NY. November 3, 2013. Editions starting at $125.
Tell us about the process of creating a Squarespace store?
“The best thing about Squarespace is how customizable every aspect of the site is. We have several different galleries of images defined by themes. Recent work from the Olympics, to classical reportage, to even iPhoneography. In fact there just may be too many customizable features for its own good. We were even able to account for several different shipping options into the store database.”
“Libya #1.” Bin Jawad. March 29, 2011. Editions starting at $125.
Do you hope having a store on your commercial site will help bring in extra revenue?
“It is more of a one hand washes the other situation. Potential commercial clients and those they bring to my site may have more money to spend. That is probably a small percentage, but a possibility nonetheless.
We also saw the need for a virtual store via online social media interest and quite simply, Squarespace can make that happen. Since print sales are now integrated online, the studio can continue fulfilling orders without having to wait for me to get back from my travels.”
How do transactions work with your Squarespace store?
“As soon as a buyer purchases a print or book, we are notified via several emails and can quickly go about printing, signing, and posting the products. The Squarespace database is easily manageable and I can reference every invoice and export them to whatever bookkeeping software I use.”
Untitled. Kabul, Afghanistan. April 22, 2009. Editions starting at $125.
Do you contract with a printing company, or print in-house?
“What we can print in my studio is done in-house, but large archival prints are made with a printing facility I trust. I just use very specific paper depending on the project. So once I get an order that I can’t service in the studio, I can forward the request from my Squarespace notification to a print house and begin production.”
How do you keep track of orders with Squarespace?
“Every invoice with client address and contact information is recorded along with specific print details. That way, If I am working on a specific body of work I can contact a past collector and say, ‘Hey, you might be interested in these new images.'”
How has having a store impacted your photography business?
“We are starting the edit for a flash sale but of late, I have been able to direct collectors who are interested in limited edition prints to the site even when I am away traveling. Having the venue to make all this work in a streamlined and organized manner from orders to invoices lays the groundwork for responsible business practices.”
Untitled. Gonaives, Haiti. February 13, 2004. Editions starting at $125.