Quick Art Marketing Tip | Request a Photo of Artwork Recently Purchased

I’ve written extensively about the process of selling art – everything from building relationships to following up and closing the sale. Today, I’m going to share a simple tip that will help you turn your sales into marketing tools for future sales.

In past posts, I’ve encouraged you to follow every sale with a handwritten thank-you note. This thank-you note adds a warm, personal touch that will let your clients know you truly appreciate their business. By adding one simple line to your thank-you note, you can encourage feedback from your clients, and get a picture of the artwork you sold them that will be of incredible value to you in your future marketing efforts.

The line to add to your thank-you note is this:

If you have a moment and would be willing to snap a photograph of the piece, I would love to see it in its new home, and I’d love to share the photo with clients who are considering my work. You can email the photo to me at me@theworldsgreatestartist.com

This simple request almost always results in a photo, and often several photos of the piece. I have found that my customers are not only happy to take the photo, they enjoy showing the piece off and love the thought of helping the artist’s career along. Often, the client will also write a little note to accompany the photo, sharing their feelings about the piece.

You may adapt the photo request to suit each individual situation, based on the relationship you built with the customer.

Now you have photo of the piece in a beautiful setting that you can post to your website, your blog, your newsletter, and place in your portfolio. Future potential buyers will be influenced and encouraged when they see your work in other collectors’ homes. When they buy, you’ll ask them for photos, and the cycle continues.

Don’t be shy about asking – the worst that can happen is the client will ignore the request, but no one is going to be offended that you asked.

By the way, it’s never too late to ask for this photo. Getting in touch with past clients to ask for a photo of artwork is not only a great way to get the image, it’s a great excuse to get back in touch with a past buyer and remind them of your work.

Have you requested photos from clients in the past? Have those photos helped you make sales? Post your experiences, opinions, and thoughts in the comments below.

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60 Comments

  1. I’ve done this in the past, though not as regularly as I should… it hasn’t resulted in any painting sales (yet) but I think it’s also nice to have for archival purposes as well. Another bonus is that it helps give a piece of art a sense of scale that can’t be understood just by looking at the numerical dimensions.

  2. Jason, your collectors are better photographers than mine. I asked one collector for a photo of the painting they’d bought from me, because I knew they’d hung it in a prominent place. They proudly showed me a shot of my painting hanging on a large white wall, no furniture or anything else visible. Another collector sent me a photo so tightly cropped all you could see was the painting. Sometimes you just have to laugh.

    1. Believe me, we’ve received our share of poorly composed and cropped photos as well. If you are asking for the photo every time, odds are you’ll receive fairly decent photos, at least every once in a while!

      Another thought – we haven’t done this, but it might just work – send a link to a brief guide showing how to get a good photo of your work, including some sample shots.

      Also, in the last few years, smart phone cameras have become far better and smarter. It’s almost becoming hard to take a bad photo.

  3. Yes I agree with the previous comment. The only nice photos I have gotten are the ones I was able to take on installs. But asking is always good as a way to keep in touch. Brilliant!

  4. I too always ask buyers for a photo of their new purchase installed. I rarely receive an image that’s usable. They either hang my mobiles in very strange places or take poor pictures I can’t use. I really need these images because the right ones do help sell to new clients, giving them ideas about where to hang the work. So far the best ones are ones I’ve taken by making arrangements if the client lives near by. Or I’ve staged pictures in the homes of friends.

  5. I have asked the last two clients that purchased multiple and large pieces of my photography to send me an image of the artwork on their walls. In both cases, no image was sent even if they agreed to do so. I feel that this is a good idea for marketing and will pursue the idea again in the future or take the images myself for local customers. One area of concern was that they felt concerned that it would not be a good photograph as they were intimidated by perceived quality standards I would require as a photographer myself.

    For future clients, I will suggest that they can use a camera phone image if they want and just email me a few images, to include a little room background beyond the photographs, not worry about the quality and follow up with a few reminders after they have the images framed and placed the work on there walls.

  6. Wonderful idea. Like the wording of the request while being included in the thank you. Could certainly use as I don’t always photograph my custom framed photography as it is going out the door. The day it is usually busy. I do photography my work on public display, but nothing lends the feeling one gets seeing fine art in a home setting. Thanks

  7. Jason, thank you for all of the wonderful information you share. This is a great idea, and I have done this before, once the photo had a bad glare, but the second time was perfect. If nothing else it will help with website views. I need to start doing it more regularly.

  8. I often ask for photos of my larger pieces and for clients who are local I take my own photos. For the out of towners, I explain that I want to show future clients how their beautiful painting looks in a home. No one seemed intimated but if they were reluctant at first, I offered a small discount in return for their promise to send a photo. Most of these photos were good although I must admit that in some cases I needed to use Photoshop to make the image correct and just what I wanted. One photo included the customer which I didn’t want but she was smiling and her dress looked good with the painting so I used it since I always get permission. I don’t know if this effort resulted in sales but I still think it is important that I have a link on my home page for “installed paintings”.

  9. I now always take a photo of art prior to the sale. In the past I had not done that and regret not having those photos for my own promotion. However, I have not requested the purchaser to send a photo of the art as shown in their home. Great idea, if not too much to ask, since some may not wish their home or walls to be shown. So very wise to ask carefully. I always make every effort to send a thank you to those who buy, if the name and address is known. Sometimes if art is sold via a gallery they may not provide the buyer’s name/address.

  10. I think this is an excellent idea for several reasons. I’m paying my client a compliment by wanting an image of what it looks like in their home or office. It’s also a wonderful way to stay in touch with a collector. If uploaded to me, I’ve asked if I can put their image on my website (I’ve actually created a new menu item – Installations – for the best ones). Some clients have actually shown others my website (they enjoyed the bragging rights) because it shows their acquisition. I do agree with a lot of the above comments about questionable quality. Doesn’t hurt to ask, as Jason says. I have also asked to drop by and take my own images, another way to stay in touch with the client. I’ve seen some spectacular homes by doing this.

  11. As usual another great idea…

    I often ask to have photos made of me while working in the field…sometimes with my client and sometimes without. The future value of these images as proof that I’m a viable working pro is incalculable.

    Michael

  12. I have done this and have received some really good photos. I need to remember to do this every time not just for big pieces.

  13. I’ve just asked my latest customer for a photo. 🙂 In the past I’ve been a bit sporadic at asking, but usually people are happy to share. As for poor quality photos – I blog or Facebook them. My theory is that everyone takes phone photos nowadays and are used to that sort of quality. As long as there’s some context I think it helps customers. My work is abstract and my collectors often put them in traditional rooms, a great combination that potential new buyers are worried about trying.

  14. Sometimes clients are so excited about their new acquisitions that it’s not necessary to even ask for a photo – they automatically send them! Although maybe not the best in most cases, a little Photoshop adjustment can turn them into usable shots for various purposes.

  15. Me again! Couldn’t resist a follow up comment. I e-mailed a repeat client of mine (they have purchased 3 oils) and have sent wonderful installation shots of the first two. I asked if they would be able to send me images of where the last painting was hung. Not only did they do that but indicated there was a bare place on the wall opposite the last painting and they were keeping track of my new work (I send a weekly art newsletter out) and were patiently waiting for something of mine that would be perfect for the space. Wow! I immediately sent them links to 3 paintings on my website that fit size wise that they might consider. Each of the 3 is quite expensive (I went nuts on custom framing) so I also made them a better offer on each if they would consider the same frame as their last purchase. By asking for an image and following up, I might have a sale. They were delighted to hear from me and brag about their paintings. Music to an artist’s ears!

  16. Hi – Yes, me too .. I love this idea and whenever possible, will ask to take the photograph myself (to get the best results). I have a whole section on my site called “rooms” of clients’ homes and offices, with paintings installed. It’s a visual testimony and is one of the most visited sections of my website. It also gives clients ideas of where they could hang a painting .. living rooms, dining rooms and bedrooms of course, but even bathrooms and kitchens. And on a “low” day, to look at this section always makes me smile and reaffirms me in my career. You can’t go wrong doing this … go for it. Cheers, Susan

  17. I’ve been collecting photos of my paintings in homes and offices over the last few years. I usually ask for a photo during the transaction. I ask where they are going to hang the art and tell them I would love a picture, as I like to see where the art calls home. Sometimes they send me a picture right away. Sometimes I need to email them a thank you and reminder that I would love a picture for my online album. I don’t know if this has resulted in more sales but it’s a fun, relatively easy thing to do. It also completes the process of creation in a way. When people look at my online art in homes album it gives them a sense of the legitimacy and reality of my artwork. Some pictures are great, some aren’t perfect. That’s ok. I include them all. Here’s my growing album:
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.282717504963.33345.153038884963&type=3

    Cheers!

  18. After reading this blog I sent a personalized email to each of my collectors asking for the photos. Same day I heard from half of them already who sad they would gladly send some and I am anxious to see. Most also said they love my new work asked about a couple new pieces and inquired about print availability and pricing. I have been sharing these through my monthly newsletters. I also have shared there about my recent knee surgery and recovery. These collectors inquired asking how I was feeling and recovering and were wishing me well. What’s great about that is it tells me they are really following and interested in my newsletters. Had I not sent these emails yesterday I would have not received this validation like I did or received the inquires as well! Thank you!

  19. I have done this in the past. The problem I face is that some galleries refuse to give me the information about who purchased the work. I feel sad about this for two reasons; the first being that I think a handwritten thank you note (with an image of my art on the card of course) is important, and two, these are galleries I have been with for years and they should trust that I would never sell behind their back to their customers.

    1. This is pretty common – galleries are leery of sharing information with artists, not because of anything you’ve necessarily done, but because other artists haven’t been as reliable as you in not contacting the clients. You can ask your gallery to ask for the photo – this would benefit them as well as you, as they could use the photos in their marketing efforts (like we do!). They should already be sending out thank you notes, so they can use this technique.

      1. thanks you Jason for all you share with us. In Oregon it is a law that the galleries have to give the artist the name and address of buyer if the purchase is over $100.00. I do not know if this law hold true in all states. the galleries I work with do not have a problem with giving me this information. hopefully the buyer will willingly give out their address and name.

      2. Just to piggyback on this thread ~ Maybe you could mail the gallery the thank you note to give to the client, postage paid, if applicable. You could also request a photograph in the note. If a piece sells at a show, I leave a handwritten note with the gallery for when the buyer picks it up at the end of the show.

  20. People send me photos from time to time, but I have the problem with bad quality. I am thinking of doing a photo contest where the best photo of my work wins a piece of my glass. I think this might encourage good photos and get people excited about something to do with my work.

  21. Hi – Great advice Jason. I’ve actually been doing this for years. And even have a section on my website called ‘sculpture in the home’. You can view it here: http://www.nancy-pirri.com/sculpture-in-the-home.html

    This is especially important for me as a sculptor – because of where how people display my work in their homes. I hear the phrase quite often: ‘I have nowhere to put a sculpture.’ So I try to show people how other people do it. Including myself.

      1. Thank-you..you always have such great suggestions. Wish I was good enough to exhibit in your Gallery..working on it.

  22. This is a great suggestion and I do it all the time. Unfortunately, however, in my experience the photos are usually awful and virtually unusable. I have yet been able to figure out how to get clients to take a decent photo on their own. But it’s still worth asking. You might be luckier than me.

  23. That’s awesome advice. I have never asked a client to take a photo of my drawings after they’ve been framed but some have sent them to me anyways. I ‘ve posted them to my FB business page and I get SO many “likes” and reaches because of it. So, I will now include that in my thank you!!!

  24. Great idea! Thanks for sharing. I use SendOutCards for my greeting card needs – when you send the thank you card you can insert an image of your latest art on the front, which is a nice touch too.

  25. This is such a wonderful tip, and I have been trying to do this now on a regular basis.
    Many of my local collectors, in Prescott, have invited me to their home.

    Your suggestion of the hand written note is so wonderfully engaging.
    Thank you,
    Donna Carver

  26. Along the same line of thought, snap a photo of them with their purchase in the gallery itself, perhaps alongside the salesperson if the situation warrants. As a “point of sale” image, the subtext is that a purchase was made right there in the gallery, from a gallery salesperson, right in the very spot a potential collector is standing right now, debating whether they would like to also make a purchase. If they see someone else has done it, this conveys a “warm and fuzzy” feeling about buying right then and there… Here’s a picture of someone else doing it, so it must be okay…

  27. Great advice everyone. I will start sending out thnak your as I have just sold quit e few at my show this month. I hope to ask for photos what a great idea. Ore see Iraqi a comedy and take one once they have in in there home.

  28. Jason, thanks for the reminder. I’ve thought of this in the past, but never acted on it. I like the idea of posting them on the website and Facebook. Has anyone posted the pictures on Pinterest, too? Question from the standpoint of the gallery I co-own. Is it best to have a picture of the gallery on the front of the thank-you card, or a picture of art work by the artist whose work they just purchased.

  29. So far my work is sold at art and craft shows and word of mouth so I do not have a list of who brought what, but I noticed one of the other remarks where you have a postcard with photos of your artwork which I thought was a good idea and I could put the request for the photo once it is placed in their home or wherever they decide to hang it. I will get on ordering my postcards as soon as my website is ready. Glad I read the post and the remarks keep them coming.

  30. Good advice Jason. I have been doing this for a while now and if nothing else I enjoy seeing where pieces end up. I also regularly invite people via my blog or Facebook page to share.

  31. I am inspired! Thanks to all the ideas in this thread, I am going to ask my clients to send photos and will add a tab on my site for commissioned pieces. I’m psyched!

  32. Hello Jason, I’m amazed to hear the stories of photographers and your support. I have many photographs for marketing and sales. And, need some funding for preparation, like matting and advertising. Do you know of any sources of such funds? Thanks for your consideration. Best. Ann Moore

  33. I do ask for photographs of my paintings in their new home and generally get photos in return. The images are usually good enough to include in my portfolio and I have included images in my blog posts when a piece sells. I like the ideas others made here about having a page on my website with installed art, maybe adding that to my exhibit schedule page would also work to add some understanding that my work sells and maybe the next exhibit is their chance to buy too. It is hard to measure what works and doesn’t work, but I do think pieces in situ do help people understand the size of my work which give them more information they may need to finalize a purchase decision.

  34. While potential buyers are considering purchasing my art I like to show them installation photos of my sold paintings on my iPad. The images are in focus, well composed, and compliment the setting. Not only does this help them to imagine the art work in their home or office, it makes it much easier for them to make the decision to buy.

  35. I always ask a buyer to take a photo of the work when it’s hung and also a photo of them with it. I never thought of using the photos as pr. Thanks Jason.

  36. I have asked a recent buyer twice for photos of the paintings installed in their home, once in my thank you note, and once a couple of months later. No response so far. So I am wondering if I should quit after two requests?

    1. Not every client will respond, so requesting twice is probably sufficient; you don’t want to be a pest. If you ask all of your collectors, a good number of them will happily give you photos.

  37. Is an image of the work or a letter of appreciation of the painting then incorporated into the body of our biography? Or is this kept as a kind of record of satisfaction if someone is interested in purchasing? Just not sure what to do with it (once I get that far).

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