Coming up soon—plans are firming quickly but don't include a start date yet—we're having our own little "kickstarter"-style campaign.
Real Kickstarter campaigns, capital K, are only for specific projects, not to fund your "lifestyle." So TOP will throw its own in-house fundraiser print sale bash, then. A grand total of seven of my own photographs, all signed. Ctein is going to administrate the sale and make the prints. He'll be paid, but most of the proceeds will go into making the website into a better business.
The old college try*
Why a fundraiser? TOP's #1 problem is no office space. It's just very clear to me that this site could, and should, be better. I know how to improve it. But it just can't grow until I can somehow find more room.
There's a somewhat unusual house for sale right down the street from me that is somewhat of an ugly duckling but by coincidence would be almost tailor-made for TOP. The exchange of living spaces would be a wash—I live in a modest house now and the living space in the prospective house would not be any larger or more luxurious. But the exchange of office spaces would be huge. If we moved, TOP's current cramped 11x11' office would be exchanged for an entire floor of that house. I don't know the square footage exactly, but it would increase my office space by at least 8X.
In my mind's eye it could be beautiful. It would have a separate garden entrance (that means "from the back yard," but people wouldn't have to tromp through the house to get to it), a couch and some chairs to welcome visitors, an exhibition space (well, we'll call this "a wall") for my small but interesting collection of framed photographs (including all the past print sale prints, and a number of portraits of photographers), desk space for a temp or assistant and a second computer, all the books in one place, a small but permanent portrait studio, a proper printer...all airy, windowlit, nicely finished, and pleasant. A daydream....
So there's one slight impediment. Actually a rather large impediment. I would need to raise some money. A lot of money. Maybe more than is possible. It's not like picking a perfect bracket, but it's a long shot.
But you can't succeed if you don't try, right? So we're holding a "Help TOP Move" Print Sale. Could work. 'Spossible.
Moving is the best option, by quite a bit, but there are several less drastic (if also less optimal) possibilities for making a bit more room. If we reach a certain threshold, then it will fund a new house. If not, I'll use the profits I manage to raise to improve the situation as best I can.
Here are the "tiers" (I'm using the language of Kickstarter somewhat tongue in cheek; I mean the print prices):
Any one of three prints on 8x10" size paper for a $39 donation to the cause. For a contribution of $99, you can get all three.
Then there are two options of bigger 11x17" prints for $170 each. Two of my most-popular-ever pictures, one color, one black-and-white. (Have to keep the B&W people happy. What can I say? I love it in my heart.)
Top tier is a gorgeous (well, if I do say so myself) 64-megapixel panoramic landscape. Ctein and I have been working hard on the print in the last week, and I'm pretty amazed by it. He has done a fantastic job. Two versions of this same photograph will be available, one 36" wide for $495, the other 52" inches wide for $1,000.
The difference in size is not trivial. The smaller one is generous enough to look at comfortably without taking up too much of the wall. The larger one is really imposing, not to mention quite possibly the most beautiful print that's ever been made of a photograph of mine. And certainly the biggest.
The 52" print is only available in this sale. The picture will never be printed wider than 36". And we will number all the 52"-wide panoramas, although the edition will be determined by how many people choose to buy one.
Why 52 inches wide? Something I learned from my friend Jack McD., who works with big prints all the time: the largest size mat board that's readily available to framing establishments is 60" wide. Larger sizes have to be special ordered and require special handling, and are very expensive. Fifty-two inches wide leaves you four inches of mat on either side using 40x60" mat board. (If it were me, I'd frame it with a mat of 4" on the sides and the top and 5" on the bottom. But you can do whatever you like.)
So that's six. The seventh print is a full-sized 17x22" free premium for anyone who buys all the others (either of the panoramas will count). It's a picture taken with the Nikon D800 and 58mm ƒ/1.4G lens. The premium print will be signed and numbered and never printed again at any size.
This is all coming up very soon—within the next two ten days or two weeks, when I'll be able to show thumbnails of the seven prints. I hope you'll like. Please watch this space....
"Open Mike" is the Sunday editorial page of The Online Photographer (TOP).
*An old 1920s expression that means "a zealous all-out effort."
Original contents copyright 2014 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Roger Bradbury: "This is in line with your general practise of promoting photography, in this case the appreciation of photography. Something that's missing from many websites, and one reason I'm here nearly every day.
How many square feet would the TOP office be in the new house?
Mike replies: I added this to the post after your comment came in. I'm not sure exactly, but it's the whole walk-out basement minus a laundry/utility room. The house is about as big as my current house, which is a single-story house of 1,000 sq. ft. (It's listed on the town assessment as 1,120 sq. ft., but the outside dimensions of the house are 25x40', so I don't know where they found the extra 120 sq. feet inside that rectangle!) So I'm guessing the finished basement of the other house, which would be the office, is something like 800 or 900 sq. ft. of usable space.
It would be a big change and solve a lot of problems. Everything is cramped here...to give you an idea, when Ctein sent the proofs of the 60"-wide panorama (that's the paper width), literally the only place in the house where I could lay it out comfortably was on the pool table in the basement! I don't have that much free tabletop anywhere else. In my current office, I can't fit a flatbed scanner. I don't mean a huge scanner, just a normal flat scanner to scan letter-sized pages. There just isn't room unless something else goes.
Karel Kravik: "Hope the international postage won't be excessive. I'm happy to be kickstarting TOP, but not the couriers. :-) "
Ctein replies: Regarding shipping costs, it will be the same flat charge for everybody no matter where they are. Each tier will incur its own separate shipping and handling charges. I'm still refining the numbers, but for the Tier 1 prints, I think I may be able to hold it down to a fixed $10 (won't matter if you buy one, two, or all three prints). The international orders for those prints will ship by regular international mail rather than my usual Priority Mail. It takes somewhat longer and doesn't provide tracking, but these small prints are easy enough to make and ship that if we need to replace some orders that go missing it won't be a big deal. It's a way of keeping the cost down, because, you know, it's ridiculous to have to pay $25 shipping on a $39 print.
The larger prints and the panoramics will ship by Priority Mail regardless of the destination. A single, flat $25 shipping and handling fee will do it for the Tier 2 prints (again, it won't matter how many you buy). The Tier 3 panoramics will ship rolled in a tube for $30–$35 per print.
Michael Bearman: "Brass tacks—how much is a lot?"
Ctein replies to Michael (and to Bob and Sylvain): Mike and I have been arguing about this money thing. He has the common American (and especially Midwestern) reluctance to discuss personal finances. Me, I don't. There is much debating behind the curtain. I can't disrespect his wishes (I mean, I really CAN'T—he has total editorial control [smile]), but I think it's okay to say that the minimum sum he needs to make this move feasible requires this to be one of TOP's more successful sales. Not impossibly successful; there have been a few that have brought in more money than this. But not very many.
And, of course, since we're talking about buying a house, more money is always better. At the very least, there are unexpected expenses that crop up when you move into a new house. Also, the more money there is for a down payment, the smaller the mortgage, thereby improving Mike's financial security for the future. In other words, every single dollar this sale can bring in will directly and materially improve Mike's immediate life and future economic stability. Even buying a single $39 print matters. Heck, if every one of TOP's readers did that (there is no possibility of that) Mike would be able to buy the house outright! Do not underestimate the value of your contribution.