Another Photographer Just Made Big Money With An Instagram Flash Sale

Posted: Apr 11 2014, 1:13pm CDT | by , Updated: Apr 11 2014, 1:31pm CDT, in News | Technology News

Another Photographer Just Made Thousands With An Instagram Flash Sale
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A few weeks ago, I wrote about Daniel Arnold, a Brooklyn photographer who was nearly flat broke until he held a one-day sale of prints through Instagram that netted him more than $15,000.

This week, another photographer with a large Instagram following tried the same sort of thing with similar results — although for rather different reasons.

Aaron Huey is a photographer for National Geographic whose Instagram account, @argonautphoto, has more than 160,000 followers. On Monday, during a weeklong stint as guest editor of The New Yorker’s Instagram feed, Huey announced that for the next 24 hours he would be offering prints of his Instagram photos for $100 each.

The sale drove a huge volume of traffic to Huey’s website — so much that it crashed the site, forcing him to extend the sale by a day. In the end, he says he sold more than $10,000 worth of prints.

But the money wasn’t the point, Huey says. Instead, the sale was about teaching digital followers to be consumers of physical art objects, including the limited-edition books that he recently began publishing under this Outsider Books imprint and his collaboration with noted street artist Shepard Fairey.

“I’m giving them art that is ready to go, in a form that is familiar to them, and instilling a collecting mentality,” he told me via email. “I’d rather have these images on walls and in people’s hands than in these zombie boxes we stare at all day. Prints make the world a better place. Period.”

With their immediately recognizable square formatting, Instagram prints occupy a special niche, one that falls somewhere between fine art and postcards you might buy at the museum gift shop. That makes it possible to sell lots of them without commoditizing or devaluing the original. “They are intimate, they are beautiful, but they are not precious,” Huey says. “They are for everyone.”

Huey says he had heard about Daniel Arnold’s sale but it wasn’t the inspiration for his own. The idea has been floating around among National Geographic’s photographers, many of whom have six-figure followings. “We have all been talking about this for a long time,” he says. “I just happened to be the first Nat Geo shooter to launch a store. I will not be the last. We are our own brands, and we are becoming, on a small scale, our own magazines through outlets like Instagram.”

Huey has nice things to say about Arnold — “He makes some great images and has a consistent style, and he’s damn funny” — but takes pains to differentiate their projects. His sale, he says, was less about monetizing his social following than priming it for something bigger.

“Asking is very powerful; people like to be engaged, empowered to help someone who they care about/support/believe in. But for me asking must be used very carefully, I’d rather offer.

“That’s a community, not a crowdfunding campaign.”

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