POZ Contributor Blog: Dave Summers
PropertyOfZack is very excited to be bringing Dave Summers (website, webstore) back for a second Contributor Blog. In the last six months, Dave launched a webstore that features limited quantity prints our favorite artists each month. I thought it would interesting to have Dave write-up a blog post on his inspiration behind launching the print store in addition to what it takes to lock down consent for the prints to be sold form artists and managers. It’s a great read, so check it out and enjoy!
I’m back. It’s been almost a full 6 months since my last entry and I’m happy to report some new changes on the Summers Photography front. The biggest and most notable change would have to be my online print store. So I’m going to take a few paragraphs to discuss my store’s origins, how difficult the whole process’ can be, and I’m going to try to do it without sounding like an opinionated asshole (but I fucking doubt it).
So here we go.
This Spring, I stage managed on The Wildlife Tour (La Dispute, Balance And Composure, All Get Out, and Sainthood Reps) and it was without a doubt one of the best times I’ve ever had. Made new friends, took lots of photos, and got to see the country doing what I love. I was on a complete high the whole time and it even stayed with me as I returned home and it lasted for about a week. Since I didn’t have a day job at the time I elected myself the Mayor of Chill Town. I slept till 3PM and I did nothing but eat shitty food and watch Breaking Bad. I truly was the happiest dude. Being surrounded by incredibly talented, driven, and optimistic people for 6 weeks is truly amazing but it kind of rips the floor out from under your feet when you return home and feel sort of worthless. After a week of being Mayor, one day I got severely bummed out. I was doing nothing and I felt totally useless. I’m a pretty positive and upbeat guy so I had to make some changes really fast or I was going to blow my brains out.
The very next day I woke up and decided I wanted to travel and I wanted to stay busy with my photos. So, I ended up buying a plane ticket to Iceland (I’m the most impulsive dude) and then came up with the idea for a print store. I started researching high end printing equipment and supplies and realized that if I was going to do this right, I was going to have to raise the funds to do so. Up till this point I had never sold any photos of my band images as prints. I made a list of every band I had ever shot and decided that I was going to feature seven bands every month and then swap them with seven totally new bands at the beginning of each month to keep people interested and reach new customers. I was terrified of this list initially because a lot of the bands on it were bands I didn’t know very well. This presented a problem for me because I could never sell an image without having the consent of the group. And sometimes consent is is hard to obtain from people you don’t know and I last thing I wanted to do would be to contact their (at times) BULLSHIT manager. I’ve always had better luck talking directly to someone about who I am and what I stand for. I wanted them to help me toward my cause and if they weren’t ok with it I had no problem removing them from my list and moving on. I believe my photos of bands are mine to do with as I please. At the same time I feel the members of the group have a say in the photo because it’s of them or their band. I wanted everyone to know that I wasn’t just some asshole who wanted to use their image to make money. I wanted them to be apart of the process and I wanted them to promote me because of my body of work and my attitude.
I ended up contacting a handful of good friends and asked them if they would be interested in being apart of my store at some point. The responses were overwhelmingly positive and I decided to go for it. I had never done a mail order or anything like that and I had no idea if anyone was going to give a shit about this but I went for it. My June store went live at 7AM, by 11AM over 90% of my store was gone. I was blown away, I never expected a response like that on my first day of my first store. I was beyond humbled and crazy excited that people actually cared.
My first month was the easiest though. I found it easy because I wanted to start out by using the bands I’m closest with, the ones I knew I could count on to help me in this endeavor. Quickly after my first 2 weeks of sales I realized that I hadn’t contacted a single band on next months list. I started freaking out because I only knew about half of the bands and had no idea how to contact the other artists. It was a really scary process for me at first, because sometimes I would find myself talking to bands I had been a fanboy of for years and I was crazy nervous. I would get stuck in a conversation with someone I didn’t know and people who certainly didn’t know me talking about selling images of their band. I’m under the personal opinion that everyone already hates photographers so it was an experience to say the least. I learned a lot from this process. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, speak your mind, don’t be totally business, and be yourself. People are going to end up saying no for a multitude of reasons and it’s something you have to be ready for and accept but almost always the people are willing to help anyone in their community who doesn’t totally suck ass. After 2 very successful months I decided that I was drawing a lot of attention to the store and I wanted to start giving something back. Over the past few months the artists I collaborate with and myself have donated hundreds of dollars to multiple charities and organizations such as American Cancer Society and Free Pussy Riot Collection. I think it’s crazy important to help take care of the people around you and I like to help when I can.