In the part of Tuscany, Italy, known as the Val de Cecina, (“Valley of The Sea”), an hour’s drive southeast of Florence, there’s a privately owned Villa where I’ve taken some of my best and most saleable photographs of Tuscany.
The early spring light held me captive there, for five days, one April a few years back.
The property is made up of a shuttered stone villa house, outbuildings, stables, and swimming pool all nestled amidst 2000 acres. The land is ringed by neat lines of cypress trees marching around its borders like protective sentry guards.
A red tile-roofed, stucco building hugs the hillside at the end of a long, winding driveway behind the main house. Sheep graze and cows and horses look on, slowly digesting the scenery as visitors come and go.
Thirty minutes’ driving time in any direction leads to a variety of visual riches to shoot…from stone arches and towers in historic San Gimignano, to Chianti’s outlying vineyards. Then there’s Volterra’s Etruscan dig sites and Monteriggione; the tiny walled town that Dante wrote about in The Divine Comedy…
But…my best-selling image from my time in Tuscany—the photo designers, architects, realtors and travel companies all want—didn’t come from any of these places.
The image they ask for again and again, to buy for a one-time limited use license fee, is called “Villa View” (see photo above).
I’ve sold this image in all sorts of ways. Corporate photography collectors have bought it to use as a limited edition “fine art” photographic giclee print for $500 a time. They then printed it off on Hahnemuhler etching paper—the same paper Rembrandt used.
And…that is just the unframed price. It just sells and sells.
The most dramatic use of this image came a few months after the trip, when a kitchen designer paid a one-time fee of $100 for a digital version of it. She had a 8 foot x 10 foot version printed off which she put it in the kitchen of a show house. The photo became a giant mural which created the illusion that the kitchen overlooked a vast Tuscan estate.
It ultimately cost her about $4,000 for printing, mounting, delivery and installation. It was a big price tag but people still talk about the “Villa View” from the kitchen in that show house…and we’ve both got a lot of work as a result.
The sum total sales over the years for this one image alone more than covered the cost of my trip to Tuscany that spring. When you know the secrets to making your photos pay, photography stops being a hobby…and becomes a way of life.
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