Introducing The Photographer's Oil Collective

A sister site of Strobist.com, the Photographer’s Oil Collective partners photographers with specially trained master painters in Xiamen, China. With POC, any photographer can offer a museum-quality oil painting to their clients — and do so affordably.

The painting seen above measures 36×48″, and was done by POC artist Zhixing Zhang from a photo by R.J. Kern. It is typical of the work POC painters can create from a professional wedding photographer’s reference image.

Considering the size, and level of detail (two full-length subjects) a painting of this quality would cost USD $10,000 or more to commission in the west. At POC, we can do it for about 10% of that cost. Which creates some exciting possibilities for portrait photographers.

I first started exploring the concept of high-end oil reproduction in 2012. Seen above is the first painting I commissioned, by artist Zhixing Zhang in China. Seen in person, the painting is remarkable. And it is a high-value product that any photographer could offer.

From this experience, I spent several years researching, finding and then further training some of the best reproduction painters in China. Four years — and many rounds of commissioned paintings — later, POC is ready to serve any photographer.

Paintings confer much more value to an image because a painting is different. Producing it is a time-consuming and organic process, with half a dozen layers of semi-transparent oil. Skin tones, for example, look luminous.

And oil paintings are designed to last for centuries; to be passed down from generation to generation. It takes about 400 years for an oil painting to even fully dry.

The Photographer’s Oil Collective site is built for photographers. It features full information on things like shooting for oil, and creating a business model.

But there is also an end-client facing site that is built to help you educate your customers. It offers visibility into the process, but not into your business model.

Finally, you can study my own local business which is built atop POC. You’ll see how we re developing this capability as a local business. Our strategy is to partner with a local framing gallery, and offer paintings inclusive of the photo shoot, the painting itself and archival framing.

I hope you’ll take a look and think about how you might build your own business. It’s a high-value area that, unlike nearly everything else we do as photographers, is utterly uncrowded.

Main POC site
Client-facing site
My local site

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Credits, from top:
POC Painting by Zhixing Zhang from a Photo by R.J. Kern
POC Painting by Zhixing Zhang from a Photo by David Hobby
POC Painting by Zhixing Zhang from a Photo by Alex Mazurov

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