Market results

I had my market stall today, selling my photography prints (as described yesterday).

It was really quiet today. I’ve pretty much never seen a market so dead. We had a social distancing limit of 40 people maximum inside the community hall where my stall was (there were also open air stalls outside, but I need to book an indoor one for rain protection for my products), and it never even got close to that many people at once – and that’s including ten stallholders.

In the end I made $7 short of the stall hiring fee, so it was a loss for the day. I did however hand out a lot of business cards. I had two or three people sounding genuinely interested in checking my website and possibly ordering a custom large sized print for their walls – although I’m not counting those unhatched chickens.

I think it was a combination of people starting to get nervous again about COVID, with infections in the past few days looking like they might ramp up here in Sydney again, plus the fact that it’s the last day of a two-week school break, and probably a lot of people might still be returning from vacation driving trips.

There are two more markets next month, and hopefully (1) COVID won’t cancel them, (2) people will be more able and willing to come out and shop.

New content today:

Organising for market

Tomorrow is the market day – my first one since March. I did some preparation today – checked my box of gear and added a few items, and charged up my Square reader so I can process payments. A friend is arriving early tomorrow to pick up me and all my stock and gear and take us to the market to set up by 9am.

I also started work on a new batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips. I’ll need to get a batch completed in the coming week, so I hope to have them written by Monday and take photos Tuesday.

Next weekend I have a weekend trip to the country planned with my wife and Scully. We had to cancel a similar trip planned for April, and we rebooked it for next weekend when New South Wales COVID restrictions eased off… but now there are more cases popping up and I’m hoping it won’t get bad within the next week and end up with restrictions being imposed again. We’ll have to wait and see.

New content today:

Market prep, and Star Wars

My next market day is coming up on Sunday, so I’m preparing stuff. Last time a friend gave me and my gear a lift in his large car. My car is too small to pack it in, and my friend is busy this time, so I’m having to make alternative arrangements. It looks like I’m going to have to hire a car for the day – which will add another expense that eats into my profits. But if I make as much as last time, it should be okay.

This time it’s at a different venue. East Lindfield Community Hall, East Lindfield, which is a bit further from my place. But this is this market’s established venue, where it’s been held monthly for almost 5 years, so it has an established customer base and people in the area know about it. So hopefully we’ll see more shoppers than two weeks ago at the first-time venue.

Today I also worked on Darths & Droids comics, doing some writing and then assembling the comics from screencaps. I completed three strips (although I’d done most of one before starting today), which is a week’s worth of comics in the queue and ready to be published.

Oh, I’ve also been thinking about Monday, which is my next school science visit. The coordinator has told me that the older kids (who I’ll be talking to) are studying plants at the moment. I think I’ll do a slideshow on exotic plants from around the world and their various adaptations to their environments. And I still need to find another couple of experiments for the Science Club kids as well. I’ll need to do all this probably on Saturday, since Sunday will be taken up by the market.

Tomorrow morning I’m planning to try again on my abandoned sunrise photo expedition. The weather should be better than my last attempt. I’ll be getting up around 5:30 to head off before 6 am, for the sunrise at the beach. Hopefully it will be a good one!

New content today:

Market day!

Today was the big market day!

I had my very first market stall for my fledgling photography business today. It was a brand new venue as well, for a relatively small local suburban market. They have a regular monthly venue, but were trying this new venue for the first time. So I think the attendance was probably a little lower than could be expected for an established venue.

It ran from 9am to 2pm, and ramped up and then back down in attendance, being busiest just before lunch. There were food stalls outside, so I think that attracted people at lunch time. My stall was indoors, which I was grateful for because it was a warm, humid day.

I had no idea how much business I’d get. I was really only hoping to cover the cost of the market stall itself and make a bit of a profit. I was selling greeting cards, 30×20 cm matted prints ready to frame, and 60×40 cm board mounted prints ready to hang. Here’s my stall after setting up for the day:

Market stall, Laurelbank

A lot of people walked past my stall with a quick glance, rapidly moving on through the other stalls – but that was fine, I expected that. Anyone who let their eyes linger for a few seconds I tried to say hello to, which attracted a few to come closer. Anyone who stopped to look at my products I tried to engage in friendly conversation, letting them know that (a) I was the photographer, and (b) the animals were all photographed in the wild, not in captivity. I settled on this routine after the first few potential customers all asked if I’d taken the photos. I’d thought that would have been obvious given my name on the banner with the legend “Photographer”, but I guess they didn’t know if “the photographer” was the same as the person tending the stall.

Market stall, Laurelbank

My stall had this prime position on the dance floor of the old stately home, which has now been converted into a wedding and function centre. Next to me was a woman selling hand-knitted stuff and tablecloths and napkins and things. At one point she left for a few minutes and I minded her stall – and sold some stuff for her! There was another woman across from me selling washi eggs -I had a chat with her and it was only her second market day.

I had a few good chats with some people as they browsed through the photos. Many complimented me on the photography. Some of the most enthusiastic were children, who loved the animal photos. My first big sale was when a boy, maybe 10 or 11 years old, took a liking to my yellow iguana photo, and asked if he could have a large print for his bedroom. His dad asked where he’d put it, and there was some negotiation, but eventually dad stumped up his credit card for a 30×20 cm print.

I sold a total of 35 greeting cards, and 4 matted prints. I was holding out a hope that one of the large mounted prints would sell, but today wasn’t the day. The sales totalled approximately 4 times my stall rental cost, so that’s good! I made money!

The most popular photo by far was the black and white koala, followed by the elephants. But there were definitely people with a penchant for landscapes, picking a few of the greeting cards of those. Nearly every photo sold a greeting card or two, the most notable exception being the vulture in flight, which I was a bit unsure about myself, but included in the selection when some friends of mine said they’d buy it.

If you consider it to have been one full day’s work – 5 hours active selling, plus an hour each side setting up and tearing down – and I multiply it up to a yearly income, I actually made a pretty decent salary. Of course, I’m not running a market 5 days a week, but at least it’s a decent hourly rate, so I’m pretty happy. I also handed out a lot of business cards, and if even one of those people visits my website and makes an online order, that will make the return pretty respectable.

So, a long way to go and continue working on this, but I’m calling today a success. I have another stall in 2 weeks time, this time at the established venue of this market, so hopefully there will be more people coming through and seeing my stuff.

New content today:

Market readiness

Saturday! One day to the market! So of course I spent time doin last minute preparations. I realised I was planning to go to the bank yesterday to get some change to use as a cash float, and also I needed to get a receipt book, but I forgot. I thought I was in trouble, because banks don’t normally open on Saturdays, but I did some searching and found a few select branches were open, including one a short train ride away.

So I hopped a train a few suburbs over and went to the bank to get a bunch of coins and low denomination notes ready to make change if people buy stuff with cash. And from there it was a 15 minute walk to an office supply shop where I got a receipt book, before walking back and catching the train home again.

This afternoon I spent some more time working on Darths & Droids story planning. And this evening I went out for dinner with my wife and Scully. We drove to a beachside suburb and had a pleasant Spanish tapas dinner looking out at the beach as the sun went down. Very nice.

New content today:

ISO meeting day 1

Today was day one of the ISO Photography standards meeting, ostensibly held in Yokohama, but actually connected via teleconference from multiple locations due to the coronavirus travel restrictions and precautions. There was a large group assembled in a meeting room in Tokyo, which acted as the central location, and people (including me) attended remotely from 5 other locations. Tomorrow there will be more attending remotely, as we get stuck into the meat of the technical discussions.

The meeting started at lunch time in Tokyo, so I had all morning free. I started painting the wooden crates that I bought yesterday. I researched a little about painting wood with acrylic paint, and discovered that I should prime the wood first.

So I prepared to go out and went down to the garage, ready to drive over to the hardware store to pick up some primer. While down there, I figured I’d get out the hammer, which I wanted to use to drive a couple of extra nails into the crates to hold a slightly loose slats. I opened the storage cupboard in the garage, and to get the toolbox out I had to move a couple of tins of paint…

One of which was primer! So I aborted the hardware store expedition and returned inside to start work on the crates. Here’s one after priming (I forgot to take a photo of the bare wood before I started):

Crate painting

They’re very nice crates, made of smooth pine wood. They’re “craft” crates, not actual shipping crates for fruit or whatever. And here’s one after the first coat of black acrylic:

Crate painting

I think they’ll need a second coat for a smooth black look. In between coats I matted some more photos. I’ve done about 2/3 of them now. It’s quite labour intensive. The ISO meeting ended at 7:30 pm my time (5:30 Tokyo time). After exercising Scully for a bit outside, it was time to make a late dinner.

New content today:

Markets and shops

Today was double market day! There was a local arts and crafts market at The Coal Loader, a historical industrial site on Sydney Harbour’s northern shore, converted into a community centre. My wife and I walked down there with Scully and checked it out. Besides looking at the things for sale, I had a good look at how the various stalls were set up and kitted out, to get ideas for how to set up my own. I noticed that many of the stalls had custom fitted tablecloths on their tables, although some were more free-form or rustic. One stall had a bedsheet as a tablecloth!

On the way home we stopped for lunch, before completing what is a rather long walk from our home and back. Scully was exhausted by the time we got home, and we weren’t far behind.

In the afternoon, I matted more prints, and then this evening I did some final work to complete my web shop. I added shipping costs and tested payments by making an order. Everything seems to be working, and it’s now in a state where I can start taking orders! The last step is to link the shop from my photography website, and to set up some information pages explaining stuff like how the photos are printed and mounted, and how long it takes to ship and stuff like that, but it’s late now and I’ll do that tomorrow.

But if you’re curious to have a look, or maybe even buy a print, you can go to the shop directly using this link. (If you live outside Australia, I can only ship unmounted prints – please don’t order a mounted print – I might need to figure out a way to restrict that option for overseas addresses.) I have eight photos set up as products now, and will be adding more over time.

New content today:

Matting photos…

Saturday began with a round of housework: cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming, refilling the damp absorbers in the wardrobes, cleaning up the kitchen, etc, etc. Then I got stuck into matting photos for my market stall. It’s astonishing how much work is going in to preparing for this. With a few well-earned breaks, by the end of the day I’d matted 40 prints. Only 60 to go…

This evening was a family dinner, for my mother-in-law’s birthday. We went to my wife’s and my favourite pizza place, and had a good time. The owner came out to chat with us for a bit – it’s that sort of place. We noticed his wife wasn’t working tonight, and he said that she’d been laid up with a sore ankle. Hopefully she’ll be better soon.

New content today:

Craft day: greeting card display

I mentioned yesterday that I bought some cardboard to make greeting card displays for my market stall. Today I got crafty and made the displays.

First I had to design what they would look like and how to assemble them.

Greeting card display: part 0

Don’t let anyone try to convince you that you won’t use trigonometry after leaving school. I also had to do coordinate geometry and solve a pair of simultaneous equations, as you can see. My design consists of a rectangular sheet of cardboard, scored and bent into a step-like shape, with extending tabs to slot into triangular side supports on either side. The whole staircase is angled at an angle of θ = arctan(1/4), to provide gently angled steps where the cards can sit and lean back without falling over. The whole stand has four tiers, wide enough to display two landscape format cards side by side.

The step section was the easiest, although I discovered that I needed to score the card a lot deeper than I first thought to get it to fold comfortably.

Greeting card display: part 1

The triangular parts were trickier. I had to cut a triangle and then cut slots for the tabs at the angle θ. Fortunately the new cutting mat I bought yesterday made this easy, because I could place the triangle on it at the right angle, and then rule lines using the grid as a guide.

Greeting card display: part 3

And here’s the completed stand, with some of my cards:

Greeting card display: part 4

It worked really well! And it holds together without any tape or glue, which means I can disassemble it for easy transport as flat pieces. Making one of these took me all morning, and I took a break to go get some lunch up the street at a local fried chicken place.

After lunch… I made a second stand! And that was essentially an eight-hour work day, right there. I did have a bit of time at the end to start matting 30×20 cm prints of some of my photos.

Matting photos

You can’t see it in these photos, but these are really high quality prints on super fine museum quality art paper (Canson Rag Photographique, for those who know their art papers). And the matting really makes the photos look amazing (if I do say so myself). I’ve matted only ten or so prints – I have 90 or so to go. That’ll probably be another half day of work there.

It was a busy and exhausting day! I’ve put a lot of time, effort, and investment into getting ready for this market stall, and gearing up to launch my photography sales. Now I have to see first if I can recoup my investment, and hopefully make some sort of profit.

New content today:

New Ethics year

This morning was my first Ethics class for the new year. I got to the school and collected the roll, which had the names of 21 new Year 6 students for me to meet and teach this year. I wrote out name stickers for them all to help me with learning all their names.

When the kids arrived in the classroom and I started getting them to tell me their names, I ended up with three students who weren’t on my roll! There was some mix-up, and a few minutes in the ethics coordinator for the school came and removed those kids to a different class where they were supposed to be.

Being the first lesson, it was introductory, and mostly – from my point of view – about establishing rules and boundaries, so the kids know what sort of behaviour I won’t tolerate. We discussed the introductory question: Can good people do bad things? I got several good responses from different kids, including a few who thought there was no such thing as a “good person”, saying that everyone does some good and some bad things.

After the lesson I walked home via a longer route, to pass by the kitchen supply shop. I wanted to get a black tablecloth for my market stall, but it turned out they barely had any tablecloths in stock. So I’ll go get one somewhere else tomorrow.

At home, I planned to mount all of the photo prints I’ve had made into matting boards, to make them look nice for sale and be ready to frame. I opened the parcel of matting boards I’d mail ordered… and discovered that it was only the matts with the holes cut out – there were no backing boards! I double checked my order – I definitely indicated I wanted backing boards included. So I contacted the company and told them about the error – they’ll ship the backing boards ASAP. I just hope they arrive in time for me to mount all the photos before market day on 1 March.

Instead I did some ISO standards work, since we have a meeting coming up next week. It was planned to be in Yokohama, but I was going to dial in remotely. However, the meeting has been converted to a fully virtual dial-in only meeting, with the original Yokohama venue cancelled, due to concerns about coronavirus. In a sense it’s fortunate that I didn’t have to cancel flights and hotel just a week out from the meeting.

New content today: