Are your prints in editions, if so why?

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by david b, Jun 26, 2009.

  1. david b

    david b Member

    Messages:
    4,031
    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2003
    Location:
    None of your
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I know this has been discussed a lot but let's have a fresh talk about it.

    I am wondering who does a print edition and why?

    If you do, why?
    How many prints do you sell in a year?

    Is the image limited or is the size, meaning Picture A is made only 20 times in any size or is Picture A made in various sizes, 20 times each?

    If you do not edition, why not?
    Are varying sizes available, or just one?

    thanks
     
  2. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,374
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2006
    Location:
    Humboldt Co.
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Yes I do
    1) A--Because I don't want to make more than the number of prints in the edition (5 or 10, depending on the process). B--Because it is a good marketing tool if one does not want to make a large number of prints from a negative.
    2) Not many
    3) One size only (contact prints)
     
  3. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    18,124
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Likewise, yes I do sometimes.

    1) Because I had people who would buy small editions of 6-12 prints. It's also a great way to show & present images.
    2) Not many at present, but up to 100+ prints a year in the past.
    3) One size only, a bit less than 10x8, usually 5-10 sets, the odd large print sets to order for Collectors, no restriction on the number of individual prints but would consider limiting the number of editions if I started selling more.

    Having said that I haven't put any editions together for around 10 years, and plan to as soon as I have regular darkroom access. This is partly at the request of a Gallery curator.

    Ian
     
  4. WGibsonPhotography

    WGibsonPhotography Member

    Messages:
    243
    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2008
    Location:
    Trinity, Ala
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Maybe when I finish up my darkroom and get to the point where my pictures are good enough to sell :D
     
  5. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    20,228
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    i don't, because i never make more than a few copies of each print.
    some prints i made only one copy of, and the negatives were disassembled
    or destroyed or changed ( got cold or hot and changed the physical properties of what i printed through ).
    i like things that are "singular"
    ( i do know that no matter how may prints are made from
    the same negative, none will ever be the same ... )
     
  6. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    9,549
    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I do, because of most of the reasons previously mentioned. It's good marketing, I'm now mostly a contact printer, so it's a one-size-fits-all deal, and I would get bored out of my mind re-printing an image endlessly. For enlargements, I do offer editions in more than one size, but I limit that as well, for the same reasons.
     
  7. VaryaV

    VaryaV Member

    Messages:
    1,255
    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2008
    Location:
    Florida
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    No. I originally started off making 10 of each of each size which ended up being in the 100's for a series of work. It impeded so much on the time that I enjoy the most - photographing. I hate the production part and love the shooting process. Time creating is too precious, too valuable for me to get hung up on what is for me dreadfully boring. I have so many ideas and so little time to do the fun stuff, I want to keep moving. It's always a sacrifice one way or the other.

    I keep a working copy and one final and send a separate series off for exhibition.....
     
  8. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    18,124
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Another option is hand made books, I've made a few over the years and sold some of them as well.

    I also produce one off archival exhibition sets, I think I have around 5 or 6 in storage (all have been exhibited), some framed but all matted etc. When I had a large 2 day exhibition 4 years ago at a Canal Boat Festival I made fresh prints even though 80% of the images were already in other exhibition sets purely because I needed a matching set made on the same paper, and sometimes I may print slightly differently to fit a sequence, that's also true with small editions. (While it was only a 2 day show in a large marquee it had more visitors than a city gallery would get in over a month & I sold a few prints).

    The exhibition sets are all destined for museum/art gallery collections as many had public funding.

    Ian
     
  9. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,706
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I want to be selling originals not paper and ink.

    Not many. That's the plan; lower volume, higher dollars.

    For me it's the image.

    Look at it from the buyers POV.

    If you were buying a print from me and knew there were only 10 in the world that rarity brings more value. As the number of prints for sale gets smaller, as the galleries sell them off, the price goes up.

    If on the other hand, there were 10 16x24's, 250 8x10's, and "only" 1000 postcards and 2 magazines that will be using it... You get the drift I'm sure.

    Whatever I feel like.
     
  10. Schlapp

    Schlapp Member

    Messages:
    740
    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2004
    Location:
    Isle of Lewi
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I do mine in editions of 1.
    It is meant to fun and not a production line and I wouldn't want to get caught up in the wheels on consumer capitalism
     
  11. grahamp

    grahamp Subscriber

    Messages:
    974
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2004
    Location:
    San Francisc
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I date prints I sell. Which is not many - I think my most popular has maybe 10 copies in existence. The time and material investment in producing an edition 'on spec' is not warranted. And I know that I will not want to reproduce a print exactly in a year or so to complete an edition. So my prints are naturally rare. When you add in the limited appeal of most of them ( :cool: ) they are *really* rare!

    Photography is not my business, of course. It is therapy!
     
  12. david b

    david b Member

    Messages:
    4,031
    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2003
    Location:
    None of your
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    mark,
    so how many prints do you sell?
     
  13. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    9,549
    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I think that generally, most photographers print their editions "on demand", as it would be unusual for all but the top-selling photographers to sell their entire edition in a single gallery showing, and most of us don't have the time, money, or space to produce an entire edition at one shot and store it until it sells out. Others chime in and correct me if I'm blowing smoke here.
     
  14. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

    Messages:
    1,062
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2005
    Location:
    Prospect (Lo
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    David, apropos our recent correspondence I see....

    Following with interest.
     
  15. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,374
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2006
    Location:
    Humboldt Co.
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    FC...mine are printed "on demand".

    Vaughn
     
  16. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    20,228
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    one or twenty or fifty or hundreds or thousands of prints from the same negative
    is the greatest gift and the greatest flaw of photography.

    if fifty duplicates of the man ray's le cadeau ( the gift ) or his lampshade were
    made would they still be worth anything? at what point does it just become
    a commercial production ??
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 26, 2009
  17. Ian Leake

    Ian Leake Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,424
    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2005
    Location:
    Switzerland
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    I tend to the opinion that unless an edition is going to sell out within a reasonable time, then to call something a limited edition is simply marketing flim-flam. As such it is disingenuous.
     
  18. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

    Messages:
    1,062
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2005
    Location:
    Prospect (Lo
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I agree completely. As an artifice to gin up a false sense of "uniqueness" or "preciousness" in an inherently populist and reproducible medium, it smacks of photography's nineteenth-century battles against painting over its status as an art form.

    But in the real world where art meets commerce, for those of you who have sold through galleries and/or had work purchased by "collectors", has this issue arisen? Do the galleries or buyers ask about it or "insist" on it?
     
  19. david b

    david b Member

    Messages:
    4,031
    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2003
    Location:
    None of your
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I thought for sure there would have been more responses but maybe not
     
  20. eddie

    eddie Member

    Messages:
    2,002
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2005
    Location:
    Northern Vir
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've found that editioning is an issue. I sell my work to corporations, in galleries, and at art festivals. Prior to my newest work, I only numbered the largest size. While I sold unnumbered prints at art festivals, I can only think of one situation where I sold one to a corporation, or through a gallery. If your income is based on your photographs, limited editions are a good marketing tool.
     
  21. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,459
    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2005
    Location:
    North East U.S.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Mike's comment pretty much summarizes the argument Brooks Jensen made on this topic one or two issues ago in Lens Work, the PDF is available here; http://www.brooksjensenarts.com/What Size is the Edition.pdf.
    The notion of a limited edition is borrowed from lithographic print making where the number of copies is limited by the process. This is not true of photography, and hence is meaningless, unless you perhaps destroy the negative after making the last print of your "series".
    His recommendation is to number and date each print, and make prints for sale according to demand. Collectors will have a way to know where a given print fits in the hierarchy, and will have the means to assign relative value to a given print.

    Last time I checked, you can still by prints of Pepper 30 from Kim Westin. I don't think those prints have affected the value of the ones printed by Edward or Cole one cent.
     
  22. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,706
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Not a lot so far, still early days for me in this part of the business.

    I agree, but so what.

    Let me ask these questions;

    Are we selling a commodity (the paper) or are we selling art (an intangible)?

    Are we selling our time at $40/hour plus costs or our artistic vision?

    If we are selling art and or our artistic vision, to one degree or another, we all have find a way to hype our work to sell it.

    Selling anything for more than the commodity price takes shameless promotion of some, even many, intangibles.

    The specific intangible does not matter. Limited editions, name recognition, the wine I buy for the gallery owner to get her/him to spout flowery words about my work.

    Yes photography is an inherently populist and limiting editions is an artifice imposed artificially but it is not false if the negative is destroyed.

    jnanian has identified the problem specifically.

    So how do we each address this problem and make a buck.

    Do you want to sell thousands or 5 or 1.

    It is simply a question of how we want to market our work, there is no "right" answer.

    Personally, if I wanted to mass produce I'd be using a print button, not an enlarger.

    Actually that's where I found out about it.