Limited Edition Prints/PDN

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by Jim Chinn, Mar 8, 2003.

  1. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    FYI:
    I know discussions arise from time to time about the desirability of printing certain images in limited, numbered editions. (Especially if you are fortunate enough to sell many prints).

    The most recent issue of PDN has an article on the topic discussing legal definitions and varying views on how other photographers define limited edition. An interesting read. For non-subscibers, Photo District News is on the newsstand at Borders Books.
     
  2. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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  3. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    PDN has an online e-mag version as well. I will check it out to see if it's there. I have known photogs that print a limited edition of say 50 prints and then physically damage the neg to make it unprintable. They then sign an affidavid stating they have no other dupe negs and the 50 prints are the only ones in existance. The neg and document is stored in a bank safe deposit box or some similar safe place.

    As I've mentioned elsewhere on this forum I am not a fan of limited edition series. It's an artificial method of trying to drive the price up. Adams printed hundreds if not thousands of copies of Moonrise and it's still one of the most sought after print around and demands major bucks. Helmut Newton prints as many pictures as there is demand and his cache hasn't diminished as a result of it.

    I hope one day I create an image that thousands of people want a copy of. To limit it to only those with the financial means to buy a limited edition print is both the height of arrogance and a fouls gold as all the purchaser is banking on is that it will appreciate. The buyer could care less if it sings to him or not, it's purely a financial transaction. I don't want my art to be reduced to the equivalent of a greenback.

    On the other hand I do make money at it, but I never will get rich at it. I do it first for me, and then the enrichment of my fellow planetary buddies.
     
  4. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    Here is the link from PDNonline

    http://www.pdnonline.com/businessresources...s/editions.html

    It supports just what I was saying. All the "collectors" are interested in is return on investment. I'm sorry I'm not selling an apartment building here.

    Each side of the argument is valid, it's just that I don't measure my success by how much money I make from an image.

    Eric
     
  5. SteveGangi

    SteveGangi Member

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    Limited editions are strange. You can't predict what will be the best sellers, and if you guess wrong and then destroy negatives, then what? Wield gun, pull hammer back, shoot your own foot. I can understand why someone would get bored printing the same picture over and over again. On the other hand, just because someone makes only 50 prints doesn't guarantee anything. Maybe 5,000 prints at a lower price would pay off better (just to pick a big number). Rarity alone does not make it great. Collectors aside, I bet a lot of people do it so they can print the entire run in one big work session for consistency and then move on to other projects more easily.
     
  6. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    "limited" editions as the article said is a gimmick created by galleries to make more profit. I can tell you the better galleries will not fail to take an artist just because he refuses to "limit" his editions. It is those galleries who are mercenary and want to make a buck as fast as possible before they close down.

    I specially loved this "comment" by one of the gallery owners:

    “That’s too bad. Go to another picture,” says Quasha. “That’s the whole idea of a price rise. If you keep printing the same picture, you’re not going to be considered a great artist, are you?” The photographer’s job is to create value for himself by producing a body of great work, she continues. “So we’re not going to sit here and cry for the photographer. The people who are trying to turn these people into somebody deserve a lot more credit than they’re getting because they’re the people who create the market.”

    So in other words, let me make a profit of you, you keep putting all the effort and paying for the materials etc, and when and if you become famous I will make more money off of you, and on top I am going to whine about it....lol...

    Aaron mentioned this on the thread about galleries, there was an article on lenswork about this and it is still online if you want to read it. It is rather interesting.

    But anyways all this rambling might seem off topic but my point is, dont let the gallery run you....you run your work. I personally think it is best to let the market limit your prints, every so often raise the price of the print and eventually it will reach a price people are not willing to pay. let say every 8 prints you raise the price 40%, by the time you reach the 100 or 200 print it might be worth $10,000. that is money you make not just the gallery, and you keep "charge" of your prints, not the gallery.

    So, to a new comer it might be tempting to "limit" his work to create interest, I think this is misguided. If your work is not good enough to create interest, then you are going about it the wrong way, if it is good enough for people to want to buy it, then you have nothing to worry about, people and collectors eventually will recognize your talent.

    BTW I dont completely agree with the Lenswork artcle, good galleries are essential to promote a new artists and I dont bedgrudge their 50% cut. They have client and collectors lists and relationships which are beneficial to the photographer. It is just the arrogant SOB's like the one above whom the photographer should avoid.
     
  7. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Jorge,
    You made some excellent points and I agree completely. Charles Phillips, whom I have mentioned here before, has indicated to me that the results that he has had with galleries have been disappointing at best. Perhaps early on he dealt with the mercenary types who have a very limited view of things.

    He has, since that time, developed his own base of collectors and directly markets his own work. The problem, that I see, is the time constraints on his output. To be able to photograph, print, and market can be daunting at times.

    I think that a photographer must first and foremost be true to his or her own vision. Secondly a decision must be made as to how one wants to spend their time. Then to follow that decision through with action.

    Along the lines of how one wants to spend their time, I have had the good fortune to have met and dealt with the co-founder of Pizza Hut Corp. He at that time had two other restaurants each of which represented an investment of 1.5 million. I was surprised to learn that his time commitment to that investment was 8 hours per month. I was amazed because were it I, every waking hour would have been devoted to the success of that investment. He explained that his only saleable commodity was time and how he chose to invest it was the only success that he could control.
     
  8. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Exactly Donald, you can go the route of Michael A Smith and market your own work, but who wants to be a salesman on top of all the other stuff? I don't have the patience nor the "art" speak to sell art. Every-time I read and article in View Camera by John Paul Caponigro I think, jeeez...this looks like english but I sure as heck don't understand a word of it!

    A good gallery with very interesting articles is the Afterimage Gallery in Dallas. Go to their web site and read about submitting work to their gallery as well as their "dealer opinion".

    IMO if a gallery is trying to force me to do something I am not willing to do, then the relationship wont work.

    As photographers we loose sight of the fact that galleries are there to make money. WIth that in mind one should be willing to become a "partner" but there is no reason why both the photographer and the gallery cannot profit from this relation.

    The thing about galleries is that it is a cottage industry and if for some reason you piss one of them off, then the word gets around. I found this out in a funny way, my last trip to Houston I went to the John Cleary gallery and ask him if he had prints by MAS. He did not and he told me he would rather not handle his work because of the marketing done by MAS, bottom line was that he could not profit from his prints since he could not "trade" them, I guess he meant with other galleries. The entire explanation was rather strange and did not make sense to me, but I got the feeling that if you market your own work and bypass the "accepted" route, then galleries sort of blacklisted you and refused to handle your work.

    I gotta tell you, anybody who wants to become a fine arts photographer, color or B&W and has not researched how the marketing and industry works is in for a rude awakening. Photography as a means to make a living should be approached like any other business with a business plan, to think "ah well I got talent I will just photograph and make the gallery rounds" is a recipe for disaster, which might have been what happened with your friend Charles.
     
  9. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Jorge,
    I wouldn't be surprised, if what you say happened, did not not happen. Thanks for the direct to the site. BTW what lenses do you have for you 12X20?
     
  10. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    I only have the Nikkor 450 M for the 12x20, I am looking for a G Claron 355. The story of my life, when I want the lens they discontinue the //$%&$ thing.....
     
  11. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Jorge,
    Does the Nikor cover the format with movements? I have a 610 Apo Nikor that I bought from Dagor and he said it would cover 16X20 so will see. The lens I have is not in the greatest of shape but will probably be fine for contacts. Want to get something shorter though. Does the 355 have any problems with coverage?
     
  12. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    You can get about 3 inches rise/fall without vigneting. After that you might get about 3 more inches but you loose about 3/4 inch on both sides, I just crop this when I print if I have used that much movement. You have more than enough coverage for tilt and rise/fall. The 355 I have not used but I have heard it has enough coverage with plenty of rise.

    Yeah, with exception of one lens he had about a month ago, I have not seen enything that guy sells that is any good. Most of the junk he sells is process lenses which IMO are more hassle than what they are worth, unless you have them mounted.

    So to get back on topic does your friend Charles limits his editions?
     
  13. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Jorge,

    No he does not limit the edition sizes. He does print two different types of prints of the same image. The first are his "hand crafted prints" on which all of the masking and related work has been done. The second type is based on a copy neg shot of a hand crafted print. The reason is that he is attempting to address two market segments. The hand crafted prints are 24X30 minimum, I believe. The copy neg print size is as small as 16X20, as I recall. There is a factor of about 100% difference in same size prints. Oh and BTW Midwest Camera has a 355 G Claron in their latest flier, if you are interested. I believe that it was priced slightly below $900. They have a website if you wish to search availability.
     
  14. SteveGangi

    SteveGangi Member

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    "Every-time I read and article in View Camera by John Paul Caponigro I think, jeeez...this looks like english but I sure as heck don't understand a word of it!"

    Don't worry, you are not alone in that! I can sling some fancy talk myself, but even I get lost.
     
  15. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Thanks Donald I will keep Midwest in mind, I just bought an angulon 165 for the 8x10 so it will have to wait.
     
  16. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Jorge,
    I understand. The angulon should be nice and wide on the 8X10. When does the art show come up in Houston?
     
  17. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Along the lines of marketing, the city in which I live has an art gallery which has been in existence for well over 20 years (that I am aware of). This gallery is a cooperative in which the members buy into the cooperative.

    The work load is spread among the members, with each member of the cooperative obligated to a certain number of days or hours spent in attending the public at the gallery.

    Periodically, several of the members have their new art production exhibited at the gallery (this changes from time to time). So that while all of the members art is shown, there is an emphasis on each of the members periodically.

    Additionally, the gallery has developed contacts and display locations for the members art, apart from the gallery. One of those locations, among others, is a medical clinic which has a large amount of daily traffic. I wonder if a cooperative would be a viable alternative for those in the photographic community? Would this work on only a local or regional basis? Would it be possible to have a national network?

    There is a firm in Kansas City, Mo. (I forget their name) that arranges for traveling national showings of artists work. I noticed recently that Clyde Butcher has arranged with this firm to exhibit his work around the country. They seem to indicate to prospective displayers of represented work the square feet of wall space that a particular exhibit requires. This then allows the prospective showers whether the exhibit would work in their location. Would a cooperative effort be capable of gaining exposure along these lines as well?

    I would like to hear your views on the above questions. Additionally, please indicate any criticism or concerns that you would have.
     
  18. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    They should be posting the info soon on their site. BTW anybody who is wondering it is Photo Fest. A very respected photography show in Houston.

    The only problem I would see with a coop would be the quality of work and the types of work. If you are the only photographer then people who visit the gallery might be used to seeing paintings, sculpture etc dont know if that is good for you or not, but I would rather have my work where people know they go look at photography.

    The traveling firm thing, well if Clyde Butcher uses them, they gotta be good. Who know what their requirements are?
     
  19. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Jorge,
    Re: the firm that arranges traveling exhibitions. Their site is www.smithkramer.com

    I am not sure of their requirements. Possibly their site will cover that, if not you may want to email them.

    Additionally, are you familiar with Camera Obscura Gallery in Denver, Colorado? I have met the gallerie director/owner (Hal Gould) he is an interesting fellow and a photographer in his own right. Might be an interesting contact for you if are not aware of them. They had a really large pt-pd print by Jerry Uelesman when I last visited. I have seen work by Weston(s), Adams, and Howard Bond so he handles some excellent work. Also had a show by Katz when I was there. He may be interested in your ULF pt-pd work, certainly wouldn't hurt to contact them. He seemed to be slowing down (personally) when I was there last April as he is at an advanced age. He had an assistant working with him.

    Hope that this helps. Have a super day and stay cool...we have no problem with that here...LOL
     
  20. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Donald thanks for the tip, sure, although I never met the owner I visited the gallery when I did a job in Denver. They are one of the Galleries I plan to visit with my work one day.
     
  21. mvjim

    mvjim Member

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    Maybe I am always getting the wrong impression - but (in this, as well as it seems, many other posts on almost all forums when this issue arises) there seems to be an anti-gallery or sour grapes flavor to most responses. A gallerys primary purpose is to sell the work on their walls and turn a profit. Why? So they can keep their doors open to make more work available for sale, etc., etc., etc.

    Anyone that has mounted and "properly promoted" an exhibition knows the cost. If not, then maybe they should budget one out to gain an understanding of what is involved. A gallery that believes in your work and is willing to agressively represent the work makes an investment in time, resourses and $'s before and after the work is shown. The mistake many photographers make (as was mentioned) is thinking that all gallerys are the same and follow the same procedures. A "good" gallery knows their market. They know who buys the type of work they choose to show and why. Its the reason some of them might insist on limited editions and others could care less. Gallerys that do not understand their clients dont last very long.

    The next time you go to an opening at a well run gallery (successful) realize that the owners are happy that you came and added to the numbers of warm bodies, but the people that they are most happy to see are those people that are there to buy and it was the reason they were invited. And I have yet to hear a photographer complain when a gallery has managed to sell their work for top dollar and create continued interest in their work.

    A museums job is to show work - a gallerys job to sell work.
     
  22. lee

    lee Member

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    WRT the Houston photography show that Jorge mentioned, it is called Foto Fest. It is held in the month of March and only happens on the even ending years. So, March, 2004 is the next time. The city of Houston is given over to photography for the month. All the galleries and Museums all show photography for the month of March. There a lot of openings to attend that are pretty neat. Some of the work is ok some is great some I will not comment on. Rice University hosts the print review for 2 or 3 weeks. This is a pretty exciting thing. It always sells out. But if you can get in, then you get to show your portfolio to several of the reviewers there. These reviewers come from the galleries and museums and industry critics. A. D. Coleman has been there a time or two. Magazine photo editors are generally there also. These people are invited from all over the world. You have about 45 minutes to show your work and listen to their comments then the bell rings and you take your stuff to the next reviewer on your list and then you do that again and the morning section is over. It is a lottery system that is set up so that everyone gets a chance at their favorite reviewer. It is not perfect but works pretty well. There are lots of portfolios to look at in the lobby. In some of the big hotel bars the reviewers can be talked into looking at your stuff for the measly price of a drink or two. It is photography all the time. I have never been there during the week but on the weekends there is a lot of people. Several careers have been made at this gathering.
    I think that there is something like this in Portland but I have no information on this one.

    lee\c
     
  23. lee

    lee Member

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    I did not detect any disdain for the galleries in this thread. No anti-gallery flavor here. Maybe I am reading it wrong. I love galleries. The major ones here in Fort Worth seem to be jewelry shops. At one time I had a rep in Carmel, CA. I supplied them with work and they sold one print in 18 months. My guy got fired and I lost my contact. The new gallery manager told me that after reviewing the previous sales or rather lack there of, they were dropping me and they sent everything back at their expense. I still have the option of sending more and different work and they have the option of accepting or declining it. I have better luck selling on my own. Plus, I don't have to give up half to the sales commission. However, all that said, if a really good gallery approached me and offered a good deal I would take it most likely.


    lee\c