Which path to take?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by sarahfoto, Aug 27, 2010.

  1. sarahfoto

    sarahfoto Member

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    I have an offer to sell my prints through a gallery. All the other photographers have portfolios on show and for sale and there is a webgallery. They are all offering portfolios with "archival fine art pigment prints".
    I have always done all printing by hand by myself but then I went to a seminar with a couple of old-time photographers who where discussing ink-jet prints.
    I argued that the handmade print would be more valuable than the ink-jet but then they through out all these arguments about - if you can keep the original and still make money of copies, what's the harm? -Even Picasso sold copies of his art etc...
    It got my morals all befuddled for a while then someone said -well it's about choosing what path you want to take.
    Now I have decided that it makes sense to stick with being strictly analog but it still got me thinking a lot. For me it feels wrong to send in a digital copy and have someone else print it out and charge loads of money for it but... what do you think?
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    It's your choice, only you can decide :D

    I know my choice, and that's traditional prints, Silver Gelatin, Plat/Palladium and maybe other alternative processes.

    We have to stick to our own personal principles and my personal view match yours.

    Ian
     
  3. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Sarah, good for you. There's the old saying, "To your own self be true".
    Maybe Picasso did sell reproductions; I don't know. But they were just copies. People have long published books and posters of their photography. Some are nice reproductions. I think nothing matches a real print, especially in B+W. I have seen some truly awful inkjet B+W's. I've seen some nice color inkjets but to me they lack something.

    Some see their work as a product, and the production of it as "output". Some see it a little differently.

    The main thing is to do your work the way you want. Others can do what they want. Your satisfaction with your work is most important.
     
  4. eddym

    eddym Member

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    Full disclosure: I went down that road for a while. I tried scanning negs, printing with the Piezography inks and software. At first I was impressed, and I sold my prints as "limited editions", telling myself that they looked just as good as a silver gelatin print. I loved the ease of contrast control in Photoshop, tweaking the levels and curves and all that good stuff. But I also had to deal with clogging inkjet printers, expensive papers and inks, having to toss large prints after they came out of the printer with inkblots or banding. And deep down inside, I always knew I was just kidding myself. You can call a pig a "fine art archival giclee", but it's still just an inkjet print.
    Then I looked -really looked- at my silver prints again. And I realized there was no comparison. There is a depth to silver prints that no inkjet process can match. And to top it all off... I love working in the darkroom.
    So what the heck was I doing with all this inkjet crap? I tossed it all and went back to the darkroom. Like you said, Sarah... it just felt wrong. And it was wrong.
     
  5. wclark5179

    wclark5179 Member

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    If you have a day job, you're probably OK.

    I find many artists let their art get in the way of business. But maybe they are in it for arts sake and won't compromise and that's OK so long as you are able to live with that.

    For me, nothing more delights me than when a client loves my work and is willing to pay for it. I had a meeting this morning where that happened. Perhaps it's my personality, but I find that when a person is willing to pay for art, all the better. Awards are OK and I've got a few of them but I don't even show them to potential clients anymore as I find they are looking for something else. Question, has a banker taken an award as a deposit? It's my thinking and some don't like it but that's fine with me.

    For me, beauty is in the eye of the checkbook holder!

    I'm constantly learning how to better portray my vision of the world with my photography.

    Best to Your Success!
     
  6. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    IMO it's either analog or nada.
    When you get to a point that you can make a hundred identical prints, it's just machinery doing the work.
    I don't know what work Picasso sold as copies & it doesn't really matter. I do know that ManRay duplicated some of his sculptures
    but I don't think it got to the production line quantities.
     
  7. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    An analogue print and an inkjet reproduction are sufficiently different as to permit dealing with both of them, as long as you differentiate how you deal with them.

    If you can do both, and enjoy it, go ahead and do so.

    I have a Michael Kenna reproduction on a bathroom wall. It is interesting, and decorative as well. It is, of course, mass produced in a manner which is even less individualized than an inkjet print from a lab, but it has a value.

    If someone wants to put one of my prints on their bathroom wall:

    1) I'd recommend a different location, but if that's what they want...; and
    2) we should talk.
     
  8. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I think that I would not hang an inkjet on the wall to advertise what I do, though I might make one on special order if there was a really nice someone who really really wanted one of my pix, but could not afford the silver print; for instance, a photo student.

    That is just what I would do, though.

    I have been to several galleries in which two prices are given on a tag; one for an analog print, and one for an inkjet print of the same picture. You've gotta pay the bills somehow. If someone is stupid enough to pay you for an inkjet print of one of your pix, you should be smart enough to take the money and run. :D
     
  9. sarahfoto

    sarahfoto Member

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    Thanks all, for your interesting comments. I guess the answer to why I want to make art answers a lot of questions... it is the whole process from taking the picture, to the darkroom that I love. If it was just to pay the bills I wouldn't turn weddingpics etc down or I would get a "normal" full-time job. I think that in the long run it will pay to narrow it down because it will be more exclusive, and to feel like I'm 100% happy about what I'm selling. It is very interesting though to hear how other people reason.
     
  10. apconan

    apconan Member

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    Why's it have to be analog or inkjet? A lot of 'fine art' photographers print on lambda, chromira, lightjet, etc. And it doesn't have to be "send in a digital copy and have someone else print it out and charge loads of money for it"... many artists print digitally but still have a lot of control over the process. Just because someone prints digital and you print analog doesn't mean that theirs isn't "original"... yours isn't either unless you're displaying the negative, you're still making a "cheap copy".
     
  11. patrickjames

    patrickjames Member

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    You can twist and turn an inkjet print a thousand different ways, but is still won't come out like a silver print. Even though they try and try. I won't give you my background, but I still make silver prints because there is no substitute. Inkjet prints are of course common now since they are easy to make, and you can make a whole bunch while you are sleeping, but in terms of quality they just don't compare. I know it takes a lot of effort to go in the darkroom and make prints. If you believe it is the best way for you to do so, then do it. They are your images. Just because some old f*rts at a seminar you went to are taking the easy route and have themselves convinced it is the same doesn't mean you should hoodwink yourself too.

    Hej då
     
  12. lecarp

    lecarp Member

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    I find to many artists let business get in the way of their Art.
     
  13. IloveTLRs

    IloveTLRs Member

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    I'm not certain, but wouldn't darkroom prints last longer than ink jet prints?
     
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  15. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    I thought printing a negative onto paper WAS making a copy...
    Have I missed something? :confused:

    This sounds a lot like the time when I was talking about photography with the director of an art museum who told me that they stopped having analog photography classes because "...only artists use analog photography."

    I wanted to knock on her forehead and say, "Hello? Is this the ART MUSEUM? Isn't this where the ARTISTS are?"

    Basically I just hear people making up reasons to justify themselves regardless of the actual facts.
     
  16. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Stick to your guns. You cannot educate those who will not listen and learn. Find another gallery.

    Steve
     
  17. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I think, that, your art is worth what the buyer will pay.

    Many artists offer choices, silver prints or ink jet prints. Silver prints are always priced much higher than ink jet variety. Many people can't afford, don't care, or know the difference between ink jet and silver. For those people, it really doesn't matter. For you, it's a revenue. For those that do know the difference and willing to pay for silver and see it worth while to pay extra, it's MORE revenue to you.

    I'd have a problem if an artist misrepresented his/her product but as long as they are clearly stated which - I don't see any problem with either of reproduction methods. For you, I think, you'll have to decide which is more important - only sell to those who appreciate and pay for silver prints or sell to those who appreciate your art - at the level they can afford. Only you can make that choice.
     
  18. mabman

    mabman Member

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    If you are only comfortable with selling darkroom-produced prints, there is another option; offer a "premium" print on a non-standard paper (such as, say, Azo/Lodima, etc) or using more specialized techniques such as platinum/palladium or salt printing, and also offer a "regular" print of the same image on RC paper.

    As a real-world example, a couple of Christmases ago, I bought a print from a Bulgarian photographer I liked; he wanted to sell the 8x10 print on old (presumably cold-stored) Communist-era Bulgarian paper for $850; after I indicated that was out of my price range, he offered the 8x10 print on new RC paper for $150. I'm very happy with it, and he was more than happy to sell it to me.

    If you think you will be selling large quantities of "regular" prints, this may not be a viable option (or at least might be a lot of work), but for a handful of each, or on-demand, I don't see why this wouldn't work.
     
  19. nolanr66

    nolanr66 Member

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    I do not sell photography myself and I would not buy any either. However I do visit galleries and museum's to see the Sivler Gelatin Prints. Really nice to see from a skilled craftsman. I do not know what a person should sell or not actually. I imagine it's up to the photographer to decide what they want to do. Probably the most important thing is that the technology or methods used should be up front and honest.
     
  20. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    What I find truly infuriating is that on the one hand you hear people saying how wonderful inkjet is because it's so inexpensive in terms of overhead and time and you can make infinite identical copies... but at the same time setting ridiculous price points more in line with handmade silver prints. (And yeah I know the counterargument: if you can get a customer to part with more cash then why not?!) There is such a tremendous need to educate the customer, if you really plan to make a decent income traditional prints. I think a big, big part of that is not to mat and frame but instead to let the customer see the paper, feel the paper, see the edges, see the camera....

    As was said before, this is a decision for you alone. Just bear in mind that the prints other photographers hanging near yours can affect how your prints are seen. That can be a good thing or a bad thing.... it's up to you to decide which.

    Personally, I would not offer two different kinds of prints (e.g. silver plus inkjet). I think it is very important to commit fully to your process so that you can present your vision in as clear and consistent a manner as possible. It is of course your decision, though.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 30, 2010
  21. dehk

    dehk Member

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    I'd say if you print it yourself in the darkroom. You have made the photo from the start to the very end. How much do you love your own stuff??
     
  22. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    I feel if one is going to print inkjet, why even bother with film at all? I would never and will never buy a print from someone else on inkjet.
     
  23. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    A very intersting thought. :smile:

    Until now, I haven't thought seriously about selling photos. I have entertained the idea but never followed through. Photography is personal to me. I have only given photos to friends and family. Never seriously thought of selling.

    But, now, my income is tight. I am thinking of selling photography more seriously than before. Even though I don't feel 100% comfortable with selling photos to strangers, I feel that I need to ino rder to make ends meet. Consequently, I have been thinking of ways to present photos that would be unique and interesting to people so that they would buy.

    Your idea... Don't sell framed photos... seems like it could be that unique and interesting presentation I have been looking for.

    So, what If I (or any traditional photographer) sold matted but unframed prints?
    Not dry mounted. Matted up with T-hinge mounts, a backer board and a windowed matte just like it would be if it was in a frame... Just without the wood/metal and glass??

    Would that be a formal enough presentation that such a photo could hang beside other fully framed photos yet still offer the potential buyer the opportunity to see that he has a "real photograph" in his hand?

    Of course, the buyer could elect to have his photo framed, either on his own or by me at appropriate price markup.

    What do you think?
     
  24. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    That is really nice to read: your work is personal and that gives you concerns about showing it to strangers. I think that is rather unusual, and valuable. I know so much middle-of-the-road, impersonal photography (some of it my own, I freely admit). It sounds like showing your work might be helpful for reasons other than financial.

    That's a good idea, why not try it out and see. Or perhaps just float the prints loosely on top of some backing, with no mat at all. Whatever works best with your images and isn't the same as what everybody else does.

    I'll just add, my comment wasn't so much about selling prints as much as exhibiting them. I have never quite understood why most photographers so willingly obscure their work behind mats and glass. Is it really to protect the print, or just because it's what everybody else does?

    In any case, whatever you do that sets your work apart from the pack and lets people appreciate it more directly will probably benefit you. Besides that, when you need to set up a lot of prints, frames can be damn expensive!
     
  25. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I don't know why we must be so rigid in thinking, silver based = good, anything digital = bad. Being fully aware this IS an analog photography site, but still, aren't we photographers first then choice of our media is analog? If someone appreciates your art but can't afford silver based prints, should his/her appreciation for your art be disregarded as misguided or not worthy? Even in old days, many photographers, nationally very famous ones included, offered offset print posters and silver prints. Today, I see many offer posters, inkjets, and silver. Even Ansel Adams offer (yes, the REAL ones) both.

    I fully understand, the photographer will have to make a choice and it's his/her choice alone. But even artist has to eat and make income. It's not purely art or purely business - individuals will have to strike a good balance.

    I *prefer* silver prints. I think the rendition of tonality and surface texture is MUCH superior to anything else. But, if I wanted to have prints of giants, such as AA or such, I can't possibly afford the real thing. Even lesser of giants ask significant amount of money for silver prints. I *think* there is something to be said by appreciating those who appreciate your art - at a level they can afford and at a level they can understand.
     
  26. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    [Rant Mode]
    I deal with black & white! I do not see gray! One and the other; nothing in between!
    [/Rant Mode]

    :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: