Gosh this has some meat to it Clive...
Art (whatever that is), I would prefer to see in person than say virtually. Value is so nebulous though of a term, think of Gursky's Rhine II, some give a lot of value (monetarily and as a piece of art) due to seeing it personally due to its presence (same might be said for Sherman's huge pieces) - but what is value anyway? Does a grandparent have tons of value seeing a ultrasound picture of their first grandchild as a print in hand vs say posted on FB?
Photojournalism, now it starts to break down (or maybe prove a point), when I saw in horror those poor souls killed in Tiananmen Square, what difference does it make if those horrible images are printed on 10x10' Cibachromes or as a bad grainy video still - the "value" is the same. Same could be said for The horrible images of Neda Agha-Soltan that went all through twitter and the net in a matter of hours after her being killed in Iran in 2009....how do you place a "value"?
Photography/art is hard to put in a pretty box....I ask you what is value? And if you answer that, who's to say anyone is right or wrong? It might be easy to say fine art prints are better in hand (hence value) which I agree with (just look at how bad my print scans look for proof, gosh my prints look nothing like the garbage in the Gallery), but it might be too limited to say "value" because it depends on the image, purpose and intention...
Of course they do. That's because negative manipulation is far easier, and with a higher degree of control, with scanning and photoshop, than in a conventional darkroom. I don't think this is relevant to the current discussion though, unless of course you want to open a whole new can of worms by bringing into it the value of a silver gelatin print, VS an inkjet.
My opinion is that the added value is not always a factor of 'quality' alone and can also be influenced by the viewer's relationship with the medium. My guess is that darkroom printers may value an original print more than, say, a layman who may find a print in a book perfectly acceptable, even identical. Likewise some people may be adverse to looking at photos on a computer screen - my elderly relatives can't stand doing that and are only interested in passing around 'real' prints.
This seems to be a question that only really concerns photographers and photography historians. Nuance, let's face it, is our concern. Whether we accept it or not, if we aspire to be successful art photographers, our images will be reproduced in all different kinds of qualities, it's just the age we live in. The images we make now have to hold up as... images, whatever the means of presentation. My point of view is that the unique piece of art (the fine print) that nearly everyone here values above all else, no longer holds the value it once did outside of 'fine art' communities. We have to tell normal people, beautiful subtleties or not, that the print is hand made for them to value the subtleties because for so many, the photograph is now simply a constant source of information on world events, cultures, products etc. So habitually, it's only the information that they take from the photograph and then, they move on to the next one. We're experts at obtaining information today and we're addicted to getting our next information fix. In a time when images are produced and consumed like Big Macs, I'd argue that it's not nuance that people should value, but strong images that stop people in their tracks for even a little longer than usual. The best way to do this is by obscuring the information that we need to get at. The most famous image, the Mona Lisa, is the ultimate archetype of this and the very reason it is so famous. Some say that it's not even very well painted!
It's understandable that crafting a darkroom masterpiece will reward extended viewing, but does it earn it? Werner Herzog says we're starved of great images today and I agree wholeheartedly. One of the great image makers, Harry Callahan, made contact prints and his photographs hold the same value for me on Google image search as they do in the brilliantly printed monograph I have. That I get more pleasure holding and flipping through the book, might simply be the reward for my consumerist nature - what I get from the images is the same. But there's also the 'presence' of an older photograph or piece of art that perhaps comes from the aura of older paper, canvases and paint, which is diminished completely in reproduction. This, more than anything else, might be the biggest factor in our value judgments of the work of master photographers and artists.
I'm going to see John Blakemore's prints soon and I'm sure that will be a different story altogether.
edit: Need to stop editing posts.
My own level of enjoyment is infinitely enhanced by having something tangible to deal with; something I can touch with my own hands. The part of it that pleases me the most is that I'm alone with the object. Only my senses interpret, and that is where the value lies, freed of 'noise'.
Question: why is there a need to even try to commercialize, sell prints to enthusiasts/collectors? Why is there a need to even try to show in a gallery? It seems to me that now, with all the technology available, it is a lot easier to craft and self publish a book of photos for the masses, or just keep on publishing for the web, and call it a day. Does anyone really feel that there is much value (yes, there is SOME) in that, and that it would bring fulfillment (let alone meaningful income) to an artist?
But, I really enjoy a print a lot more than I do a copy in a book.