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  1. #1
    Ian Leake's Avatar
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    Originals and reproductions

    Following on from Brooks' question (http://www.apug.org/forums/forum56/4...tml#post540739), I thought I'd start a new thread to discuss originals and reproductions...

    Here are some tentative definitions for the purposes of discussion...
    • Original – the thing that the photographer considers to be their completed work. This could be a transparency, a print, an online image, a negative perhaps, a billboard poster, or almost anything else
    • Reproduction – anything that shows the original, but is not actually the original itself. For example a scan of an original print, a print of an original transparency, a copy of an original print shown in a magazine


    For example, I consider my final Pt/Pd prints to be the original. The proofing polaroids, negatives and test prints all contribute to the final print. I may make several original prints from the same negative. The purpose my reproductions may vary, but is usually to show people what the original looks like. The scans that I post to APUG and my website are poor quality reproductions – that saddens me but I haven’t worked out how to make them better yet. If, by some future miracle, any of my photos were published in a magazine, then hopefully those would be good quality reproductions (but reproductions all the same).

    Does my definition make sense? And if so, what are your originals and what are your reproductions?

  2. #2
    jovo's Avatar
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    As J.D. Bruner's very well made point demonstrates, an actual 'artifact' print trumps a URL or other electronic 'original' unanimously. Ironically, if you copy a 'graph from my blog and display it on your perhaps very superior monitor, you may have a better iteration of it than even I do. It will not by any means, however, be the equivalent of my original print on air dried, glossy, toned, photographic paper.
    John Voss

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  3. #3
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    I don't think your definition is controversial. What is more important to consider is whether both possess the same artistic value.

    That there is a monetary value difference between an original and a copy makes sense; that there is a different physical experience also. But I think it varies between artists whether the "original" and the "copy" have distinct artistic value.

    For very dedicated printers, the original print(s) might be the only one who bear the artistic value because they depend on particular physical attributes. But for other artists, there are no significant differences between the artistic value of a "copy" versus that of an "original."

    People acquire "originals" not only for artistic value, so personally I would consider myself well served by a URL of JBrunner's photos, although having the actual print might give me other related delights.
    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

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  4. #4
    Ian Leake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mhv View Post
    I don't think your definition is controversial. What is more important to consider is whether both possess the same artistic value.

    That there is a monetary value difference between an original and a copy makes sense; that there is a different physical experience also. But I think it varies between artists whether the "original" and the "copy" have distinct artistic value.

    For very dedicated printers, the original print(s) might be the only one who bear the artistic value because they depend on particular physical attributes. But for other artists, there are no significant differences between the artistic value of a "copy" versus that of an "original."

    People acquire "originals" not only for artistic value, so personally I would consider myself well served by a URL of JBrunner's photos, although having the actual print might give me other related delights.
    Interesting question. I consider my originals to the important work. I don't think the scans I post to APUG have any special value because they're just intended to show people what the original would look like if they could see it.

  5. #5
    MurrayMinchin's Avatar
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    My Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines original print as, "a print made directly from an artists own woodcut, etching, etc., and printed under the artists supervision". So there appears to be acres of wiggle room in that you could have thousands of originals and you don't even have to do it yourself, just supervise the making of them.

    Each person gets to come up with their own conclusion on this one, and others will choose to agree, or not. Pretty simple, eh? Then again, I'm a simple man

    Murray
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    Note to self: Turn your negatives into positives.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Leake View Post
    Interesting question. I consider my originals to the important work. I don't think the scans I post to APUG have any special value because they're just intended to show people what the original would look like if they could see it.
    I'd like to agree with what you wrote here, but then WHAT is the VALUE of the original work that makes the original "important", compared to what was reprinted or reproduced? It should somehow be more about some intrinsic value or importance of the image itself, and not on solely on the fact that it was an "original".

    Is there a parallel to be found in written works - is the first edition of a book or novel more "important" than subsequent reprints?

    I have had different emotional responses to the same photograph seen in different books - one might be printed larger, or with more contrast.

    Finally, what would you say to reproductions that actually look better than the original prints? I've not experienced this yet, but I'm sure it has happened somewhere.

  7. #7
    Ian Leake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hkr View Post
    ...WHAT is the VALUE of the original work that makes the original "important", compared to what was reprinted or reproduced? ...
    There are at least two types of value here: emotional value and commercial value. The original has emotional value because it's the thing that I wanted to create, as opposed to something that's merely a by product. So obviously that makes it personally important, but that should also make it more important to people who are interested in who I am, what I do, and why I do it.

    There's also a commercial value, albeit a small one, because if you want one of my original prints you have to pay me something. If you're happy with a reproduction then you can look at images I post here or on my web site.

  8. #8
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hkr View Post

    Is there a parallel to be found in written works - is the first edition of a book or novel more "important" than subsequent reprints?
    The question of originality vs. authenticity with the written word is a terribly slippery slope. The biggest deal with 1st editions is very much like the idea of the #1 in a limited edition of prints. It in theory is closest to the author's intent, and it is the first representation of that intent. I think more tellingly, the first edition thing with books is just as much a marketing thing as editioning prints.

    A famous example that gives the lie to this would be Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass". He kept tinkering with the content, adding and removing poems, and editing individual poems, as he went along. So there is no one definitive edition. Fortunately or unfortunately, that doesn't happen with photographs, or at least not nearly to the same degree.

  9. #9
    SuzanneR's Avatar
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    Seems we are getting into apples and oranges. A hand made print is one thing, and edition of hand made prints is a marketing device to sell them. Same with editions of books, it would seem.

    I appreciate hand made prints. I was at a Salgado show a few years back of his Workers series. The book was in the gallery, and the reproductions didn't have the impact of the actual prints on the wall.

    That's not to say his images aren't full of impact in the book... but they pack a bit more punch as a 16x20 gelatin silver print. Of course, the book is easier to find.

    I'm grateful for reproductions in books and on the web. If I find work that interests me, then I may seek out gallery shows to view the prints. Sometimes I'm disappointed, but not very often.

    And if I had the money... I'd buy a few more prints, but as is, I settle for books.

  10. #10

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    my take on this whole argument is:
    unless it is a photogram, ambrotype, tintype, dag, even a chrome/diapositive
    -- something that can't be "made again" through some form of mechanical reproduction,
    the negative is the original and anything made from that negative is a reproduction.
    a photographic print isn't much different than a scan,
    or book print, poster, lithograph or magazine, newspaper &C.
    they are all mechanical reproductions.
    silver magnets, trickle tanks sold
    artwork often times sold for charity
    PM me for details

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