Which path to take?
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?
It's your choice, only you can decide
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.
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.
I do use a digital device in my photographic pursuits when necessary.
When someone rags on me for using film, I use a middle digit, upraised.
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.
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!
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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.
Heavily sedated for your protection.
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.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
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.
"Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."
- Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)
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.
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".