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  1. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by kjsphoto
    Also were his prints ( signed and numebred ) always $20 a print? Or is this with the advant of digital?

    http://shop.lenswork.com/index.asp?P...TS&Category=58
    Kevin,
    To be frank, I have struggled with pricing issues for years and finally had an epiphony in 1997 when I was thinking about the original LensWork Special Editions concept. Perhaps I can best address this by quoting from an email exchange I had just today with a guy who asked me about this very issue. In my email to him I wrote:

    Every photographer needs to answer the question about pricing to their own satisfaction. My answer may not be valid for you or anyone else, but it is very valid for me. After thinking about this long and hard for my own work (over the course of 30 years), I realized it boils down to how one chooses to play the art game. For some, satisfaction comes from selling a few photographs for a high dollar amount; some prefer low prices and a wider audience. Some want the prestige of the established galleries and the accolades that come from academia and historians; some are better satisfied by the connection made with people who want photographs in their homes as a part of their everyday life. There is no right answer and all approaches can be valid.

    Having said that, my answer is simple: I want no barriers between my photographs and the people who are moved by them. I consider it a grave failure if my artwork is separated from an admirer because money prevents them from owning it. I consider it a grave failure if the relationship between my images and an audience is defined by the limited hours and access of a public institution (i.e., museum). I much prefer the intimacy that comes from someone owning and living with one of my photographs through the change of seasons, the changing of moods, the changes of life itself. I have always felt that the highest purpose of art is to enrich someone's life. This is best done over time, slowly, deeply. My artwork satisfies me when it resides in people's hands, people's homes, people's lives.

    It is from that premise that my definitions of fine art photography spring. I am not interested in gallery representation where prices are so high that 98% of the public can't buy there. I price my work so everyone can buy a photograph. I am not interested in large prints that require museum walls or boardroom walls to display them. I print in intimate sizes. I am not motivated by the opinions of academia, historians, art critiques, the art world, or the photographic art establishment. Whatever they believe and value is fine with me, but it is non sequitur to my purpose and objectives. If the larger art world were to find my work collectible and sellable, I would consider that a lucky coincidence. However, I cherish the emails and notes I receive from folks you'll never here of who tell me that one of my photographs has reminded them of a loved one, comforted them in a difficult time, made them laugh or smile.

    My observation is that most of the art establishment strives to goals that are the opposite of mine; they work to elevate prices as high as possible; they feel rewarded when art can only be collected by the elite or wealthy in society; success is defined by the number of museums and corporate collections you are in; often even the production of photographs is considered more virtuous when they are so difficult as to be limited by cumbersome technologies. I have never understood why food, music, clothing, literature, poetry, and so much of the finer things in life are best when distributed widely, but artwork is supposedly better when it is restricted to collectors and well-funded institutions. So much of art today is driven by investment principles. Don't get me wrong, I am all for money and making as much of it as possible. I am not anti-business. On the contrary, I am convinced that a few good business principles could help the art world tremendously, but that is a topic for another day.

    As you can imagine, such attitudes keep me away from the New York gallery scene, away from the AIPAD-type shows, away from the game that is required if you want to become an icon of the art world. Which is just fine by me. It leaves me more time for photographing and being out there, with a camera, where I want to be, making photographs and seeing the world.

    Does this answer the question about my $20 price?
    And by the way, I must admit that I was very influenced by the success we had with pricing in the LensWork Special Editions program where we sold over 17,000 prints with an average price of less than $40. Do you realize how many 17,000 gelatin silver prints are? There is, of course, no way to know for sure, but I would be willing to bet that this puts LensWork in a very small group of folks who have sold that many gelatin silver prints in all of photography's history -- an accomplishment of which I am quite proud.
    Brooks Jensen
    Editor, LensWork Publishing
    Written Monday August 29, 2005

  2. #22
    Daniel Lawton's Avatar
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    Just like any other story there are three sides. Brooks Jensen's reasoning, the ardent Apuggers theory and the truth. I'm sure the whole image setter thing factored into the decision to shut down the Lenswork darkroom. I'd also bet money that Brooks and Lenswork see us (traditional film users) as a dying monetary force and instead seek approval from the new and increasingly powerful monetary force of digital users. Obviously no one should expect someone at Lenswork to say this but in essence that is what is happening. It may not be as in your face as Pop Photo but in its own subtle way Lenswork is slowly adapting the same philosophy. When your profession revolves around selling books, magazines and photographic prints on the "latest and greatest" medium everything is geared towards the mainstream. I am honestly happy that Brooks has found a new photographic Mecca in terms of inkjet prints but if I really cared I'd go pick up the latest photo rag in Barnes and Noble.

  3. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Lawton
    Just like any other story there are three sides. Brooks Jensen's reasoning, the ardent Apuggers theory and the truth. I'm sure the whole image setter thing factored into the decision to shut down the Lenswork darkroom. I'd also bet money that Brooks and Lenswork see us (traditional film users) as a dying monetary force and instead seek approval from the new and increasingly powerful monetary force of digital users. Obviously no one should expect someone at Lenswork to say this but in essence that is what is happening. It may not be as in your face as Pop Photo but in its own subtle way Lenswork is slowly adapting the same philosophy. When your profession revolves around selling books, magazines and photographic prints on the "latest and greatest" medium everything is geared towards the mainstream. I am honestly happy that Brooks has found a new photographic Mecca in terms of inkjet prints but if I really cared I'd go pick up the latest photo rag in Barnes and Noble.
    Whew... I am glad I am not the only one who noticed this. In the past I thought of Lenswork magazine and their forum as a sort of neutral ground, where the emphasis was on the art of photography. IMO this is no longer the case, more and more the editor extols the virtues of digital over any other medium. This in itself is not bad, it is his opinion and his magazine. But I no longer wish to visit a site or subscribe to a magazine where I am deceived into thinking it is the art what matters when it is clearly not.

  4. #24
    Paul Sorensen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lenswork
    Does this answer the question about my $20 price?
    Brooks, I read your piece last year in Lenswork about the pricing issue and the gallery game. I was very moved by it and appreciate your point of view greatly. There are other issues that play into this, however. You have achieved a certain level of prominence through the magazine and will be able to get customers very effectively that way. Most of us who strive to sell photographs need to find a way to get our images to the market and do not have the benefit of the economies of scale that you have. Without a meaningful way to promote our work, we will either be subsidizing our sales or charging a higher price to be able to make any kind of money selling photos.

    I do hope that we will be able to do something as a community of photographers (and here I mean like minded folks, including APUG members and others) that can help to create a market that will allow folks to be able to sell the numbers of prints necessary to make your type of pricing structure work.

    Paul.

  5. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Lawton
    I'd also bet money that Brooks and Lenswork see us (traditional film users) as a dying monetary force and instead seek approval from the new and increasingly powerful monetary force of digital users.
    Daniel,
    Again, what do I have to say to convince you guys that there is no -- absolutely no -- hidden agenda? LensWork is an open book, so to speak. LensWork is, will be, and always has been about images and the creative process. We do not advocate any technology. We do not reject any technology. We don't even discuss technology -- as readers well know. Most times we don't even know what camera is used when we select work for the magazine. We don't know until we prepare the photographer's bio prior to publication. (Exceptions like Kendrick's tintypes do exist, but they are very, very rare.) Your statement about "selling books" etc. and "the latest and greatest" is absolutely non sequitur to LensWork. Burke & James is just as welcome on our pages as Epson. Hell, we don't even take outside advertising! How could we care about what sells or doesn't sell in the wide world of photography when we don't run ads?

    My personal interest has always been about creativity and the creative process. My endeavors -- be it the magazine, the Extended, my books, or our prints -- are about creative images and personal expression. It's about the thrill of looking at a Minor White print and having the hair on your arm tingle. It's about seeing something in front of your camera and then having the same thrill when you look at your print. It's about connecting, through images, to an audience.

    As to the "dying monetary force" -- to the contrary, our audience at LensWork has always been people who are the most passionate about photography. (I assume it's obvious that LensWork has little appeal to folks who just make family snapshots?) I've bet my livelihood on the gamble that there are people who are as passionate about photography as I am and as far as I can tell the members of APUG are among the most committed, most passionate photographers around. It is for such committed and passionate people that LensWork exists. If I thought you were a disappearing audience, why would I continue to publish the magazine? Just the opposite, I think your passions are infectious and forums like APUG do more to promote the health of photography than almost anything -- even magazines. The direct, daily, grassroots connections that are possible in a forum like APUG are so much more conducive to photography's health than the occasional, annual workshops I grew up with it's not even a contest. I am optimistic as all get out.

    One other point: We don't "seek approval" from any group defined by a technology, but we do hope that our common interest in images and creativity define a community of people who share an outlook about photography that is supportive and mutually so. Lots of us use different equipment -- large format, medium format, 35mm, platinum, cyanotype, silver, and, yes, even digital. LensWork is not about our differences but rather about our common challenge of using our chosen tools to make a creative, expressive, and personal statement with our art. We share something that is not shared with writers, painters, sculptors and other artists -- we work with the world as it appears to our eyes and as it is revealed to us and our cameras by light. We make images in a way that no other art does. It is that aesthetic that separates photography from the other arts and binds us together as photographers. It's what we have in common that fascinates me.

    I know that passions run high about all this stuff, but I know even more assuredly that what we all share -- difficult as it is to define -- is more important than the equipment we use.

    More than my 2-cents worth, and thanks for allowing me to say it.

    Brooks Jensen
    Editor, LensWork Publishing
    Written Monday August 29, 2005

  6. #26

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    Mr. Jensen,

    Although I can only stand in your shadow, perhaps we will meet someday and can
    (at least) swap recipes for crow.
    Peking Crow,
    Roast Crow,
    General Tso's Peanut Crow,
    Shreaded Crow in Garlic Sauce,
    Kung Pao Crow (extra spicy!)
    and of course, Sweet and Sour Crow,
    Truly culinary delights!

    Welcome to the 21st century.
    and
    Thank You.

    Daryl

  7. #27
    Paul Sorensen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 25asa
    Mr. Jensen,

    Although I can only stand in your shadow, perhaps we will meet someday and can
    (at least) swap recipes for crow.
    Peking Crow,
    Roast Crow,
    General Tso's Peanut Crow,
    Shreaded Crow in Garlic Sauce,
    Kung Pao Crow (extra spicy!)
    and of course, Sweet and Sour Crow,
    Truly culinary delights!

    Welcome to the 21st century.
    and
    Thank You.

    Daryl
    My favorite is cornish game crow.

  8. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jorge
    I thought of Lenswork magazine and their forum as a sort of neutral ground, where the emphasis was on the art of photography.
    Jorge,
    I appreciate your comments and sometimes it is these kinds of observations that are the kick in the butt I need to reexamine myself. Sometimes it's important to look inward to see if there is a trend that I cannot observe from such a close distance. So, as a review, I looked at the last 10 issue of LensWork just now to see what we've actually published.

    In the last 10 issues we've published 31 portfolios. Here it is the recap:

    3 portfolios of 8x10 camera work
    12 portfolios of 4x5 camera work
    8 portfolios of medium format camera work
    6 portfolios of 35mm camera work
    2 portfolios of digital camera work

    Furthermore, here is breakdown of print media:
    1 portfolio of tintypes
    26 portfolios of gelatin silver
    4 portfolios of digital output

    I guess I don't feel too bad about that mix. I would hope that the few digital things we publish are not so much that it's too offensive for traditional workers to cut us a little slack.

    Brooks Jensen
    Editor, LensWork Publishing
    Written Monday August 29, 2005

  9. #29
    Jeremy's Avatar
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    Well Brooks I see you are sorely lacking in providing your readership with portfolios from two distinctive groups: those that print in pt/pd and those that shoot with 3x4 cameras. You know what, I think I could even point you in the direction of someone who does both and you could kill two birds with one stone; *cough, cough--points at himself*
    Let's see what I've got in the magic trash can for Mateo!

    blog
    website

  10. #30
    roteague's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Moore
    Well Brooks I see you are sorely lacking in providing your readership with portfolios from two distinctive groups: those that print in pt/pd and those that shoot with 3x4 cameras. You know what, I think I could even point you in the direction of someone who does both and you could kill two birds with one stone; *cough, cough--points at himself*
    I feel left out ; perhaps Brooks could publish my portfolio of color landscapes - I promise to send him the original transparencies (Fuji Velvia of course) to work from. Wait till you hear the howls from the B&W purists on that one.
    Robert M. Teague
    www.visionlandscapes.com
    www.apug.org/forums/portfolios.php?u=2235

    "A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist" -- Louis Nizer

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