art & modern technology

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by tim, May 6, 2005.

  1. tim

    tim Guest

    Hi there,
    I'm curious to know whcih direction fine art
    photographers are taking in terms of selling limited editions of their
    work in an era where digital photography has reached a point where
    digital quality is now of comparable quality, in most cases, to film.

    Specifically, I'm intersted to know whether many are still confining
    themselves to fine art prints using the traditional mediums of
    negatives and photographic papers, or are now availing themselves of
    the opportunity and ease of using digital equipment and high quality
    ink-jet printers? Obviously the modern technology makes it much easier
    to control the end result, and to print off 100 copies at the press of
    a button, but I'm left wondering what this does in terms of selling
    limited quantities at top dollar, the value of the work as a long term
    investment, and so on. Buying an Ansel Adams print one knows straight
    away that one is investing in a work of art that has been individually
    crafted in the darkroom by the master himself, with all of the
    flashing, dodging, masking etc, that went into each and every print.
    Does a digital and computer generated print hold the same value to a
    collector, even if the image is limited to the traditional small
    quantities?

    The reason I ask is purely out of curiosity. I'm a wood working
    craftsman and attend fine art & craft shows across the country, and
    one of my favourite activities, during the few quiet moments I get
    during a show, is to walk the aisles and take in the work of various
    photographers. Some, like Steve Vaughn with his large panoramic
    images, are obviously using printing processes to mass produce their
    images for mass consumption, which is great. What I'm more curious
    about is whether fine art photographers - people like Les Sleznick,
    for example - with their numbered and limited works, are doing the
    same or sticking to the traditional print, produced in the darkroom,
    for maintaining he integrity of their work as collectible pieces of
    art. From an investment point of view I'm also curious how wary buyers
    might be of printed output with a view to longevity - many of the
    manufacturers of high end printers claim their inks give prints a
    minimum lifetime of at least 100 years, and of course one has to say
    that normal prints themselves can deteriote over time if not properly
    fixed and/or are subjected to too much sunlight over time.

    Any comments or thoughts would be much appreciated. It would simply be
    interesting to know how art photographers are viewing and ultilizing
    new technoligies and what dollar effect it has on their output as both
    a work of art and as a collectible item.

    Thanks......Tim
     
    tim, May 6, 2005
    #1
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  2. tim

    Marvin Guest

    tim wrote:
    > Hi there,
    > I'm curious to know whcih direction fine art
    > photographers are taking in terms of selling limited editions of their
    > work in an era where digital photography has reached a point where
    > digital quality is now of comparable quality, in most cases, to film.
    >
    > Specifically, I'm intersted to know whether many are still confining
    > themselves to fine art prints using the traditional mediums of
    > negatives and photographic papers, or are now availing themselves of
    > the opportunity and ease of using digital equipment and high quality
    > ink-jet printers? Obviously the modern technology makes it much easier
    > to control the end result, and to print off 100 copies at the press of
    > a button, but I'm left wondering what this does in terms of selling
    > limited quantities at top dollar, the value of the work as a long term
    > investment, and so on. Buying an Ansel Adams print one knows straight
    > away that one is investing in a work of art that has been individually
    > crafted in the darkroom by the master himself, with all of the
    > flashing, dodging, masking etc, that went into each and every print.
    > Does a digital and computer generated print hold the same value to a
    > collector, even if the image is limited to the traditional small
    > quantities?
    >
    > The reason I ask is purely out of curiosity. I'm a wood working
    > craftsman and attend fine art & craft shows across the country, and
    > one of my favourite activities, during the few quiet moments I get
    > during a show, is to walk the aisles and take in the work of various
    > photographers. Some, like Steve Vaughn with his large panoramic
    > images, are obviously using printing processes to mass produce their
    > images for mass consumption, which is great. What I'm more curious
    > about is whether fine art photographers - people like Les Sleznick,
    > for example - with their numbered and limited works, are doing the
    > same or sticking to the traditional print, produced in the darkroom,
    > for maintaining he integrity of their work as collectible pieces of
    > art. From an investment point of view I'm also curious how wary buyers
    > might be of printed output with a view to longevity - many of the
    > manufacturers of high end printers claim their inks give prints a
    > minimum lifetime of at least 100 years, and of course one has to say
    > that normal prints themselves can deteriote over time if not properly
    > fixed and/or are subjected to too much sunlight over time.
    >
    > Any comments or thoughts would be much appreciated. It would simply be
    > interesting to know how art photographers are viewing and ultilizing
    > new technoligies and what dollar effect it has on their output as both
    > a work of art and as a collectible item.
    >
    > Thanks......Tim


    Some museums are buying digitally-printed photos. There was an article about in the NY
    Times about 2 years ago (You could search for it at www.nytimes.com.) Three years ago, I
    saw one in the modern art museum in Amsterdam, near the Reichsmuseum. I think there will
    be more of this, but there will always be some who resist. IMHO, there is room for both
    kinds of photography and printing. Paintings in different media co-exist just fine.
     
    Marvin, May 6, 2005
    #2
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  3. tim

    Bill Hilton Guest

    >Tim writes
    >
    >I'm curious to know whcih direction fine art photographers are
    >taking in terms of selling limited editions of their work in an
    >era where digital photography has reached a point where
    >digital quality is now of comparable quality, in most cases, to film.


    Actually many traditional non-digital photographers don't offer
    "limited edition" runs, maybe 50-50? It's an artificial way to squelch
    supply so the demand and hopefully price goes up, but I don't think it
    works much of the time.

    I have a small collection of prints by photographers I admire (and can
    afford :) and half of them are limited edition, half aren't. The three
    that are (Tom Mangelsen, editon of 1,200-1,500 for the images I have,
    Freeman Patterson, edition of 60 and Tom Till, edition of 350 per size)
    were actually less expensive than the three non-limited edition guys.
    The three non-limited edition photographers whose work I have are Paul
    Caponigro (black-white), Christopher Burkett (custom Ilfochromes) and
    Jack Dykinga (Fuji Crystal Archive print) ... the Caponigro and Burkett
    prints are 3x-5x more than the smaller limited edition prints from the
    guys I mentioned, for example.

    Burkett and Caponigro control the number of their prints by lifting the
    price when they think the market will bear it after a certain number of
    prints are made. For example, Burkett charges $750 for a 20x24" Ilfo
    and twice that for a 30x40" Ilfo for about 90% of his prints, doubling
    it to $1500/$3000 for about 5% of them, to $2500/$5000 for a few, then
    $3,500/$7,000 and, tops right now, $5,000/$10,000 for I think his two
    most popular prints.

    >I'm intersted to know whether many are still confining
    >themselves to fine art prints using the traditional mediums of
    >negatives and photographic papers, or are now availing themselves of
    >the opportunity and ease of using digital equipment and high quality
    >ink-jet printers?


    Of the six I mentioned Capronigo prints his own traditional black/white
    silver prints, Burkett prints his own custom Ilfochromes (the finest
    color prints I've ever seen), Freeman Patterson shoots film, scans it
    and prints with an Iris giclee (inkjet) on Somerset Velvet watercolor
    paper, Till shoots 4x5" film and was having his Ilfochromes printed for
    him but was supposedly looking hard at printing on a LightJet digital
    printer, Dykinga shoots 4x5" film and has his scanned images printed on
    Fuji Crystal Archive paper on a Chromira laser printer, and Mangelsen
    has his printed on either Type C or as Ilfochromes by the same printer
    Till uses. So two are doing their own printing, all are using film,
    three are printing digital.

    >Does a digital and computer generated print hold the same
    >value to a collector ...


    Yes, if the image is good enough.

    >From an investment point of view I'm also curious how wary
    >buyers might be of printed output with a view to longevity


    Every test I've seen indicates that the better digital processes should
    have greater longevity than conventional color prints but less than
    black-whites. I'm expecting my Type C Mangelsen prints to fade first
    (and I keep them in dim light as possible), then the Ilfochromes, then
    the Iris (may be wrong about that one), then the Crystal Archive
    prints, but all should last long enough for me to enjoy.

    Another point on this topic ... a gallery I visit 3-4 times a year in
    Santa Fe used to carry mostly traditional black-white prints (last week
    I saw a Weston selling for $150,000 and an Ansel Adams listed at
    $135,000 for example). For some time the ONLY color prints they
    carried were dye transfers, mostly by Eliot Porter. About 6-7 years
    ago they started carrying Ilfochromes, mostly Burkett's. Three years
    ago I saw the first digital print in the gallery, a LightJet print on
    Crystal Archive of Steve McCurry's image of the Afghan girl for $3,000.
    A couple weeks ago I saw a print marked as "Epson Ultrachrome Pigment
    inks" from an Epson 9600, the first time I've seen a print with that
    process in the gallery. So times are a'changing ... but the best color
    prints there were the Ilfochromes of Burkett ... I noticed they had
    four Porter dye transers and these were listed at $1,500 - $1,800 even
    though Porter is dead (and so is the dye transfer process). I was
    surprised they were this low (they had a $7,000 Burkett print on
    display, for example) ... I guess the prints just didn't look
    collectible based on the duller colors of the dye-transfer process.

    One last story ... first large format photo gallery I went into in
    Sedona about 15 years ago had a wonderful print of the area, the finest
    I'd ever seen. The photographer was selling limited edition
    Ilfochromes that looked great, in five different sizes, maybe 200 per
    size. He had sold out all but the largest size, I think 40x50" and was
    asking $5,000 each for those (this at a time when no modern print had
    sold for over $20,000). Anyway, he eventually sold out completely and
    started losing money on the gallery since that image was his money
    maker ... three years later I was in the gallery and saw the same image
    for sale ... I was surprised and asked the clerk how he could do this
    since he had sold out all the editions ... he said "Oh, we discovered a
    new size, 22x28' ". I'm sure the people who bought the *last* few
    images of the original edition were not happy to hear this.

    Bill
     
    Bill Hilton, May 7, 2005
    #3
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