Re: Editioning ... and Unique Works of Art

From: Judy Seigel ^lt;[email protected]>
Date: 07/07/04-10:54:36 PM Z
Message-id: <>

Lisa has so perfectly addressed this topic that I urge all to re-read and
re-appreciate her comments before I add a couple of remarks in similar

On Wed, 7 Jul 2004, Lisa Reddig wrote:
> I'm interested to know where "collectors" get the idea that a photographer
> will only do one print with a negative and never use it again. That is just
> so insane to me. Why do we make good archival quality negatives if we are
> expected to destroy them after printing them once? That's like a painter
> never using the same color twice or the same brush or the same pair of hands
> to make a painting. Collectors are asking way too much if they think I am
> going to make one print and that's it. That's taking away an integral
> aspect of photography. One of the amazing qualities of photography is the
> numerous ways a single image can be printed and interpreted by the artist.
> The image on the negative is not the final image. It can be manipulated and
> interpreted by the printing of it. And when I grow and change over the
> years I will change how I see an image and I will print it differently and
> it will become a completely different piece of art work. With just as much
> standing in my mind as the first print. And the final product will still be
> unique (unless I print 20 of them exactly the same).
> Excuse my rant, but I was very frightened by the suggestion that we destroy
> our negatives after printing them once to achieve "uniqueness".

Destroying the negative sounds like a desperate effort at "uniqueness" --
a way to make something ordinary seem special. It's hard to imagine
a photographer caring so little about an image -- unless it's a lot
like the next one, which is also destroyed after printing -- and so on.

When I shot 35 mm, I rarely found more than a couple of frames on a roll
*special* enough to print, but a *special* negative may have needed to be
tried, interpreted, investigated many different ways and times. I have
some images I still need to print again, now that I know more, see things
a different way, can translate them better, etc. etc. etc.

I've also had the experience of sorting through a box of rejects saved for
recycling, and pouncing on a wonder that had escaped me at the time. (Sure
glad I didn't destroy the negative !) Many photographers (David Vestal
comes immediately to mind) revisit an earlier suite to reprint and
reinterpret as a whole separate project...

I think, though, that the notion of destroying the negative shows how
little photography is valued -- the worry about supposed reproduceability
being paramount. Was it Bernice Abbott who said it can take a month or 100
tries to get a perfect print? (It's obviously easier to just destroy the

thanks Lisa,

Received on Wed Jul 7 22:54:55 2004

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