Re: Editioning ... and Unique Works of Art

From: [email protected]
Date: 07/08/04-12:01:16 AM Z
Message-id: <>

Some thoughts on editioning.

I wonder if editioning prints is more of a benefit to galleries than it is to
photographers? I have heard a number of photographers say that they were
asked by galleries to provide limited editions of prints or they would not
accept the work.

I've seen a lot of editioned prints in galleries that left me thinking that
the world would have been a better place if the photographer had destroyed the
negative before making the edition.

It doesn't really matter to me if a person does limited editions or not,
except for the fact that I hate to see someone make a bunch of prints for an
edition, sell one and then have the rest lay in a stack underneath their bed until
their death. Seems like a waste of time and natural resources.

I doubt if 99% of photographers ever sell that many copies of any single
image to even warrant wasting their time worrying about whether or not they should
edition their work.

If a person does decide to limit an image to an edition, then I think they
should follow the laws governing editions.

I think that doing a second edition of an image at 95% the original size of
the first edition is dishonest and the photographer should be punished by
having zones III and VII permanently removed from every negative they shoot from
that point on for their entire lifetime.

Is editioning just a practice adopted from print making and not that relevant
to photography?

When I am lucky enough to sell a second print of an image, I often go back to
the original negative, scan it and rework the image because I want to
interpret the image based on how I "see it" now and with whatever improved skills I
have managed to gain since the first printing/interpretation.

I understand that a print might be unique (one-of-a-kind) and that is cool
and it should probably should be designated as such—the rest I might mark on the
back "1 of a bunch" or "first of hopefully 2 or 3"

I still marvel sometimes at the optimism of a guy who had a friend of mine
(who runs a custom photo lab) print 500 gelatin silver prints for a "limited
edition." I hope the guy got lucky. I know he made my friend happy.

I'd rather give a print to someone who really loves it than have someone buy
the same print not because they love it, but because it might be "worth
something" someday. Well, maybe if they would pay $1,000,000 for the print, I'd
promise to burn the negative, if that would help justify their investment and
improve their odds of gain on the investment.

There are a lot of prints I would love to own, but I can't afford them. I
guess that's why I own a lot of books with great photographs in them. If I can
afford to buy a print, I buy it because I love it and want to look at it often—
not because of what it might be worth someday.

Some of my favorite prints (and most valuable) are prints given to me by

Mark Nelson

In a message dated 7/7/04 8:49:21 PM, writes:

> Well, I think the term EXACTLY is subject to wide
> interpretation... If I were collecting, I would be happier
> (more comfortable) to know that I had the only print made
> with that particular negative and the creator had either
> destroyed or sealed up the negative(s) created to produce
> it. Additionial prints made and labled for the
> photographer's exhibitions and publications, if within
> reason, so marked and properly controlled would be in my
> mind acceptable, if that data was freely availible.
Received on Thu Jul 8 00:01:44 2004

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