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Thread: The Value of a Fine Print?

  1. #21

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    Re: The Value of a Fine Print?

    Allow me to step on myself here!

    The value of a hand made print is of primary importance (or "value" in this case) to two people---

    1)The photographer who made the print because that is the way
    "a" photographer really wants to produce "this" photograph.

    2) The viewer who appreciates the manual effort put out by the artist in working by hand to produce "this" particular photograph.

    If either the artist or the viewer doesn't value that reality, then that particular value isn't of any greater value than any other form of printing.

    Should this be of any great concern? Well, yes and no. For the hand printer, "yes" because printing using conventional methods is an act of intimacy IMHO, more so than a manipulation using machines that are far more complex than a simple enlarger or contact frame.

    For the viewer, most likely "no" unless there is some "connection" with the photographer or the time when the photograph was crafted and it means something to the viewer that the artist "made" the print with his or her own hands. If the value of an image is based solely on content and not a personal connection or appreciation then there would not be any added value from being a hand made print that I can see.

    My opinion and it's worth just about what you paid me for it!
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.

  2. #22
    Clay
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    Re: The Value of a Fine Print?

    Perhaps a little light reading before bedtime:

    http://www.marxists.org/reference/su...e/benjamin.htm

    I still think this whole argument revolves around speciously setting up a straw man to attack. The original proposition presents what in many cases is a distinction without a difference. If you can't tell one photographic print from another, what makes it unique other than this purported 'spirit of hand work' that supposedly inhabits the interstices of the paper fibers?

  3. #23

  4. #24
    4x5 - no beard Patrik Roseen's Avatar
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    Re: The Value of a Fine Print?

    How do you value your own work and which price do you put on it? Does it match the price levels of potential buyers/viewers?

    My first LF exhibition ended a few days ago and my b&w photographs are now safe at my home. The photographs were not for sale...why?
    Because they were made in my wet darkroom and I spent too much time 'creating' them until they satisfied my vision to just sell them off. I also realized they all became a part of a larger context that would be lost if half of them were to 'disappear'.

    However, I also had three photographs printed digitally on canvas in size 80x100cm. They cost me a fortune to have printed by a professional lab and they were for sale.

    So what was the difference? To reproduce a digital print is only a matter of money to me. If someone pays I can go print. To reproduce a b&w wet darkroom photograph is another matter as it involves so many steps, all being subject to different challenges of consistency in paper, chemistry, temperature, accuracy in focusing, removing dust, paper handling, etc... and most challenging of all - FINDING THE SPARE TIME TO DO IT!

    It's not that I have a lot of money, I just do not photograph to survive physically.

    So what is really the value of a photograph? The pleasure looking at it, and/or the effort creating it, and/or the possibility to recreate it?

  5. #25
    Founder QT Luong's Avatar
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    Re: The Value of a Fine Print?

    > But Machines don't make art.

    Yes, but the same way that "guns do not kill people". People do (using them).

  6. #26
    Resident Heretic
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    Re: The Value of a Fine Print?

    Quote Originally Posted by willwilson View Post
    Traditional wet darkroom prints are unique hand crafted one of a kind works, typically created from exposure to print by the artist. The traditional photographer may strive for consistency from print to print, but in the end each print is a one of a kind creation. A digital print does not have this unique quality. The same digital file can be used to print a cheap poster or make a fine inkjet print on Ilford Galerie Gold Fibre Silk, you can even email it to a printer and receive a "fine art print" in the mail.
    A specious argument. Many well recognized and well respected photographers turn to other people for prints. Avedon didn't make his own prints for example (just to name one). He did in fact receive some of his "fine art prints" in the mail. So what?

    Few of the master oil paintings of the Renaissance were painted completely by the masters -- the masters typically did the faces and hands while the apprentices and students did the rest. Again, so what?

    This "hand crafted print" argument typically comes from people who have never tried to print digitally and have the completely misguided notion that it's easy. Nothing could be farther from the truth. As anyone who has made a successful inkjet print well knows. It's often more work than a darkroom print. There is often more of the artist's essence in a digital print than in a darkroom print. Because digital can (and that's the operative word -- "can") allow the artist to get closer to his/her vision by removing some of the limitations of the darkroom like toes and shoulders, reciprocity failures (the old CibaChrome papers were notorious for this), highlight dry down, etc.

    But in the end, it's still variations of density on a substrate. And what makes it art isn't the substrate or how the density is created -- it's the vision of the artist and how well the artist presents that vision to the viewer.

    This is as silly as debating oils vs. acrylics. Come on people -- quit wasting time here and go do something worthwhile -- like making photographs!

    Bruce Watson

  7. #27

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    Re: The Value of a Fine Print?

    I can not help but recall the earlier days, and the advent of Dr. Land's Polaroid process. It was not, of course, a "traditional" wet process. However, first in line to exploit its virtues was Ansel Adams, followed by White, Caponigro and a number of well known practitioners. Their work was exhibited and published without exhaustive debate about its worthiness. They were simply using this new process to convey their vision, without the necessity of a darkroom. All of them continued with the traditional methods and the Polaroid process is, for the most part, history.

    Now, we have the digital process with which to convey our vision, along with the traditional wet process. We are very fortunate to have both available to us and should accept the fact that they are similar, while being different. They can by definition, never be the same, so any comparison as to superiority is senseless.

    Each photographer must make that very personal decision of how he or she want to present their vision. The method chosen should be made with confidence and without reproach.

  8. #28

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    Re: The Value of a Fine Print?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
    Then you can't buy any photographs regardless of print method. All production cameras are made with machines.
    I believe the issue was about the finished image, not what made the camera.

    --Gary

  9. #29

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    Re: The Value of a Fine Print?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
    As anyone who has made a successful inkjet print well knows. It's often more work than a darkroom print.
    I actually agree with this, despite being a strictly analog photographer. I use the computer to produce advertisements for shows and for color portfolio images. Yet, I've had so much trouble producing prints on my computer. The cost of equipment that will produce the kind of consistancy I want is well beyone my ability to pay, so sheet after agrivating sheet has come from my printer looking completely different than on the monitor, even after profiling my monitor, printer and scanner, and fine-tuning those profiles hour after teeth-grinding hour. I'm use the darkroom because I'm committed to the process, and because I find digital a frustrating mess.

    --Gary

  10. #30

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    Re: The Value of a Fine Print?

    Photography is also a philosophical discipline. If you cannot put something special into your photos, then the technique is irrelevant, unless the technique helps highlight your philosophy. No one cares how a photo was produced.

    Once I walked in into a gallery and was looking at a photo. The gallerist comes to me and starts explaining that the photo has a special value because it was taken with one of these LF cameras that only specially gifted people are able to operate. And that the cameras are so heavy that the photographer needs a team of assistants to carry them. And therefore the photo costs $5k. And additionally, that each photo is an original because each was printed on a different piece of paper with a "unique" emulsion. Well, you can believe in whatever you want, I would never buy a photo just because the guy got in the process poisoned by some chemicals.

    As the art history proves, art works that were produced in just a few seconds can have a higher value aesthetic/philosophical than some other that took months to produce. One-two-three and finished, and it costs $5k in a gallery. I saw recently a documentary about Jonathan Meese. One-two-three and so a few times and the exhibition paintings are ready.

    I would be more worried, when buying a photo, that if the guy uses only a wet process whether he can develop as an artist, since in my view he restricts his creative options.

    I am more annoyed if I have a nice photo, and then I realize that the scan is not the best one and that the company cannot print e.g. yellows as I would like to see them. I still feel, that at the current state-of-the-art the process is still too restrictive. Hope, this will improve so that I have even more creative options.
    www.martindrozda.com

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