View Full Version : Selenium Quadtone prints

Penelope Dixon
23-Sep-2003, 14:10
By way of introduction, I'm fairly new to large format photography. Most of my work has been medium format - originally using a Rolleiflex but more recently a Holga.

All of my work has been black and white. The Rolleiflex I used to do in the college darkroom. With the Holga I have been scanning the images. Sometimes the print and sometimes the negative and then printing them very big on an HP plotter.

Since I recently started using a 4x5 camera I have been scanning the negatives and printing them on an Epson 7600 printer using Piezo Selenium quadtone inks (I love the look on watercolor paper - it seems more like a platinum. In fact some of my prints have the platinum brush strokes, which I like).

I've always sold my Holga art work for two to three thousand dollars for the larger pieces. But I am feeling at a bit of a loss with the new 4x5 work. It feels like such a new thing for me and still very experimental. But it also seems like more work and expense. It also feels a bit more retro and old fashioned using the sheet film camera.

Do large format photogorpahers price their work higher just because of the equipment and work involved (as well as the printing process being more expensive and complicated than just darkroom work), or should I just let all that kind of thing blow to the wind and go ahead and price the same. What are others doing?


Michael Veit
23-Sep-2003, 14:27
Absolutely, charge by the negative square inch. Holga to 4x5 is 4X enlargement so I'd start out at $12,000 minus maybe $1000 for the loss of the Holga "quirk" factor and go for $10,000 - $11,000.

All kidding aside, Penelope, I doubt many posters here can relate to a $2000-$3000 print sale, but you've obviously found a hook, so I'd say jack it up until it starts affecting sales.

David A. Goldfarb
23-Sep-2003, 14:57
Why don't you ask Penelope Dixon, the photo appraiser?


Andrew Held
23-Sep-2003, 15:04
It's about time that Holga made an 8x10. Should be about $50 and look roughly like an Easy-Bake oven. Imagine the beautiful contacts that could be made with that baby. Also, other than a jealous toddler, who would steal it?

Mark Muse
23-Sep-2003, 18:13
I think we have been Peneloped!

ps, her site crashes my browser.

Penelope Dixon
23-Sep-2003, 18:35
Totally different Penny Dixon (weird coincidence though). I just checked the website - she's much greyer than me. And I don't think she was born in a small mining village in County Durham.

Henry Suryo
23-Sep-2003, 18:54
Good one, David. An advice I hear a lot for aspiring collectors is buy something you like. The image, then, is most important and quality should be a factor in this. I happened to enjoy using the view camera, the whole approach excites me, I admit it's not always practical (this is when my Rolleiflex comes into play) but there's just no substitute for the technical and aesthetic qualities of the photograph IMO. Pricing, as it really is, involves a lot more that a reflection of these qualities. In lesser known contemporary work, I guess it's not unusual to take an objective approach to price based on size. In the art photography world, collectors have a way of setting market price for a particular body of work or single image by established photographers, especially if they're deceased. Vintage vs later prints, editioned prints, previously published or not, physical condition, artist reputation, provenance, it's all very fascinating though I can't fully justify the reason. I am dumbfounded at auctions sometimes. I guess, like everything else in art, fair market value is however much someone is willing to expend to have it.

Penelope Dixon
23-Sep-2003, 22:39
> Is there actually any selenium in the inks you are using?

I doubt it - it's just a colour. They are carbon pigments

24-Sep-2003, 06:07
If you are getting that kind of money for your work, the price has very little to do with the cost of producing the image, but more an indication of your market - I'm guessing you are selling in the 'art' field rather than the photography one. Your prices are on a par with, and in some cases exceeding masters in the field such as Ray Metzker, Lee Friedlander, Bruce Cratsley, Keith Carter etc etc If you are printing Holga images large on an HP plotter, I'm also guessing that your particular balance between image and artefact (idea and craftsmanship in the object) - lies more with the former than the latter. So should someone who metciulously coats a piece of paper by hand and contact-prints a 8X10 negative be paid more or less for the work? Again the answer lies in the market. I have also printed holga images to 1m sq, but I wouldn't charge anymore (apart from framing costs)than a well-crafted 16x16inch landscape.

Don Miller
24-Sep-2003, 10:17
I like the mathematical approach.

A $2000 print from a $20 camera is a 100x markup. So if you have $2000 in LF gear I'm thinking that $200,000 is about right. Hey! I'm buyin' more gear.

(Your new prints are worth in currency exactly what people are willing to pay. Ask your dealer for a starting point)

Michael J. Kravit
24-Sep-2003, 20:08
Don't you feel guilty selling inkjet prints for that kind of money?

Penelope Dixon
24-Sep-2003, 20:27
Why on earth should I feel guilty - that would be pretty pathetic don't you think.

Those prices are pretty moderate - people pay more than that every week for all sorts of different art - some of it inkjet and giclee. People will pay more than that for work produced on a Canon laser copier.

24-Sep-2003, 20:54
"A fool and his money are soon parted." "There's a sucker born every minute." "You can fool some of the people all of the time...."

Penelope Dixon
24-Sep-2003, 21:10
I'm not sure who you think is being fooled or suckered? People know what they are buying. They know they eren't buying calendar art or pretty postcards. Do you have a general impression that people are stupid? I'm certainly glad that isn't what colours my view of humanity. That's pretty sad.

Jorge Gasteazoro
24-Sep-2003, 21:23
Those prices are pretty moderate - people pay more than that every week for all sorts of different art - some of it inkjet and giclee. People will pay more than that for work produced on a Canon laser copier.

Just where exactly is this place where people are buying ink jet prints for $2-3000? Now, I dont doubt your artistic ability and I am sure your prints are worth every penny, or pence as the case may be. But to me this seems extraordinary, specially for an unknown. David J Osborn, who is making digital prints on Fuji Crystal archive, which is far superior to any ink jet print IMO, only gets any where from $700 to $2500, and the high price prints are huge, David Fokos using the same technology rarely gets $3000 for his prints, usually he prices them at about $1500 to start, and he was one of the pioneers of this method along with Burkholder.

I realize I have steered the thread a bit off topic, but I am really curious about this.

Now to answer your question, film is cheap, the price of the print should be based on your artistic vision and I guess the size in your case and it should not matter what size negative the print came from. I would say your current prices are where they should be regardless of negative size. OTOH you are in an extraordinary situation in my opinion, and if you are getting $2-3000 per print you are doing a hell of a lot better than I am and you can feel free to disregard my opinion.

tim atherton
24-Sep-2003, 22:04

I sold a nice 20x24 Lightjet print for just under $3,000 recently, though I must say it was a first at that price.

Mind you, I do find the whole pricing of photography bizarre - I can sell just the use of one picture on a tiny phonecard for a limited time in a limited geographic area (as I have in the past) for $4,000

or I can sell one photograph for use in one edition of the NY Times, as I have done many times, for $250.00

or I can sell 15 images to a textbook publisher for $150.00 each

Or I can sell a print to someone that they keep for a lifetime for say $500.00

totally different markets (and they could concievably all be of the same image) and with totally different ways of pricing and buying and selling images. The exact same thing, yet the markets are as different as chalk and cheese.


Jorge Gasteazoro
24-Sep-2003, 22:30
Hmmm....I must have hit the wrong button, I thought my question was directed to Penelope. Nor do I recall asking for and explanation for the pricing structure of photography (of which I am well aware) or who sold what for how much and how many times.....I hope there is nothing wrong with the software and this does not happen again...

tim atherton
24-Sep-2003, 22:40
"Hmmm....I must have hit the wrong button, I thought my question was directed to Penelope"

If you don't want to discuss it on the forum, then email her off-line, otherwise don't be so pompous

Jorge Gasteazoro
24-Sep-2003, 23:25
If you don't want to discuss it on the forum, then email her off-line, otherwise don't be so pompous

I would like to discuss it in the forum with Penelope not with you. I will let the moderators decide what I can or cannot discuss here, not you bubba

If you bothered to read her last response, she implies she is selling to the art market and that people in her market are regularly paying up to $3000 for ink jet prints and more for laser prints. I find this unusual for the art market. She did not mention phone cards, newspapers, commercial work, or any of the other things you mention and for which I could not care less or asked about.

Your experience and how you price, how many prints you have sold and for how much are things for which I could not care less. I have told you before and tell you again, I have no desire to discuss or argue anything further with you on any topic, I really have no interest nor care about what you have to say, is that simple.

I have easily managed to ignore your questions and responses. Since you have implied in the past that my questions and comments are stupid, why cant you do the same? simply ignore the stupid questions and comments, I am sure your participation and mine as well as for the other people in this forum will be much more pleasurable if you do.

Once again in case it is not clear I do not care, I do not want to know nor am I interested in what you have to say, have an opinion of or think so please spare me your brilliance as it is too much for me to handle.

PS, I was being pedantic, not pompous, there is a difference....

Penelope Dixon
25-Sep-2003, 00:14
I don't think it's especially extraordinary Jorge. I think it's more about what your expectations are.

When I came out of school, anybody who was continuing to produce their own work and not moving into, say the corporate world or becoming a script writer or something expected and made sure they weren't working for pennies. What's the point? Even through school you made sure to make contacts, show work, get to know people and sell your work (At one point I made a series of small sized (5x7) limited edition hand made books with five images in each - partly as a project and partly as I needed the money then. I could have sold them for what, the equivalent of $30 or $40 each? But why be so self limiting - I think each sold for around $150.00 because I found the right place and the right people to sell them to).

The same with my work now. Most has sold in Berlin and Paris. Not so much in London these days. Though funnily enough I have recently sold some in Moscow. And I'm not big scale, major artist (I have other things to take up my time), in all the mags, flash parties full of supermodels - that's the realm of Rankin, Tillman and their ilk etc. I suppose it's more through the old boys (girls?) network when I think about it, I don't know - gallery owners and sometimes buyers I've known for years, since we were all just getting started.

But I think your work has to be not just photography if you are wanting to do this. I don't know what sort of work you do Jorge (reading the posts on here, I'm not really sure what sort of work most people here do). But if it's just variations on a them, re-photographing Weston or Steiglitz or Brandt or Man Ray, then you are probably right, people are only going to pay a few hundred dollars for it - the sort of stuff you see that fills the galleries in Santa Fe or somewhere. And I don't think people pay too much attention to how a work is made (although some of the old processes can be fun, but they seem to have more of a quaintness factor more then anything - all a bit twee)

I once shared a studio space with a Japanese studio potter. He was starting to establish himself, but not really well known. At that time, nobody would sell just a plate for more than the equivalent of 60 or 70 dollars, or a bowl for 200 or 300. But he was partly in the right place at the right time. Studio pottery and the legacy of Bernard Leach was just taking hold. Also, computers were just coming into their own. He decided that his prices would be 200 - 300 for a plate and 2000 - 3000 for a bowl. But he also (seems old hat now) produced a targeted computer generated set of mailings for very specific groups of people who would buy his work. So through a friend, Sir Richard Attenborough came to look at his work. Even though most people bought two or three pieces for display, he bought an eight piece place setting. And kept coming back and buying more and bringing more friends. Last time I was back my friend joked that he can't afford to buy his own coffee cups to drink out of them now. I suppose I learnt from that. Yes, his work was good, but he also made his reputation and marketed himself.

But some people seem happy just producing very nice pots/photographs that aren't much different from what everyone else is doing and selling them at the equivalent of the local car boot sale (art fair).

If your work is new, different, exploratory (look at Sally Mann's wonderful work - and an 8x10 will cost you what, $3500?) then it will sell. But you have to be good at marketing, build your own reputation, selling yourself, as well as your work. The two have to go together.

I suppose I was having a bit of a crisis in confidence working on this new project which is why I was on here after I came across the site. But everyone here seems so defensive and insecure about their work it leaves me feeling much more happy

25-Sep-2003, 08:51
Penelope - not "everyone" is so defensive and insecure. You have simply hit the button of those few who are. This is an open forum and you have to put up with whoever pops their head over the parapet, whatever their personal daemons. Very few on the forum are artists first, photographers second: most would describe themselves as photographers, not artists per se.

I am a little confused by your question 'tho. You are obviously experienced in the art world so you must know that the price of a work has nothing to do with the way it was produced, as you have just eloquently pointed out in your Potters Tale above... FWIW (and in this case I admit, it is worth little) I would say get whatever /$ you can. Trite, I know, but there is no other answer.

In any event, good luck with your latest project - let us know if you get an exhibition in London - I'll pop along just to show not everyone on this forum is a miserable old curmudgeon ;-)...


Jorge Gasteazoro
25-Sep-2003, 09:40
Ah thank you Penelope, I understand your post now. WHile you are new to LF you are an established artist and have been doing it for a while. That was my confusion, which you have dispelled very eloquently. I agree with all you have said, except the insecurity part..:-).

I think a little explanation is due to you in this sense, some of us LF photographers sometimes get irritated when we see digital practitioners talk about how their prints "look" like platinum and even "add" the brush strokes. I and a few others regard this as gimickry. Since this has been discussed to death on this and other forums, your post brought to surface the same old feelings.

Having said this, I congratulate you in your success and in my opinion dont worry about the negative size, you are doing well and should continue to do what you are doing, obviously is working for you.