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Monday, December 11, 2006

Limited Edition?

Regarding "Wisconsin #7" above, Andy Chen brought it to my attention that 14 States in the U.S.A. actually have laws governing what may and may not be called "limited edition" fine art prints. So, in the interest of full disclosure, I should state that NO print offered on this site will be a limited edition in the legal sense. If I "limit" the number of prints offered for sale, it's only because that's the number I'm willing to print and package for a given sale at a given price at a given time. It doesn't mean the print itself is limited for all eternity. I will make this clear in all future print offer postings.

Frankly, I've never seen the sense in limiting editions of photographs. From the photographer's perspective, why would you want to cut yourself off from being able to reprint and re-interpret your negatives or files again in the future? I suppose you might say that limiting the edition (in the legal sense) increases the value of the offering, but evidence from a number of studies proves that that's more a matter of perception than reality. A famous counter-argument is Ansel Adams's Moonrise Over Hernandez, New Mexico, which is among the most valuable of photographs—despite the fact that Adams printed more than 800 of them in his lifetime.

Posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON, thanks to Andy C.


Blogger H_Leighton said...

But most photographers are not the problem the state laws are trying to protect us from.

It is the hucksters with a container full of "Limited Edition" from “Drop Forge Taiwan”.

911 medallions with fold out towers, etc.

When they come into the shop with their treasure, and you reach under the counter and pull out a box full, the look on their face is priceless (for the rest there's mastercard).

12:03 PM  
Blogger fizzy said...

That's interesting. What's unclear from the link, since the text references the necessity of documenting "Status of Plate/Master - reworked, destroyed, on file" or "Restrike Edition" whether these laws govern digital prints. I wonder if the law makes a distinction. Note the little email link to get a copy of the laws.

I do mostly agree with you about editioning photographs, although I also believe that it's the gallery or buyer who want to see a limited print. The art world does seem to be stuck in between the value of the image vs. the value of the object, and that's especially unfair to easily-reproducible photography.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Just Plain Hugh said...

I like what Irving Penn does with his prints. Every time he sells one print of a particular image the next one is a certain percentage higher in price. If you buy a print and it becomes popular it is worth more the more he sells.

If you raise the price %8 every time you sell a print then after 10 prints it's worth double.

My mother bought a couple platinum prints of Penn's small trades portraits years ago. The prints had been in the inventory of a dealer for a while, and the day after she bought them they offered to buy them back for twice what she paid.

This works much better than a limited edition for both the artist and the buyer I think.

2:40 PM  
Blogger Robert Meier said...

Michael Kenna combines both methods. He prints editions limited to 45 prints, and then raises the price as each one sells.

4:18 PM  
Blogger JBrunner said...

Brooks Jensen makes a great case against limited edition in his article "What size is the Edition?" After reading it, I stopped worrying about it. I have no desire to keep track of all that as my career progresses, and as I print almost exclusively with traditional methods these days, (having given up digital for all but commercial work) I have no desire to print the same negative over and over again, anyway.

11:21 PM  
Blogger Svein-Frode said...

I've thought long and hard about limited editions. I finally decided I would do them. Why? Because I myself would never buy a print with a large number of editions. I don't want to risk my neighbour having the same print as myself on the wall! 99% of my images won't make it as gallery prints anyway, so I don't think my future income will suffer. My stock photos are an entirely different subject as far as I am concerned.

10:34 AM  

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