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Interested in buying a photographic print, some questions...

bigbadbuff

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I have bought some original art over the years (oil paintings) but never really considered any photographs, until now. Problem is, I am a total novice, so I will share the situation in hopes of getting some tips.

I saw this print in a fine dining restaurant in Las Vegas a few weeks ago- a stunning b&w landscape of a mountain in the southwestern US. Loved it would be a huge understatement. I got the photographer's name and started checking out his site- very cool stuff. I also googled him and he has prints in several galleries on the coasts, and also Japan. The print is large- 36x89 I believe, and is listed in his site as a limited edition of 25. He has a limited body of work, only offers 50 or so prints over a long career. The gallery price was beyond what I would ever consider paying, but I emailed him and to my surprise he was willing to sell it direct, unframed for half the listed price. While still steep, I could swing it.

The problem is, I have no concept of placing value on something like this, or how buying prints works. Yes, value is in the eye of the beholder, and I would be buying it for enjoyment and not as an investment. By the same token, I am looking at spending 4k for a photograph, and while it could have taken as much time and effort as a painting, it just feels very different from a cost/value perspective. It sounds like the process/final product is in keeping with the higher end standards of the field as it relates to preservation. I can provide more specifics there.

And, this is not an artists' proof, which I assume means you own the photograph/negative and the artist won't be making any more of that picture. In this instance, I assume the wording he uses means he is printing 25 of these.

I plan on getting these kind of specifics answered by him, but wanted to see what anyone else thought. It is rare for something to catch my eye like this, so I am very interested, but I can't get past the price at this stage (and I realize a quality photo of that size is not going to be cheap).

Any thoughts appreciated.
 

photoguy

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Originally Posted by bigbadbuff
I have bought some original art over the years (oil paintings) but never really considered any photographs, until now. Problem is, I am a total novice, so I will share the situation in hopes of getting some tips.

I saw this print in a fine dining restaurant in Las Vegas a few weeks ago- a stunning b&w landscape of a mountain in the southwestern US. Loved it would be a huge understatement. I got the photographer's name and started checking out his site- very cool stuff. I also googled him and he has prints in several galleries on the coasts, and also Japan. The print is large- 36x89 I believe, and is listed in his site as a limited edition of 25. He has a limited body of work, only offers 50 or so prints over a long career. The gallery price was beyond what I would ever consider paying, but I emailed him and to my surprise he was willing to sell it direct, unframed for half the listed price. While still steep, I could swing it.

The problem is, I have no concept of placing value on something like this, or how buying prints works. Yes, value is in the eye of the beholder, and I would be buying it for enjoyment and not as an investment. By the same token, I am looking at spending 4k for a photograph, and while it could have taken as much time and effort as a painting, it just feels very different from a cost/value perspective. It sounds like the process/final product is in keeping with the higher end standards of the field as it relates to preservation. I can provide more specifics there.

And, this is not an artists' proof, which I assume means you own the photograph/negative and the artist won't be making any more of that picture. In this instance, I assume the wording he uses means he is printing 25 of these.

I plan on getting these kind of specifics answered by him, but wanted to see what anyone else thought. It is rare for something to catch my eye like this, so I am very interested, but I can't get past the price at this stage (and I realize a quality photo of that size is not going to be cheap).

Any thoughts appreciated.


I've got a pretty respectable collection and have lots to say on this, but need to work now. I will check back in later tonight or tomorrow night (tonight I actually need to go to an opening at a photo gallery). For now, be aware that there are serious issues involved in collecting large format photography. The preservation issues are very sticky. For one thing, the mounting techniques are so new that no one really knows how they are going to hold up in the long run. I've got a decent amount of large format myself - but it isn't for the risk adverse/faint of heart.

$4K is actually a good deal for that size (although the edition strikes me as a bit large unless we're talking about someone really famous - but then the price would be higher).

Artist proofs are prints made outside the edition. Their existence should be - but isn't always - disclosed to the marketplace. So, for example, Richard Misrach might make an edition of 5 plus 3 APs. The edition of five will be numbered 1/5, 2/5, etc. and will be sold in galleries (for big dollars in his case - his last major series was $65K/print). He will also have made three additional prints that may be numbered AP1, AP2, AP3, or they may not be numbered at all. These are supposed to be for his personal use/collection/gallery display/etc., but in practice they get sold all the time, usually for the same price as the "regular edition." I think this is shady practice, but it happens constantly and people don't seem to complain about it much.

For right now, my advice would be not to buy this print if you are looking at it from an investment - or even just store of value - perspective. If it is worth $4K to you just to have it hanging on your wall for a decade or so, then by all means go for it.

That was more than I was going to say now - like I said, I'll check back later to see if you have any questions.
 

photoguy

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One additional thing - do not accept a front-mounted piece. It should be rear mounted. I'll explain later if needed.
 

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