Original Limited Edition Fine Art Photography
Thoughts on Limited Edition Photography
Like many photographers working today, I produce my prints in limited editions. The practice of editioning photography is one which has developed from nineteenth century printmaking, where only a limited number of prints could be made from a plate before print quality would begin to deteriorate. So what is the idea of 'original limited edition photography'?
Photography - an image endlessly reproduced?
Photography by its very nature is endlessly reproducible and so there is no difference in quality from the first print to the hundredth. However, photographers using the medium as an artistic expression hope to retain an element of originality by restricting the number of prints they make. There are valid arguments against the editioning of photographs, many of which I sympathize with and still often contemplate. There is the view that limited editioning is market-driven, encouraged by galleries to promote sales. There must be some truth here too.
Limited edition – preserving the originality of a piece of work
From my point of view, I make limited editions partially to offer the collector a unique investment in my work, but also it is about protecting the originality of what I do. There are days, weeks even months behind the capturing of some of my photographs. Photography is essentially about time, but I want to show something of that which is beyond the constraints of time. For me it seems appropriate to make limited editions, not to restrict the sharing of my work, but to preserve the ‘magic’ of an unrepeatable process. Perhaps unlike the technically concerned photographer, I relate more to the traditional painter, rooted rather in time as an experience and as a means of expression, than in time as a framed, captured split second, frozen by technology and always reproducible, mass producible, transferable.
Limited edition or open edition?
However, as I said, I do still ponder upon the notion of original limited edition photography and have been interested to read various views on this, many of which can be found on blogs and forums. The practice of open editioning is an interesting one, as it does not define a limit, whilst still ensuring the collector receives a signed, numbered print. Whilst most of my photographs have limited editions available, some have sold out and some are near reaching the end of their edition. I wonder now how I would feel if somebody really wanted to have a print of one of my sold out photographs. I would not print beyond my agreed limited edition size, as this was the promise. However, as an artist I do want to share my work with those who appreciate it. Does the limited edition system not go against this ethic? I am not going to alter my existing editions as this would be wrong, but I do wonder how to proceed in future. Could perhaps a hybrid system be the best, in which I could offer both a limited edition at one size and an open edition in another?
I would be interested to read your comments.
Some Quotes I like....
“To consult the rules of composition before making a picture is a little like consulting the law of gravitation before going for a walk.”
“A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense and is thereby a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.”
― Ansel Adams
“We often forget that WE ARE NATURE. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say that we have lost our connection to nature, we’ve lost our connection to ourselves.”