Welcome back to the next issue of Appreciating Photography. In this week’s blog, we’re explaining the basics behind four of the most commonly seen printing types at the gallery, and noting some of the photographers who use them.
The word comes from the French, meaning “to spray”, and the print itself is produced by a large format printer that sprays ink onto the paper. It’s a highly accurate technique, and produces one of the most common types of photographic print to come across. The paper and ink used in Giclée printing are both of archival quality, which means that the print is made to last. It’s useful to know that the only major difference between Giclée and Archival Pigment prints is the name as both methods use archival pigment inks and paper to print.
Photographers using this technique: Giles Revell, Jane Hilton, Jeff Liao
A Chromogenic print is made from a negative that has three layers in its emulsion, each one of which contains silver salts that have sensitised to one of the three primary colours of light: red, blue, and green. When the print is exposed to the negative, a latent image is formed in each layer, which is then developed and processed, and further chemical reactions produce more colours, and form the image. Chromogenic prints are resistant to light fading, so they’ll last a long time if stored in cool, dry conditions.
Photographers using this technique: Jeff Divine, Hugh Holland
This can be used to describe a digitally-made Chromogenic print, also called a C-Type print. Instead of printing by hand, the Lightjet print is made by a huge printer with digitally controlled lasers. These lasers expose the photo-sensitive emulsion on the paper with red, green, and blue light simultaneously, which creates the final image. This method of digital printing results in finely detailed prints which, when printed onto archival quality paper, produce rich colours and sharp shapes.
Photographers using this technique: Lisa Creagh, Franck Bohbot, Ellie Davies, Samuel Hicks
Also called “Gelatin Silver”, this technique is traditionally completed in the darkroom, although in rare cases it can be done digitally, too. The Silver Gelatin process delivers a monochrome result: black and white. The light-sensitive photo paper contains silver salts which are suspended in a layer of gelatin on the photo paper. The paper is exposed to the negative with light and a latent image forms which is then developed in a chemical bath. Additional chemicals can be used to alter the tonality and make the print more permanent.
Photographers using this technique: Joseph Szabo, Giacomo Brunelli
In this issue of Appreciating Photography, we’ll look at an aspect of collecting that can cause some confusion: Editions.
Simply put, an edition refers to the number of prints produced by a photographer in a particular size and sold for a specific price. Editions can vary, from 7 to 100, and are usually accompanied by one or two Artist Proofs, which are the last prints in the series, and have the biggest price tag.
The majority of photographic prints are sold in an edition. Most fine art photography prints are sold in a Limited Edition, which means that once the last print is sold, that’s it: there won’t be any more. Photographers tend to release their work in Limited Editions because it allows them to maintain some exclusivity over what they produce. Ellie Davies has always released her series in a Limited Edition of 7 plus 2 Artist Proofs, whether it’s Seascapes, Fires, Stars or Half Light.
When you see this term applied to a print it just means that there’s no limit to the number of prints produced. This is common for an artist’s estate, which means the representatives looking after a deceased artist’s archive. With an open edition the prices are likely to be more affordable, because the scarcity value of the prints is lower. It doesn’t mean the print itself is of any lesser quality, but the rarity aspect is affected.
You might see the same editioned photograph with two or more sets of prices; this is likely because one edition is a physically larger print, and therefore means a higher price. It’s worth bearing in mind that some photographers sell their larger prints in smaller editions, like Morgan Silk’s Nightwalks, so just check the dimensions if you’re unsure.
As more prints from a Limited Edition sell, you may see the price of the remaining prints increase. This is usual, and reflects the rarity of the prints left. You can expect the last print in an edition to have the biggest price tag, and if there are any Artist’s Proofs they’ll have a higher price, too.
Although you might be thinking of buying a print for its potential future value, don’t discount something you like just because it’s from an Open Edition. Collecting photography is about finding what speaks to you, so try to keep this in your mind as you start your collecting journey.
Phillips New York sets more auction records
The photography market is bouncing back and nowhere is it stronger than in contemporary and 20th century imagery. Phillips recent Photographs sale in New York showed that the market for photographic prints has massively increased in resilience, particularly after the last 18 months, and continues to prove itself.
The twentieth century was a phenomenal time in terms of photographic and artistic output and expression, and nowhere is that more obvious than in the selection presented for sale. Dorothea Lange, Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, and Ansel Adams, all performed strongly against their pre-sale estimates, in some cases more than doubling them, which proves that not only are their names still a draw, but that the market for American imagery is increasingly strong.
Works that performed particularly well included famed black-and-white photographer Ansel Adams’ The Tetons and the Snake River, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming (1942) which almost doubled its pre-sale estimate of $100,000-150,000 by achieving an impressive $289,800 at the hammer (including taxes).
While American early and mid-twentieth century photographers led the sale, contemporary photographers like Ori Gersht, Thomas Ruff, Cindy Sherman, and Deana Lawson weren’t far behind. There were also more auction records set by contemporary photographers during this sale; Ori Gersht’s Untitled 5 from Blow Up (2007) almost quadrupled its pre-sale estimate of $25,000-35,000 when it was finally sold for $107,100 (including taxes).
If we can take anything away from the results of this sale it’s that photography is an incredibly resilient artform to be purchasing and investing in. The obvious artistic versatility of this medium is what keeps collectors coming back for more, and what draws in new buyers. After auction houses and sales were closed for over a year, the photography market is showing clear signs of having bounced back.
The Financial Side of Things
When starting out on your collecting journey, whether you’ve got plans to go big or just collect a few pieces, you do have to factor in the cost of things.
You might like to set yourself a budget, especially when starting out. If you’ve read the first installment of our Appreciating Photography Guide, you’ll know that doing your research is key, and you can never ask too many questions.
In this installment of the Appreciating Photography Guide, we’ll look at a few cost-related points to take into account when you’re on your collecting journey.
Editions and Prices
Fine art photography is increasingly more financially accessible than most contemporary art because photographic prints are often produced in editions, which means that more than one iteration of the image exists, but there is a finite amount of them.
With a limited edition run of prints, the more prints are sold, the more the prices increase for the remaining works because there are fewer available. This means that buying early on in an edition often means paying less for the same work. What makes it expensive is its limited availability, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. It’s very rare for a photographer to re-release images from a limited edition.
If the pricing on a limited edition run isn’t available to you, look into open edition prints. These are prints that aren’t limited in number.. For Slim Aarons, his prints are available as Limited and Open editioned prints; the limited editions are available in a run of 150 for each image, and the open editions have no limit but they’re printed differently. These prints are produced from Slim’s archive of negatives, which is held by the Getty Images Gallery.
Don’t discount financial assistance. If you’re not sure you can, or want to, pay the entire cost up front, look into the Art Council’s “Own Art” scheme. This is a loan-based scheme that’s available through many UK galleries and aims to support buyers who want to acquire contemporary works priced under £2,500.
As the buyer, you pay a series of monthly installments until the total cost is covered, but the best part is that you don’t get charged interest. This is possible because Arts Council England and other organisations subsidise the loan costs. There’s no limit to the number of times that you can use the scheme, you just have to cover the basic criteria set out in the Own Art regulations, available on their website.
It’s worth checking with the gallery to make sure all your questions are answered before you go ahead, as there are exceptions to the scheme. Crane Kalman Brighton is a registered member gallery of the Own Art scheme and sells many photographic prints for under £2,500.
After the purchase
If you’re buying for yourself or someone else, remember to take into account any costs after you buy the print, such as VAT or if you’re shipping it abroad, you’ll need to take into account import duties and the cost of shipping, too.
There’s also the print itself to think about. Most prints are sold unframed, meaning that you take the responsibility of choosing the frame yourself. Some galleries might sell the print framed, so just double check.
If you’re in doubt about anything ask the gallery because they’ll be best placed to advise you. Keep an eye on our gallery blog as we’ll be posting more guidance for collectors just starting out, as well as responding to more general questions that can help wherever you are in your collecting journey.
To commemorate 20 years of the International Festival of Photography in Łódź, curator Krzysztof Candrowicz has organised something special. Instead of outsourcing a theme, this year’s edition focusses on Łódź itself; the town, the spaces, the people.
As a city, Łódź has seen a lot of change. It was once a simple village, but after the development of a textiles industry just before the start of the 20th century, it became Poland’s second largest city with a huge Jewish community that would ultimately be decimated by the Nazi regime. Post-war Poland was very different from its pre-war self, and cultural life bore the brunt of this decline which persisted until the 21st century.
The Fotofestiwal was one of the first photography events to be established in Poland, and it’s since become one of the most important, and largest, photography festivals in Central Europe. Each edition, the festival evolves with a different program, a different theme, but its core foundation remains the same: it has to be a space where people can discuss art and society, where they are motivated to search for alternative means of presenting and exhibiting photography, but primarily it has to be a place where people meet.
This year, with Łódź as the focus of the festival, the inhabitants of the city dive into the past. Polish photographers viewed Łódź in a way that captured the essence of the city’s history; the smoking chimneys of immense factories photographed by Wiktor Jekimenko; the impact of war and political instability in the public and private spaces as represented in the delicate images of Artur Urbański; the future of these abandoned factories after they succumbed to the wills of nature in photographs by Maciej Rawluk.
Nature has come to reclaim her dominion over this formerly industrial city, spreading a neutral blanket over the land and allowing the vast range of Open Call photography submissions from all over the world to be exhibited in unison. Of particular interest is the presence of Minsk Photo Month, which was banned in its home country of Belarus. Exiled to the Fotofestiwal, it represents a way for smothered voices to be heard, in a country which has had to deal with its own dark past. In light of this, witnessing the rise of dictatorships in Europe, the censorship of opponents, and the creep of totalitarianism, the Fotofestiwal is showing that the vast and sincere depths of human expression can speak against this, all in the increasingly verdant landscape of this formerly industrial place, Łódź.
The biggest and most important festival of photography in Europe, the Rencontres d’Arles, returns to its home in the south of France this year, following its closure last year.
Every summer since 1970, the historic city of Arles has welcomed photographers, collectors, authors, curators, and enthusiasts to its ancient streets in order to celebrate photographic marvels and developments. The biggest names in photography, like Nan Goldin, Raymond Depardon, and Wang Qingsong have participated in this grand festival, which has also welcomed important cultural figures, including home-grown icons, like the fashion designer Christian Lacroix.
The Rencontres d’Arles was founded in 1969, by one of France’s most evocative black-and-white photographers, Lucien Clergue, along with author Michel Tournier, and historian Jean-Marie Rouquette. At that time, photography was still considered a minor art form, and didn’t have the reach or prominence it does today. The festival has since grown from a bunch of small encounters between like-minded photography enthusiasts, to receiving hundreds of thousands of visitors from across the globe, and forging the careers of photography’s brightest talents.
Spread out over an expansive three months, the festival offers its guests an initial week of events, including conferences and debates, then a further series of photography workshops, guided tours of the heritage sites and the exhibitions, and professional training. The festival takes place throughout the city, and around forty photography exhibitions are held in a diverse list of locations; ranging from important heritage sites like the 13th century Église des Dominicains Frères-Prêcheurs, to the unusual Monoprix, one of the standard French department stores that appears across the country.
Even when the festival is over, the photography doesn’t stop. The Rencontres d’Arles Collection holds nearly 3,500 photographs which have been contributed by exhibiting photographers over the years. The practice started in 1976, when each participating photographer was invited to donate one of his works to the collection. Now, with each new festival, more works are added to this growing archive, which the Rencontres curates and protects, and promotes to new audiences.
The Gallery Pick
Since it’s unlikely anyone will be leaving the country to visit the Rencontres d’Arles this summer, we’ve got a top five pick of photographers. You can find more information about the photographers and their projects on the Rencontres d’Arles website, or look them up separately.
The Poverty Line by Chow and Lin
Creating a visual dictionary of poverty across 36 countries, this project takes each country’s individual definition of poverty and translates it into food. Photographed against the local daily newspaper, these food items appear as objects, rather than nourishment. Always identifiable, they show the unstoppable march of globalisation across the world. This book won the LUMA Rencontres Dummy Book Award at the Rencontres d’Arles in 2019.
Sibadala Sinbancane by Lebogang Tlhako
Part of the Africa2020 season, Tlhako’s project explores the photographer’s relationship with her mother. Meaning “we are old, we are young,” the project looks at how that relationship shaped the woman Tlhako has become. Shot on 35mm film, the work also rediscovers the nostalgia of album-making through Tlhako’s use of collage, which combines images from her mother’s own personal albums.
Sabine Weiss, A Photographer’s Life
French photographer Sabine Weiss will, at 96 years old, be the subject of a huge retrospective this summer. The show will feature highlights from her photographic career, which spanned many fields, from advertising to editorial, and reportage to personal. Weiss received the Rencontres d’Arles and Kering ‘Women in Motion’ award for Photography 2020 for her entire career.
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Portraits
Stéphan Gladieu’s series of individual portraits of North Koreans goes completely against the prevailing tradition of collective portraiture, and collective thinking, in the Asian continent. Gladieu’s fascination with an administration that survived where other authoritarian regimes crumbled is reflected in his approach; he flirts ironically with the visual tenets of propaganda imagery through his use of frontal poses and strict composition, but shoots individual rather than group portraits.
Being Present, Pieter Hugo
Part of the Africa2020 season, and featuring over 100 head and shoulder portraits taken since the early 2000s, this exhibition is an examination of Hugo’s commitment to this style of portraiture. Rooted in the forensic, scientific, and surveillance photography of the 19th and 20th centuries, this style of objective portraiture was popularised by Dusseldorf School photographers like Thomas Ruff, who captured passport-style photographs of completely unemotional individuals. In Hugo’s own words: “My work is about the notion of being an outsider… There is beauty in being held in the gaze of another.”
Find out more about the Rencontres d’Arles festival through the website, here:
APPRECIATING PHOTOGRAPHY: TIPS TO START COLLECTING
So, you want to start collecting photography, but don’t quite know how or where to begin? In the first installment of this series on Appreciating Photography, we suggest some helpful methods you can use as you start your collecting journey.
Why collect photography…
The best reason to buy anything is that you cannot imagine living without it. What’s interesting about photography is that its market has expanded hugely since the 1980s, making it more available, popular, and easier than ever to start collecting. It doesn’t even matter what kind of photography you’re keen on, there’s something for every taste.
Where to start…
Most galleries nowadays operate online as well as through gallery spaces and at art fairs, so you can see a huge variety of artworks on individual gallery websites. Most sites also offer a search function, so if you’re stuck for ideas you can try searching for keywords to get started.
How to start…
There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to something as subjective as art, so think about what appeals to you. It could be landscape photography, nighttime imagery, or maybe you like bold shapes and vivid colours; once you start looking you’ll soon find that any field of fine art photography is hugely varied because there is no one way of interpreting a subject matter or theme. Keep in mind that it is better to have too many choices than not enough.
Creating a collection…
So, you’re starting to gather some ideas and want to see how things look. Think about starting a mood-board, or at least a collection of images you like. Whether it’s a physical book that you’re sticking images into, or a Pinterest board, this process can stimulate fresh ideas. It will show you how photographs might look next to each other, or in one space. It can also tell you what doesn’t work or what you don’t like, which is just as important!
Getting in the gallery door…
Visiting a gallery and being surrounded by images is a really valuable way of gauging your reaction to a photograph the moment you see it hanging on a wall. Although it might still not be possible to do this right now, don’t discount it. The next best thing to do is ask the gallery for high resolution images of the photograph, which can give you a better idea of the details of the print. When you are in contact with the gallery, ask practical questions, like the size of the edition, the pricing ladder, or any queries you have about the print type.