Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thank You Christie's & William Eggleston!

Among photographers, art dealers and collectors there have always been some underlying question as to the legitimacy of digital prints vs the hand-pulled print made in the traditional darkroom. I have adamantly been a proponent of digital print-making and the editioning of digital prints. If you would like to read more of my comments on print editions, scroll down on this Blog to "Limited Edition Prints."

 While digital print-making has been around for almost 20 years, thanks to a recent sale (March 12, 2012) of William Eggleston's classic 1973 image of a child's tricycle at Christie's in New York, the digital print, in my opinion, has finally been legitimized ... yes!

 The 44" x 60" digital pigment print sold for $578,500. This was more than twice the previous record for an Eggleston print. The print was printed in an edition of 2 ... with a caveat that the 2nd print would not be sold for 3 years! Now that's a limited edition! Prior to the production of these particular digital prints, Eggleston's prints have been of the dye-transfer process ... a laborious and complex process known for it's clarity, color saturation and archivability.

Untitled, 1973 by William Eggleston

According to Ctein, a master dye-transfer print maker, "they are simply without peer." Dye-transfers today are made by only a handful of individuals. Due to the rarity of available materials and the complexity of the process, they are VERY expensive! Kodak no longer manufacturers the film material used in the dye-transfer process.  What materials were available have been purchased and stockpiled. It is my guess that in a very short period of time this process will be gone forever. 

According to an article in PDN (Photo District News), the Eggleston print auction at Christie's was a benefit for the Eggleston Artistic Trust. The article also references Joshua Holdeman, International Director of Christie's photography department, who states that "the sale was to establish a new market for Eggleston's photography in the contemporary art world." "Eggleston has been kind of stuck in the old school world of the photography collectors for a long time, whose primary concerns are about process, print type, print date, etcetera," says Holdeman. This is a "huge deal," for photography collectors, Holdeman says. "For contemporary art collectors it's much more about the object itself - they couldn't care if it's a dye-transfer or a pigment print or whatever, as long as the object itself is totally amazing, that's what they care about."

This is not only a big deal for collectors, it is also a VERY BIG DEAL for photographers and art dealers alike. Thank you Christie's and thank you Mr. Eggleston for finally giving legitimacy to the digital print. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The eBook Phenomena

There is a quiet revolution taking place in the book publishing world ... eBooks. All of us know that we can purchase electronic versions of just about any title and read them on your iPad, iPhone, Android and Kindle. Before I left for Venice in November, I purchased the Steve Jobs biography and read the entire 571 pages on my iPhone. It sounds like quite a feat, but not really ... it was quite enjoyable.

That brings me to my current eBook project with respect to my images of Venice. Having investigated the costs of printing a hard-copy fine art coffee table book,  I came to the conclusion that the benefit of eBook publishing far outweighed the expense of off-set printing a coffee table fine art book. Finding a publisher with distribution capabilities was daunting to say the least. With photography being a mainstream art form, publishers are inundated with proposals and my goal was to get something completed by the end of 2012.

Several weeks ago I learned of a 26 year old woman named Amanda Hocking. Apparently she had contacted EVERYONE in the book publishing business trying to get her young adult urban fantasy and paranormal romance novels published. No luck! So she gave self-publishing a try and voila ... success!

Amanda is already a millionaire author. She probably hasn’t written something you’ve seen at Barnes & Noble. She’s made her millions by self-publishing Kindle eBooks, which she claims have sold over 900,000 copies since April of last year; and with Amazon’s generous commission policies, she gets to keep 70% of the profit. Her selling strategy is that her eBooks cost anywhere from $0.99 to $2.99, prices low enough that many people probably wouldn’t hesitate making such an impulse purchase ... which obviously they have not! In fact, she is going to be featured in Elle Magazine's April issue.

While I am not looking to match Amanda's success, I am hoping to expose my work to more collectors and lovers of Venice. I not only plan on showing images, I also plan on writing about photographing in Venice ... from special locations to the technical aspect of my work.

I do not think the fine art coffee table book is going away any time soon, but I hope there are more photographers like myself willing to look at non traditional means of showing and distributing their art.

If you would like to be included in my eBook mailing list, click here to send me your email address. As soon as my eBook is completed, I will include you in my announcement. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Back to La Serenissima ... Getting Excited!

I leave for my beloved Venice on March 19th with the hope of coming to closure on my Venetian body of work and begin the process of designing my eBook.

Out of all the places I have photographed, Venice has always had a special appeal. Venice is not for everyone.  Some people spend 2-3 days and are overwhelmed by the crowds or the hot weather if visiting in the summer months ... Venice can get pretty steamy ... and smelly. While I have visited Venice on numerous occasions, I have only journeyed there during the winter months ... November, December and January. Venice in winter is special. Warm days lead to chilly nights which culminate in early morning fog and mist. It is not unusual for a fog to roll in during the day turning Venice into a veiled renaissance movie set.

Every visit to Venice produces new images. Each time I try to go beyond the typical views we are all familiar with and try to show the romance, the light, the silence and a sense of being there. I try to show the familiar in unfamiliar ways.

Every well known artist and writer has experienced the extraordinary beauty of Venice. La Serenissima most always leaves an impression. Truman Capote wrote in The London Observer in 1961, "Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs at one go." The author, Fran Lebowitz wrote, "If you read a lot, nothing is as great as you've imagined. Venice is ... Venice is better." I could not agree more!

 So, wish me well on my journey and may the photo-gods be with me!!!!