Buying fine art photography is a bit tricky, especially buying online. It’s tough to know what you are getting. This page is devoted to helping you make an informed decision.
My central objective, in brief, is to provide you with the finest quality prints, made to last. I also wish to make your purchasing experience simple and easy. There is a fair amount of information here, but I’ve attempted to keep it clear and concise. I am always happy to answer questions, either via email or by cell-phone. Contact me here...
I’ve included a general procedure for purchasing prints, just below. I prefer PayPal for payment, as it is fast, easy, and secure. Following that is my price chart, and then a little more information on the paper, matting, and frame options I offer, plus a little bit on print size and its effect on image resolution. Finally, for those who wish to know more, I conclude with a brief essay on fine art prints, including information on printing methods and archival presentation.
Print Prices
                                    Standard Prints                                                    Limited Edition Prints       
                          Print             Matted *           Framed                       Print            Matted            Framed
Print Size
  7x10               35.00              60.00              175.00                          n/a                 n/a                  n/a
  8x12               50.00              85.00              225.00                          n/a                 n/a                  n/a
  12x18           135.00            225.00              325.00                      165.00            275.00              400.00 **
  16x24           250.00            375.00              525.00                      325.00            475.00              650.00
  20x30           375.00            525.00              695.00                      475.00            650.00              875.00
Limited edition diptychs (“Deliverance Night” or any from the “Before & After” series) are currently available only as 12x18 prints (framed dimension about 18x45).       Matted: 475.00;     Framed: 650.00
Note: unless otherwise specified, all photographs are issued as standard prints. All prints regardless are produced and framed to the same standards, and are signed on the back.
* matting adds about six inches to overall dimensions; the additional frame dimension is negligible.
** “Deliverance” is available only in 16x24 or 20x30
What’s a picture worth? Well, as the saying goes, it’s worth a thousand words. But that’s true only if the picture is worth talking about, worth looking at, even worth owning. A good photograph has meaning; it’s not just a snapshot, an encapsulated memory; rather, it can evoke more -- a thought, a feeling, an allusion -- something beyond its literal self. That’s the difference between just “a picture” and a photograph: a photograph is something you will hang on your wall. And it’s something you will talk about.
I don’t wish to range too far afield here, but I asked the question: what is a picture worth? The question is more than rhetorical, and not so simply answered. A flip reply, but ultimately not too far from the truth, is that a picture is worth whatever you’ll give me for it. On that basis, then, it’s my job to to convince you that it’s worth quite a lot! Instead I hope just to give you some good information mixed perhaps with a bit of opinion.
I love photography. I love the art of it, its history, what goes into it. I love its vast and largely untapped potential as an expressive medium: after all, it’s only been around for a century and a half. I love looking at the work of many of the greats, Ernst Haas and André Kertész, just to name two. I love the act of shooting, and I love sharing the best of my own work. I think my work is worth looking at. And, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, I also think it’s worth owning. So let’s talk quality and value.
Kinds and Quality of Photographic Prints
Buying art as an investment is often risky and likely foolish. Buy it ‘cause you like it. That being said, a good deal of misinformation and outright deception pervades the world of art sales. ‘What is a fine art print’, ‘what does limited edition mean’, ‘what’s archival’ ... are just a few of the questions a buyer might have. I shall refer here strictly to photographic prints, given that serigraphs, true lithographs, and etchings, to name three, are all other means of producing fine art prints. So, with respect to photography, there are many different ways to produce a finished print. First there is the darkroom-produced print -- bearing in mind that there are many ways to produce a darkroom photograph, from the historical to the hallowed. That said, the basic process is essentially the same: an image retained in a transparent medium as a monochrome or color negative or positive (ie., slide), is projected in a darkroom through an enlarger onto light-sensitive paper, which is then chemically developed to produce the finished photographic print.
Until fairly recently the only significant competitor to the darkroom print was the offset lithograph, that is, the mechanical-press-produced image most often represented in magazines and posters. Many of these offset prints are of very high quality. Accordingly, often such reproductions of photographs, or even paintings, are sold as “limited editions”, despite that they are mass-produced and likely never even touched by the original artist.  Now, with the advent of digital technology, other means of production, from color copier to high-grade inkjet printer, add to the profusion of photo print media. Such a print produced on a high-end inkjet printer is sometimes referred to as a giclée, helping to distinguish it from reproductions of another sort. Even the darkroom print may now be produced in hybrid fashion: bypassing the enlarger, the image is painted directly onto the photographic paper with laser-light from a scanned or original digital file.
The purpose of this brief exposition, then, is to inform the reader that there are many different ways to produce a finished photographic print, some better than others. The primary issues to consider in this respect are means of production, image-quality, and print longevity. Production methods can have an effect on the latter two questions, as some inks and dyes don’t last as long as others; and likewise, different paper media have varying life-spans. I’ll return to this matter momentarily. The central question in evaluating a print, of course, is image-quality. Not surprisingly, many factors come into play; but I would place primary among them image-resolution, tonal rendering and gradation, and, where applicable, color-fidelity.
Image-resolution in short means how sharp the image is, how much detail is rendered. Resolution is determined both by image-production, the taking of the picture, and by print-production, converting that image to a photographic print. In traditional photographic methods, two primary factors having an effect on image-making resolution: the quality of the camera lens (along with focus, plus aperture and shutter-speed settings), and the size  and speed of the film being used: larger film-area means greater rendering capacity, while higher film-speed and its attendant larger grain-structure diminishes resolution. The digital world is analogous to film in that more megapixels mean more detail, while moving to higher ISO settings likewise tends to degrade resolution. At the print-production end, the central factor is to what extent the digital or film image is enlarged, as resolution diminishes with enlargement; but of course the quality of enlarger optics for traditional photography, or the detail-rendering capability of the inkjet or offset printer, also have an effect.
Tonal rendering and gradation merely means the degree to which details are visible throughout the tonal range of the print, from highlights to shadows. Are highlights washed out? Are shadow details muddy or even absent? Are contrast values pleasing, too harsh, or too flat? Is the overall tone of the print correct, too light, or too dark? Much of this is subjective, but a trained eye can discern a well-rendered print. Comparably, color-fidelity should also be true. “True” in this case is a somewhat misleading term. An uncorrected photograph taken indoors under tungsten lighting may be objectively “true”, but will have a distinct orange-yellow cast that most will find unpleasant. So with respect to color-fidelity, truth is usually a blend of objective values with subjective impression.
Print-quality, then, is the one factor that one should be able to evaluate directly. It’s right in front of your eyes. How that print was produced, in this respect, is irrelevant, for it is that visual result that counts. If it’s a beautiful print, whether made in the darkroom, by inkjet, or by offset, what does it matter? But, as noted, means of production may also affect print longevity, or even its intrinsic value, so it’s helpful to know how the print was made. Most posters, for example, are not made to last for years, much less decades. Many modern print-processes, whether darkroom or inkjet, can produce color prints that will last up to a century or more. Again, however, the buyer must be informed regarding the printing method being employed, as a print using inferior inks, dyes, or paper, or improper chemical processing in the case of a darkroom print, can begin to degrade in a matter of a few years. In such an instance, the buyer must rely on the competence and trustworthiness of the print-producer.
Archival Methods and Limited Editions
What are the archival methods needed to maximize print longevity? As just suggested, the industry standard for inkjet prints rendered on quality photo paper is now many decades. But naturally how that print is displayed will have an effect on that print’s longevity. Direct sunlight can quickly fade virtually any print media, its supposed archival qualities notwithstanding. So can fluorescent lighting. Protecting a print under glass, specifically UV-coated or museum glass, can significantly extend a print’s display life, but it’s still wise to minimize its exposure to bright light. Framing in general can protect a print: enclosing it within glass and frame protects it from the elements, dirt, fingerprints, bugs, and the like. Once again, however, not just any frame will do. An archival-grade print confined in a frame along with standard matting, chemical glues, and the like may not fare very well. The key term to use is archival, or museum-framing. All materials should be of neutral pH, and free of chemicals that may work on the print within the confined atmosphere beneath the glass. The best solution of course is to rely upon the expertise of a professional framer.
Finally is the matter of limited edition prints. First I will answer my own earlier question: what is a fine art print? My own definition is that it is any print produced for the sole purpose of display for its own sake. It’s not an illustration, documentation, or family portrait, though any of these can have artful qualities. It’s something you hang on your wall just because you like it. Lots of room for arbitrariness and subjectivity, but then that’s art, isn’t it? Given that, what is a limited edition print, and what establishes the limit? Risking a tautology, one may define a limited edition as an image printed in a strictly limited quantity. In traditional print-making, the limit is often a practical one. For instance, the etching-plate used to produce an intaglio print can be run through a press only a few dozens of times before it begins to show signs of wear. In order to maintain quality standards, the producing artist will consequently limit production to a set quantity before the plate is retired or destroyed. Regardless, by definition, a limited edition restricts the supply of images, which can potentially enhance the value of a given print. Limited editions are generally signed and numbered, eg., 21/250, meaning the twenty-first print of an edition of two hundred fifty; they are often also supplied with a document certifying their authenticity.
As just suggested, an image may have an arbitrary production-limit imposed upon it. Again, generally this is to enhance the value of individual prints, but accordingly may be seen as a marketing ploy. Some of the worst abuses in this regard come from the sale of offset reproductions of paintings to the uninformed buyer, marketed as “limited-edition prints”, when in fact they are little more than glorified posters. Despite being promoted as collectables, these have little hope of maintaining their value over the years. In comparison, photography, in my view, falls in a gray area with respect to limited editions. A true darkroom print, especially one produced by traditional means, does require artisanship on the part of the printmaker; and a negative or slide does not have an unlimited lifespan. On that basis, such a limited edition bears some legitimacy. But now, especially with digital files that effectively last forever, and inkjet printers that produce consistent quality at the click of a mouse, a limited edition may be a bit harder to justify.
For my own, I have recently decided to use this practice judiciously: I will limit an edition only in the case of an exceptional image, or in the case of my pyrometagraphs, a singular class of images. Another possibility would be the case where I commissioned a darkroom artisan, as this is not my expertise, to produce true photographic prints of one of my images. Frankly, the quality I can produce in my own studio on my own equipment is so good, and so durable, I don’t know I would ever do this again. Finally, another form of limited edition I am contemplating is in the case of mixed media: using photographic images as part of another piece. In other words, more goes into producing the finished piece than just producing the print, thus rendering it as one-of-a-kind or one of a small series.
How To Order Photographs for Purchase
• Choose the image or images you want, title or file# (many are currently untitled), from galleries.
   · you may wish to include a brief description of each image, and the Gallery page
• Select printing paper type (Glossy, Matte, or 100% Rag).
   · price is the same for each; my standard paper is Epson Premium Photo Paper Glossy
• Select the print size.
   · note: not all prints are available in all sizes
• Select format (loose print, matted, or framed).
   · fully framed pieces are available for local pick-up only; I will ship framed selections with frames unassembled, without glass. The cost for shipped framed pieces is the same as those assembled for pick-up, to help defray extra packaging and handling charges. Any framer should be able to readily assemble your piece for a nominal fee.
   · an option to consider for framed pieces is Tru Vue Anti-Reflective Museum Glass. The standard glass I employ is Tru Vue Conservation Clear. Both block 98% of UV light, helping preserve the life of the print. The Anti-Reflective glass, not to be confused with conventional non-glare glass, has a microscopic coating that substantially reduces reflection. I offer this as an option, but not as my standard glass, as it is expensive. For shipped pieces, your framer should be able to provide this glass for you. Local buyers, email me for a quote on this option. See the unretouched photograph of the tassels behind glass (yes there is glass covering the right half!); click on the image to read more about Tru Vue glass.
• Refer to the chart below to determine your price for each piece.
   · Be sure to note whether your choice is a standard or limited edition.
   · All prints, limited or not, are printed to the same standard, and signed on the back.
   · Matted pieces are also signed, titled, and numbered (where applicable) on the mat as well.
   · if you wish to know more about my standards for printing, creating limited editions, and other matters relating to fine art photography, read my essay, “Buying Fine Art Photographic Prints” at the bottom of this page.
• You may wish to email me with your selections before tendering payment; for items to be shipped, send me your zip code so I can provide you with shipping charges. I ship UPS Ground; more premium shipping methods available on request.
• Once you have receive confirmation on total charges, you may pay via PayPal, using my I.D., Personal checks are accepted, but require up to three additional weeks to clear. Allow up to two weeks for loose prints; thirty days for matted or framed pieces. Rush service is also available for an additional charge. I will notify you when your order is ready for local pick-up, or when item has shipped, along with tracking information.
• Note: I will consider offering discounts for volume or wholesale purchases; please email me to discuss terms. Likewise, please enquire if you wish to use any images for publication.
My Printing and Framing Standards
• Printers: I use Epson Photo Printers (R1800 & Pro 7800) and Epson inks exclusively.
• Papers: Epson Premium Photo Paper Glossy is my standard paper. In combination with Epson inks, expected life for a print is over one hundred years (see essay below for more information). On request I can print on Epson Semigloss, Luster, or Matte paper. A final option is to print on 100% acid-free rag paper, specifically created for photography. Crane & Co. Museo Paper or Schoellershammer Velvet are my likely selections. These provide a beautiful matte alternative, and effectively doubles the print’s display life.
• Matting: I use only acid-free materials throughout, maintaining archival framing standards. Mats are generally bright white acid free matboard, or 100% ragboard.
• Framing: black anodized aluminum frame; I use the same premium frame for all pieces to maintain uniformity.
Digital Files and Image Resolution
One final factor to consider is print image resolution. You want your photo to look sharp. For comparison’s sake, computer monitors display at 72 ppi (pixels per inch); newsprint photos resolve at 85 lpi (lines per inch, an analogous standard), while fine magazine offset images resolve at 200 lpi. For digital inkjet prints, 200 lpi (sometimes referred to as dpi: “dots per inch”) is a very good standard. An unaided eye is hard-pressed to distinguish any higher resolution, especially at normal viewing distance. Even 72 lpi looks okay from a few feet away, but up close it just doesn’t look sharp. (Read more about resolution terms ... )
I have numerous source media for producing finished prints, from scanned slides to several digital cameras. I even have a medium format film camera I keep threatening to break out: that permits very large but still sharp prints. Meanwhile, I have three general classes of digital files from which I produce prints: scanned 35mm slides, digital files from my Canon 5D (13 mpx), and digital files from several “prosumer” cameras (8 mpx). The following chart will give you some idea of how each of these enlarges:
Print Sizes at Different Resolutions
                                                                                                        LINES PER INCH
                                                                       200 lpi                       150 lpi                      100 lpi                        72 lpi
                IMAGE FORMAT
             Scanned 35mm Slide                       20x30                        27x39                       40x60                        56x82
                    Canon 5D File                            15x22                        19x29                       29x43                        40x60
                  8 mpx Digital File *                      12x16                        16x22                       24x32                        33x44
Since I don’t specify in my galleries how each image was generated, if you have the slightest concern about how your print might look at high enlargement, please enquire; I can let you know if it came from a slide, Canon 5D, or other source. Upon request, for high enlargements, I can mail you a segment of your image at the given print-size, so you can see for yourself.
* 8 mpx files are a 4:3 aspect ratio (my one pocket digital actually shoots 10 mpx in 16:9); Canon 5D & 35mm are 3:2
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Any image may also be used to create custom-made gift cards. Read more...