Sunday, September 20, 2009

Are the Photographic Print Dead?

The free print contest is still open for the month of September. Please leave a comment with the words ‘free print’ included in your comment. I have included some sample images to give an idea of the range of images available.

The title may be a little tongue-in-cheek, as I know there are still a few places where they are in demand and in some ways this topic seems to go against my desire to give away prints.

The reason I ask this is that I wanted to thank my regular readers of ‘My Camera World’ blog, for consistently dropping by to read my articles and view my images, by giving away 2 professional produced prints as a contest. The threshold was when I first reached the 1,000-subscriber mark.

I was completely bewildered when there were very few regular readers that wanted to take a chance at receiving a print for free.

This goes against my other world (not online) where I do sell a few prints at Art fairs and galleries. 11”x14” prints normally sell from $120-$160. I have even had a few sales on the web-based art sites. I have a set of 10 greeting cards printed on 5x7 stock that are in reasonable demand. I know of 2 people who framed some of these cards as the image goes edge to edge.

So far, if I am correct, most of these sales have been to non-photographers.

So I wonder about the following thoughts I have about my readers:

  • Do photographers not like to hang prints by other photographers?
  • Are prints only wanted from big name photographers?
  • Do photographers not have extra room to hang an image?
  • Do my blog readers not like to enter contests?
  • Is the cost of framing an image prohibitive?
  • Do photographers not like to collect other photographer’s prints?
  • Do blog readers not trust free give-aways?

I know many of my readers are photographers and most, if not all, I believe would also like to sell their prints.

I would really like to hear your thoughts, as this is something I just don’t understand and with this discussion we could all help each other better understand the photo print market.

I display and collect other photographer’s photos. Its just plain fun to see the work produced by them. Maybe my kids or grandchildren will benefit the appreciation of value with these photographers.

To have an 11’’ x 14’’ image printed on Epson Ultrafine art paper costs me $51.00 by the professional printmaker I use. I estimate that shipping will run about $15.00. So, as you can see, I was willing to spend up to $130 out of my own pocket just to say thanks. There was really no other motive.

In the article on Pixsylated blog Sly Arena in an article ‘Digital Photographers, Welcome Back to 1999 ’, it discusses the demise of still photography with the greater emergence of video.

If video does become the new dominate form, and I think there is a tendency to go that way especially now that large screen TVs or should we call them integrated home entertainment systems, there will be a greater reliance on this item as the preferred display medium. Being it rotating photos, slideshows or videos the wall screen will slowly replace paper.

Video has been around for a long time but it is only in the last few years that we have the real freedom to choose content, type and time. Before, it was limited to mainstream TV and home film movie buffs.

As always there will be collectors of the old ways. Even today there are a few who still prepare glass negatives, but this is such a small set of individuals. Almost like a lost language or tribe to be studied by others.

In the meantime I still produce images of photo paper and cotton rag for those who appreciate the printed form and I hope there are more who still do and will even take a chance on one of mine.

Thanks for your interest.

Niels Henriksen


orcasmac said...

Prints are dead?!?! I hope not! I've just gotten around to where I'm enjoying making my own prints here at home. Although I've spent most of my time in the digital world and looked at lots of images on my monitor, I've come to appreciate the satisfaction of seeing something printed on paper.

As for video, I'm not goning there. Probably never will.

The idea of exchanging prints is also an idea that intrigues me. We have a few people that have started to do that here in our camera club, and I hope to encourage an increase in print swapping.

So here goes -- "free print". ;-)

And thanks for the offer. I do enjoy reading your blog; I just wish you found the time to provide your insightful comments more frequently!


nielsp said...


A monitor at least with today’s standards, with what we can afford, does not come anywhere close to display the richness in tones and detail that a well printed photo can achieve.

I just printed on fine art paper that painterly image of the red bike against the yellow-orange wall. While my monitor is calibrated, the final 11x14 printed overwhelmed me with its richness. Everyone I showed it to, are simply impressed.

I do think that as fellow photographers we should be the ones to support other photographers.

Good luck with contest.


Niels said...

great blog keep up the good work

Paul Roberts said...

how did i miss it?!!

#free print.:)

Cutthroat Stalker (scott c) said...


Sign me up for the 'Free Print'.

I distinctly remember the "Sun, Earth and Moon" post because I clearly remember the pictures and writeup surrounding your attempts at composing the shot(s). Though I do not remember the "free print" part. So, as far as answering the question about why *I* didn't enter, it really wasn't one of the reasons you suggested.

A little about me so you can help compile your data. I haven't been a regular reader for a long time, just since your SoBoMoFo book came out. I subscribe to your blog's RSS feed along with about 60 other photography blogs. I just checked and I subscribe to 254 blogs through my RSS reader. I scan through the list and things that capture my attention I look at. If they still capture my attention I scan through the post entry and read the parts that interest me. I may actually read the entire post if it especially captures my attention, but I'd say I only read 100% of the words in any given post about 10 times a day.

I am not a professional photographer, just an amateur who likes to dabble. I do like to learn more about the craft through observation of works and limited tutorials/informational write-ups.

I'm selective about any giveaways I enter--it needs to be something I really want. Your prints look wonderful, that's what originally captured my interest about your site. Hence, I'm now signing on for the giveaway.

Framing costs are actually the number one reason I have less artwork in my house than I would like. I believe a quality print deserves a quality matting and framing job. I go to a local fine art shop for this work, not my local "big box" art stores.

Concerning the demise of the print, I don't think so, but I wouldn't be surprised if something like the following is part of the "problem." dSLR cameras have dropped in price and increased in features. The quality of the prints from these cameras has risen. People can go to online stores and have their own work printed at large sizes for a relatively small sum. Since wall space is limited, and people like to see the reactions of others to work they've created, why not put your own work on your own walls?

I think professionals in all artistic mediums that have current digital capabilities (music, photography, video, graphic designers, etc.), will face some sort of decline in sales as the proliferation of do-it-yourselfers do it themselves.

Sorry about the long-winded reply. Hopeful there was something useful hidden in there.

-scott c

Peter Collins said...

Great idea!

Fabulous photography!

Free print!

Traian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Traian said...

I have to admit that free give-aways make me suspicious, but now that you're insisting, then hear me calling: Free print! :)

Jerad H said...

Great timing on this article, as I am getting into prints myself. I feel that I have enough quality photos to warrant gallery prints, and hopefully to garner sales.

I do have a question for you though. When you sell your prints, do you include matting and frames? As Scott C. alluded to, framing is expensive. It's a shame that for a $150 photo sale, more than half can be the framing cost.

To answer your questions:
Do photographers not like to hang prints by other photographers?

I appreciate art whether it's mine or someone else's. My issue is that I don't have money to buy other artist's work, and even then, I don't have a place to hang it. My house is very small. I'm lacking room to store my own prints.

Are prints only wanted from big name photographers?

I buy for the image, not the artist.

Do photographers not have extra room to hang an image?

I don't have much extra room.

Do my blog readers not like to enter contests?

I love contests. I wasn't aware of yours.

Is the cost of framing an image prohibitive?


Do photographers not like to collect other photographer’s prints?

See response about room to hang and store.

Do blog readers not trust free give-aways?

Depends on the blog... :-)

Oh, by the way, free print. Thanks!

nielsp said...

Scott and Jerad:
Thanks for taking the time to respond and I enjoy the lengths very much as it helps me understand.

I guess there was another question that I should have asked.
I am clear enough in my article about the free print? That answer maybe a No.

I must admit in my own house most of the artwork whether photographic prints and now some oil paintings are mainly mine. I do feel that as an artist it is important to have other works around that either inspires you or you simply enjoy.

I think with most of us and especially including myself that there should always be a desire to grow, explore and head in new directions.

I am currently loading images up to Flickr and I am finding that there is a consistency in certain styles these being close-ups, simple landscapes and abstractness. This is helping me to realize that I do need to broaden my genres and experiment more.

The sun and planet image has me thinking of making a set with other planets once I find the right flowers or weeds. If others did this it would make me happy and I would not feel that this was stealing ideas but sharing because I can learn from you also.


Framing can be expensive but I don’t think it always needs to be. I was lucky that at one of our craft stores (Michaels) I was able to get 16x20 black plastic frames with glass, with proper back board for $5.00 a piece. This is cheaper than trying to by regular glass at that size. I bought a whole bunch of these.

At Art fairs I use these to keep the cost down and I explain that they may want to upgrade to a better frame. The rest I pre-mat in standard frame sizes to their reduce cost at framing. I have a mat cutter. In the few gallery showings with others, I do have the best frames and uv glass but the they cost a lot more.

I only use archival; ink, photo paper, mat board, backing tissue and tape to ensure longevity.


Susanne said...

Super prints I would love to have a "free print" of yours hanging on my wall. I have oil paintings also prints hanging in my living room. You know that I love all the work you do keep up the good work.


Anonymous said...

Hey Niels,

Amazing work.. I have really enjoyed looking through your blog, keep up the great work. I especially like the Leaf under water picture.


Chuck Kimmerle said...

Niels,count me in....."free print"

I think this is a nice thing you're doing. So whether I win one, or not, thanks.

Carole said...

I am glad that you are offering a FREE PRINT to your followers. I love your pictures and, personnally, I like to have photographs made by others in my house.

I hope that prints never go out of popularity because they allow us to see new things in a image each time we look at them, something that does not, in my opinion, happen as often with digital versions.

So, I wish very much to be the winner of the free print.

milomannn said...

Photographic images are what I prefer to have on my walls and on my shelves. However, I admit that I don't usually purchase a fine print because of the cost of the work and the framing.
I also like to move the images around my house to gain a new perspective so if I purchase an image it will be in a small format and not permanently mounted.
Our walls are large and cry out for something very bold to complement the space. So this means that I will go to posters that include design and photo elements despite that fact that detail is lost in the printing process.
thanks for the chance to have this conversation. I will include the phrase "free print" to enter the contest.

Cheap Soma said...

I don't think photographic print is dead. It's just that more people are into digital photos since they are easier and cheaper to reproduce and distribute. Me, I prefer photographic print. It's my kind of artwork rather than paintings and stuff. Interesting concept you got there for offering "free print" thanks!

nielsp said...

Milomannn and Cheap:

Thanks for taking the time to comment as this does help me understand better. Also good Luck


mikaljains said...

Congratulations! This is the best thing, Thank you so much for taking the time to share this exciting information.
Photo Gaint

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