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Site & Board Matters => About This Site => Topic started by: colourperfect on July 27, 2006, 07:49:14 AM

Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: colourperfect on July 27, 2006, 07:49:14 AM
Hi,

In this very interesting article Pete mentions "My math process “brings together” the pixels to flow into one complete image by means of this rendering stage"

Can Pete or anybody elaborate on what this means ?
Is it a process within PS or external.

I would be very interested to find out and understand more.

Many thanks

Ian
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Mark D Segal on July 27, 2006, 09:28:25 AM
Pete Myers' otherwise instructive article does raise a more general question about "proprietary" Photoshop image adjustment techniques. The broad Photoshop community is renowned for its openness in sharing ideas and techniques, and in that context this article is most unusual. Of course it is understandable that if certain techniques were developed under contract with confidentiality provisions, the contractor must respect them, but then why draft a publication for an open audience focussed on techniques that can't be revealed?
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: russell a on July 27, 2006, 11:49:19 AM
" My opinion is that the success of the photograph should be evaluated by the creating artist in whether his or her sense of feeling has been conveyed to the viewer through the image."  [from Pete Meyer's essay]

I wish that people would disabuse themselves of the notion that the goal is to communicate their feelings to "the viewer".  Each viewer comes to a work, photographs in this instance, with his/her own set of experiences and references.  The degree to which those experiences will be congruent with those of the maker is quite variable.  What the goal of the maker should be is to do his/her best to make the photograph suit his/her own sense of narrative.  Then, prepare to be surprised what some people will bring to their viewing experience.  Imagining an ideal audience is fine, but actually finding such an audience may be elusive.

And, of course, adjusting levels, by whatever process, is not what makes a "fine art" photo.  The title of his essay would best have been "The results of treating an image by a process the details of which I will not share."  Was the result worth risking the bubonic plague?  I think not.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Lisa Nikodym on July 27, 2006, 12:19:57 PM
Quote
" My opinion is that the success of the photograph should be evaluated by the creating artist in whether his or her sense of feeling has been conveyed to the viewer through the image." [from Pete Meyer's essay]

I wish that people would disabuse themselves of the notion that the goal is to communicate their feelings to "the viewer". Each viewer comes to a work, photographs in this instance, with his/her own set of experiences and references. The degree to which those experiences will be congruent with those of the maker is quite variable. What the goal of the maker should be is to do his/her best to make the photograph suit his/her own sense of narrative. Then, prepare to be surprised what some people will bring to their viewing experience. Imagining an ideal audience is fine, but actually finding such an audience may be elusive.

Without some sort of goal, all you can do is generate a bunch of photos at random and hope someone sees something in one of them; the typical response of the viewer, in that case, is, "Why are you wasting my time with this?"  With a goal (and Pete's is an excellent one, though, not as he implies, the only good one), you much more often succeed at something; often the thing you're trying for, but occasionally being surprised by succeeding at something you didn't think to try for, when someone sees something that you didn't intend.  However, most of the time, you need to be trying to communicate something to the viewer, or you end up communicating nothing.  I'd stick up for Pete's original assertion, minus the quibble that this goal of his is not the only possible one.

Lisa

P.S.  To go back to the original posting, though:  Yeah, I hear you.  That section of the article seemed vague and written like he's trying to intentionally confuse us with a lot of fancy terms that don't say much.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Mark D Segal on July 27, 2006, 12:52:21 PM
Well, like with so many things in life - "it depends". In this case it depends on the context and the purpose. There are artists who create works for the sake of creating them - expressing themselves, developing new ways of expressing themselves (new ways of seeing, new techniques, etc.), and what other people think of these works isn't relevant to them. I've known such individuals - when you ask "silly questions" such as "what am I supposed to take away from this image", the answer is "whatever you see in it". That's one set of people, one context. But then there is (at least) another set operating in another context, and they don't have this luxury. They may need to be sure that enough people will relate to the work to buy it. So they'll be more concerned about what gets conveyed to the viewer - or at least that enough of something gets conveyed to the viewer that the said viewer "buys in". So let us not get too hung-up on this.

As far as Pete Myers' photograph in this article is concerned, some people may find it a great, evocative piece of art, and others may find it a worthless camera clcik of a steering wheel - regardless of how much technique went into making it. So again, let us not get hung-up on that either.

The point of this article is that Pete Myer had something in his mind's eye about how that image should look, requiring some apparently sophisticated techniques to translate the image in his mind's eye to the image on paper. What spoils the article is the author's unwillingness or inability to properly articulate that translation, which kind of vacates the story-line.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Jack Flesher on July 27, 2006, 01:56:33 PM
Well...  I liked the article. A lot.

I think Pete did an excellent job of describing the 'pursuit' of an image; the rendering of an artwork from concept through final print.

The fact that he got through that process using some proprietary (and unshared) techniques does not bother me at all.  Most artists do this and in general have been doing this for years -- I remember reading that Monet would not share his formula for a specific shade of blue oil he developed.  I do this myself with several CS techniques, including a proprietary sharpening and detail extraction routine.

Why don't I share them?  For me what I do during post is as much a part of the creative photographic process as how I see the image when I first capture it -- part of  my style if you will.  The other part of the equation is business...   I do a lot of one-on-one consulting teaching advanced Photoshop techniques and feel that I should reserve some 'special' techniques for my paying students -- why buy the cow from me if I'm always giving away the milk for free?

Cheers,
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Mike Boden on July 27, 2006, 02:25:18 PM
I have several problems with this article. I'm not exactly sure which stands out the most, but here goes.

1.  "I will not fully divulge the detail of this stage of image enhancement..." - Well, I have to say that this comes across as being very pretentious, especially since the author has gone to great lengths to detail everything else, including before and after images of each step. This is simply insulting.

2. Throughout the article, he talks about the many curves applied to the image. At one point he stated, "Curve 12 was made up from the qualities brought forward in developing Curves 4-11." Well call me a liar, but I don't count this number of curves in his article. This left me with a feeling, along with the above point, that he's hiding something from me. Once again, if the author is willing to take the time to spell everything out, why not spell it ALL out? I read an article once in "View Camera Magazine" that was very similiar to this, but the author actually presented screen shots of all the Photoshop Layers. It was very helpful and informative. Why was something like this not done?

3. "I use a monopod for camera support." - Serious? The author totally has the ability to use a tripod, yet foregoes that decision? I don't get it. He arrives on location via vehicle, has his wife help hand him the gear as he presumably tresspasses over a barbed-wire fence and onto someone else's property, and also has the time to set one up. I don't get it! With the versatility of tripods and various other clamping devices these days, I would gamble that he could have gotten it set up in the exact viewpoint he desired inside the vehicle. The author states on his very own website, "Pete Myers is a master fine arts photographer." Then why doesn't he use a tripod? Won't it be "that" much sharper? Won't it be that much "less" of a gamble? I don't know about what others think, but I feel that a person who claims to be a "master" is supposed to have control over every step in the process (at least those elements that are controlable). The author states, "All I could do was hold my breath, and gently squeeze off the shot." Talk about control of the situation.

---

And one other gripe that is not necessarily in direct relation to this article. Pete Myers shoots predominately with a 35mm camera, which I don't necessarily have a problem with. But, I do have a problem with taking an image, blowing it up to 60", and then selling it for $35,000! Granted, I haven't seen one of his prints (and I would very much like to), but 60" from 35mm?!? I've made prints that big, but they've been from 8x10 chromes that have been drum scanned. I would never contemplate enlarging 35mm to those porportions. But if he's found people willing to spend that kind of money, then more power to him!

Just my $0.02!
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Mark D Segal on July 27, 2006, 04:10:25 PM
Quote
Well...  I liked the article. A lot.

I think Pete did an excellent job of describing the 'pursuit' of an image; the rendering of an artwork from concept through final print.

The fact that he got through that process using some proprietary (and unshared) techniques does not bother me at all.  Most artists do this and in general have been doing this for years -- I remember reading that Monet would not share his formula for a specific shade of blue oil he developed.  I do this myself with several CS techniques, including a proprietary sharpening and detail extraction routine.

Why don't I share them?  For me what I do during post is as much a part of the creative photographic process as how I see the image when I first capture it -- part of  my style if you will.  The other part of the equation is business...   I do a lot of one-on-one consulting teaching advanced Photoshop techniques and feel that I should reserve some 'special' techniques for my paying students -- why buy the cow from me if I'm always giving away the milk for free?

Cheers,
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71873\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Jack, Much as there may be perfectly valid justification for proprietary processes, in this particular case it just seemed like a first-class restaurant meal without the wine and desert. Clearly this would bother some people more than others, as this thread is showing.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Fred Ragland on July 27, 2006, 04:11:24 PM
Like others of you, I had a negative reaction to the article.

That surprised me.  

The other articles I've read by him were insightful, logically written and left me feeling I'd learned things from a fellow traveller who wanted to share important experiences.  Look, for example, at his Digital Outback Photo article on Printing Insights #039 or the essay here "Making Images" in March of 2005.  His previous work left me looking for more.

But not so this time.  It may have been the expectation set up by Michael's introduction...This is "information to learn how other photographers produce their final prints..."  But that was not to be.    As Pete put it, "It certainly is the local area contrast and detail within the image that is critical in bringing the image to life.  While I will not divulge the details of this stage of the image enhancement (proprietary), it can be safely assumed that I learned a lot as consultant to..." et cetera.

Serving up "how to make images" without including the magic sauce leaves a bitter taste.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Mark D Segal on July 27, 2006, 04:18:01 PM
Quote
3. "I use a monopod for camera support." - Serious? The author totally has the ability to use a tripod, yet foregoes that decision? I don't get it. He arrives on location via vehicle, has his wife help hand him the gear as he presumably tresspasses over a barbed-wire fence and onto someone else's property, and also has the time to set one up. I don't get it! With the versatility of tripods and various other clamping devices these days, I would gamble that he could have gotten it set up in the exact viewpoint he desired inside the vehicle. The author states on his very own website, "Pete Myers is a master fine arts photographer." Then why doesn't he use a tripod? Won't it be "that" much sharper? Won't it be that much "less" of a gamble? I don't know about what others think, but I feel that a person who claims to be a "master" is supposed to have control over every step in the process (at least those elements that are controlable). The author states, "All I could do was hold my breath, and gently squeeze off the shot." Talk about control of the situation.

---

And one other gripe that is not necessarily in direct relation to this article. Pete Myers shoots predominately with a 35mm camera, which I don't necessarily have a problem with. But, I do have a problem with taking an image, blowing it up to 60", and then selling it for $35,000! Granted, I haven't seen one of his prints (and I would very much like to), but 60" from 35mm?!? I've made prints that big, but they've been from 8x10 chromes that have been drum scanned. I would never contemplate enlarging 35mm to those porportions. But if he's found people willing to spend that kind of money, then more power to him!

Just my $0.02!
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71878\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Mike, I wouldn't fuss about either of these issues. With today's image-stabilized lenses you have to appreciate how easily one can make tack-sharp photographs without a tripod. On the image size issue, if he's found a way of getting commercially and artistically satisfactory resolution at 60 inches, all the more power to him. In the final analysis, it's the results that count.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Mike Boden on July 27, 2006, 06:24:14 PM
Quote
In the final analysis, it's the results that count.

I totally agree. That's why I would love to see one of his 60" prints, especially considering that I make prints that big too. I just have to compare.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: thompsonkirk on July 27, 2006, 09:35:27 PM
I experienced most of the same difficulties with the article.  Basically it didn't strike me as being as powerful an image as Pete thinks it is (perhaps even a bit of a cliche).  So I was a bit put off by so much self-congratulation about its power to communicate emotion & its status as fine art.  I'm uncomfortable when artists tell me about that sort of stuff in their own work - I tend to think of those as matters for the viewer to decide.  

My concern about workflow is that I too would have used a tripod, so I could combine layers for the interior of the car & the view through the windows.  Then I doubt I'd have needed to crank things around so much with Curves.

But who knows....  The article is about what a fine print he's made, & I'd really have to see one to form an opinion.  His own seems very high!
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: alainbriot on July 27, 2006, 09:58:27 PM
I personally share all the techniques I use during image processing. I actually make my master file available with my prints of the month.  I also encourage my students to do the same.  How can we learn and progress otherwise?  Plus, I don't understand why one would want to keep this a secret. The real "secret," provided there is one, would have to be the inspiration for the image. Very often, not even the artist can describe where the inspiration, the spark, the idea came from precisely.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Mark D Segal on July 27, 2006, 10:16:14 PM
Alain - Bravo!

And on the inspiration - for sure. Put six photographers in the same landscape and you will get six different renditions - each the product of individual perception and imagination. The only inalienable secret is what happens at the initial moment of creation.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Jack Flesher on July 27, 2006, 10:17:39 PM
Quote
in this particular case it just seemed like a first-class restaurant meal without the wine and desert. [a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71888\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I get what you are saying, but disagree --

I think it more like the chef delivering an outstanading steak-au-poivre, complete with wine and desert, but avoids handing you the exact recipe for his particular sauce -- a subtle but important difference IMO.

I think what pisses everybody off is that this particular forum is generally one of open sharing.  And now a regular contributor has publicly stated their limit on that sharing.  What you fail to realize is all of the other contributors have their secrets too -- they just have not come right out and said so to your face.

,
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Mike Boden on July 27, 2006, 10:31:05 PM
Quote
I think it more like the chef delivering an outstanading steak-au-poivre, complete with wine and desert, but avoids handing you the exact recipe for his particular sauce -- a subtle but important difference IMO.

I'm going to have to respectfully disagree, because your analogy doesn't exactly fit.

In this particular case, the chef was not simply delivering an outstanding steak-au-poivre. Instead, he was clearly outlining the ingredients of each step along the way; this was the whole reason for the article. The only difference is that when it came to his special sauce, he elected not to tell us.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Mark D Segal on July 27, 2006, 10:32:11 PM
Yes Jack, it is partly about expectations. When I go to a restaurant I don't EXPECT the chef to hand me the recipe for the saunce. When I come to L-L and read an article about how a distinguished artist translated a vision into a print, I DO EXPECT to be educated about how it was done, because that is what I was lead to believe I was going to get - until I was told the heart of the process is proprietary. As I said somewhere above, I do understand the time and place for proprietary this and that - and situations do arise where there may be legitimate conflicts between being an educator and being a businessman/contractor. And I think that is what we are dealing with here - as you say - not what one normally expects in a forum of open sharing.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Mike Boden on July 27, 2006, 10:34:46 PM
Quote
The real "secret," provided there is one, would have to be the inspiration for the image. Very often, not even the artist can describe where the inspiration, the spark, the idea came from precisely.

Alain,

Very well said. I find myself in that situation all the time. When I'm out shooting, something either hits me or doesn't, and I can't exactly explain why the subject or composition works or not. But that's one reason why I keep looking...

Mike
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: John Camp on July 27, 2006, 10:44:03 PM
Quote
When I go to a restaurant I don't EXPECT the chef to hand me the recipe for the saunce. When I come to L-L and read an article about how a distinguished artist translated a vision into a print, I DO EXPECT to be educated about how it was done, because that is what I was lead to believe I was going to get - until I was told the heart of the process is proprietary.[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71935\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

On the other hand, when you go to a restaurant, you usually have to pay...    

I don't mind if he doesn't reveal how he did each and every move -- the sum total of them is made clear by the illustrations, and you'd probably learn more (or better) if you worked it out yourself.

What would not be good is if in some way he is dissembling -- if he suggests that he did X when he really did Y. I don't actually know how he could catch the details on the inside of the door and also the clouds through the window; I don't know how he can get that much range, especially when the initial "raw" photo shows the window to be so thoroughly overexposed. So it would be nice to have a statement that says, Yes, with this film, and my proprietary technique, it is possible to recover the clouds even from an over-exposure that severe. If he did something else (like subbing in portions of other negs) and didn't tell us, then that would be unfair: people trying to duplicate the process, or invent their own process to do what he did, would have been misled.

JC
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: alainbriot on July 27, 2006, 10:48:41 PM
What I find interesting about the non-revealed, "proprietary" format mentioned in the essay is that I don't see from looking at the image what is so special about this "proprietary" thing.  Maybe I missed the point, but from looking at the images illustrating the essay, they seem to be achievable by a number of techniques, none of which "proprietary."  Is this a case of "the emperor has no clothes"?  Or is looking at an original print necessary to appreciate what was done to the image?  I know the web is a poor vehicle when it comes to displaying fine art photography.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: alainbriot on July 27, 2006, 11:20:15 PM
I think it may be useful to lay down my "philosophy" so that no stone is left unturned concerning my approach to photography.

1-I think it is way easier to tell everyone who wants to know exactly how I do what I do, from the time I print the photo to the time it has been sold and is in someone else's hands.  This includes Vision (as much as I can explain it, with the previously mentioned caveat), field work, processing & optimization, matting & framing, and marketing & salesmanship.  As of today, I have published essays and tutorials and have offered workshops on all these aspects of photography.  If I have somehow overlooked one aspect of the medium, just let me know and I will remedy to it.  This is a promise and you can hold me to it if you like.  I don't have a problem with that and I do appreciate your help.

2-The reason why it is easier is because there is nothing that infuriates people more than being told they can't have access to some specific information that they want, at any cost.

3-There is a risk in hiding things, and that is that when revealed these things turn out to be less than impressive or have lost their cutting edge interest.

4-Regarding marketing, I personally find that being totally open regading technique and approach, allows me to price my work significantly higher.  Why?  Simply because it is one thing to know how something was done, and another to do it.

5-Revealing technique makes people focus on the art.  Why? Because knowing how art was done, does not explain everything about the art. There is much more to art than technique and this is why technique should be transparent.  To explain the uniqueness of your art through technique, is to eventually cause people to overlook the art entirely.

6-Knowing how something is done is half the battle. I know how to climb Everest, but I would die if I tried to put this knowledge to use. I know how many great artists created specific masterpieces, but that does not mean I can do what they did.

7-Sharing is nice.  And, as a teacher, this is what defines you.  Since I am both an artist and a teacher, I find it to be my responsibility to both create and explain what I create.

8-I want to return something for all that I have received so far.

This being said, the above views are not an imposition upon others to do the same.  It is simply a description of my approach.  And if you are skeptical of what I just said, simply look at the essays I wrote for this site.  You will find out that there is a wealth of information there and that all the doors are open.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Scott_H on July 27, 2006, 11:24:19 PM
There probably is more than one way to get the same effect.  That is usually the case when it comes to image editing.

I think the point of the article had more to do with using the tools you have to form the original capture into your own vision than secret photoshop techniques.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Nick Rains on July 27, 2006, 11:29:05 PM
Quote
And one other gripe that is not necessarily in direct relation to this article. Pete Myers shoots predominately with a 35mm camera, which I don't necessarily have a problem with. But, I do have a problem with taking an image, blowing it up to 60", and then selling it for $35,000! Granted, I haven't seen one of his prints (and I would very much like to), but 60" from 35mm?!? I've made prints that big, but they've been from 8x10 chromes that have been drum scanned. I would never contemplate enlarging 35mm to those porportions. But if he's found people willing to spend that kind of money, then more power to him!

Just my $0.02!
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71878\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Pricing of prints is an interesting subject all on it's own.

I personally cannot see the justification for selling 'by the square inch' as some photographers do ie double the size = double the price.

The prints might cost double to make but double $100 is $200 not $2000.

Personally I take the approach that I am selling 2 things packaged together: the image and the print. The size of the print is up to the customer, the image is what they are really buying. To that end my biggest prints (60"x30") are only 3 times the price of the smallest ones (20"x10").  I make more out of the bigger prints anyway but I choose not to be greedy given that the real cost to me is not much more than for the small prints.

This approach also makes it much easier to up-sell to larger sizes since they are percieved as being better value by the customer - all these things help close a sale.

This is just how I do things, with 5 years of print selling experience behind me. Like they say YMMV.

OTOH, to those who do charge huge price steps between sizes - what do you say to a customer who asks why the next size is so much more expensive?
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: alainbriot on July 28, 2006, 12:24:27 AM
Quote
The prints might cost double to make but double $100 is $200 not $2000.

Personally I take the approach that I am selling 2 things packaged together: the image and the print. The size of the print is up to the customer, the image is what they are really buying. To that end my biggest prints (60"x30") are only 3 times the price of the smallest ones (20"x10").  I make more out of the bigger prints anyway but I choose not to be greedy given that the real cost to me is not much more than for the small prints.

OTOH, to those who do charge huge price steps between sizes - what do you say to a customer who asks why the next size is so much more expensive?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71949\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I personally price from the largest size down.  In other words, my primary size is my largest size because it is often my best selling size.  I then apply a division factor to get the other prices.  In recent years, I have started taking out one or two size per year.  Eventually, I will only offer my work in a couple of sizes.  

When asked about my prices, I explain it exactly like I just did.

You can take a look at my prices on my site and find that division factor easily.  But hurry because I will be taking out sizes before the end of the month (July is one of the months during which I make this kind of changes, for personal reasons).

Pricing from the smallest size up is a good option when your best selling size is your smallest size.  I started doing things that way then turned the table around so to speak.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Nick Rains on July 28, 2006, 12:29:33 AM
Quote
I personally price from the largest size down.  In other words, my primary size is my largest size because it is my best selling size.  I then apply a division factor to get the other prices.  You can take a look at my prices on my site and find that division factor easily.  When asked, I explain it exactly like I just did.

Pricing from the smallest size up is a good option when your best selling size is your smallest size.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71953\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

That's a pretty good way to do it. And it's a very sound way to explain it to your customers, I like that!

I find my best selling size is the middle one - 40"x20". Mostly because the bigger sizes, when framed,are hard to fit on a normal home wall. My biggest normal size ends up at 80" wide and weighs 25kg with glass!
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: dealy663 on July 28, 2006, 12:32:13 AM
This type of article leaves a bad taste in my mouth. This not the first time that I've had a problem with articles by Pete Meyers either. I think what kind of gets my goat is that he comes off more as self-aggrandizing than providing useful information that readers here might find insightful.

The image itself I find to be somewhat interesting, however this notion of "proprietary techniques" rings a bit hollow with me. In the images used in the article, I've seen nothing that looks as if it would be so difficult to do in photoshop. This whole I've got a top secret ex-NASA image manipulation technique using a sophisticated "math process" (but I can't tell you about it) comes across as kinda childish. Ansel Adams was a master fine arts photographer, yet I never read anything of his where he tooted his own horn so blatantly. Nor do ever recall AA teasing us with a secret technique.

Derek
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: macgyver on July 28, 2006, 12:53:29 AM
I really wish that Meyers was able to respond to some of this, I would be interested to hear his view of some of this.

That being said, I suppose I can understand if he (through either choice or contractual obligation) didn't reveal all of his processes, however to blatantly dangle that bit of information in front of the reader isn't conductive to learning, nor in good form.  Speaking for me personally, I would say I have a decent and growing,  but not amazing, understanding of digital image processing.  But, I would also say that it's somewhat tenuous.  I'm not always happy with the fact that there can be so many different means to a similar end, because often I feel like I don't know if there could be some better method of doing something.  This makes me wonder if I'm doing my photos justice or if there is something better that could be done.

Then, something like this comes along and well, apparently there is something better but....can't tell!

Again, I suppose I can understand (though not really sympathize) if he doesn't reveal something, but maybe don't tell people.  Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.

As for the whole "sense of feeling" thing and all that.  I both agree and don't.  On one hand I do think that each person has their own sense of art and vision and trying to convey that is a good thing.  Often, when I do landscape work my aim is to try to capture/reproduce/whatever a bit of what it was like to be at that location at that time.  But you can't expect someone to automatically aggree with that vision, much less try to push it on them.

If you love macro photographs of flowers and make it your mission to convey the beauty you see in those flowers that is fine.  Howerver, you have to learn to not be offended if someone doesn't like those images.  It's still your vision, they just might not like it.  And just because it is <b> your </b> vision doesn't mean they automatically <b>should</b> like it.

There's my thinking on this.  Hope it was coherent, I sort of got off track at the end there.

Oh, and give up on the monopod thing.  Sometimes tripods aren't a viable option.  Learn that, live with that.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: image66 on July 28, 2006, 12:53:36 AM
First of all, I believe that Alain's teaching method is clear, concise and very well constructed. Not at all unlike Ansel Adams'. Whether Alain is able to move the "art" of photography forward like AA did is something that only time will tell.

Secondly, Pete's teaching method is concept-based. He's sharing a concept, such as his pixel-melding process. It's nothing new--it's something that we've been doing from close to the beginning of photography. Actually, it's something that predates photography and is practiced in other mediums.  Implementing this into our own workflow will be based on our set of tools available to us.

Let's digest what he said and what it might mean to me. If we were to assume that he's referring to a custom uprez process, he might be doing so with multiple scaling operations that scale different brightness levels with different step sizes. That would homogenize the image and bring a higher level of "organic" (ie analog) to the final result.

I am concerned with something expressed in this thread. Some people think that it's all about the technology/technique. If you throw enough pixels at the scene and use the most expensive CF tripod with ArcaSwiss head, only then can you make a "fine-art print". Never mind that the rest of the picture is meaningless. "Fine-art Photography" has nothing to do with megapixels, film-format or final print size.  Unfortunately, it's very difficult to say what "Fine Art Photography" is, so we glob onto whatever "tangible" aspect we can find. I believe final-print size is not dictated by technology, but by the photograph itself--I have one that has a printed image size of 5x5 inches. Not that the image isn't sharp larger, but that the image just doesn't look right printed larger.  Another one is impossible to print smaller than 24x30.

Ken
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: luong on July 28, 2006, 01:31:27 AM
Nick, how much it costs to produce it has little bearing on the value of a print. On the other hand, the scarcity  does. There are much less large prints (I mean quality prints) available than small prints, for technical reasons. Besides, those who sell in limited editions often have smaller numbers for larger prints. There are also sudden jumps in costs/work. For instance, for prints up to a certain size, I use my own scanner. Beyond that size, I get a drum scan done at a lab.

But the main reason a prints are priced that way, is that the market accepts it. I have seen some photographers who price the prints the same regardless of size. This makes sense if you think that you do not buy an object, but you buy a piece of the vision and skill. However, I have the feeling that most buyers do not think that way.

Alain, pardon my lack of sophistication, but I fail to understand if you price the prints as a function of the surface area, what difference does it make to start from the small print and multiply up or to start from the large print, and divide down ?
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: macgyver on July 28, 2006, 02:01:32 AM
Cost of production anyone?
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Nick Rains on July 28, 2006, 03:05:48 AM
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Nick, how much it costs to produce it has little bearing on the value of a print.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71962\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

My point exactly, the price of producing the print is often insignificant compared to the final price - so why have cheap prints at all (off the same image)?

If you are going for the high ground and want 35K for a big print, why not go the whole hog and charge big money for the small ones too? It's the image which the print is being bought for, not its size.

One of my colleagues here has a price scale which increases as the edition runs out and you get the interesting situation of a 75" print being, say, $4400 and a 30" print being $4000.

It's the image - not the print size - that counts most, particularly if it's a genuine limited edition.

The only way I see consistency in this price/size concept is if each size is considered a different edition and the smaller sizes have a longer run. Then the scarcity angle comes into play and it would be self-consistent to have 500 A3 prints at $400 and 10 A0 prints at $20000. Each edition being worth $200K when finished.

My colleague did an edition of 3 once - 50K each. They sold on novelty value I think but it is interesting to note that he made less out of this edition than out of his normal run of 300 at about 1K each.

Alain, are your prints sold as numbered editions or open?
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Nick Rains on July 28, 2006, 03:09:01 AM
Quote
Cost of production anyone?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71963\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Depends on the print process and the time to make them.

Pete Myers seems to use an injet process so the costs would be low-ish. I use digital Ilfoflex and it's fairly expensive at about AUD300 for a big print (60"x30")
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: alainbriot on July 28, 2006, 04:38:48 AM
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Alain, are your prints sold as numbered editions or open?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71969\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I start numbering at 18x24 right now, but I will be removing sizes, so this will change.  Most likely I will start numbering at 20x30.  I am less & less in favor of numbering anyway.  People think its a marketing ploy, and it is a lot of work to keep track of the numbers.  At the end of the day I doubt if anyone actually benefits from numbering. Adams did not number his prints and that did not hurt him that I know of.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: alainbriot on July 28, 2006, 04:41:34 AM
Quote
Alain, pardon my lack of sophistication, but I fail to understand if you price the prints as a function of the surface area, what difference does it make to start from the small print and multiply up or to start from the large print, and divide down ?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71962\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I do not price in function of the surface area. I never said so either in my previous posts.  This is an assumption. In fact, if you re-read my posts, or look at my price list on my site, you will notice that I am pricing per MAT SIZE and not print size.  This means that if I was pricing by the square inch, I would be pricing the mat at the cost of the print.  The reality is that I am just selling the piece.  It also means that in this mat size, the print can be ANY SIZE.  Meaning, if for a particular image I feel that 8x10 in a 16x20 mat is what works best for this image, then this is what is delivered for that particular image. It also solves the problem of panoramic prints which are always odd sizes.  

In fact, when talking to customers, I don't even mention sizes.  I use the name for that size.  For example, my large pieces are called "Museum Colection" "Master collection" and so on.  I am selling art, not lumber or drywall or windows.  Nothing wrong with selling the later, simply that in art size isn't the emphasis. The art is.  As a matter of fact, when you get to top quality widnows & doors construction, you let go of the sizes quickly to focus on the materials, built quality and so on.  The size is addressed quickly, and the product quality is focused on primarily.  

Here as in just about everything that I do, I focus on quality vs quantity.  I personally do not believe one can do both quality + quantity.  I have an open challenge in which I invite anyone who knows how doing quality & quantity can be done to contact me.  I am willing to make you a wealthy person if you can prove and teach me it can be done, provided you offer a warranty about your services, proof that you have done so yourself, and evidence that you can do so with my current artwork as presented on my site.

I digress...

What I do, is price my largest piece, then apply a reduction factor for smaller sizes.  One could also price all pieces the same, regardless of size, but I find this approach illogical and people perceive it as dishonest.  As I said, eventually there will be just a couple of sizes available.  My approach is to simplify things, and in this view it makes sense to have only a few sizes.   I think that 40x50, 20x30 and 16x20 is most likely what I will be doing.  Too many sizes confuse customers and make my life complicated.  As I said, I want to simplify things.

The difference between moving up or down is that when you go from smaller to larger, you assume you are selling mostly the small sizes.  When you go from large to small, you take it for granted you sell more of the largest sizes.  What does that mean?  Simply that in my situation I am not that concerned with selling small sizes. Threfore, the price is a percentage of the large sizes, rather than the other way around.  A look at my price list on my site will show this better than I can explain it here.  Again, I will be  removing sizes soon so don't delay to take a look.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: pobrien3 on July 28, 2006, 05:05:21 AM
It would be nice if any business could run on the basis of simply taking your cost and adding a markup, and being guaranteed a sale.  Sale value and cost of sale often bear no relationship whatsoever, except that the former should hopefully be larger than the latter!  Sale price in most capitalistic economic models tends towards what the market will bear - price elasticity of demand.  If Pete's market will bear $35k for one of his prints, then that's the price.  Doesn't matter if he shot it on 35mm and printed it in vinegar in his bathroom - if there was no market for it at that price it wouldn't sell.

I sell the majority of my stuff at the low end; mostly to families / parents of shots taken at performance events a family member has participated in, mostly A4 sized.  I'm often asked for 4x6" prints and often asked why I charge more for them than than the local lab would.  I politely tell them that they're very welcome to take their own pictures and get them printed at the local lab, if that's their determining factor.

My point - charge what the market will bear.  Justification is that the image is uniquely created by you, and realised by the application of your craft to produce the art.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: HiltonP on July 28, 2006, 09:39:40 AM
I realise art is in the eye of the beholder, and in this case it clearly must be. The photo under discussion does not create even the faintest flicker of interest from within me, either in its original form, or post-processed. I cannot help but think that the four or five hours spent trying to create something out of it could have been better spent finding a more interesting subject and composition. But then that is only my opinion.

What REALLY staggers me is the asking price of $35 000 for such a creation. Where I come from $35k will buy you a brand new luxury motor car (BMW, Audi, Volvo or Merc), or a small suburban apartment, or over a dozen round-the-world airline tickets!  To pay that kind of money for a blown up photo just boggles my mind . . .
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Blind Photographer on July 28, 2006, 10:16:57 AM
I am agreeing with those who point out that 1. There are artists who have "secrets" but just never let you know about them.   2. This is a free article and from a business stand point why let everyone know about your techniques for free.

True, the guy is showing off with his secret techniques or whatever and rubbing it in your face by not sharing.  But how many of us here are not conceited photographers ourselves and tooting our own horns whenever we mention, without being asked, how so and so image is not so great.  Art is in the eye of the beholder and someone else may find the same image meaningful so all those negative comments are worthless and annoying.  BTW does anyone remember the satire on some blog site where famous works were posted followed by narrow minded critiques?  I'm reminded of the point of that article right now.  And hey, the whole "proprietary techniques" thing isn't anymore annoying than the guy who constantly talks about himself and weaves his high self opinions into every bit of what he write (he's got stuff to sell too) or the constant praise from his fans.  

I don't know much about this Pete Meyers guy is but the main point about this article, no matter how sidetracked it got, is about an example image that is transformed into something that the artist wishes to express.  To him it has reached a satisfactory level and means something to him.  Therefore in that sense it is successful.  It doesn't mean squat that someone doesn't get the image (even if it was explained to you in the article), it was just an example.  

One last comment:  If you already know about pricing, perceived value and such then you wouldn't be complaining about art being overpriced.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Mark D Segal on July 28, 2006, 10:34:22 AM
Quote
What REALLY staggers me is the asking price of $35 000 for such a creation. Where I come from $35k will buy you a brand new luxury motor car (BMW, Audi, Volvo or Merc), or a small suburban apartment, or over a dozen round-the-world airline tickets!  To pay that kind of money for a blown up photo just boggles my mind . . .
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71991\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Hilton, in this world, if there are customers prepared to fork-over 35K for such a photograph, then it is worth 35K, because the market has so declared it. It is no different than valuing a house - it is worth the price the transaction achieved. That is the objective reality in a market economy. I don't think Pete Myers would be asking those prices if he knew in advance he couldn't achieve them -and he's been in business for a while.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: HiltonP on July 28, 2006, 10:37:38 AM
Quote
. . . Art is in the eye of the beholder and someone else may find the same image meaningful so all those negative comments are worthless and annoying . . .   

. . . If you already know about pricing, perceived value and such then you wouldn't be complaining about art being overpriced . . .
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71994\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I am sure many folks, both here on LL and at art exhibitions, do find this work meaningful. I'm simply saying that I do not, a comment which I believe I am entitled to make without being considered worthless and annoying.

Yes, I do understand pricing and perceived value. I was merely commenting that in most parts of the world those two clash more often than not.

I actually found the article to be an interesting read. It was informative to see how a photograph could be "worked on" methodically and systematically until a goal was achieved.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Jack Flesher on July 28, 2006, 10:47:10 AM
Quote
SNIP

I actually found the article to be an interesting read. It was informative to see how a photograph could be "worked on" methodically and systematically until a goal was achieved.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71997\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I think that is the important piece to take away from the article -- all the finger-pointing going on about Pete's not sharing certain secrets sounds to me like, well, sour grapes...
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: HiltonP on July 28, 2006, 10:51:51 AM
Quote
Hilton, in this world, if there are customers prepared to fork-over 35K for such a photograph, then it is worth 35K, because the market has so declared it. It is no different than valuing a house - it is worth the price the transaction achieved. That is the objective reality in a market economy. [a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71996\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

MarkDS . . . yes I know, and yes I agree, but it still freaks my mind!    

This is why I have been enjoying Alain Briot's articles so much, particularly the 2nd from last one. It served to highlight for me how different art forms can be perceived in different parts of the world. Where I live photographic "art" is still young and largely unrecognised as "art". If someone wants to purchase a framed piece it will be a painting, not a photograph. Art galleries are stocked with 95% paintings, and possibly only 5% photographic work. That environment might well change over time (probably will) as values and tastes change along with the shift in generations (i.e. what my parents thought of as art is not what I see as art, etc).
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Blind Photographer on July 28, 2006, 10:56:02 AM
I apologize if I was being a bit too harsh in my wording.

I still think criticism of other photographers' work when unasked for is very much unneeded though.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Mark D Segal on July 28, 2006, 11:15:58 AM
Quote
I actually found the article to be an interesting read. It was informative to see how a photograph could be "worked on" methodically and systematically until a goal was achieved.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71997\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

To be quite frank, there are many thousands of photographers who work on images methodically and systematically until a goal is achieved, so this article contributes little that is new if that were the basic purpose. If the purpose were to show that one can make a good photograph by rescuing it from aesthetic problems it starts out with, we know that too. If the purpose were to inform us about how a vision was committed to paper in this particular instance, the article has a yawning gap because the heart of the "how to" is proprietary. This has nothing to do with "sour grapes" - it is an objective set of issues about (1) what the purpose of the article may be and (2) from there - whether this purpose is successfully achieved under conditions of confidentiality.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: macgyver on July 28, 2006, 12:09:08 PM
Quote
I apologize if I was being a bit too harsh in my wording.

I still think criticism of other photographers' work when unasked for is very much unneeded though.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=72002\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


I don't nessicerily disagree with that, I do tend to think that art is almomst totally subjective. However it's not always that case in the rest of the world.   One must learn that what they do will be seen by others and valued.  I know not everyone likes me work.  In fact, some of my favorite photographs that I have taken seem to be the least cared for when others view my porfolio.  And vice-versa.

When a musician puts out a piece of music (regardless of whether its a master pianist or a prepubecsent gargageband wanna be) they need to be ready to accept that not everyone likes what they do.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: HiltonP on July 28, 2006, 12:19:25 PM
Quote
To be quite frank, there are many thousands of photographers who work on images methodically and systematically until a goal is achieved, so this article contributes little that is new if that were the basic purpose. If the purpose were to show that one can make a good photograph by rescuing it from aesthetic problems it starts out with, we know that too. [a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=72005\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Yes, but here was one who was essentially writing down his thoughts as he was working . . . both in words, and in photographs, as the work progressed. It gave me insight into his thought processes, whether I agreed with them or not.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: alainbriot on July 28, 2006, 12:35:38 PM
Quote
What REALLY staggers me is the asking price of $35 000 for such a creation. Where I come from $35k will buy you a brand new luxury motor car (BMW, Audi, Volvo or Merc), or a small suburban apartment, or over a dozen round-the-world airline tickets!  To pay that kind of money for a blown up photo just boggles my mind . . .
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71991\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

In the US most luxury cars at priced higher than 35k. I would say 35k is on the low end of the scale for "luxury motor cars".  More like the entry price so to speak.

Since we are talking diigital photography, comparing this pricing to high end digital cameras is more to the point. In that case, 35 k is not enough to get you a Hasselblad H2 with P45 back & lenses for example, or a comparable high end system such as a Linhof digital system.  For that amount you'll get the back and a lens, maybe, but not the camera.

So therefore, if we were to price the work comparatively to high-end digital camera equipment, the price of this piece would be more like 50k to 65k.  As it is, its on the low end.  A "bargain" so to speak ;-)  As it turns out this is also much more in tune with realistic prices for luxury cars, although still on the low end.

Regardless, in the world of art, 35k is not a very high price. Granted, it is more than most people charge for photographs, but when compared to paintings, which I think is what Pete's pricing model is, it is a price that's quite normal for that size in the Santa Fe market, with many pieces priced much higher.  We need to keep the context in mind, which is the whole basis for pricing in any market.

So the best way to approach this pricing is by comparing it to paintings, in the same size and creation time (1 week).  You will then see that this is quite standard and that many paintings are priced much higher.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: dealy663 on July 28, 2006, 01:52:20 PM
Did any of you happen to look at his site and check out the fine details of his images? Maybe this is the result of the special "math process" that he speaks of. On his site http://www.petemyers.com/introductionfile/introduction.html (http://www.petemyers.com/introductionfile/introduction.html) if you select the 5th image you'll see a small web sized version of a photo, then on the 6th image you'll see a small crop of the specific details of the image.

It does have an unusual look to it, but not what one would expect when viewing a photograph up close. I've seen similar results from other scaling programs (one of which uses s-splines (I think)). I'm guessing that this is how he is printing so large from 35mm negs. If he's making that kind of money on his prints then he must be doing something right.

Derek
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: luong on July 28, 2006, 02:47:21 PM
There are two proprietary techniques that are refered to in the article. The first one is some kind of local contrast enhancement. There are many known techniques to produce a similar result. Photoshop's Highlight/Shadow and DxO Lighting both use them.

The second one is the rendering technique that creates a somewhat unphotographic effect. Because the resulting piece does no longer look like a photograph, it is possible to price it like a painting.
That technique  appears to be what makes author's art stand apart from others by giving his work its "style". If someone has one special process that *is* his style, I do not expect him to disclose it (although the author has already disclosed enough in the article to undermine his own artist's statement).

Regarding the peripheral up/down pricing discussion, the only difference I can see is the following. In both cases, you have a function (a formula that needs not be strictly proportional to surface)  to derive the price of a piece from a piece of another size. When you price up, you choose the price of the smallest piece, apply the function, and do not really care what the largest piece ends up at. When you price down, you choose the price of the largest piece, apply the function, and do not really care what the smallest ends up at. If someone sees another difference, I'd be interested to learn.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: John Camp on July 28, 2006, 03:59:48 PM
Quote
Regardless, in the world of art, 35k is not a very high price. Granted, it is more than most people charge for photographs, but when compared to paintings, which I think is what Pete's pricing model is, it is a price that's quite normal for that size in the Santa Fe market, with many pieces priced much higher.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=72009\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

May be true, but the last time I saw a decent Ansel Adams Moonrise print at auction, it went for $25,000. Much of that was caused by Adams' mass production of the image (I think he made around a thousand of them), which tells you something about the scarcity factor.

One of Bresson's key images recently sold for $15,000; again, he didn't try to create artificial scarcity, so it's hard to tell how many are out there.

JC
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: alainbriot on July 28, 2006, 05:17:08 PM
Quote
May be true, but the last time I saw a decent Ansel Adams Moonrise print at auction, it went for $25,000. Much of that was caused by Adams' mass production of the image (I think he made around a thousand of them), which tells you something about the scarcity factor.
One of Bresson's key images recently sold for $15,000; again, he didn't try to create artificial scarcity, so it's hard to tell how many are out there.
JC
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=72024\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

John,  

Very good point.  I collect photography myself, and so far my most expensive piece, an Edward Weston,  was purchased at a price comparable to the prices you mention.  This points to a problem in pricing photography by a living photographer in a range that exceeds the prices for the work of photographers that are no longer with us.  Personally, I have reflected on this issue a long time ago, and have decided against it.  But, as I always say, it is a free country and everyone is free to do as they please.  I would never impose my approach on anyone.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Blind Photographer on July 28, 2006, 09:39:29 PM
Quote
I don't nessicerily disagree with that, I do tend to think that art is almomst totally subjective. However it's not always that case in the rest of the world.   One must learn that what they do will be seen by others and valued.  I know not everyone likes me work.  In fact, some of my favorite photographs that I have taken seem to be the least cared for when others view my porfolio.  And vice-versa.

When a musician puts out a piece of music (regardless of whether its a master pianist or a prepubecsent gargageband wanna be) they need to be ready to accept that not everyone likes what they do.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=72007\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I totally understand what you are saying, and yes the public has the right to judge whatever an artist puts out.  But for example if you run into a group of musicians putting down other musicians' work, doesn't that strike anyone here in an odd way?
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: jliechty on July 28, 2006, 11:27:55 PM
Quote
I totally understand what you are saying, and yes the public has the right to judge whatever an artist puts out.  But for example if you run into a group of musicians putting down other musicians' work, doesn't that strike anyone here in an odd way?
It's interesting how your example of musicians would work in one way but not in reverse. We would laugh if some popular musician (e.g. Britney Spears, etc.) said that someone like Zoltan Kocsis, Krystian Zimerman, or Vladimir Horowitz (a few classical pianists for example) had no talent, but would we disagree if the latter said the same about the former?
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: pobrien3 on July 29, 2006, 02:36:45 AM
Pete Myers is not alone in not wanting to divulge the particular set of steps he takes to make the final image.  It's what makes his images unique, and takes him a very long time to do - the original photograph is just where he takes his raw materials from.  Mark Tucker is another great artist who applies his own particular post production techniques to achieve his hallmark look, and I'd strongly recommend a look at the work of Brian Beaney (http://www.brianbeaney.com/gallery.php?cat=2465&pg=1&THESESSION=b48006877a0153bc1f64e38912c8e2e9).  Outstandingly beautiful work.  Brian charges 50 quid a piece, Pete gets US$35k for his biggest prints.  Can you compare the two? Which is better value?

I well recall in my MBA days, after weeks of studying how to value companies and being promised the ultimate fail-safe method at the end, we were finally told that no matter what method you use to value a company the true worth is what someone's prepared to pay for it.  That's the only true measure of economic worth, and it applies to houses, cars, whatever.  Pete's prints are worth $35k if that's what's being paid for them, and if he keeps his prices up by not being entirely photo-realistic and wants to keep that formula safe, then that's his right.  I hope you sell hundreds of them Pete, I wish I could!

Peter
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Anon E. Mouse on July 29, 2006, 03:52:30 AM
It is funny. Ansel Adams taught people the Zone System and no one was able to replace him nor did that devalue his work. Is the work's value from the process or the intrinsic nature of the image?

Another difference between Adams and the author is Adams was not under a illusion that he had actually done anything than apply aready know science and technique. The Zone System is simply applied sensitometry as Adams would tell others. Folls would also pester Eliot Porter for his "secrets." He would tell them simply to use the instructions that came with Kodak's materials. That was he did.

There seems to be a great need to mythologize the photographic process. The latest in this trend is "propriety" processing methods. I think this comes from two areas. First, the person does not really understand imaging and thinks they are doing something new rather than applying known factors. The second is it makes good marketing to say you have a "magic" process that no one else has. This mythologization has a negative affect as it confuses beginner and places the emphasis of aquiring "secret" knowledge rather than simply learning how imaging works and learn to control the process. The need of the amateur to believe that there are "secrets" is fairly natural as all arts require a lot of experience and knowledge; they think the "secret" gives them a short cut. The folks who visited Porter did not want to believe him when he said it is simply a matter of controlling a process that Kodak had set down.

I think if your want insight into the mind of some of 20th century's greatest photographers, I would recommend looking for an out-of-print book called A Dialog with Photography. The "secret" of photography is that it comes from the person, not the process.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: j-land on July 29, 2006, 03:59:54 AM
Quote
Mark Tucker is another great artist who applies his own particular post production techniques to achieve his hallmark look

Mark Tucker is not calling himself "one of the most gifted Master Fine Arts Photographers of our time"

Maybe because... Mark Tucker's work speaks for itself?  
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: pobrien3 on July 29, 2006, 04:36:50 AM
  I tend to ignore the self-promoting text on this sort of site and would personally take issue with Pete's assertion, but that's only my opinion!  I love Mark's work, and I'm a great admirer of Pete's too.  Do have a look at the surreal work of Brian Beaney - fabulous!
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: alainbriot on July 29, 2006, 06:13:24 AM
Quote
...The need of the amateur to believe that there are "secrets" is fairly natural as all arts require a lot of experience and knowledge; they think the "secret" gives them a short cut.

.... The "secret" of photography is that it comes from the person, not the process.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=72045\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I totally agree.  This has been my experience (I was a beginner in... the beginning!) and it now informs my approach in regards to teaching and sharing my knowledge.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Lisa Nikodym on July 29, 2006, 10:39:26 AM
Um, maybe this is a stupid question (since noone else has asked it yet), but can someone explain exactly what is "special" about the image after the proprietary step?  I'm sure there must be something in the final big print to make him take the time and effort to do it, but in the little image accompanying the article, for the life of me I can't see what interesting thing that step has done.

Lisa
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Mark D Segal on July 29, 2006, 11:15:44 AM
Quote
Um, maybe this is a stupid question (since noone else has asked it yet), but can someone explain exactly what is "special" about the image after the proprietary step?  I'm sure there must be something in the final big print to make him take the time and effort to do it, but in the little image accompanying the article, for the life of me I can't see what interesting thing that step has done.

Lisa
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=72061\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Lisa, the question isn't stupid, but needs more precision, because there are a number of ill-explained steps in that article - even though it is an article about MAKING a fine art image - so it isn't clear exactly which stage of the proprietary process you are referring to. In general terms though, as you go from start to finish he's salvaged what many would dismiss as blown highlights and dramatically improved dynamic range and local contrast while maintaining very good detail.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: pobrien3 on July 29, 2006, 11:50:01 AM
Lisa, I don't get this from the article either, but I'm a little familiar with Pete's work and so I presumed he was referring the somewhat 'pointillised' effect he creates, only really apparent when you look at the detail.  The wee image at the end of the article doesn't really show this to good effect, but you can see it better on his website at http://www.petemyers.com/introductionfile/introduction.html  (http://www.petemyers.com/introductionfile/introduction.html).

Perhaps Pete presumed the reader was more familiar with his style, or more likely perhaps that wasn't the point of the article.  I think he was making the point about working the image until you achieve an end result rather than a discussion of his particular technique.  His style is very much about what's achieved in post production, and to borrow his phrase it's in the making of an image, not the taking of one.

Peter
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: alainbriot on July 29, 2006, 12:57:25 PM
I received an interesting email yesterday, fully related to this thread, and I posted an Open Answer on the home page of my website.  I strongly recommend you read it, as I think you will find it enlightening. My students love it:

www.beautiful-landscape.com (http://www.beautiful-landscape.com)

Scroll down to the news for July 29th.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Mark D Segal on July 29, 2006, 01:04:19 PM
Alain, how patient and diplomatic of you to respond that way. A lesser mortal  would have been tempted to suggest that the questioner doesn't have a clue.............

Anyhow, well done.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: alainbriot on July 29, 2006, 01:46:24 PM
Quote
Alain, how patient and diplomatic of you to respond that way. A lesser mortal  would have been tempted to suggest that the questioner doesn't have a clue.............

Anyhow, well done.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=72069\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Mark,

Thank you.  I just placed the Open Answer to the top of the homepage so that it is the first thing visitors see.  Haven't heard back from John Smith yet... I wonder why ;-)

ALain
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Eric Myrvaagnes on July 29, 2006, 07:36:04 PM
Alain,

I love it!

With regard to Point 1: I did in fact use an 8x10 for a few years long ago, and I still have one or maybe two negatives from it that I am reasonably happy with. If I still had the beast, I would now post a notice prominently on the side of it saying "This box gives me a license to charge more than Alain Briot for my prints."    

Hmm. Would an 11x14 entitle me to charge more than Pete?  

Of course, if John Smith actually has a sense of humor, he really ought to send you a truckload of Roosters!

Eric
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: alainbriot on July 29, 2006, 08:41:49 PM
Quote
Alain,
I love it!
With regard to Point 1: I did in fact use an 8x10 for a few years long ago, and I still have one or maybe two negatives from it that I am reasonably happy with. If I still had the beast, I would now post a notice prominently on the side of it saying "This box gives me a license to charge more than Alain Briot for my prints."     
Hmm. Would an 11x14 entitle me to charge more than Pete?   
Of course, if John Smith actually has a sense of humor, he really ought to send you a truckload of Roosters!
Eric
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=72089\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Eric,

Thank you.  Yes, in Mr. Smith's book an 8x10 is the ticket to sky high prices. Apparently.  He hasn't responded yet, but if and when he does I'll make sure to keep you posted.  

And you are right too that keeping a sense of humour is important.  After all, I could just tell him off.  Instead, I take it with a grain of salt and make the best I can out of it.  

All the best to you and your work.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Ray on July 29, 2006, 10:59:48 PM
I haven't had the urge to contribute to this thread, till now, because it seems fairly obvious to me that we live in a world of protection of copyright and of processes on all levels. Anyone who thinks they might have an economic advantage by exercising copyright law and/or secrecy, will often take that advantage.

That Alain Briot chooses to make his processes and techniques freely available is a great credit to him and an inspiration to us all. As a global community, we could all benefit by the adoption of such practices, also in areas other than photography.

I also understand Jack Fleshers's position, which I would describe as the more commercially oriented position of protection of processes. Perhaps it's not a co-incidence that Jack's avatar is a picture of a predator.

The article itself was interesting in the sense that it portrayed the dedication to the production of a single image. This is truly the anithesis of a snapshot in every respect.

Do most of us need to know this, as Mark suggests? Maybe not. In a month's time, I hope to return to Angkor Wat to photograph the ruins in a different light, with pools of water lying on the fallen stones and green algae prolific.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: alainbriot on July 29, 2006, 11:09:55 PM
Here is the direct link to my "Open Letter" which I have now made into an essay:

Open Letter to John Smith  (http://beautiful-landscape.com/Thoughts48.html)

I will be publishing "Open letters" versions from my students and other photographers soon.

Ray, I like what you wrote.  You are extremely perspicuous.  The statements you made in your last entry are right on.  The world is changing, and certain attitudes are going out fast.  The whole field of communications and human interaction has been revolutionized by the internet, which provides immense power to people who previously were pretty much voiceless. Again, I appreciate your comments very much.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: pobrien3 on July 29, 2006, 11:34:26 PM
Quote
That Alain Briot chooses to make his processes and techniques freely available is a great credit to him and an inspiration to us all. As a global community, we could all benefit by the adoption of such practices, also in areas other than photography.

I also understand Jack Fleshers's position, which I would describe as the more commercially oriented position of protection of processes.[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=72102\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
It is no great secret to know what sort of marble Michaelangelo used, or what paint Leonardo favoured, or what the particular brush stroke technique was employed by Renoir.  Pete has the right to disclose or otherwise, but I think it shouldn't make one jot of difference to the value of his work.  It is the application of all components from the inital inspiration and vision to selecting the circumstances for the shot, through post production and to the final print and mounting that make up the end product.  Just because we know the techniques doesn't mean we can recreate his art.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Ray on July 29, 2006, 11:48:52 PM
Quote
It is no great secret to know what sort of marble Michaelangelo used, or what paint Leonardo favoured, or what the particular brush stroke technique was employed by Renoir.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=72105\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

What are secrets and what are not is something that is often only revealed over time after a great deal of analysis. It is now known, for example, that the extent of the use of mirrors and lenses in the production of Renaiance paintings was far more wide-spread than was previously understood.

From my readings, I get the impression that many Renaisance painters did not document this use of mirrors, perhaps in order to create the impression that their brush technique, sense of perspective, and sheer physical skill in wielding a paint brush, was more extraordinary than it really was. Many of the paintings of Carravagio, for example, reveal an unusual number of left-handed people.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: pobrien3 on July 30, 2006, 01:05:07 AM
I guess then as now artists were looking for something that set them apart from the herd, in order to give them that market differentiator.  This is what Pete Myers, Mark Tucker and Brian Beaney and others are doing.  If they want to keep their technique to themselves, that's their privelege.

I personally don't like to have too many mirrors around - might catch myself in one  
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Jonathan Wienke on July 30, 2006, 07:54:17 AM
Mirrors don't bother me; I don't show up in them anyway...
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Blind Photographer on July 30, 2006, 07:57:31 AM
Quote
Here is the direct link to my "Open Letter" which I have now made into an essay:

Open Letter to John Smith  (http://beautiful-landscape.com/Thoughts48.html)

I will be publishing "Open letters" versions from my students and other photographers soon.


[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=72103\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Alain,

  I appreciate the insight in much of the response that you wrote to JS.  I know I would not have much fun answering questions like that     .  On the otherhand much of what you wrote also sounded very very defensive (that's the mildest way I can put it).  As a well known professional, I really would have expected a more professional answer, regardless of whether the "buyer" sounded legit or not.  The very last section regarding the payment method is downright childish IMO, and I am surprised how proud of it you are that you would post in on your site and publicly announce on the forums.  I deeply hope you are not encouraging others to act in this manner.  In the case that such a reply was made to a legitimate buyer I would image it to be quite an embarrassment, considering that you are not known as the "bad ass" type of artist and instead are also talking about high standards.  I wonder how Micheal Reichmann feels about a regular column writer who portrays himself in such high standards exibiting such behavior.  Whether it matters to your or not, personally, I know I am not going to ready anymore of your articles after this.  And I'm sure I'm not the only person out there who feels this way.

  I am also quite surprised that no person has so far voiced any kind of objection to this.  Perhaps it is because you are well known and no one wishes to challenge what you say.  A person in your position will have many followers that will back you regardless of the situation and no individual likes to go up against an "army".  No doubt there will be people who have a problem with what I have written.  Well, all I can hope for is that those who respond look at the situation without bias.  I am quite aware that I am in the underdog, the "who the hell is this guy" position here.  Alain, I hope your response is, well, unlike the one to john.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Mark D Segal on July 30, 2006, 08:42:38 AM
"Blind Photographer" - get a life!

Alain - how many Euros to a Rooster?

Cheers,

Mark

PS. When one tries to educate morons one runs the risk of being perceived as defensive, but I found your answers very straightforward and I appreciate that you published them, because I am sure there are many people who, while being less offesnive and in-your-face about it, simply don't understand the valuation of art; you have provided much valuable insight into this generic question.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Blind Photographer on July 30, 2006, 08:47:16 AM
Quote
"Blind Photographer" - get a life!

Alain - how many Euros to a Rooster?

Cheers,

Mark

PS. When one tries to educate morons one runs the risk of being perceived as defensive, but I found your answers very straightforward and I appreciate that you published them, because I am sure there are many people who, while being less offesnive and in-your-face about it, simply don't understand the valuation of art; you have provided much valuable insight into this generic question.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=72127\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Very Classy and Unbiased there.  Funny how when one calls others morons it shows their own inability to come up with something worth reading.  Micheal R., these guys write for and represent  your site?

Please, if anyone has got something to say, is an adult, and wishes to be respected then act like an adult and act in a respectible manner.  Worthless, disgusting responses from here on will be treated as such and ignored by me.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Blind Photographer on July 30, 2006, 08:49:57 AM
Double post
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Mark D Segal on July 30, 2006, 08:54:57 AM
Blind Photographer: (1) that comment wasn't directed at you, and (2) sometimes much as it may not be too polished by definition - and even classless, the unvarnished truth needs to be told. I take my hat off to Alain - he has more patience and perseverance to put up with such nonsense than many other people do, and it shouldn't be misunderstood.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Jonathan Wienke on July 30, 2006, 09:09:14 AM
What Alain writes on his site is his business, and as long as he is willing to endure the consequences (whatever they may be), I have no problem witrh him writing whatever he likes, as he sees fit. I thought Alain's piece was well-written and surprisingly polite, given the rather insulting way the question was phrased. I would have simply told "John Smith" to go piss up a rope, but no one has ever accused me of being excessively diplomatic.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Blind Photographer on July 30, 2006, 09:09:17 AM
Quote
Blind Photographer: (1) that comment wasn't directed at you, and (2) sometimes much as it may not be too polished by definition - and even classless, the unvarnished truth needs to be told. I take my hat off to Alain - he has more patience and perseverance to put up with such nonsense than many other people do, and it shouldn't be misunderstood.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=72132\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I'm sure he has put up with more crap than most of us can handle before blowing up.  But it clearly wasn't shown in that open answer to john and I'm not sure why it is being shown off publicly.  Certainly not a good example from someone that many people look up to and follow.  Again, I did say that I appreciated his insight that he has shared with us in his response, but that and the part that strikes me as disturbing I am addressing seperately.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Blind Photographer on July 30, 2006, 09:15:06 AM
Quote
What Alain writes on his site is his business, and as long as he is willing to endure the consequences (whatever they may be), I have no problem witrh him whiting whatever he likes, as he sees fit. I thought Alain's piece was well-written and surprisingly polite, given the rather insulting way the question was phrased. I would have simply told "John Smith" to go piss up a rope, but no one has ever accused me of being excessively diplomatic.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=72133\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

True, he can write whatever he wants to on his site but he's linking it to this forum.  As anyone here on the forums can be openly challenged I do not see a special case as to why I shouldn't voice a disagreement.  And hey, I understand that you can tell others off if you choose, as you have said you are known to be that way.  That's you and you don't hide it.  On the otherhand, Alain has always maintained that his standards of well, being Alain are quite high, yet the open response seems to really clash with that.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Jonathan Wienke on July 30, 2006, 09:20:26 AM
How so? Alain has written many articles about photography as an art form, a business, and his techniques, but I don't recall him ever stating that it was "beneath him" to respond point-by-point to silly criticisms. He may not have done so in writing before, but that doesn't mean he's violating consistency with anything he's written previously.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Blind Photographer on July 30, 2006, 09:43:26 AM
Quote
How so? Alain has written many articles about photography as an art form, a business, and his techniques, but I don't recall him ever stating that it was "beneath him" to respond point-by-point to silly criticisms. He may not have done so in writing before, but that doesn't mean he's violating consistency with anything he's written previously.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=72137\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Maybe you're right.  Maybe he never said it was beneath him to respond harshly to questions he feels shouldn't be asked of him.  It could just be that I made the mistake of assuming and associating his method of work to the way he interacts with people (Although I may not be the only one, since there was mention of "patience" earlier).  I guess this doesn't go anywhere from here until we get a response from him.  BTW Jonathan thank for reasoning things out with me in the way that you have.

I still think many parts of the open response are a poor example to follow though.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Mark D Segal on July 30, 2006, 10:28:18 AM
Blind Photographer, let me suggest the following - it may help clarify why some of us have reacted to the exchange between Alain and Mr. Smith (though we are way off topic in terms of Pete Myers) the way we have - or at least speaking for myself. It boils down to two simple propositions the are at the same time elementary common sense and elementary human decency. (1) A work of art needs to be appreciated firstly for what it is, and secondarily for how it was made - one's own prejudices about tools and techniques should never interfere with an appreciation of the result. I am often intrigued by how a work was achieved because I appreciate the work and therefore I am curious about how it was done. Not the other way around. (2) It is really extremely insulting to question an artist about his/her pricing. It is like saying "your work isn't worth it". One leaves that judgment to oneself and to the marketplace.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Tim Gray on July 30, 2006, 10:52:12 AM
Back to the Pete Meyers topic - obviously whether or not he wants to publish his "secret sauce" is his business, but I believe (without having seen a full size hard print) that most advanced potographers with commensurate post processing skills could have taken the same capture and turned it into something equally "compelling" using tools and techniques generally available.  

When I saw his final version I certainly was not thinking hmmmm - how did he do that?
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: KSH on July 30, 2006, 05:24:35 PM
I found the article very interesting, and I enjoyed reading it very much - although only at second reading. When I first read it, I felt slightly disappointed because I had hoped for more hints and tips that I would have been able to use in my own photography. But when I read the article a second time, I came to appreciate that it offered me a look over Pete Myer's shoulder while he was working on a picture, from conceiving the image until the time it was ready for printing. Knowing about his special methods would have been nice, but, by that time, inconsequential for my being able to appreciate the article. He was telling me how HE conceived an image and how HE developed it according to HIS vision. I note that he is pleased with the result; I also note that his understanding about a successful fine art photograph may differ from mine. But, again, I consider all of this to be inconsequential for the purpose of the article as I understand it, namely, being able follow HIS work process. So, yes, I liked the article.

All the more so because I am not sure whether Pete is ever going to contribute another article to this website after reading this thread. Of course, everybody is entitled to his opinion, and everybody is welcome not to appreciate the article. But outright complaining, or even feeling insulted, that Pete Myers possessed the audacity not to divulge his proprietary methods does not strike me as an appropriate reaction to him devoting his time to provide such an article for free. And I sincerely hope that Alain Briot will reconsider whether it was ok to criticise a fellow photographer in way that bordered on an insult ("emperor's new clothes") only to  hijack this thread by explaining at length how much more open he is in his teaching and art. And it may have felt good to write that open letter, but it did strike me as a trifle condescending and pompous. I am sorry to say this because I appreciate Alain's photography and writing a lot.

Everybody is entitled to her and his opinion. This happens to be mine.

Karsten
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: thompsonkirk on July 30, 2006, 08:13:02 PM
About Pete Myers' pricing, & how we might think about our own:  As was mentioned above, at one level it's insulting to say to an artist that your work just isn't worth it.  But at another, it's reasonable for artists - Pete & us - to stay in some sort of touch with the 'real' art market, however diverse & quirky it is.  

At one level, Pete seems to be offering something quite reasonable - Open Edition 15" 'archival'  prints for $545.  That has to be OK with me, because it's about what I charge.  I hope some of us can do even better.  

Beyond that, it's certainly true that many prints sell for $35K - & lots more.  

But first of all we have to leave aside the grand old dead folks, whose works are by definition Limited Editions.  

Among contemporary artists, it's not uncommon for some to command $35K & up for large prints - though we mustn't forget that an art dealer is involved, showing the work to prospective collectors & taking a hefty percentage on sales.  Gursky & Misrach are a couple of examples of photographers who command enviable prices for limited editions of their board-room-sized prints.  

Here, however, are some differences.  Your average $35K-per-print photographer, instead of working off the Internet, is represented by major art dealers & galleries.  His or her work has been shown in the most prominent venues in NY, LA, SF, Chicago, Houston - not to mention Europe & Asia.  Their images have been acquired  for the collections of major museums.  They have been favorably reviewed by recognized critics here & abroad.  And the editions are almost always limited, not open, so the purchaser is guaranteed that the print is a rather rare commodity.  

Commanding such prices may be a matter of faddishness, or of getting hooked up with trendy galleries in what's almost a pyramid scheme.  Admittedly the art market is an odd place, a sur-reality.  But occupying a high-priced place in it isn't just something we can wish upon ourselves.  

Where do people like Pete & us fit into this world?  Dear reader, take a look at the Myers website to see the work itself, where it's exhibited, & who has reviewed it.  We can all reach our own gentle conclusions about art-market facts & fantasies.  And we can also all hope that someone will fall in $35K worth of love with our biggest print.  There's no harm, if not much realism, in wishing or even trying.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Jack Flesher on July 30, 2006, 09:39:10 PM
Quote
SNIP
All the more so because I am not sure whether Pete is ever going to contribute another article to this website after reading this thread.
SNIP
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=72174\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

that may have been the goal...  The good news is I think Pete has much thicker skin than that
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: pobrien3 on July 30, 2006, 11:03:00 PM
Sorry to divert back to Alain's response - am I alone in not seeing anything terribly inflammatory or insulting about "John Smith's" questions?  The buyer can choose from a selection of artists, he seemed to me to be looking for a rationale to choose between them.  Whilst there may be a market out there prepared to pay $35k for a print, the bulk of the market is way below that category.  Whether we like it or not price is one of the determinants of market competition, especially when that market segment may not be as discriminating or as well informed as the $35k-buyers.

As digital photographers we may have embraced DSLRs and inkjet printing and most of us see advantages over traditional prints, but whether we like it or not much of our market still see it as not 'proper' photography.  Likewise they may perceive a photographer with a 35mm camera as perhaps not a 'proper' landscape photographer.  When dealing with the general populace, we will certainly get daft questions, often they might be interpreted as insulting, though they may be asked in ignorance.  Most of Alain's response answered the questions intelligently and sensitively: I would probably have fared worse.

Print size IS important to many buyers - I would want to know the image size, not just the fully matted size.  It's a reasonable question.

Sorry Alain, I'm sincerely an admirer of your writing and especially your beautiful photography, but I thought elements of your response were disproportionate.  To make this response public is an error of judgement, in my personal opinion.  I might tell an irritating customer to put his money where the sun doesn't shine (and I have, more than once), but I wouldn't broadcast to other prospective buyers that I'd done so prominently on my website.

Peter
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: DarkPenguin on July 31, 2006, 12:33:55 AM
The guy should try istock and costco.  I mean if other people have done something similar it must all be the same.

Back to the original article.  I quite enjoyed it.  The secret sauce bit was far less irritating than not explaining what the secret sauce was supposed to achieve.  But that's a minor point.  One that I wouldn't even have noted if 1/2 this thread wasn't crying about it.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Nick Rains on July 31, 2006, 02:50:24 AM
Quote
I wouldn't even have noted if 1/2 this thread wasn't crying about it.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=72203\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Me too. I didn't even read it until I saw this thread.

At this level of printing the subtleties are so small that there is no way to really show them on web images. Just like there is no real way to evaluate the dollar worth of a print over the net.

Therefore any articles about this sort of subtlety are mostly pointless because the results cannot be properly judged, and they are very subjective anyway - one man's 'dark' is another man's 'moody'.

Only in a decent print workshop is this sort of information useful.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: dlashier on July 31, 2006, 05:00:58 AM
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I would have simply told "John Smith" to go piss up a rope, but no one has ever accused me of being excessively diplomatic.
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I think I would have simple ignored it and not responded. Alain's work if anything is under priced and the query looks like a troll to me.

- DL
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Scott_H on July 31, 2006, 10:31:17 AM
Quote
Print size IS important to many buyers - I would want to know the image size, not just the fully matted size.

I was at an art show this weekend, and most of the photographers were calling out the mat size, not the photograph size, as the size of the work.  There were numbered prints, references to giclee, and a lot of people printing on canvas.  It all seems like ways to artificailly increase value in the eyes of the customer to me.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Mark D Segal on July 31, 2006, 11:20:50 AM
Quote
I was at an art show this weekend, and most of the photographers were calling out the mat size, not the photograph size, as the size of the work.  There were numbered prints, references to giclee, and a lot of people printing on canvas.  It all seems like ways to artificailly increase value in the eyes of the customer to me.
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Anyone can "artificially" increase prices, but not value. Value is determined by the price at which a transaction closes.

People who buy and sell photographs by the square inch may be concerned about how size is described, but the determinative issue is whether the prospective customer likes the size and looks of the product enough to buy it. That also pertains to the use of canvas versus any other medium.

Numbering prints gives customers who appreciate scarcity the confidence that only "X" number of these prints will be made, and this can increase value in the eyes of those customers.

Reference to "giclee" of course is just a snobbby way of identifying an inkjet print. If that increases value in some peoples' minds, all the more power to the seller. Some customers who ask the vendor what "giclee" means may be terribly disappointed to learn that the print was made on an Epson 4800, unless they know what real technical quality that process imparts to the work.

I know what you are saying - I also go to those shows and peruse the works at the photography booths. The range of quality is usually quite wide, and more often than not the stuff exhibiting clearly higher technical quality is inkjet, while the vendors of wet darkroom prints go to great lengths extolling the virtues of "traditional" technology. We are living in transitional times ad different folks are adapting in different ways! It's fun.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: jashley on July 31, 2006, 12:42:06 PM
I've just started selling my photos, so unfortunately I don't have Alain's "problem" yet.  But I used to make custom furniture, and did sometimes have people question my pricing vs. furniture stores or other makers.  I would simply use it as an opportunity to educate the potential customer as to the quality of my work and would always invite comparison.   I never felt it was an insult, and never thought any of the people doing the questioning were morons.  In fact, one of the "questioners" who finally ordered a piece liked it so much they gave me a tip!  

Perhaps selling custom furniture isn't exactly analogous to selling photography, but the principles of salesmanship are the same--why assume someone is a jerk or a moron and potentially alienate them and others when they might eventually buy from you (when they develop more appreciation for quality work, have more money, etc.)?
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: alainbriot on July 31, 2006, 01:55:09 PM
I did perceive John Smith's email as insulting.  In such situations, it is difficult to find the "best" answer, if there is one.

So what I did today is publish two answers to John Smith's original question "What makes your work so special?" by other photographers.  These answers are at the same link as previously posted in this forum.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Eric Myrvaagnes on July 31, 2006, 02:26:53 PM
Since a number of the questions JS asked in his email to Alain are indeed answered quite clearly on his website, I can understand why Alain felt insulted.

When I read the original letter, I was reminded of something that happened to me many years ago while teaching a freshman-level, required college math course. I was busy answering a thoughtful, content-related question by one student when a second student stuck his hand up and asked "Why do we have to learn this?" Some of the replies I considered making (but didn't) included:
1.   Read the course description in the catalog;
2.   Because your parents are paying to have you learn this;
3.   Because you presumably want to pass the course.
4.   Why did you sign up for this course?
5.   Why are you in college?

I found the question insulting because the student asking had clearly not put even a minimal effort into finding an answer on his own. And if someone decides not to buy a print from me at my asking price, that is fine with me. But if someone complains that my prices are too high, I lose interest in trying to sell to that potential customer.

Eric
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: alainbriot on July 31, 2006, 02:33:15 PM
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the query looks like a troll to me.
- DL
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=72219\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

That is the way I perceived it, right or wrong.  I do have a lot of experience with print queries, having made thousand of print sales, and I never received one like this one.  Serious art buyers do not act insulting towards the artist.  

We do have to keep in mind that if serious, which as I mentioned I seriously doubt, this query is for a purchase of 5k or so. While not uncommon, I don't think someone will make this purchase if they dislike the artist or have a problem with their pricing, which is why I didn't take it seriously.

Furthermore, this type of sale is usually conducted over the phone after the initial contact.  And, people provide you with more information than just their name.  Usually a phone number is in the email, or a shipping address.  The address is usually there because questions about shipping are almost always a concern, either the cost of shipping, or the risk that the work gets damaged, or duty fees when shipping abroad.  None of this is provided in John Smith's email.  

As I always say, "I never had someone who did not like me buy from me."  John Smith certainly does not sound as if he likes me.  Although I don't think this to be the case here, I have had people who proved to be racist act in a quite similar manner.  

If I am wrong, or if I insulted anyone in my answer, I apologize.  I would appreciate the same from John Smith, whoever he is.

As I said, hard to find the "best" answer if there is one in such situation.

PS-I just re-read John Smith's emails, and saw something that shocked me.  I won't mention what it is here, because I need to double check it, but if I am correct what I saw points to the fact that the two emails from JS may be "traps" rather than "trolls".
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Eric Myrvaagnes on July 31, 2006, 02:52:48 PM
Alain,

The two new responses on your website are quite thoughtful.

In response to the "it must be your fancy equipment" argument, I'm tempted to claim that the reason my Fine Art (capiltalization mandatory here     ) Photographs are so special is that I always mix my Dektol using the most expensive model of Cuisinart Food Processor before making my Digital Prints ('Giclee' of course)."    

Eric
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: DarkPenguin on July 31, 2006, 03:00:31 PM
That's why I call my prints Frappe.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: alainbriot on July 31, 2006, 03:10:54 PM
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I found the article very interesting, and I enjoyed reading it very much - although only at second reading. When I first read it, I felt slightly disappointed because I had hoped for more hints and tips that I would have been able to use in my own photography. But when I read the article a second time, I came to appreciate that it offered me a look over Pete Myer's shoulder while he was working on a picture, from conceiving the image until the time it was ready for printing. Knowing about his special methods would have been nice, but, by that time, inconsequential for my being able to appreciate the article. He was telling me how HE conceived an image and how HE developed it according to HIS vision. I note that he is pleased with the result; I also note that his understanding about a successful fine art photograph may differ from mine. But, again, I consider all of this to be inconsequential for the purpose of the article as I understand it, namely, being able follow HIS work process. So, yes, I liked the article.
All the more so because I am not sure whether Pete is ever going to contribute another article to this website after reading this thread. Of course, everybody is entitled to his opinion, and everybody is welcome not to appreciate the article. But outright complaining, or even feeling insulted, that Pete Myers possessed the audacity not to divulge his proprietary methods does not strike me as an appropriate reaction to him devoting his time to provide such an article for free. And I sincerely hope that Alain Briot will reconsider whether it was ok to criticise a fellow photographer in way that bordered on an insult ("emperor's new clothes") only to  hijack this thread by explaining at length how much more open he is in his teaching and art. And it may have felt good to write that open letter, but it did strike me as a trifle condescending and pompous. I am sorry to say this because I appreciate Alain's photography and writing a lot.
Everybody is entitled to her and his opinion. This happens to be mine.
Karsten
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This was my initial response after reading the essay and before visiting Pete's site (after a reader pointed to the subtle texture on close up views of the print).  It then became obvious to me that I was wrong and that there is a quality that simply does not appear well when the print is seen as a whole.  So, just to be 100% clear,  I now see that there is a unique quality to Pete's work and that I missed that when I first read the essay.  I should have seen this in the close up of the steering wheel at the end of the essay, but I don't think it shows up well there.  It is a lot more visible in the close up that is on Pete's site.  In fact I find this texture quite intriguing.

Regarding my post about my approach, my goal was solely to be 100% clear about my personal approach to teaching, something that I felt was important in the context of this discussion.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: mattsuess on August 01, 2006, 10:18:46 AM
Long time lurker, first time poster... thought there were some interesting topics in this thread and felt the need to jump in.

In regards to Mr. Myers article, I honestly didn't feel cheated that he didn't go into detail on exactly how he did his curves or not revealing any "proprietary" steps. If he feels the need to limit some information, so be it.

What I did find of tremendous value, and which has only been touched upon in this thread, is the entire thought process and execution that really created his image. For me “getting inside his head” so to speak was far more valuable than looking at screen shots of photoshop adjustments. So much more goes into the creation of a fine art photograph than the tripod (or monopod) used, the camera, the software, etc. The making of his photograph, in my opinion, was created well before it got to photoshop - that is there where the true value and lesson is in regards to his article.

Lastly, regarding Mr. Myers selling a print for $35K - why are people complaining? If he is able to sell at that price, then what that does is help each and every other one of us selling at a lower price by reaffirming to the public that photography is an art form and as such is worthy of respectable prices in the art community. I hope his $35K print is his best seller.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Mark D Segal on August 01, 2006, 10:47:20 AM
Quote
In regards to Mr. Myers article, I honestly didn't feel cheated that he didn't go into detail on exactly how he did his curves or not revealing any "proprietary" steps. If he feels the need to limit some information, so be it.

What I did find of tremendous value, and which has only been touched upon in this thread, is the entire thought process and execution that really created his image. For me “getting inside his head” so to speak was far more valuable than looking at screen shots of photoshop adjustments. ..................The making of his photograph, in my opinion, was created well before it got to photoshop - that is there where the true value and lesson is in regards to his article.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=72312\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Matt, on the proprietary aspect, I agree with you in part. In my previous posts never disputed Pete's right and perhaps obligation to not reveal important aspects of his processes. At the same time, however, unlike you I believe this seriously diminishes the purposes of the article. In your second paragraph above you say " the entire thought process and execution....". OK, we may be getting the entire thought process but not the entire execution. IF you believe an important purpose of the article is to show how he went from thought process to execution, there is no way around the fact that the purpose has been compromised by the omissions in the description of the execution - regardless of his right/obligation to so so; but IF you don't believe that's an important purpose of the article then you would logically believe that little has been lost. Personally, I was disappointed but not mortified. Such an article sparks one's curiosity to know exactly how he did it, only to have that curiosity frustrated. But as we all know, there are umpteen ways of achieving roughly similar objectives in Photoshop, and nothing prevents each of us from experimenting with or without the benefit of the mathematics.

Turning to your closing thought of that paragraph - once we start considering "the true value and lesson" of the article, this of course is where the judgment of the website publisher and the readers come into play. There is obviously a very wide audience covering the whole range of experience levels reading material on this website, so what is valuable for some people would be self-evident to others. Hence this judgment is necessarily subjective and will vary from person to person. For those who haven't considered the notion that the photographer should visualize the print before pressing the shutter release (even if only in a flash of a second), this article indeed provides a very useful lesson. For those who have been doing this routinely, it's kind of "so what else is new?" And so be it - just the variety of human experience.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Jack Flesher on August 01, 2006, 11:04:14 AM
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Sorry to divert back to Alain's response - am I alone in not seeing anything terribly inflammatory or insulting about "John Smith's" questions?  SNIP[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=72198\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I did not think it was that out of line either -- perhaps a bit awkwardly worded -- but also think it is possible (even probable) it was a troll.  However there is another possibility for "John Smith's" query...

At first glance, the name itself appears to be an alias and I suspect why many jump to the conclusion it was a troll.  However, in addition to the possibility it was a real name, it may have also been to otherwise camouflage the true identity behind the inquiry.  Most of my wealthy clients are extremely private people and require special procedures for dealing with their privacy.  It is not unusual for them to use assistants to make inquiries about purchases simply to insure they don't pay inflated prices due to their name-recognition and the rather public knowledge of their net-worths.

Another thought was a museum. My cousin was a curator for prominent local museum.  It was standard procedure for him to use an alias when attempting to acquire private collections --  if he didn't he'd blow his budget by March of every year

Of course none of this matters if he was a troll.  But on the off-chance it wasn't a troll, a shot at landing a whale may have been blown...
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: mattsuess on August 01, 2006, 11:06:45 AM
MarkDS - all very good points made. I can see how some would feel frustrated and expecting more. Because he didn't even go into any detail or steps that are taken for the actual printing of the image left me personally feeling that his intent of the article was more with his vision, and less with the end process.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: mattsuess on August 01, 2006, 11:26:55 AM
Quote
Sorry to divert back to Alain's response - am I alone in not seeing anything terribly inflammatory or insulting about "John Smith's" questions?
Peter
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To be honest Peter, I actually thought “John Smith” was rather insulting and inflammatory and felt that Alain handled it wonderfully, including his posting it to his site.

Anyone selling their work for a living, and/or those who are familiar with Alain, his business, and his writings would have made the conclusion that “John Smith” was a troll, a trap, etc. and was not in any way a potential buyer once “John Smith” made his second reply.

In “John Smith’s” first email the wording starts to give him away. Questions like “why are your prints so expensive?” and “what makes your prints so special?”, while perhaps legitimate questions, given the context of the email seemed a little accusatory and argumentative.

The other suspicious part was “John Smith” stating “I have seen some images quite similar to yours (not those I am interested in) offered by other photographers for a fraction of the price.” If those images were so similar, and at a fraction of the price, why is he not interested? Additional clue he was probably not a buyer - just someone looking for a conflict.

But given the benefit of the doubt, Alain replied with a great answer as to why his prints are so special. He answered a very direct and accusatory initial email with a pointed but descriptive response. If this was a buyer, “John Smith’s” reply, I am sure, would have been a little bit different.

But “John Smith’s” response really sealed the deal in determining this wasn’t a buyer. Certain statements made in “John’s” response made it seem to me that he was in fact familiar with Alain and his business practices and just wanted to call him out on it.  It is probably something Alain has to deal with a lot these days given the success he has had.

Further, “John Smith” never really gave any indication that he was really interested in Alain’s artwork. All he was interested in was the price, camera used, type of printer, etc. People buy art because they have a connection with the artist, not the tools.

Alain’s response, I believe, was perfect and didn’t go overboard. He handled someone looking for a fight wonderfully, gave great answers to each of “John Smith’s” concerns, and did the right thing in posting it to his website.  

The only thing I think Alain might have done differently was to have added a brief mention that he believed this “John Smith” was not a sincere buyer. While many people were able to recognize “John Smith” for what he is, perhaps a first time reader of Alain’s site, and/or those who do not sell for a living, might have thought “John Smith” was a legitimate buyer.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Mark D Segal on August 01, 2006, 12:18:12 PM
Quote
............The only thing I think Alain might have done differently was to have added a brief mention that he believed this “John Smith” was not a sincere buyer. ...........[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=72321\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I think Alain did this indirectly by asking to be paid in Roosters. By the way, I discovered that a 20 Franc Rooster sells for USD 139.04 (at the Gold Coin Store, a division of the American Gold Exchange), so a 35,000 dollar print only costs a little over 250 Roosters, for those who find high numbers scary  
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: alainbriot on August 01, 2006, 12:35:42 PM
Quote
Certain statements made in “John’s” response made it seem to me that he was in fact familiar with Alain and his business practices and just wanted to call him out on it.  It is probably something Alain has to deal with a lot these days given the success he has had.
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Indeed.  This is possible. It is also possible that JS is a racist predator.  Natalie said, after reading his emails, that a lot of his questions were aimed at belittling me and my work ("What makes your work so special" and other similar statements.  Racist arguments are by nature "ad hominem" that is aimed at the person or the doings of that person. A racist predator will always attack the person, or attack the person indirectly through criticizing or belittling their actions, which is the same.  They are aimed at making the person feel that they are less than they say they are.  They are aimed at making the person feel that they are below others and definitly below the racist predator himself.  In short, the goal of the racist predator is to make it clear that his race is above mine and that for me to claim any achievement above his, is delusional, wrong, inappropriate, pretentious, etc.

Being French, I have to keep in mind that this is a possibility.  Not being a native speaker, it is hard for me to know the motives that people have sometimes, so I ask Natalie when in doubt.  Being from here, it is a lot easier for her to "read between the lines" and see what people really mean.  And this is what she is reading here.  I'm not saying it is right or wrong, just that this is what she is saying.  This is in part Natalie suggested I mention the Roosters. The rooster being a traditional icon of French culture, she thought that if John Smith is a racist predator, he would react very strongly too. I think she was right because this seems to be the one thing in my response that JS responded to the most stongly.

Hi, this is Natalie and I am using Alain's account because I do not have one.  I have never written anything on a forum before.    However, I believe that the goal of John Smith and racist predators is to silence Alain and prevent him from using forums and posting his beliefs on forums by belittling him and undermining what he says so that he will stop.  We, and I include myself will lose a lot if Alain stops what he is writing, stops creating the beautiful images that he creates and stops supporting and helping other photographers to succeed.  We must keep in mind that John Smith or racist predators want to make this a personal confrontation between them and Alain and that is why I suggested that Alain writes an open answer to John Smith's email.

 Alain's response has helped many students that he is working with currently and they are also writing about it on their own websites.  It has also helped them think about what makes their photographs unique and worth the money that they are asking.  It has helped them to take pride in the work and understand that the customer does not have the right to bully the artist just because they pretend that they are going to buy something.  Fortunately, with the many years of experience that I have selling Alain's work, I can see through this immediately and dismiss these type of people at shows.  John Smith is a fraud and never had any intention of buying artwork.  John Smith is an alias that someone who knows Alain very well is using to be thorn in his side.

Natalie
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: pobrien3 on August 01, 2006, 01:07:54 PM
Sorry you seem to be having trouble with a particular person Alain / Natialie.  I didn't get the 'racist' bit though... must have been more communication that you didn't share with us.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: pobrien3 on August 01, 2006, 01:10:24 PM
Matt Seuss - took a look at your website; some beautiful work in there, I particularly like your B&W.  Must be some fine camera you have    (just pulling your leg - really do love your images!)

Peter
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: alainbriot on August 01, 2006, 01:22:09 PM
Quote
Sorry you seem to be having trouble with a particular person Alain / Natialie.  I didn't get the 'racist' bit though... must have been more communication that you didn't share with us.
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Yes, there is more. I'll ask Natalie if she wants to expand on what she wrote.  Natalie is now handling every aspect of this matter, including further dealings with JS, if he ever materializes.  I'm out of the loop as far as dealing with JS, as is customary in this situation as I previously explained.

Natalie thinks that JS will appear on this forum ;-)
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: jashley on August 01, 2006, 03:00:41 PM
Alain, It sounds like you believe you know who JS is, but their initial email still seems fairly innocuous to me (at least what is posted--is there more?).  Some people have mentioned reading JS's reply email but I couldn't find a link for it on your site.  Where is it?
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: mattsuess on August 01, 2006, 05:40:26 PM
Quote
Matt Seuss - took a look at your website; some beautiful work in there, I particularly like your B&W.  Must be some fine camera you have    (just pulling your leg - really do love your images!)

Peter
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=72332\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Thanks Peter. The camera is nice, but let me tell you about that tripod!!  

Natalie - well stated. Thanks for posting.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: mbutler on August 01, 2006, 08:23:59 PM
I've been following this discussion with great interest and, as someone who has been thinking about trying to get into two or three summer weekend art shows for the first time next year, I've swung from abject horror to cautious self-confidence. The latter usually coincides with Alain's well-timed remarks (be sure to read his new "Just Say Yes" essay on the nature photography forum, too).

I've sat with a b&w photographer friend of mine through a few shows, and I know how brutal it can be. But I prefer to dwell on the memory of watching a teenager who stopped by his booth several times a couple of months ago. It truly hurt this girl, financially, to buy a 5x7 print in the bin for less than $100. But I could see a feeling of joy sweep over her when she finally made the decision to buy.

Philistines, gear geeks, and assholes will always be among us, but new art collectors are being born, too.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Mark D Segal on August 01, 2006, 08:54:40 PM
Quote
Indeed.  This is possible. It is also possible that JS is a racist predator.  Natalie said, after reading his emails, that a lot of his questions were aimed at belittling me and my work ("What makes your work so special" and other similar statements.  Racist arguments are by nature "ad hominem" that is aimed at the person or the doings of that person. A racist predator will always attack the person, or attack the person indirectly through criticizing or belittling their actions, which is the same.  They are aimed at making the person feel that they are less than they say they are.  They are aimed at making the person feel that they are below others and definitly below the racist predator himself.  In short, the goal of the racist predator is to make it clear that his race is above mine and that for me to claim any achievement above his, is delusional, wrong, inappropriate, pretentious, etc.

......................[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=72328\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Alain - in these situations it is often best to simply ignore such people. Most of them - if they don't get the attention they want they simply desist, because they measure their success by the extent to which they visibly irritate their victims and create noise around them. IF this characterises "JS" he has already made alot more headway than he deserves on this forum.

Cheers,

Mark
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: ddolde on August 01, 2006, 10:53:07 PM
I never heard of racism against the French.  Since when is French a race anyway?
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: DarkPenguin on August 02, 2006, 12:22:34 AM
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I never heard of racism against the French.  Since when is French a race anyway?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=72371\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Two synonyms of racism are bigotry and discrimination.  So just substitute one or the other for racism and you should be good to go.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Anon E. Mouse on August 02, 2006, 03:56:29 AM
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I never heard of racism against the French.  Since when is French a race anyway?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=72371\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Since the French opposed the US in the Iraq war. The US stands for freedom. Freedom of thought. Freedom to follow your oun conscience. Since they did not do what the US wanted, the US got mad at them. Makes me mad every time I carry out my Freedom fries out to the patio through the Freedom doors. I still go to the local Freedom restaurant and enjoy Freedom wine, but the Freedoms should know better than to oppose the only country that is right. But we stuck it to them since we made "French" synonomous with "Freedom."
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: dlashier on August 02, 2006, 04:54:33 AM
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Since the French opposed the US in the Iraq war.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=72381\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Smart, in retrospect. We should have listened to them - but then, I'm French.  

- DL
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: jashley on August 02, 2006, 06:03:08 AM
All I see so far is someone being publicly vilified as a "racist predator" because they questioned Alain's pricing and asked about his equipment.  On the face of it,  this seems absurd to me and a very foolhardy thing to say in a public forum.

Alain/Nathalie, you are the ones who decided to make this public, so if there really is a "smoking gun" please let us see it.  If you really know who this guy is, and he used racist terms now or in the past, tell us and we'll be with you 100%.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Mark D Segal on August 02, 2006, 07:36:17 AM
I'm not a moderator and not trying to be one, but in the interest of voluntarily maintaining our standards, let us all take a deep breath and push the Refresh button - this thread has gotten way OFF TOPIC. Without wanting to be pedantic viz a viz my virtual colleagues, let me remind, this thread started as a discussion of Pete Myers's essay. Then a contributor visiting his website made a comment about 35 thousand bucks for a sixty inch print. From there it meandered into a discussion of pricing, which brought on Alain's issue with JS, which has now meandered into a discussion of anti-French bigotry - hardly the kind of stuff L-L was designed for. I would respectfully suggest to my virtual colleagues that if there is sufficient interest a separate thread be developed on the "ins and outs" of pricing photography, and that if everyone has had their say about Mr. Myers' essay we draw this thread to a voluntary close, or else continue it, but on that topic only. As for bigotry, there's no shortage of it anywhere in the world and we all know this website isn't the place to discuss it.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: jashley on August 02, 2006, 08:27:57 AM
Hold on just a minute.  My opinion of Alain has always been that he is a good guy who makes beautiful photographs, but I am troubled that he has made such a serious accusation on what seems to me (without additional information) scant grounds.  We already know from other posts that his response to JS and subsequent posts have turned people off.  I would like to be able to maintain my heretofore high regard for Alain, and think he and Nathalie deserve the chance to expose whatever else it is they know that would support such an accusation.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Mark D Segal on August 02, 2006, 11:09:44 AM
I suggest you not convert what was stated as a possibility into an accusation. More than that I shall not say, because I would then be disregarding my own advice!
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Eric Myrvaagnes on August 02, 2006, 11:40:46 AM
Quote
I'm not a moderator and not trying to be one, but in the interest of voluntarily maintaining our standards, let us all take a deep breath and push the Refresh button - this thread has gotten way OFF TOPIC. Without wanting to be pedantic viz a viz my virtual colleagues, let me remind, this thread started as a discussion of Pete Myers's essay. Then a contributor visiting his website made a comment about 35 thousand bucks for a sixty inch print. From there it meandered into a discussion of pricing, which brought on Alain's issue with JS, which has now meandered into a discussion of anti-French bigotry - hardly the kind of stuff L-L was designed for. I would respectfully suggest to my virtual colleagues that if there is sufficient interest a separate thread be developed on the "ins and outs" of pricing photography, and that if everyone has had their say about Mr. Myers' essay we draw this thread to a voluntary close, or else continue it, but on that topic only. As for bigotry, there's no shortage of it anywhere in the world and we all know this website isn't the place to discuss it.
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Thank you, Mark.

That puts it very well. I agree 100%.

To get back on track, I found Pete's essay interesting but not earth-shattering. The "proprietary" bit was at most a minor annoyance, not worth making a fuss about. I do appreciate very much the approaches of such photographers as Ansel, Michael, and Alain, who have always seemed eager to share every detail of their process with the rest of us. But if someone else wants to keep some techniques secret in order to protect a particular style, that's also fine by me.

Eric
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: jashley on August 02, 2006, 12:29:25 PM
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I suggest you not convert what was stated as a possibility into an accusation. More than that I shall not say, because I would then be disregarding my own advice!
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I'm sorry but if you're saying that using the phrase "John Smith or racist predators" (in post 107) several times somehow doesn't tar John Smith as a racist predator then you are just quibbling.

As I stated in my last post I have always been a fan of Alain's, and would like to remain that way.  Why that would cause you to imply that I might deserve some kind of accusation from you is beyond me.  Please explain.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Mark D Segal on August 02, 2006, 12:42:16 PM
JAshley - I'm not accusing you of anything. I interpret Alain's remarks differently. This is my last post on the matter.

Mark
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Eric Myrvaagnes on August 02, 2006, 02:03:20 PM
Quote
I'm sorry but if you're saying that using the phrase "John Smith or racist predators" (in post 107) several times somehow doesn't tar John Smith as a racist predator then you are just quibbling.
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I checked post 107 again, and the phrase "John Smith or racist predators" is used precisely once ("racist predators" appears a few more times). "Several" would appear to me to be an exaggeration.

Besides: What does this now have to do with Pete Myers' essay? Can we get back on topic please?

Eric
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: jashley on August 02, 2006, 02:04:59 PM
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JAshley - I'm not accusing you of anything. I interpret Alain's remarks differently. This is my last post on the matter.

Mark
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I'm guessing that we're never going to see the "more" that Alain referred to
(which dismays me), so this too will be my final post on the matter.  

I can only suggest that if the same situation arises in the future Alain takes a much different course of action.  To me, the best and really only response to Mr. Smith, would have been to just say, "The only way you can see how special my prints are is to view some of them, and I invite you to do that."  If the inquirer really isn't serious that will expose them right away, and if they are, then you've opened the door.  And in neither case will you have needlessly alienated someone.

As I said before, when I sold multi-thousand dollar pieces of custom furniture this approach got me sales from people who initially questioned my pricing.  And I'm certain that if any of those people believed I was insulted by their questioning they would not have wanted to deal with me.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: jashley on August 02, 2006, 02:08:27 PM
Quote
I checked post 107 again, and the phrase "John Smith or racist predators" is used precisely once ("racist predators" appears a few more times). "Several" would appear to me to be an exaggeration.

Besides: What does this now have to do with Pete Myers' essay? Can we get back on topic please?

Eric
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All right, I guess I'll have to make one more post.  It's used twice--check again.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: enlightphoto on August 02, 2006, 02:40:59 PM
Before we get back on topic, I'd just like to add the following. I read the John Smith stuff, and I found nothing but legitimate questions. There really are people in this world named John Smith. I found Alains responses unusually defensive to downright insulting.

I say this here for the benefit of some here who may be considering becoming a professional or semi-pro. The job of a professional is to be just that, "Professional", 100% of the time; always. Assume everyone is asking a legitimate question, and ALWAYS give a polite and professional reply. Alain's reply was on track for a while, right up through the third sentence, then he disrailed himself like an out-of-control locomotive. If you're going to be in business, act like a real business person. Reading in to John Smiths questions any implicit racist tones, troll like behaviour, or any other such nonsense is simply unfounded. The result of professionals acting unprofessional can attract unwanted attention to oneself, much like lighting a duraflame log under Delicate Arch.

And to tie this in w/ the Pete Myers aspect; every question John Smith asked of Alain, I could legitimately ask of Pete's work, regardless of any undisclosed "special sauce" receipe.

My one cent opinion; three cent rebates on request.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: mattsuess on August 02, 2006, 07:33:21 PM
While this thread should go back to discussuing Myers - someone please start a new thread based on the John Smith email - I have to jump off topic once more...

Quote
Hold on just a minute... but I am troubled that he has made such a serious accusation on what seems to me (without additional information) scant grounds... and think he and Nathalie deserve the chance to expose whatever else it is they know that would support such an accusation.
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jashley - With all due respect, Alain started off post #107 saying "It is also possible that JS is a racist predator." Key word is possible. Then he discusses what racist predators do, and made a pretty good case that yes, it is possible, that JS is a racist predator. Considering the fact that Alain has had to deal with racial issues directed at him in the past, I think he may be just a little bit qualified to identify, or find suspicious, possible incidents now. No further explanation or proof is needed from Alain or Natalie. Being the victim of a racial attack is hopefully something none of us have to deal with. They have had to before. If Alain and Natalie think it is possible that this is yet again another racial attack then perhaps a little bit more support of them may be in order. It's amazing how easy and common it is to always attack the victim.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Blind Photographer on August 03, 2006, 06:01:53 AM
double post, see below
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Blind Photographer on August 03, 2006, 06:45:18 AM
I figure that if people want to talk about the pete myers article then they can, as they have been all this time.  Until someone starts a new JS thread I'll just respond here.  

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Hi, this is Natalie and I am using Alain's account because I do not have one.  I have never written anything on a forum before.    However, I believe that the goal of John Smith and racist predators is to silence Alain and prevent him from using forums and posting his beliefs on forums by belittling him and undermining what he says so that he will stop.  We, and I include myself will lose a lot if Alain stops what he is writing, stops creating the beautiful images that he creates and stops supporting and helping other photographers to succeed.  We must keep in mind that John Smith or racist predators want to make this a personal confrontation between them and Alain and that is why I suggested that Alain writes an open answer to John Smith's email.

 Alain's response has helped many students that he is working with currently and they are also writing about it on their own websites.  It has also helped them think about what makes their photographs unique and worth the money that they are asking.  It has helped them to take pride in the work and understand that the customer does not have the right to bully the artist just because they pretend that they are going to buy something.  Fortunately, with the many years of experience that I have selling Alain's work, I can see through this immediately and dismiss these type of people at shows.  John Smith is a fraud and never had any intention of buying artwork.  John Smith is an alias that someone who knows Alain very well is using to be thorn in his side.

Natalie
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I don't really get the reasoning behind saying that JS is trying to prevent Alain from using these forums.  Why?  Because no one could have predicted that 1) Alain would make such a response.  2)  That he would make it public.  3)  That he would bring up the matter on these forums.  That last part is especially unpredictable and it was Alain who brought it to our attention after all.  I don't see how JS's questions could prevent him making images either.  

I also don't understand the whole racist bit.  I don't see any thing that points to racism in JS's emails.  If there is something that we haven't seen, then I would think showing us would give some credibility.  Otherwise it's just claims that don't seem to be backed up.  In fact it kind of reminds me of the problem have with the Pete Myers article:  something is talked about  but never revealed to the audience.  BTW, I live in Los Angeles which has a pretty good mix of people and I'm considered a minority.  I've had to deal with racism before.  I also have a very diverse mix of friends from many different cultures.

Quote
With all due respect, Alain started off post #107 saying "It is also possible that JS is a racist predator." Key word is possible. Then he discusses what racist predators do, and made a pretty good case that yes, it is possible, that JS is a racist predator. Considering the fact that Alain has had to deal with racial issues directed at him in the past, I think he may be just a little bit qualified to identify, or find suspicious, possible incidents now. No further explanation or proof is needed from Alain or Natalie. Being the victim of a racial attack is hopefully something none of us have to deal with. They have had to before. If Alain and Natalie think it is possible that this is yet again another racial attack then perhaps a little bit more support of them may be in order. It's amazing how easy and common it is to always attack the victim.

Matt, again I don't see much that points to racism.  Yes it's only mentioned as a possibility but why would they even bring it up if they didn't believe it was the motive?  Belittling and all that other junk is extremely common so it's quite hard for me to see why this would lead to the conclusion of racism.  You're all probably friends, but I'm trying to look at this objectively and I don't see enough with what has been presented to support them.  

....................................

I agree with Jashly and enlightenedphoto in that a better response/better handling of the situation would have kept the situation under control.  Like enlightenedphoto said, if you're a professional then one needs to act like it.  Otherwise you give your "enemies" ammo to use against you.  For those who have dealt with people that try to bargain with you the all the questions that JS asked would likely seem pretty generic, and could be handled easily with generic, "canned" answers.  The main point I was originally trying to make was that the response to JS was a very poor example of what to do in such a situation.  It was especially bad because the answer was coming from a well known photographer/businessman that many people look to as an example.  Obviously many people had a problem with the response as well, and I thought it was all settled and over with when Alain made an apology.  But now the whole situation has been given new life with this racist thing which so far just seems to be an attempt to justify the original response or divert the issue.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: jashley on August 03, 2006, 12:29:53 PM
Quote
While this thread should go back to discussuing Myers - someone please start a new thread based on the John Smith email - I have to jump off topic once more...
jashley - With all due respect, Alain started off post #107 saying "It is also possible that JS is a racist predator." Key word is possible. Then he discusses what racist predators do, and made a pretty good case that yes, it is possible, that JS is a racist predator. Considering the fact that Alain has had to deal with racial issues directed at him in the past, I think he may be just a little bit qualified to identify, or find suspicious, possible incidents now. No further explanation or proof is needed from Alain or Natalie. Being the victim of a racial attack is hopefully something none of us have to deal with. They have had to before. If Alain and Natalie think it is possible that this is yet again another racial attack then perhaps a little bit more support of them may be in order. It's amazing how easy and common it is to always attack the victim.
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Matt,

When Alain first used the phrase "racist predators", I thought, boy, that seems like a stretch, but I guess he knows something more about JS so I'll stay with him at this point and hope to see further "proof".

But when talked turned to "John Smith or racist predators" who are trying to "silence" Alain, this seemed so unlikely to me that I really had to start wondering about the Briot's credibility.  Not sure where you reside, but in the U.S. even implying that someone is racist is a serious matter and damn well better have some real proof or support behind it (more on that below).  

As to whether someone who has been the victim of a slight (racist or not) is more "qualified" to identify future slights, the obvious counterargument is that it probably makes them more prone to see injustice where none exists, and so they are actually LESS qualified.

In fact, I witnessed just such an incident at a place where I used to work.  A black woman (my boss, actually) accused a white man of making a racial comment, HR got involved, and things got nasty.  It was eventually shown to her satisfaction that his comment had no racial overtones whatsoever.  He suffered because of the accusation, and was clearly the "victim" in this incident, not her.  I was close enough to her to know that she had been the victim of real, 1950's era racism in the South, and there's no doubt in my mind that played a major role in her perceiving his comment as racist, when in fact it was not.

Finally, to whomever made the comment (sorry can't find it now) that asking about equipment shows someone isn't serious, that's just not correct.  Why does almost every photographer's website have an equipment page, usually which has some text to the effect that "people are always asking what equipment I use, so here it is."   So all the people that ask have never bought a photograph?  In my own case, I've been thinking seriously about buying a large print from one of my favorite photgraphers, Joseph Holmes, and if I do then of course I'd love to talk to him about every aspect of how he made the image!  And knowing that Alain is a fan of JH, too, I'll bet there was a time when he would have liked to do the same thing.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Nick Rains on August 03, 2006, 04:17:36 PM
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Finally, to whomever made the comment (sorry can't find it now) that asking about equipment shows someone isn't serious, that's just not correct. 
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FWIW, in my experience after 4 years running a retail gallery, there is an inverse relationship between the amount of 'technical' questions and the likelyhood of making a sale!

Most, not all, but most, people who want to know all about technique are fishing for information to help them take their own lovely images, not to buy mine. One just has to deal with it and make sure you don't make the fundamental mistake of dismissing the customer since they might actually be the exception to the rule. I had a customer once who asked no end of tricky questions, which I patiently and courteously answered, and then they spent $3000 so it was worth the effort.

The vast majority of my customers have already decided to buy the print before they even ask about cameras etc, and in most cases never ask anyway.

I offer this comment as a simple reflection of my real world experience - YMMV.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Scott_H on August 03, 2006, 05:43:19 PM
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The job of a professional is to be just that, "Professional", 100% of the time; always.

In my opinion the original letter from 'John Smith' probably was provocative, but I thought the response was unprofessional.  It has almost evolved into a media circus.

I also thought the responses to 'What makes your work so special?' were pretty much irrelevant.  I am still pretty new to photography, but one of the early lessons I learned was that it does not matter what it took to take a photograph.  It does not matter how early I got up, how far I hiked, how hot or cold or wet it was.  The photograph speaks or it does not.

Something is worth what someone else will pay for it.  If 'Mr. Smith' does not want to pay the asking price, it is not worth the asking price to him.  I really do not see the point of trying to rationalise that he is somehow wrong.
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: gdewolfe on August 04, 2006, 04:14:36 AM
While I don't usually reply to forum discussions, this one really is an issue of "special sauce" vs. vision. I don't believe in special sauce because somebody, somewhere is going to figure it out, like Pepsi did with Coke, and the whole idea of having a "proprietary" algorithm from NASA is nonsense. For one thing, most of what NASA has for imaging science capabilities, although sophisticated, is open source code. It's the CIA and NSA that have the propietary oprtics and codes that look at Russian tanks in Siberia. Digital imaging itself was started by NASA at the Jet Propulsion Labratory in 1961 for the Lunar orbiter missions.

For someone to hold back on technique from fellow photographers is simply in very bad taste and there is NO technique that is going to separate one photographer from the next. Only authentic vision can accomplish that, and the picture of the abandoned car windshield with a bullett hole is as cliché as they come. There is no vision here - and no technique.

George DeWolfe
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: thompsonkirk on August 04, 2006, 11:51:58 AM
Thank you, George - I tried to say that back on p. 1!
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: John Camp on August 04, 2006, 09:33:09 PM
I hestitated to say this, and I still hesitate, because it seems somehow unfair to mention this, and I know it's just a coincidence, and the cars are not the same one, but if you look on P. 57 of the current issue of Focus (fine arts photography magazine) (the August issue) you'll see a black and white photo of an old abandoned car with a big hole in the right side of the windshield and old fashioned controls, with fields and clouds and trees in the distance, lots and lots of DR, very sharp, both near and far...I'm sure nobody's copying anybody and that it's just a coincidence, but the two photos are very, very similar. (Although I think the one in Focus is, perhaps, ah, better.)

In fact, having typed the above, it occurred to me that perhaps Thompson has a website with the photo on-line, and, sure enough:

http://www.colethompsonphotography.com/Old...%20Interior.htm (http://www.colethompsonphotography.com/Old%20Car%20Interior.htm)

JC
Title: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra
Post by: Mark D Segal on August 04, 2006, 10:14:14 PM
John, thanks for raising that website to our attention. Cole's work is beautiful.