Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"A digital dilemma"

I think it's interesting to think about the catch-22 that is digital fine art photography.

Everyone has access to cameras and photo production, which means the people who couldn't afford to be professional photographers in the film era can certainly have their shot during the digital era. That's a good thing. Unfortunately, the mass reproduction aspects of digital photography means pricing the work becomes a delicate matter since a lot of people can take their own shots, print them from a docking station, or upload them to a digital opposed to purchasing one print from one digital file that someone else made.

Where does this leave professional fine art photography?

In my opinion, selling limited editions is one possible approach that could ensure digital fine art photography maintains its value in terms of price and production, to both the artist and consumer/collector.

What do limited editions accomplish in a digital environment? They provide an added value; they tell someone that only a certain amount of people will own that particular print. Limited editions also allow the work to be priced in a fair manner. Why should a photograph, that is printed for anyone who wants a copy, be sold for $100? Oh, it shouldn't. But wait...what was that?...sell it for $12? Why? It took hours to shoot and edit, it required skill and creative instincts to produce. Paintings and other one-of-a-kind artwork sell for a lot more because there is only one copy, one attempt, and after that one piece is gone, it's gone forever. It's about respect for both the photographer and the consumer/collector.

Am I saying that people shouldn't take their own pictures, or that fine art photography is dead? No. What I'm saying is that in order to prevent this discipline from falling through the cracks of our digital world, we need to change the manner in which we approach the medium. Digital doesn't have to mean unlimited, quick, or not valuable; it's only another means to the same end that film reached in its day. True art.

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