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Limited and Unlimited edition prints

i was curious about what photographers all over the world were doing as far as selling their prints either through galleries or on their own were doing regarding the editions that they kept.

there is also an issue with limited edition prints where some photographers keep a limited edition of 10 prints of a particular size and a 10 print edition of another.

is it ethical to call it a 10 print edition sizewise?
or is it infact a 20 print limited edition.
i’ve come across editions irrespective of the print size.

if you’re selling your prints through a gallery should you keep limited editions only?

what are the repercussions of having limited editions (plus artist’s proof prints)? are there any restrictions on showing your work in the future? i’ve seen a lot of magnum photographers having limited editions of as low as 7-8 prints. so does it mean that you can show your work elsewhere?

also i was hoping that people could also give me examples of other photographers just to get a better idea on the pattern that is shaping up in different parts of the world. in india a lot of photographers keep limited editions of 8-10 prints. where as i’ve come across irving penn having as many as 61 prints. ad have even heard that bresson also had many prints in his editions.

sory about asking so many questions.
there is a lot of confusion regarding this in india and there are not too manypeople who can ask.

thank you and warm regards,

by [a former member] at 2007-09-24 22:29:59 UTC (ed. Mar 12 2008 ) oblivion , India | Bookmark | | Report spam→


the way it works is based on size. For example:

8×10, edition of 10

11×14, edition of 10,

16×20, edition of 10, etc…

At the moment, with an upcoming exhibition, Im doing things slightly differently:

I am making a box set of 36 pics (5×7) along with a book of text. That art box, will be in an edition of 5. In otherwords, if someone wants the “portfolio/series/story” of 36 along with the text (story) and box, they can buy that for 1 price (only 5 boxes available). However, they will be able to purchase individual prints in the same size (5×7) in editions of 10, with a price for each print (cheap).

A collector/gallery can buy the “box + text” for one price, as this is an complete “work”…etc…..

I think ALL work should be limited, but you as the artist (along with a gallery) have to establish this. It can be problematic, as I tend to “give away” prints to people (friends) that are outside the series. I tend to keep very low numbers, because I have lots of pics and the way i shoot tends to be in stories, instead of singles.

For “value” it is incumbent on you to try to keep all this in control. However, many artists never do/did (Giacomelli, for example never really did this). each photographer decides for themselves. The other idea is that there are and can be 2nd and 3rd “runs” of a print….Moriyama, for example, often re-prints photos, changing them slightly, altering images, including changing their orientation (as in the famous picture of the dog staring at him (memoir of a dog)…..

now, photographers run editions of like 50 (it’s the digital age, right?)…and this is weird to me, but okay, just means you can sell lower. I want to sell low so that people who really want my pictures can afford that.

Sadly, the “value” of a picture has little to do with you as the artist or the work…the market/gallery/other indices dictate that…

for example: Robert Frank can no longer afford to buy his own photographs ……

hope that helps: :))

any more questions, feel free to ask :))

have fun Sohrab :)


by [former member] | 25 Sep 2007 16:09 | Toronto (for now), Canada | | Report spam→
i recently ran into a dilemma with limiting prints b/c the photos i was showing at a gallery i considered ‘documentary’ in nature. it just didn’t feel right to me to ‘limit’ in any way how these images could be shown, if after all, the original intent was for this work ‘to be seen’. so in that case, i did not number the prints.

i have in the past, however, numbered prints many times, which definitely helps the likelihood of selling to collectors. frankly, i’m still unsure about all of this… which sucks b/c the idea is to stay consistent! :)

this brings up another question, if a collector buys a limited edition print, how disappointed will they be if they see the same image run in an editorial? or be sold as stock? or as an art card? i haven’t done this, but it seems like a ripe question.

best of luck, lance

by [former member] | 25 Sep 2007 17:09 (ed. Sep 25 2007) | Austin, United States | | Report spam→
Also, on my exploring this previously here at LS, many photographers, rather than limited editions, are preparing numbered editions, 1st edition of 50 12×16 etc where the first edition is worth more than a second edition of whatever the number may be. That’s how I’m thinking on it for me.

by Paul Treacy | 25 Sep 2007 17:09 | New York City, United States | | Report spam→

The prints I’ve sold (not many), I number but not as part of an edition. ie. simply “#1”, “#2”. If I were trying to get into the gallery world and just the gallery world I’d definately limit my editions to say 25…

I’d feel silly having an edition of 50 and then only selling 3 prints…

by R. J. | 26 Sep 2007 05:09 (ed. Sep 26 2007) | Kamloops, Canada | | Report spam→
My prints are made on demand. If someone wants a print of a picture, they can have one. Any size they like. If no-one else wants that picture at that size, then they’ve got themselves a limited edition of one.

The whole “limited edition of X” thing feels wrong to me – like it denies the nature of photography, which is limitless reproduction. Having said that, if photographers can make decent money by limiting their print runs then jolly good luck to them. God knows it’s hard enough to make a buck these days.

But what do you do with the neg after the prints have been made? Burn it? Sell it? PHC.

by Paul Hardy Carter | 26 Sep 2007 09:09 | Monte Pego, Spain | | Report spam→
thank you for your words everyone..

bob i know what you mean about the editions as per the sizes…
however a friend of mine based in paris told me that such practise exists only in america whereas in europe “the side doesn’t matter”. plus a photograph of an edition of more than 25 prints may not be considered an original as far as galleries are concerned.

also in india it’s quite confusing. photography is very new as far as people buying prints is concerned.
till some years ago i know that people would buy RC prints of relatively well known photographers for $ 1000 or more.

now there suddenly seems to be a big boom in the market for photographs and everyone seems to have different opinions on them.

the reason why i’m asking about this is because i’m not very keen on doing any assingments to earn my living.

i think i was happy just taking my photographs. now that people are asking for my prints, it’s kind of of irritating me because i’m confused :)

p.s. even i like the idea of unlimited prints as that is the nature. but then comes the issue of whether you’re being fair to a collector who wants to buy a print. so it goes back to the initial point of confusion.
although as far as i’m aware the limited edition is applicable only to archival prints and not photographs made on RC paper and publications.

by [former member] | 26 Sep 2007 10:09 | oblivion, India | | Report spam→
Hello Sohrab,

maybe there is something interesting for you here:


regards Stefan

by [former member] | 26 Sep 2007 14:09 | Ibiza, Spain | | Report spam→
I think if you are looking at limited edition prints, I feel that 10-15 prints would be ideal. If you produce more than that then how will it be limited edition? You can always have an agreement with the buyer that you retain the right to use the picture in your website or a book of your work. For example – many painters produce their book and the paintings that they have sold too are reproduced there..without a problem.
I had shot a portrait of a famous movie star of yesteryears, about 10-12 ago. She was very old then. I have never used it anywhere. For an exhibition that is coming up,I am planning to make just one print, archival of course and if some one buys it, I will destroy the transparency and give a certificate that there are no reproductions to the buyer. I plan to retain the right to use the picture in my website or in a book that I might produce in the future.

by [former member] | 26 Sep 2007 15:09 | Bangalore, India | | Report spam→

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Paul  Treacy, Photographer Paul Treacy
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R. J., deadbeat weasel R. J.
deadbeat weasel
Vancouver , Canada
Paul Hardy Carter, Photographer Paul Hardy Carter
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