Editioning of Photographic Prints,

by Michael Wayne Plant.

From now on all my photographic prints will be created using an idea from Lenswork[1] by Brooks Jensen, outlined in this article What Size is the Edition[2]. The extracts below outline his ideas on the editioning of images for photographers.

“Each edition is limited by the number of copies produced at that time. Also, a “First Edition” might undergo more than one printing – “First Edition, First Printing” followed by “First Edition, Second Printing,” etc. Each of these are dated and enumerated.

I see no reason why this paradigm can’t be adopted verbatim in photography. Begin with the creation of a “First Edition” with that defined and limited number of copies, printed all at once, dated and defined in time. Should this “edition” sell out it could be reprinted as a “second printing,” and said designated. Instead of a second printing, a variation in the image could be created with improvements in the execution and be called a “Second Edition,” again with a defined and limited number of copies, printed all at once, dated and defined in time. In fact, the first edition need not ever sell out to create the second edition. Maybe the first rendition would be preferred by some collectors or buyers.

This strategy has the advantage of allowing the photographer an unlimited number of prints in their lifetime, allows for artistic growth in creative vision which would be realised by the various editions, and at the same time defined the work precisely for the collector/gallery who value such information.”

“Is this more cumbersome? Perhaps. But an even more important question is, is it honest? If the trust between buyer/collector and the artist is paramount, how could this be seen as anything but an improvement over the fuzzy “1/250″ silliness that is now so prevalent in the photography world? The key to implementing a strategy for your artwork lies not so much in the nomenclature as the full disclosure of information and the force of your commitment to honesty and integrity.”

All of my prints will now be created as First Edition, First Printing, for when I first print a series of images, these images will be dated and numbered starting with the first print. So my printing will in future will be labelled as “First Edition, First Printing, Date ../../…., Print Number …”. I believe that by using this system, it will bring clarity to the buyer and give security, by knowing the provenance of the images, while at the same time allowing me as a photographer to produce images suitable for the democratic conventions that should exist for the photographic image. The aim, is that the first image of each edition should in theory then be more valuable, as it has been produced closer to the time of its creation and subject to less post reflection time, thereby being closer to my intention for the image made at/or near its time of creation.

[1] Available online from: http://www.lenswork.com Accessed on 4th January 2015

[2] Jensen, B. (2001) http://www.brooksjensenarts.com/articles/What%20Size%20is%20the%20Edition.pdf published by Lenswork. Accessed on 4th January 2015