What do you do with your work?

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by curtis_nelson, Aug 21, 2003.

  1. Just curious - what do you people do with your printed images?
    Store them, display them, give them away, what? Anybody here got a
    house full of 4x5 contact prints nicely matted and framed?
  2. cxc


    Majority get thrown in boxes. The occasional outstanding image gets blown up big and tacked to my special bulletin board for a couple months, then, into the big box.

  3. " . . . a house full of 4x5 contact prints nicely matted and framed?"
    No. I only use the 4x5 contacts for reference - I don't matte them. But, I do have quite a few matted 11x14s and matted 8x10 contacts around. ;-) The work that isn't specifically for a client (an increasingly endangered species) goes into sort of a rotating display, or gets used for gift presentations at holidays or other events. (Is it tacky to include an art-print brochure, so they appreciate the value of the gift? ;-) )
  4. I do the same thing that Chris does above.
  5. No contacts. 8x10 & 11x14 matted...give them away.
  6. Literally, a few months after I had been photographing (1966) I asked
    the same question. Since at that time, being self-taught, I didn't
    know who to ask, so I answered the question myself. The answer I came
    up with was, " You have an exhibition." But where? There were no
    galleries showing photographs. So I cleaned out my darkroom--a
    separate apartment from where I lived that rented for $35/month,
    constructed panels, borrowed lights, and push-pinned 60 prints up. The
    exhibition was up for three or four weeks and I sold forty prints--at
    $10 each. My dream of making a living from my work took a giant step
    toward eventual realization.

    Although I think one should photograph only for oneself--meaning, try
    to please no one else when deciding where and what to photograph--it
    is important to have an audience for your work. It need not be a large
    one--a few people, who may not even like your work, but who understand
    what you are trying to do, is often sufficient.

    Artists are essentially givers and there needs to be an audience to
    receive what you are giving. In that way, a circle is completed, and
    the essential reason for making art--to connect us to each other and
    to the world--is enhanced by another occurance.
  7. I thought the below was a great idea - I guess there's still time to donate your work:


    Due to the blackout last week, the Silent Auction and fundraiser for children of a NYC Firefighter has been rescheduled for:

    TOMORROW, THURSDAY, AUGUST 21,from 6 to 10 pm.

    Please attend. Showing your support will also afford you a wonderful opportunity to add to your photo collection at what are sure to be well-below-market prices. Famous and near-famous photographers as well as significant photographers' estates have generously donated prints to be auctioned tomorrow. Don't miss out!


    15 White St. NYC.
    3 Blocks South of Canal St., between 6th Ave. and West Broadway.
    A, C, E train to Canal St. or #1 to Franklin.

    Contact Firefighter, Photographer, and Soho Photo Intern Mike Killarney for more information. 516 359-0574 or mikefdny1@optonline.net.

    We need your help! Please pass this message on immediately!

  8. Probably 85% of what I shoot doesn’t even get to the print stage. The remainder gets a 8x10 test print, only a small percentage of these show promise. Of these I send them off to be done in 16x20 by someone who knows what they are doing. Usually the results are disappointing, wrong interpretation occasionally, or the content is lousy, at least after you look at it for a while – never should have been printed. So none of it is displayed.

    Frankly, given all the stunning work out there, from people like the Smiths, Barnbaum, Sexton, et.al., I’d feel foolish hanging my stuff on the wall, let alone letting other people see it. With B&W, it seems that no matter what you do, someone will find fault … “You don’t get good blacks” … “Should be warm toned not cold toned” …”Poor highlight seperation” … “Contrast too high, too low” …. And it goes on and on, and this isn’t even about content, which is even more difficult. In short, it’s terribly difficult to have any pride in what I shoot. And the more you know about the process and see the work of others, the stronger thre feelings of inadequacy grow.

    My first camera was a Zone VI purchased new in the early 90s. In correspondence with Fred Picker, I remember him writing, “ There are millions of pictures taken every year. For yours to be noticed, they must be exceptional.” Seriously, how many of us are producing work that is expceptional? Even once every blue moon?

    Perhaps I should hobby, put the gear on E-bay and let younger, more creative people carry on.

  9. I shoot and print for my own pleasure. Most of my stuff goes into black binders that no one ever will see. On occasion, I take my better images to work to show to some friends and often give them away upon request.
  10. Jeez! When you put it that way, maybe I should quit photography too... (just kidding)

    I'm producing exceptional work all the time thank you! Maybe not to anyone else, but the most important audience at least initially, is me. Something along the lines of... "if you don't like it, who will?"

    Like the rest of us, the vast majority of what I shoot ends up in storage or in the garbage. What's left standing at the end of the day and if it passes all the cuts... it gets printed, hung up sometimes, given away, or better yet sometimes sold. But the primary reason for shooting to me is personal satisfaction.
  11. >Frankly, given all the stunning work out there, from people like the Smiths, Barnbaum,
    >Sexton, et.al., I’d feel foolish hanging my stuff on the wall, let alone letting other people
    >see it.

    hey robert,

    why? what you're talking about is a normal part of being a creative person. Sure they'll
    always be people who you admire who's work you think will be "better" (notice the
    quotes around this word), but that doesn't mean you shouldn't do something you enjoy.
    art isn't a contest (i think even Barnbaum talks about this in one of his books). don't let
    your inner critic run unchecked and don't let other people's critique (or work) run over
    you. at least 50% of the reason i enjoy photography is because of the experience and
    adventure of simply doing it. if you no longer enjoy doing it, that's another matter.

    me, most of my work is never printed. 90% of it never even gets a contact sheet. If i have
    something i like, i print it, give it as presents, or put is on my website - and more times
    that I wish, I throw it in the trash.

  12. I do not work in large format but was curious regarding what folks do with their stuff. I personally get lots of satisfaction putting my best work in a pratt portfolio 8.5x11.

    I was surprised to hear that many only print up to 8x10 or 11x14. Why use large format?? Is it that you work in black and white? or that having tilt and shifts compensates for such a large format?
  13. "Why use large format??"

    Detail, tonality, movements, the sheer joy of a large neg/tranny, focusing on a ground glass with 2 eyes instead of a viewfinder with 1. Lots of reasons besides the possibility of huge enlargements.
  14. >was surprised to hear that many only print up to 8x10 or 11x14. Why use large
    >format?? Is it that you work in black and white? or that having tilt and shifts
    >compensates for such a large format?

    hey hugh,

    the short answer is (probably) that most of these people are printing contact prints from
    their 8x10 and larger negatives. the characteristics/benefits of contact prints are discussed
    throughout many of the threads here (and in other places) - if you're interested.
  15. "Why use large format??"

    What Matt and Jon said. You can literally walk into a LF contact print, and then spend hours looking around. Another reason for contact printing is the costs associated with blowing these bad boys up. 8x10 enlargers are not cheap.
  16. Here is my testimony: I live in a small and far country named Chile. I´m probably one of the few photographers here that photograph the landscape in large format and B&W. The rest of the native landscape photographers here are the classic Art Wolf type. I don't make a living out of photography, but since there is'nt much here to show in large format, I have had lots of success showing my work at art galleries. I have even won some local fellowships. I´m not saying that my work is only good because of being shot in large format, but people here are not very use to see this kind of photography.
    I'm kind of luck here I guess.


  17. I share Robert's view on this topic. Sadly, most of what I shoot ends up in boxes in my closet because I never think they're good enough to show to anyone or sell, much less give away. I've made a few good photographs over the years and have those framed and on the walls in my home.
    When I look at one of my prints, I try to imagine what other photographers might say about them.
    For instance, "Bad print color," "Yeah, it's flat," "Gee, you should have cropped this out," "You don't have a good black in this print."
    The worst response to my photographs is a sickly half-smile, followed by something like "Oh, yeah, that's nice."
    I've never gotten an "oooh, wow, look at that!" response to an image.
    My wife, bless her heart, loves everything I do.
    And by the way, I think 4x5 matted contact prints are wonderful.
    Robert, you wanna go bowling with me?
  18. If it's any good, I immediately give it away. The rest I keep in a box or toss. Hmmmm, that leaves me with a large collection of...

    er, times up, gotta go now.
  19. Lately I print, mount and frame the ones I like, and I do have many prints hanging around the apartment. I also give some away to family and friends.

    In the past I've done the occasional small exhibition and I've done a little work for hire, but now it's mostly personal projects and things I do for friends, like author portraits and promotional headshots. Maybe when I feel like I have enough new work that seems to hang together on a particular theme, I'll see if I can organize another exhibition.
  20. cxc


    Having a little home exhibition can work pretty well. I did it once, but with paintings, not photos. I framed 10-12 ranging from 4"x6" to maybe 2'x3', and hung 'em up in my apartment. Then I invited all my friends, promising nice champagne (they aren't all art lovers). I had a price list with what I thought they were worth, as a kind of joke. Then I gave any painting away to anyone who wanted it.

    I have to admit that I do regret giving away one particular work, the standout of the idiosyncratic style I was into at the time, gone forever, lost touch with owner, who didn't hang it up anyways.... If there were a way to say, politely, 'Bring it back when you are done with it', I should have said it. Of course with photos you just keep the neg/tran and print it again...

    An exhibit can also be a superb way to motivate yourself to complete a body of work.

  21. "the short answer is
    (probably) that most of these people are printing contact prints from
    8x10 and larger negatives. the characteristics/benefits of contact prints are
    throughout many of the threads here (and in other places) - if
    you're interested."

    Ahem - there are also quite a few of us on ehre who shoot 8x10 (or larger) in colour and obviously don't usually do contacts.

    I work on various projects - personal and comissioned. I scan mine - print em out 11x14 and see which seem to be working. The "best" I get drum scanned and printed up larger. Some for exhibition, some for sale, some for clients. (and some go on my wall - but I prefer the home pritned Walker Evans pritns from the LOC I have there right now...).

    Today I'm just working on an idea I had for a minature hand bound book of 7 Photogrpahs (8x10 printed 4x5 on lovely cotton rag paper) to go out to some galleries I have links with and some photo editors I deal with.
  22. The reason I made my comments is because of the expense and serious commitement this stuff involves. This LF stuff is not a walk in the park! I can only imagine what you 8x10, 11x14, and 12x20+ shooters go through. The process is rewarding, but only to a point. Part of the reward in my book has to be results. If I was making steady progress that would be one thing, but I don't feel like I'm taking better photos than I was three years ago.

    But this is just my view, I can respect different motivations.

  23. i guess i am one of the lucky ones. all of my work these days is done for the historic american engineering record (HAER) and the historic american building survey (HABS) and goes into the collections of the library of congress. i spent many years trying to figure out what the hell all my photographs were good for (even though i was fortunate enough to have had several nice exhibitions, sold plenty of stuff, and managed to get a few images in the collections of a couple of art museums), and even put the camera away for a couple of years. i thought i wanted to be an "artist", but after a few years, that game started to wear on me. finally, i found my self a niche where i feel like my work has real value, and i am grateful i am able to contribute something to the body of work at HABS/HAER. btw, that's a perfect reason to use LF - the LOC will not accept any smaller formats. you guys who are looking for a worthwhile way to use your LF skills should contact your local or state historical societies and offer to do some recordation work for them - these organiations are always looking for good documentary photographs of significant buildings, sites, etc. when i first started doing architectural work over 20 years ago, i contacted the photogra[phs librarian at the oregon historical society offering to shoot a few things for them - they sent me a comprehensive shoot list that i am still working on today.
  24. The simple answer is... I am a process junkie. I love working the materials and seeing the results of my handiwork. The image is almost secondary.

    The more complex answer is...

    My stuff usually doesn't get printed either. Be brutally critical with your contact sheets. My daughters get some of my work, some is turned into gifts, calenders for next year, cards...

    Now as I say that, I am looking at a Cyanotype I have contacted off a 4x5 of Blodgett Canyon, Hamilton Montana. Guess what? It's a nice print, still needs a bit of work before I am happy with it. But everytime I look at it, I think back a couple of months, on a hot June afternoon, hiking up a trail for an hour with press camera in backpack, tripod in hand, talking, inspiring, being inspired. Will this print ever make the National Gallery? Nope, but it will find a place somewhere in my home and I could care less if you, my sister, or anyone else likes it or not.

    I am thinking about a houseful of 4x5 cyantypes, VD's, oilprints, etc. all nicely matted and framed. Maybe I'll even silver print one or two.

    Great question.

    tim in san jose
  25. Tim wrote: "Ahem - there are also quite a few of us on ehre who shoot 8x10 (or larger) in colour and obviously don't usually do contacts."

    --and there are even a few of us who shoot 8x10" or larger in color and sometimes even DO do contacts. The attractions of a contact print in B&W are very much the same in color, with the exception of issues relating to materials like Azo or alt processes. I do more B&W than color lately, but I have color reversal prints that I'm quite fond of.
  26. (That was to Tim Atherton, not Tim O'Brian, or the various other Tims who will probably insert new posts before this one).
  27. I did say we colour folk don't "usually" do contacts :)

    Talking of which, I was fascianted by the potential of doing in camera ilfochromes in 8x10 from some posts a few months ago. A friend here has a languishing Ciba processor and even sopme boxes of paper - I just haven't got around to trying it.
  28. Any negative I really like I print either 12x16 or 16x20. I make a few just for safety reasons. I take one and matte it and frame it using Nielsen frames (very simple but I think quite elegant).

    My work hangs in my flat. Apart from my diploma, that is all that I hang up. Great for conversation when guests come over.
  29. Jeez, not to be nasty or anything but this is the LF forum. If you have to ask
    "What do you do with your work", then perhaps you had better but a new set of

    Making photographs is not a hobby, it is a lifestyle. It is about the image, the
    message, the statement and the dialogue. I don't give a poop about the
    blacks, the whites, or the fixer stains. If you are an artist, then say something!
    Do a project, give your prints away, donate them to a charity for an auction,
    contact galleries, if turned down contact your community center, city hall or
    bank and request an exhibition. These people are dying for folks like you to
    offer an exhibition.

    Eventually, a gallery owner may see you work and offer you a show, and
    hopefully representation.

    Do a project and provide a "series" to the subjecy or subjects. As they say,
    just do it. And, if you have no other desire to show your work, then frame it and
    pin it up on your walls. Change it often and invite friends over.

    The possibiities are enless, have something to say and say it. That is what art
    is all about be it a social, political, or just documenting nature. Art is to be
    made and viewed.

    Above all, have fun.
  30. I like to exchange some prints with other photographers. Over the years I've built up a nice collection of work and put something out into the world. And I've learned how to print 15 fairly close copies.
  31. I'm surprised so many either never print their work or end up giving it away. I sell all my work, B&W panoramas from a variety of formats, the smallest 6x17. I make a living out of it but don't see it as art, more a commercial product. I process and print myself in my home darkroom using an 8x10 enlarger and roller transport processors, my standard print is a metre long. I sell 10 to 20 of these a week.
    I got into this stuff accidently, a few years ago I came across an antique panoramic photo, it had me fascinated, I wanted to buy it. After some research I found the photographer had produced thousands of them and they were scattered around the country. I reasoned if he could do it, maybe I could as well. I spent the next few years gathering the equipment and learning the techniques.
    Here's some info on the photographer whos work sparked my interest.
    A common remark from people buying my work is "I remember"
  32. I am trying more and more with my personal work to print to a topic or theme as if I was putting on an exhibition. Those that pass the over-critical editing phase get fine printed on 8x10" paper using about 2/3rds of the frame. I then mount on 11x14" and put them in portfolio boxes and store them.

    I am in the process of giving up one wall with a flexible gallery style hanging arrangement so I can rotate through the various themes.


  33. also . . .

    in response to some comments above about why would you show your photo's when there are so many good ones around.

    This year I attended a expressive printing workshop with an australian landscape photographer Gordon Undy (www.pointlight.com.au). One of the key things that I took away from the course was the concept of striving to a level of excellence. This involves comparing your work to others and always looking to improve and practice practice practice. In addition I have purchased a couple of prints by folks I believe are fantastic printers (although not incredibly expensive) which I also hang in my home as a reminder of where I should be striving.

  34. ...loose them

    But it has been proven very difficult to misplace my 30x30" prints...
  35. Lately I've been making 8x10 contact prints. Proofs of the promising negatives, and prints of the promising proofs. The proofs go into sleeves along with the negatives, and the prints go into sleeves of their own, or on to family members or friends. These are my family albums, and only under very unusual circumstances do I mount or show my prints outside of my home. I have a few favorites in frames in my home, but the vast majority remain sleeved.
  36. What a timely question. I went to an auction this weekend of an estate of a man who had been a photographer for Morton Thiokol (sp?). It had to be one of the saddest things I've seen in a while.

    There were tables with cameras, enlargers, telescopes, box upon box of prints and slides, etc. A lot of it was not in the cleanest shape, so cameras such as Nikon 2002, Speed Graphic, Kowa Six, etc. were going for between $10 and $100. His prints & slides were being lumped together with a bunch of tools, etc. as a way to get rid of them. Nobody cared about them.

    It really made me think that I probably will continue to give away a lot of my prints as I make them because I would rather get to see someone enjoy them now than have them left for an auctioneer to try to dump them on someone after I'm gone.

    I have done a couple of large format portraits with my Speed Graphic and have printed them 16x20 and given them to the subjects and they have said that it is the best gift they have ever gotten. I will donate a large format portrait for a fund-raising auction at my daughter's school.
  37. I am not surprised by the number of photographers who work mostly "for themselves".
    I am a little surprised by the comments of the few who seem overly critical of their results.
    It is good to listen to your "inner critic", but if your inner critic turns out to be a sadistic monster, maybe it is time to tell him to shut up.
    The most telling comment is:
    "When I look at one of my prints, I try to imagine what other photographers might say about them."
    The only response I can make to this is: stop imagining what other photographers might say (in your cruel imagination), and show some prints to other photographers, to find out what they really say. Ask them to be critical.
    And remember not to take the negative comments personally. In fact, you can disagree with critical comments, but you should first try to understand why the comment was made. (And the same is true for positive comments.)
    The goal is to learn and improve. If you think your colors are off, or your composition is weak, other photographers can give you some ideas or advice on how to improve.
  38. You're right, Michael. I'm going to tell my "inner critic" to shut up. My post was a little over the top (tried for self-deprecating humor, but failed miserably).
  39. Some of mine photographs are published, some go to a stock agency, some are mounted and sold, and the best are being exhibited here and there. Most, however are dormant as negatives.
  40. RJ, you and I have corresponded a lot about my starting into large format. While this falls more into marketing, in a sense that is what most of us are trying to do anyway when we answer the question you posed about "what do you do with your work." Here are some things I am doing and plan on doing to keep my stuff out of "boxes." Maybe it will stimulate your own ideas.

    The framing studio that has been framing my images has just agreed to put half a dozen up on the walls of their two stores. They typically have to purchase posters to frame and put up on their walls. I give them the images, printed on my 7600, without charge until they sell. They frame them and when they sell (let's be confident here and not say if)they get 25% of my price for the print and make the money on the frame. They get to select the images to put up (makes sense to me as they know their customers better than do I), and don't have to buy anything up front. We both win. In a short while, I am going to be hitting every framing shop in Tucson with the same offer.

    As a novice medium format shooter, and now an even more novice large format type, I have seen lots of wonderful work on the internet. Providing your(the generic your)work is good enough, the difference between those who get to do a lot of photography and those who can only do as much as their vacation and non-professional budgets allow lay probably more in their marketing skills than those photographic. Recognizing that, I am hosting an Idea Party for a select group of non-photographic friends (8) whom I perceive to be creative and consistently able "to think outside the box" as problem solvers. These folks are going to help me brainstorm ways of marketing, getting my work in front of people, and generally think of uses for my photographic images that I haven't already come up with.

    The internet seems to work well for a very small number of people, and gallery owners, who are often much maligned in this and other forums and who really do know their markets better than we do, are so limited in number and scope that I see them as a potential only after I have become successful using other venues.

    I have come to realize that I must put the same passionate and focused energy into selling my work as I do in creating it if I am to get to do more. For me it has been much easier to see my images as self-exploratory processes that "reveal the artist within" (when caught up in my narcissism), than to acknowledge that marketing offers the same opportunities and challenges. (Of course, I'd still rather not have to do it.)

    Thanks again RJ for all of your help, and thanks to all of the other teachers on this forum who have contributed their knowledge. Best of luck to us all. Ain't it grand!
  41. I have also struggled with this question and have taken to heart many of the suggestions that Brooks Jenesen has written about through the years in LensWork magazine. I have done three thing to help keep my prints from disappearing under the bed.
    I joined two critique groups here in Portland, OR that concentrate on sharing work and critiquing it. This gets me to actually produce work to show and gets me lots of feedback on how I am doing AND gets my work shown/shared.
    Secondly, I took a community college course on web site construction and made a web site so that I can always have a space for displaying my work. This was fun and creative. In the few months I have had the site up, I have had almost 1,000 hits. I cannot think of a better way to get my work seen by zillions of people. I carry a "business" card that I printed with just my domain name on it so that people who want to contact me go to my web site first, see my work, and then can email me. People seem to love this. I also got the site linked and listed everywhere I could which has dramatically increased the traffic. I don't care about selling my work, but just want people to see it.
    Lastly, I used an entry-way corner in our house as a rotating display area for my work. I use standard size frames where work can be swapped in and out and installed some very inexpensive track lighting (home depot) so that it is shown at its best. This way when someone says "oh, so you do photography" I can simply switch on the light and say "yes, look at these". Otherwise in the past I had to get out the box and find a light and by that time people were on to other things. The picture above is of the simple display wall.
    Without doing these things, I think no one would see my work and I too would be depressed with all the accumulating boxes of prints that never see the light of day...
  42. hi curtis:

    i like jnorman do habs photography, and a lot of it is in the library of congress or the
    state of maine/commonwealth of massachusett's archives. when i was a teenager, i
    studied bookbinding and just a few years ago i learned how to do japanese binding. i
    mention this because other documentary photography- streetscapes & portraits of
    buildings before they are razed ( last rites) are either enlarged or contact printed to
    pages that are later stitched into a single edition book ( it isn't very hard to learn).
    these books are sold to public libraries for the local history collections.
    i used to part own a cooperative art gallery outside of boston, and at that point used
    to show my work all the time. while photography hanging on a wall looks great, i find
    that a series of images in a book is a very intimate experience no matter what size
    the images are.

    out of all the books i have made, 11x14 down to 5x7 covers, i have to admit, my
    favorite is a series that i made small prints from 4x5 negatives - i think they were
    2x2.5 printed on 5x7 paper. :)

    - john
  43. I keep mine in little green film boxes.


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