fine art photography prints?
March 25, 2009 7:42 PM   Subscribe

A local gallery has expressed an interest in displaying some of my photographs, but there's one problem: I don't have any prints! Need some advice on DIY fine art photography printing.

I want to treat my works as though they belong in a museum (whether they really do or not) so I want to get them rendered the same way a proper, world-famous fine art photographer would. I'm willing to spare no expense (within reason, I'm an art student "living" on unemployment). here are my questions:

1. what kind of paper and printing combination will give me the best-looking, most-resilient output?

2. how should they be displayed? mounted or framed? or is there another preferable method?

3. I do my shooting with a d80 so the raw, uncropped shots are roughly 16x10, but I have one piece that's 50x33. anyways, how large can I push the former and still keep the print looking nice and sharp?

4. to maintain their value, I'll probably go with a limited run type situation as opposed to an on-demand type deal, but how limited is the norm? 5? 10? 25? 1? and what are some good rules of thumb for deciding on a price?
posted by mcsweetie to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This is my go-to place for professional printing, they have great service and fast turn around times.

2. I would suggest a good neutral frame (black boarder), UV glass, acid free matting and backing.

3. Whatever 300 dpi will get you, the D80 is the 10+ mpx right? So, roughly ~12.5 x 9. You definatly can go with 200 or 250 dpi and thus larger print sizes, but you said something about museum quality, and 300 dpi, while overkill in someways, is the best to go with.

4. Hard questions to answer, it depends on the market, the place you'll be selling them, their desirability, name recognition, and what you consider worth your time. I've sold framed prints for as low as $40 and as much as $300 depending on those and other factors.
posted by edgeways at 8:17 PM on March 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The gallery will probably double your asking price to cover their own operating expenses, so keep that in mind. See what the other works are priced at in that gallery to get a feel of the clientele they attract, and since they're selling it for you, maybe you can talk to the gallery curator about what they think would be reasonable.

Generally photos do not sell for as much as paintings. A lower price gives you better odds of attracting a buyer, and in which case you might as well order more prints (they're small, you can store them if necessary for future shows). You should also remember to factor in the cost of the print, the frame and the matting, and hopefully still make a little profit. But for that size, I'd guesstimate that you could charge $50-$80 for the framed photographs (and the gallery would double that).
posted by lizbunny at 9:24 PM on March 25, 2009

Best answer: 1. The most common output choices are photographic prints and inkjet prints.

Photographic prints use photo paper/chemistry (sometimes called "lightjet" prints).
The paper is generally limited to glossy or matte.

Inkjet prints, often called "Giclée" prints in the art world, can be printed on many types of paper. The prints can also look just like photographs but some artists use fancy watercolor papers, etc.

If you had a choice of either service you might decide based on your image, the price, the paper, the lab, the technician, the size, archival quality, etc.

For your first prints I'd suggest you use a local service so you can talk to the technician, discuss file setup, get sample prints and save on time and shipping cost.

There's a photolab called North Light Imaging in Chattanooga that you should at least visit.

2. Your gallery, lab and/or framer might suggest the display method that would work best with your images and what's popular with their customers.

3. Raw files have no output size, they're just 3872 x 2592 pixels. The only real way to know if your particular image will look good at 50x33 or even 16x10 is to print it. Monitors lie. Never resample for print output, these printers have excellent software built in (called the RIP) that optimize for the output size. Sharpening may be another story depending on the specific output device, ask the lab.

4. The price you ask will depend on your market, the cost of the print and mount and how you value your talent and reputation. Ask the gallery, lab and framer for some help here too, it is in everyones interest for you to be a great success.

Just print one of each image for the gallery, order extras as necessary and sign the prints on delivery, then you can number the edition appropriately.
posted by Fins at 9:54 PM on March 25, 2009

If you are looking for a printer, the HP9180 is a pretty good bet affordability wise. Making your own prints is harder than taking a good's a whole other skill. But I have that printer and it works pretty darn good. Not without headaches but the best thing around for the price.

I'd advise you going with Hefger inks, the original HP inks are pretty expensive.
posted by sully75 at 7:17 AM on March 26, 2009

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