May 19 2015

What goes into an image, and why does art cost so much? (Part 1 of 2)

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Every now and again, a visitor to the gallery in Old Town will grumble about the price of an image.  I know that I am not the only one to have either had someone look at me directly and say “what’s the big deal, it’s just a photograph” or heard it whispered as someone walks away.  It doesn’t happen often.  Most people understand the value of art and what goes into it.  But, when it does, it is difficult to not list off the litany of reasons this attitude is so very, very wrong.

A woman once alluded to me the fact that she thought that artists were a bunch of entitled slackers and I could not figure out what the heck she was talking about.  My artist friends are some of the most hardworking people I know.  And, they often do it sacrificing a far more comfortable existence for something that they love.  Art is their living, and it is often a scant one.  The vision in people’s heads of artists partying like rockstars all of the time is oddly juxtaposed with the common usage of the term “starving artist”.  Yet, folks seem to manage to hold both beliefs in parallel without suffering much in the way of cognitive dissonance.

So, which is it?  Is our work overpriced?  Bluntly, no.

Much goes into even the most conventional photographic art in the form of talent, time, and monetary resources.  That is no “snapshot” you are looking at on the gallery wall.

In general, photographers have a comparatively high overhead.  We have lots of expensive equipment, anything from cameras to printers and computers, and those things must be maintained and replaced regularly.  They also must be insured.  Further, as they say “time is money”.  There is the time that goes into coming up with a photo concept, the time (and cost) of traveling to that special location, and the time spent waiting (often days or months) for that special light or moment.  There is the time spent developing our images, be it in an old-school or digital darkroom, which can be extensive (see part 2 of this blog series).  And then, there is all of the effort we must go to to get that image to you and the cost of doing so.  Printing can be costly, especially if we utilize special paper or techniques (consider the cost of a platinum print), and if we print on alternative media such as canvas or infused aluminum, that price is also dramatically greater.  If we show in a conventional gallery, we may not have to spend the time selling our work, but they take a hefty commission for doing it for us (40-60% is typical).  If we show in a cooperative, we pay rent or fees to do so, and we work days at the gallery effectively for free, the sale of our work being our only compensation.  And, many of us work several art and craft shows a year– usually 3 day events with long hours and high booth fees– to which we must haul whole tents and booth setups comprised of walls on which to hang our work (which we must purchase at no small expense), and all of the heavy frames and mats that we take with us to display and sell at those events.

We do all of this, because we love what we do.  And, most of us are not charging you anywhere near what our work is worth, given all of these considerations.  So, next time you are tempted to grumble “why does it cost so much, it’s just a photograph”… Think again.  That image isn’t just an expression of our personal vision and talent.  It probably has days or even weeks of our time and many other resources invested in it.  What we take home per image after you subtract out printing costs, taxes, and possibly commission fees isn’t often much.  We don’t ask you to accept less for what you do for a living, why would you devalue what we do?

We are so grateful for the support and enthusiasm of those that understand what goes into our work.  It helps immeasurably in going forward when times are tough.  To give you an idea of what may go into a single image of my own, see part 2 of this blog series (to be posted later): A Fine Art Fantasy Image from Start to Finish.  -Amy


Feb 3 2013

Lee Marmon– The Acoma Collection

Photo by Tom Corbett (2006)

Lee Marmon with his signature image “White Man’s Moccasins” (1954)
Photo by Tom Corbett (2006)

The best concert I ever went to was a BB King concert.  I’ve seen him several times, but this time was different.  It was in a small, intimate venue and before almost every song, BB would tell a little story about the origins of the song or what it meant to him.  It… was… awesome!  This was an experience I will never forget, and am so glad I got to see–nay, be a part of–because that’s how it felt.  I wasn’t just a casual observer of some great blues, BB was talking to me and everyone in that room that night.

It’s not often you get to meet an icon. Someone who was positioned perfectly in space and time to document a culture in flux. And, someone with the talent to do it well.  That’s who eighty-seven year old Lee Marmon is.  And, although I haven’t met him yet, I, like you, will have the opportunity to do so the evening of March 1st, at the Albuquerque Photographers’ Gallery in Old Town.  Although I personally have not met Lee, several of my colleagues have, and they tell me he is a warm, delightful, unassuming story-teller of a man.  This is not something I want to miss.  Meeting Lee will be something I will remember fondly and his opening at APG will be something I know I will be glad to be a part of.

So, why is this guy so special?  If you are not familiar with the name, I’d be surprised if you’re not familiar with his work.  Born in Laguna in 1925, Lee’s signature image “White Man’s Moccasins” (1954) is only one of many images of tribal elders and life to be globally recognized as a visual documentary of cultural change throughout the Southwest in the mid-twentieth century.  His collection of images has been deemed of such significance that the University of New Mexico purchased his negatives in 2009.
Lee’s photographic career includes service as the official photographer for the Bob Hope Desert Classic Golf Tournament (1967-1973), publication in books and magazines such as Time, The New York Times Magazine, Aperture, the Saturday Evening Post, the Los Angeles Times, New Mexico Magazine, Native Peoples, and Southwest Art.  His works were also featured in the Peabody Award-winning PBS series, “Surviving Columbus”.  His 2004 book “The Pueblo Imagination”, written in collaboration with Joy Harjo, Simon Ortiz, and Leslie Marmon Silko is award-winning.  And, in June 2006, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts for the “legacy of integrity” his works have inspired during the 59 years Marmon has been practicing his craft.

If you’re not sufficiently impressed enough yet, I’ll let the imagery do the talking.

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SpiderRock-sm

 

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That’s right boys and girls.  Lee Marmon is a photographic “rockstar”.  And, you can meet him with me.  You don’t want to miss this!

Lee will be at the Albuquerque Photographers’ Gallery signing fine art posters of four of his images including a special edition of White Man’s Moccasins (1954) on March 1st from 5-8pm.  His work will be on display throughout March and April, 2013.  The exhibit includes 21 signed silver gelatin prints which represent the last prints the artist will ever make of these images (as noted previously, the University of New Mexico purchased his negatives in ’09).  All of the images linked above (including White Man’s Moccasins) and many more will be on display and available for sale.  I’ve seen many of them.  They’re fantastic.  (And no, “fantastic” doesn’t even begin to capture how wonderful these images are.  You’ll just have to come see for yourself.  You think you have seen someone’s art, and then you see it in person, and everything changes.)  Hope to see you March 1st!
 
Lee Marmon- The Acoma Collection
March 1- April 30, 2013
Opening reception: Friday, March 1 (5-8pm)

 

At:

The Albuquerque Photographers’ Gallery
Plaza Don Luis, Old Town
303 Romero Street NW
(upstairs) STE N208
Albuquerque, NM 87104
505-244-9195

 

For even more information about Lee, check out the Wikipedia article on him.

DCF Event Announcement

Lee Marmon– The Acoma Collection– Facebook Event Page


Jul 10 2012

Wedding Photojournalism: The Fun Stuff!

I love photojournalism.  One of my favorite things to do is to take pictures of people being people.  The problem is that people don’t always much appreciate that.  I get it.  I tend to avoid being in front of the camera too!  However, this is the great thing about covering weddings.  Everyone at a wedding knows there is a photographer there.  This can make getting some shots tough.  But, if you work hard enough at it, eventually people start to forget about you, and that’s when you can start capturing amazing moments.  Poignant, funny, and full of joy…  These are the moments I aim to capture for the bride and groom so that when they look back on their day even though they were totally focused on each other (as it should be) they won’t have missed a thing.

 

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Mar 30 2012

Amy Joins the Albuquerque Photographers’ Gallery

As many of you know, Amy has been doing a lot of Fine Art work. (You can see her work on our main business site or amyditto.com. Signed, limited edition prints are only available through the gallery or via phone or e-mail ordering.) She has recently been juried into the Albuquerque Photographers’ Gallery in Old Town. The information for the gallery here in Albuquerque Old Town is:

303 Romero Street NW
(upstairs) in suite N208
Albuquerque, NM 87104
505-244-9195

Open daily from 10:30AM until 6PM
Friday & Saturday until 8PM

Amy is tremendously excited about being a part of New Mexico’s only juried photography co-op! In addition to her work, that of 10 other award-winning photographers is on display. Styles are diverse, from conventional to avant-garde. Members staff the gallery, so come on by and say “hi”, and “like” us on Facebook and join our mailing list for regular updates regarding the gallery and specials! Thanks for all of your support, folks- she would not be there without all of you!