Author Archive

Issue #7: Tips for how to price fine art photography

By Cindy A Stephens

Last month in this column, I reported on my conversation with photographer Scott Indermaur on how to price commercial photography.  This month I turned to D’lynne Plummer, from the Arts & Business Council, on how to set a price for fine art work.  In a time when many artists sell work in multiple channels (e.g., Etsy.com and direct to collectors from a studio), D’lynne advises them to “have different product lines”.

Create product lines for your work

D’lynne shared an example from her experience with the Artist’s Professional Toolbox program.  A recent graduate has very detailed, large and relatively expensive oil paintings.  These pieces are represented by a traditional gallery.  In addition, he sells prints on Etsy.com from different paintings, for a few hundred dollars.

D’lynne says “he would never have these less expensive prints available for purchase in his studio.  Similarly people on Etsy would not be likely to purchase one of his more expensive oil paintings, they would generally make that type of commitment in person.”

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There were nine portfolios shown in the gallery on our first Documentary Night, July 22. All in attendance were enthusiastic about the event as a way for photographers from different circles to share common interests in an open and encouraging environment. Some came just to look, and all attendees learned from the range of images and experiences offered for consideration. The distance-traveled prize goes to Andrea Stultiens, who was visiting from the Netherlands.

As attendee Lisa Chioffi wrote:
“I really enjoyed the evening. The diversity of projects and techniques was a refreshing source of inspiration for my own creative ideas. The gathering was intimate enough to hear something about everyone’s personal journey in photography: their equipment, their failures along the way, their inspirations. A very supportive peer environment. The overall format and time allotted were excellent, and wine and snacks were a nice touch.”

Attendee Chris Churchill, who was part of the PRC’s 2006 exhibition DOCUMENT and shared his book-in-progress American Faith, wrote that he enjoyed the opportunity to see a variety of work at different stages of completion “presented by people who are committed to their projects and to photography, which at the end of the day is what it’s all about.”

The evening program showed us that there is strong interest in the PRC serving as a meeting place for affinity groups, people interested in a particular aspect of the medium. Thus, we are planning our next two “nights” in September and October, to coincide with our exhibition Michal Chelbin: Strangely Familiar.

September 29: Portrait Night
October 27: Student Night (attendance will be limited to students enrolled in PRC’s Institutional members)

Details will follow about these two events. We also welcome your ideas about other “nights” we might consider hosting through the fall and winter. Thanks again to all attendees and PRC staff who made the evening such a pleasure.

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The listing page has moved!

For a complete list of current exhibitions, gallery openings, and events please visit our new page on the PRC website. In the future, you will find the current New England exhibitions and calls for entry there.

If you have information you wish to be added to these listings, please email info@prcboston.org.

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Chicago: Loop / Chicago: Lake by Michael A. Smith and Paula Chamlee
(Hardcover, 104 pages) Lodima Press

Chicago: Loop / Chicago: Lake is an interesting concept, combining two books about Chicago into one, providing a cohesive and extensive landscape of the city.  The book is the collaboration between husband and wife team Michael A. Smith and Paula Chamlee. The two were commissioned to photograph Chicago, with Smith focusing on the architecture, Loop, and Chamlee the lakefront, Lake, the result is both unique and beautiful.

Chicago: Loop features black and white images made from an 8×20 inch view camera, giving the photographs extensive detail and great quality. Images contain rich silky blacks and clean whites with great light quality, utilizing both shadows and highlights.

The images themselves truly capture the grandeur of the Chicago architecture. The sky line is captured from a variety of different perspectives, providing varying points of view of both the buildings and the horizon. The buildings themselves are visually interesting, with repetitive forms that mesmerize and classic artistic features that draw the viewer’s eye in.

In Chicago: Lake, Chamlee combines her photographs with drawings, constructions, assemblages and writings.  Her images are varied appearing in both color and black and white, and the medium are blended together, at times a drawing sits next to a photograph of the same scene providing an interesting perspective. There are pages featuring diptychs, triptychs and quartets offering a thought provoking combination of images. The writings are short and handwritten adding a personal touch to the book. Through reading the introduction one learns that the many images are not only of the lake but from them as well, a quartet of drawings featured on pages 38-39 were drawn from a piece of charcoal found in the sand and the water drawings were created using water from Lake Michigan, this information adds a level of depth to the work, a true connection between the images and Chicago is realized.

There is great texture captured in the photographs; foamy waters and sandy beaches, and grassy parks are interesting to the eye. Shadows are used extremely effectively and often are used to draw attention to a particular focal point or graphic feature within the print.

The images captured in the complete book present an interplay between the architectural landscape and the natural landscape that co-exist. Both artists have a unique vision and perspective and the combination of the two truly provides a lovely and creative look at Chicago.

Review by PRC Intern Christina Laboissonniere.

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The Calumet Region – An American Place by Gary Cialdella
(Hardcover, 118 pages) University of Illinois Press

The Calumet Region captures the region of the United States, encompassing the far South Side of Chicago, adjacent south suburbs in Illinois and the area eastward across the State line into Lake and Porter counties in northwest Indiana, an portion of the United States that has been shaped by industry, specially steel and oil.

The reader learns in the introductory text, that the book is a personal journey of sorts by Ciadella, who was raised in Blue Island, Illinois. Yet, while this book captures a specific location, it could be anywhere, any area that has been transformed or built by mass industry. Thus engaging not only natives to the area, but to all.

The images present a beautiful black and white portrait of the Calumet Region. There is a constant juxtaposition between residential life and the manufactured landscape. Family homes with small patches of grass and parked cars are set against backdrops of towering smoke stacks and industrial storage trailers.

There is a subtle yet fascinating interplay of geometric shapes and textures in many of the images. A long row of cylindrical white buildings draw the eye into the background of an image titled House and Oil Storage Tanks, creating a unique interaction between the brick house in the foreground and the industrial land behind it. Telephone wires dissect images and chain link fences divide the home from the work place, splitting an image between the idyllic foreground and the industrial background.

Many images are reminiscent of architectural photography but instead of capturing the magnificence and grandeur of a building they capture the rawness, the utilitarian nature of these structures built for production. Grey skies in nearly all of the photographs suggest a foreboding presence, and perhaps a personal critique on presence and state of these industries. There are not many people in any of the images, with the exception of a few beach photographs near the end of the book. Instead there are sublet hints of a human presence, vacant lawn chairs and parked cars offering a view of truly the landscape and not the people who inhabit or created it.

The quality of the images is superb, rich blacks and silvery grays, which appear meticulously printed. The book is well organized featuring neighborhoods first then the adjacent industry and finally the Great Lake, which reads like a journey through the area. Photographs range in size, keeping the reader interested and engaged.

The book features beautiful photographs that transport the reader to a unique region, one where industry has taken over then landscape.

Review written by intern Christina Laboissonniere.

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Europe (volume 8), Brett Weston
Japan (volume 7), Brett Weston
Lodima Press, 2009

Published in 2009 by Lodima Press, this review focuses on volumes seven and eight of a nineteen-volume portfolio series showcasing Brett Weston’s work over the past century, available in softcover editions of 1,000. Number seven features Weston’s work in Japan in 1970 and number eight his work in Europe between 1960 and 1973. The son of esteemed photographer Edward Weston, Brett was schooled in the art of the view camera early in life. In these volumes, however, most of the photographs were taken with the Rollei SL66, a medium format camera with a unique tilting lens that replaced his 8×10 view camera in his later career.

The photographs in these two portfolios are black and white film, carefully composed with incredible detail in a manor true to his group f64 roots. However, with the introduction of the square medium format as shown in these portfolios Weston’s aesthetic begins to morph to account for the new dimensionality and printing technique required from this format. The full-frame 8×10 contact prints must now be replaced with enlargements and the compositions must be square unless cropped in the printing. This is an important departure for Weston as the new camera moves his work away from the depth and scale characteristic of his earlier work and transforms his vision into increasingly abstracted two-dimensional pattern.


The evolution is apparent in his Japan portfolio, as the landscape becomes flattened and distorted in a manner reminiscent of the perspective found in Japanese paintings. His close-ups become less recognizable as objects and structures, better described in terms of shape and texture, and the cropping of the plates range in dimensionality between nearly square to the traditional rectangle. Weston’s imagery becomes increasingly descriptive of place and time while simultaneously removed from space as one gets lost in the line movements, patterns, textures and tones of the photograph. In plate 12 of the 15 included in the Japan series, a Japanese landscape is both accurately described and abstracted as the eye finds it difficult to determine where the land ends and the water begins.

In Weston’s Europe portfolio, four of the earlier photographs included are 8×10 plates; the rest are enlarged prints from medium format film. Between 1971 and 1973, Weston becomes increasingly confident in the square format, allowing several to function as full-frame plates. Furthermore, it is evident that his shooting style has changed significantly between the 1960 Europe trip and his trips in 1971 and 1973, his later work more closely resembling his work in Japan. His subject matter is progressively more distorted, as his eye is drawn away from large-scale landscapes and more focused on details. Cracked paint becomes akin to an abstract expressionist painting in grayscale, while a village of stacked architecture becomes a cubist series of shifting shapes and perspective. Brett Weston’s photographic evolution in these portfolios is both visually and technically captivating to the professional and photo-enthusiast alike, a series not to be missed.

Reviewed by PRC Intern Lindsay Rogers.

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