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FORUMS Post Processing, Marketing & Presenting Photos The Business of Photography 
Thread started 19 Nov 2013 (Tuesday) 15:40
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Numbering a sold photograph

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Nov 19, 2013 15:40 |  #1

B&W Print on metallic paper, matted on white, and framed, sold at my gallery.. The Gallery called and the client wants me to come in and 'number' the print. First, let me say that I think the numbering of current/modern photographs are kina foolish and misleading. This isn't the kind of art where the original 'plate' will deteriorate, as the first printing of a digital file will be as good as the last. Hell, the numbering of photographs just started recently... Ansel didn't even number his photographs (As far as I know).. However, the argument goes like this: if it is limited it must be good. And if it is good it must be expensive. And if it is expensive it needs to be limited. And if it is limited it is good..

However, that said, I'm all for "Giving them what they want"...

My question is as follows. When you number an image printed on Metallic photo paper, and then print another on Luster, or pearlescent paper, does that numbering sequence continue, or do you number the exact finished process, and begin another with another type of finish. You know that a photograph printed on Metallic paper, and one that is printed with a Matte finish look totally different. Are they, in the numbering world, the same product - or different, with different numbering series? What about one printed on paper, say, 5/100, and then you have one finished on Canvas, is that now 6/100 ?

I'm gonna run now, and go number a mat on a photograph where it really doesn't mean anything, but was just wondering .... and thinking.


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Nov 19, 2013 15:55 |  #2

I'm no pro, so I probably shouldn't even attempt an answer, but my understanding is that series are all the same size, medium, framing, etc. The sequence would not continue for changing from metalic to luster.

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Nov 19, 2013 16:13 |  #3

If you number it as something like 1/10 etc you should also write a certificate that states clearly what kind of limit there is. I.e. such paper, such size, framed, etc. Then you're free to make future editions that are different. I'm pretty sure numbering it as 'limited' and having no limit is not a good idea. I'd also clarify with the gallery, does the customer just want a running number (print 5) or do they expect a limit? Make sure to have a paper trail of some sort. It's probably unlikely the customer would come after you but stranger things have happened.

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Nov 19, 2013 17:57 as a reply to  @ phantelope's post |  #4

Once you start numbering, you can't change back without legal rammifactions

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Nov 19, 2013 18:18 |  #5

My 2 cents...

Numbering is usually applied to lithographs, which are really nothing more than very limited printed reproductions of original artwork on very nice paper and in very high quality. By that reasoning, the numbering sequence would only apply to copies that are exactly the same. I completely agree with the previous comment that you might consider providing a certificate along with the numbered photograph. And if you ever duplicate it the same way (on metallic paper, etc.) make sure you use a number in sequence. It must be an awesome photo!


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Nov 19, 2013 19:05 |  #6

ottor wrote in post #16464467 (external link)
I'm gonna run now, and go number a mat on a photograph where it really doesn't mean anything, but was just wondering .... and thinking.

It may not mean anything to you but it might to the buyer. I suggest you check what they believe they are buying. Do they just want a number (in a limitless series) or do they think they are buying a limited edition print. You don't want an unhappy buyer suing you at a later date when they find their limited edition print isn't as limited as they thought http://www.pdnonline.c​om …tor-Sues-Eggle-5127.shtml (external link).

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Nov 19, 2013 20:05 |  #7

If numbering the print adds some value to it, then the purchaser has bought it at a certain price and is now asking you to add more value to it for their benefit even though neither you nor the gallery captured additional revenue. The purchaser is asking to place a limit on your further use of the image at no cost to him, but it's probably worth something to you.

What's it worth to you? In your shoes I would advise that limiting and numbering a print will make it 100% unique and although that presentation was not originally planned, it could be available for $xx. Or just simply reply that you cannot put a price on complying with the request and limiting your further use of your image.

It's your stuff and it must be good, so treat it accordingly! Good luck!

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Nov 20, 2013 11:19 |  #8

I thoroughly believe in numbering without limiting. I also believe that unless specified otherwise (in a certificate) numbering should be for that particular image regardless of type or size of print. That being said, you may need to know this - some jurisdictions (California comes to mind) have determined that to be fine art, a photograph must be limited and the limit must be below a certain quantity (ex 500).

Also, regardless of my opinions on the matter, as long as the client understands the conditions under which you have numbered (or limited) an image, I don't think it matters exactly how you do it.

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Nov 22, 2013 10:13 |  #9

Number all prints in sequence as they are sold. One of the things you can do is keep small sized prints as open edition and larger sized as limited (ie. 16x24 and above as limited, everything below as open).

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Numbering a sold photograph
FORUMS Post Processing, Marketing & Presenting Photos The Business of Photography 
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