Tag Archives: guidelines

How To Participate in Photography Projects

weekend07_04.jpg
Creative Commons License photo credit: smallritual

Photography projects are a great way to improve your skills and expand your creativity (plus they’re fun). These projects can take many forms and have many different requirements for participation. It seems like everywhere you look, there are group projects being hosted by bloggers, forums, and other online clubs.

Online projects can be vastly different from one another, but they all have one thing in common: you need to publish something. Sometimes the host will publish for you, and sometimes they require you to find your own avenue for publication. If you have your own blog or website, it’s pretty easy to meet the publication requirements. But if you don’t have your own site, things can be a little more difficult.

This article will show you a few of the methods you can use for self-publication when it comes to these projects — even some free ones. We’ll also take a look at some general points to remember when participating in projects. So if you’ve been holding back from participating in online photography projects, pay attention and take notes.

HOW TO BE A GOOD PLAYER

First and foremost, you need to be sure that you read the project requirements and rules very thoroughly. If you don’t follow the guidelines set by the project host, you’ll run the risk of disqualifying yourself from the project or having to do it over again the right way. Hosts set the rules to ensure that participants produce similar project entries and keep everybody on the same playing field. Hosting a project is a very big task that requires a lot of work and organization. If you submit a project entry that doesn’t conform with the project requirements, you’re making more work for the host and for yourself. So read the rules 2 or 3 times before you even begin the project.

Secondly, you need to make sure that you meet the deadline set by the project host. Late entries cause a lot of hassle, especially if the host will be publishing the results of the entire project. Aside from just hitting the deadline, it’s also a good courtesy to submit your entry prior to the final days before the deadline. A lot of people submit entries on the last day or two of the project and it puts a strain on the host. You may run the risk of getting overlooked or having your project get lost in the shuffle. Besides, most of the post-project publications from the host will be in some sort of chronological order — so if you’re an early bird, you’ll get a top spot on the list and your work will be seen by more people.

And the last topic is more of a suggestion than anything. It’s always nice to have project participants post a link to the project requirements with their entry. It allows your audience to be informed about the project and it will give them a chance to participate too. Like I said, it’s a nice thing to do but it’s generally not required by the project host (unless they specify that it is).

The following points are a few methods for self-publication of project entries. Like I said before, each project will require different things of the project entry — some will be completely published by the host, while others will require you to publish something yourself.

PUBLISHING ON YOUR BLOG

It’s my opinion that a blog provides the best avenue for project publication. You have total control over what you publish, how you publish it, and how it looks. The ease of self-publication is downright scary. The project entry can be published as a regular post and it will have its own unique URL that the project host can reach easily.

Even if you have a blog, this may not be the best route for you to use. If your blog topic is very much different than the photography project or even photography in general, you may have reservations for what you publish. If this is the case, read on for some of the free options that may suit you better.

If you don’t have a blog of your own, also check out some of the other methods for publication. What I wouldn’t suggest doing is starting up a blog just to publish the project entry, especially if you have no intent of keeping up with the blog. This will eventually result in broken links and non-existent project entries if you ever decide to delete the one-post blog. But if you’ve been meaning to start up a blog anyways, then I say go for it!

PUBLISHING ON OTHER BLOGS

Oh no, here come the Bloggers
Creative Commons License photo credit: Brett L.

If you don’t have a photography blog that you can publish your project to, that doesn’t mean that you can’t publish on another blog out there. Most bloggers are fairly open to guest posts, and their audience is usually full of other photographers like yourself. If you want to guest post on another blog, make sure it’s one that fits well with the content you’ll be providing. It’s also a good idea to go after a blog that you read and interact with on a regular basis. The blogger will be much more open to your post if you have an existing relationship with them.

There are a ton of photography blogs out there, so don’t limit your sights to the big mainstream sites. Bloggers with smaller or newer sites will generally be more approachable because they’ll be less tied up with running a large website. It also helps if you get your project finished early and have your publication written and ready to go before you approach them.

PUBLISHING ON YOUR WEBSITE

A typical website would be the next best option to the blog. Publishing something like a project entry isn’t quite as easy, but it’s not totally impossible. If you’re accustomed to creating your own web pages, then posting a project entry should be no problem. The nice thing about a standard website approach is that you can post something and have it remain unseen by the rest of your website. Why would you want to do this? If the topic of your website isn’t photography, it might seem a little out of place.

PUBLISHING ON FLICKR

Friday Night Tribute to Flickr! (a.k.a. Things To Do With A Mobile Phone) :)
Creative Commons License photo credit: dsevilla

Flickr is actually very accommodating to publishing a project that requires photos and/or written portions. Obviously, Flickr is built for posting photos, but you can also post text and links with those photos. Add in the ability to tag your photos and create sets, and you’ve got lots of options for publishing a project entry.

If the project requires only a photo, then just post the photo to Flickr as you normally would. Like I said before, it’s also a good idea to write a little about the project (or why you took the photo) and possibly link back to the project page so other people can participate. You can just post this text in the description for the photo, and now you’ve got your own project entry on a single web page.

If the project requires more than one photo (like a portfolio), then a Flickr set is the way to go. Include all your photos in a set, and you can also describe the project in the set description. If the project requires a larger portion of written work, then include that text on one of your photos in the set and link to it from the set description. You want to make sure that the project host can find your entire project entry easily.

If you don’t want to include the project photos in a set (because the free Flickr accounts limit the number of sets you can have), then a common tag will also work. Then you can submit your project entry as the collection of photos with that common tag. To do this, you just add the following text to the end of your photostream URL: “/tags/[tag name]” — here’s an example.

PUBLISHING ON FORUMS

Forums are another great avenue to publish content for free. You can start a new thread, post some project photos, and complete the written part of it all in one spot. Other photographers will then be able to comment on your entry piece, and they’ll also have an opportunity to participate if they choose.

Just like guest posting on another photographer’s blog, posting project entries on a forum will go over much better if you have an existing presence there. Don’t just use the forum as a way to publish the project and never return.

PUBLISHING ON OTHER FREE SITES

Now I’m going to turn the discussion over to you. I’ve presented a few methods of publishing photography project entries, some free and some not. I think it would be useful if some of you offered up some additional suggestions — the cheaper the option, the better.

What Exactly is a “Limited Edition” Print?

And Gone....
Creative Commons License photo credit: SuLeS

UPDATE: As a result of the discussions from this post, I’ve written a follow-up article that addresses more perspectives on this topic. Please visit A Closer Look at Limited Editions for further reading.

A few posts back, I mentioned that I put one of my “limited edition” prints up for auction on eBay. In the comments of this post, Stephen Gray asked a very good question:

One thing that always confuses me, however, is the use of the term “limited” or “limited edition” in the digital age. There’s really no actual limiting factor when dealing with digital photos and printing. I mean, even a good negative can be scanned and then reproduced in large numbers. So how do we as photographers define this? What are our responsibilities or requirements when using such terms? (I’ll be honest, not understand this–along with a severe lack of time due to a show I’m currently working on–was a big factor that kept me from submitting to the recent Fine Art Photoblog call for entries.)

As a consumer, if I’m buying something that’s touted as “limited”, then it comes with the expectation that what I’m buying will remain scarce. After 30, you’ll not sell this photo again or is there some other caveat involved?

To be honest, I was asking the same types of questions only a few months ago. Lucky for me, I work with highly talented individuals on the Fine Art Photoblog who could lend me some pointers on the topic. And to be perfectly clear, the material in this article is based on opinion and personal experience. I don’t believe there exists an official handbook or set of rules for “limited edition” photos. Take it with a grain of salt and offer up your own thoughts if your opinion is different.

And no, the photos shown on this post aren’t necessarily limited edition prints — they’re just “prints” of some sort.

WIKIPEDIA’S DEFINITION

Frosty Triptych
Creative Commons License photo credit: kiddharma

Let’s start with the formal source and see what the Wikipedia has to say about the topic of Limited Editions. Here’s an excerpt from the topic of the Special Edition as it relates to the artistic medium.

Limited editions have been standard in printmaking from the nineteenth century onwards. There is a genuine need for the concept here, as many traditional printmaking techniques can only produce a limited number of top-quality impressions, as copies of prints are known. This can be as few as ten or twenty for a technique like drypoint, but more commonly would be in the hundreds or thousands. But here as in other fields, the use of the concept has become largely driven by marketing imperatives, and has been misused in parts of the market. In particular, lithographic, photogravure, rotogravure, and computer reproductions of prints, derived from photographs of an original print, which are most unlikely to have any investment value, are often issued in limited editions implying that they will have such value. These need to be distinguished from the original artist’s print, carefully produced directly from his work in whatever the printmaking medium is, and printed under his supervision.

So to sum that up: driven by marketing imperatives, produced directly from the artist’s work (film or digital file), and produced under the supervision of the artist or directly by the artist.

CODY REDMON’S DEFINITION

Fingerprint 3
Creative Commons License photo credit: Mr Jaded

Cody offered up his definition of Limited Editions to me first when I posed the question. You can catch Cody at the Fine Art Photoblog or on his personal photography blog.

I treat mine differently than some people, but there’s no definitive way to do this. I sell my prints at whatever size the customer wants and it counts as 1-of-X in the edition length…as long as it’s signed and numbered. I don’t usually go below 12×18″ for mine, but it’s up to you. Anything purchased that does not have my signature is not considered part of the limited edition, but some folks believe that only producing a set number is what creates the value of the print. Ansel Adams’ estate would argue against this point, though, as you can go buy poster prints of his work for a couple hundred dollars, but his originals or prints from his negatives usually start about $10K. So, I sell ‘art’ pieces, and I sell ‘signed’ pieces…the signed ones are what matter to me…the others are for hobbyists and over-the-couchers.

So to sum that up: any size counts as part of the limited edition, must be signed and numbered, and reproductions are okay too and don’t detract from the value of the limited edition.

JOSEPH SZYMANSKI’S DEFINITION

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Creative Commons License photo credit: taivasalla

Joseph followed up comments with some of his own thoughts on the topic. You can catch Joseph at the Fine Art Photoblog or at his personal photography blog.

Again, like Cody said, there are a lot of interpretations of this. I’ve known a lot of people that do editions in one size only and that’s all they print, others that do a limited edition in one size and print others indefinitely, and those that do editions in all sizes, as in 50 in 11×14, 50 in 16×20 and so on. There is also a school of thought that believes that after the edition is printed the negative (or the digital file as it were) should be destroyed. If you ask me, thats ludicrous.

So to sum that up: there are a lot of interpretations of this topic and many are acceptable, and destroying the original negative or digital file after the limited edition is over is not necessary.

BRIAN AUER’S DEFINITION

screen printed greeting cards
Creative Commons License photo credit: ‘smil

Since doing my original research on this topic, I’ve come to define the idea of Limited Editions to suit my own needs. You can also catch me at the Fine Art Photoblog or at the PhotoNetCast.

I think I have to agree with both Cody and Joe in their thoughts on this. I consider a limited edition print to require a signature and number at a minimum. The print should be produced directly by the artist, or under direct supervision of the artist (such as working with a professional print maker). Any size is okay with me (but no smaller than 12″ at the longest dimension), and any size counts as part of the same limited edition. Reprints, such as those from ImageKind, are perfectly fine during or after the limited edition and they shouldn’t devalue the signed prints. Limited edition prints are collectible pieces of art and their value should increase over time.

So to sum that up: need a signature and number, produced by the artist, sizes don’t matter much, and reprints are okay.

SO TO SUM THAT UP…

Like I said before, there are no hard set rules on this topic. But after doing a little research and talking with some experienced photographers/artists, I think we can say the following about Limited Edition prints:

  • Produced directly from the artist’s original work (film or file).
  • Produced directly by the artist or under direct supervision.
  • Limited to some pre-defined number of prints.
  • Signed and numbered (X of N) by the artist.
  • Sizing of prints is up to the artist.
  • Unsigned reprints are acceptable and don’t devalue the limited edition.
  • The original work doesn’t need to be destroyed at the end.
  • WHAT ELSE?

What other rules or guidelines do you have for Limited Edition prints? Do you disagree with anything here? Have you found other resources that address this topic? Leave some comments and discuss!

UPDATE: As a result of the discussions from this post, I’ve written a follow-up article that addresses more perspectives on this topic. Please visit A Closer Look at Limited Editions for further reading.