By William Schneider
I saw a photo of his on the cover of Darkroom Photography magazine in early 1986, and wanted it. I didn't know about the gallery scene or the "proper" way to purchase a print, so I just telephoned him after finding his number in the local library's collection of phone books.
The call must have caught him by surprise, and he must have sensed a naïvety in my conversation. He offered a 16x20 print to me for $300, but he said "don't tell the gallery." Apparently, they charged double that price for a print.
In another instance, I saw a documentary photo gracing the cover of a Land's End clothing catalog during Christmas, 1986. The caption inside the cover said, "Lois Holland and niece Alison Ladd share a quiet moment in Mineral Point, Wisconsin." I wrote to the company asking for more information about the photographer (the late Archie Lieberman), and they provided it. I called Archie, and he sent a print at no cost to me because I said I was a customer of Land's End, his client for that job.
My collection is admittedly hodge-podge, but I have obtained many, many prints over the years through special sales like the Turnley offer, special editions, and just plain asking the photographer directly.
It never hurts to just ask.
Bill Schneider teaches in the School of Visual Communication at Ohio University.
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Original contents copyright 2012 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Ruby: "I also called a photographer, after seeing a print I liked at our local museum. It turned out the exhibit ended the next week and I was able to buy the very print they displayed, already framed and signed."
Featured Comment by Jim Richardson: "Speaking of recent connections on TOP! You realize that Archie Lieberman did the wonderful documentary book Farm Boy, right? And that Howard Chapnick (lately mentioned here by Peter Turnley) was his agent on that book. Lieberman was one of my heroes, teaching me the value of documenting simple events over time. Seeing the boy in his book grow up, get married, and start his own family was a sweet, simple, and rewarding reading experience."