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Saturday, 23 July 2011


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I know nothing about concert photography, but the images look quite impressive to me. I wish Mike M. would put out a book, but if the auctioned items are one off, then I suppose that is not to be. (I wonder if he would have made more money with a publishing deal that he could control.)

Technical question: how did he make the composite images? Multiple exposures or post processing?


Thanks, that was very cool to look at. Some great photos. Looks like he paid a few bills. Interesting to see some of the same concert photography techniques I see today, but that black and white film look is wonderful here.

Mike -

Great story and congrats to Mike on the results of the auction. The images you showed are fascinating--the kind of pictures I'm sure every concert photographer would love to shoot. I'm also sure that the prints are magnificent. Eric's company printed one of my B&W shots (which I took at a Photoshop World pre-conference training session several years ago; http://www.photoshopuser.com/members/portfolios/view/image/169887; unfortunately, the small image in my portfolio doesn't show the quality of the print). Eric's printer printed it as an 11x14 and the print is stunning with lovely transitions between the lights and darks (the photo's not half bad either, if I say so myself ). When his staff presented the print to me, both my wife and I simply didn't know what to say because the printer did such a superb job and far exceeded our expectations. I highly recommend Digital Silver Imaging. Thanks for the blog and again, congrats to Mike (and Eric). CPB

Great photos.
I wonder how an 18 year old got such access to them?

At least he thought of them after the divorce. It will certainly now make retirement possible. Best of luck to him.

On the basis of nothing at all, I think those pictures were worth millions, and Mike got ripped off.

I hope I'm wrong.

I forgot to say -- the picture reproduced here is first-rate IMHO. And I'm glad this fellow made some money. I don't mean to be overly negative here.

On Dutch TV Mike explained that these prints were from negatives that he could not have printed analog because they were underexposed due to the lack of flash and the speed at which he had to work. So digital restoration reclaimed the value of the shots. I don't know, Ctein, but this could be an international first. Since digital restoration usually only restores emotional value (which can exceed financial value in importance by a mile).

Greetings, Ed

I bet he thought to himself:

When I get older,
Losing my hair,
Many years from now.
Will I still be selling all these shots?
Maybe an auction, then I'll get lots.

Give me your answer, fill in a form
Mine for evermore
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four?

The auction house, which is paid to know such things, greatly undervalued the prints. If they had more accurately estimated their selling prices, perhaps they would have put more money and effort into promoting the sale further increasing the return to the seller.

...he may have been another 18 year old with a camera, but man, he really had an 'eye' even back then. I was amazed when I first saw the images, at how good they were for a 'kid'...

RE: Bill Mitchell, hard to remember that there was a day, where if you looked like you belonged someplace, nobody would bother you, and access was pretty easy! Pre media contracts, laminated passes, and PR agents...back in the early 70's, when I was just a little kid (19-20), I used to go to concerts with a few 35mm Nikons, a white, button-down collar shirt, and a corduroy sports jacket, and marched right up to the stage and would even sit on the edge taking pictures, it was always assumed by the cops and security, that I was just another shooter from one of the papers in my town! What concert goer at the time would wear anything but jeans and a t-shirt?

A way simpler time!

re: Mr Crawford's featured comment.

Is this moniker/watermark to make a print "unique" a new method? It is certainly stretching the definition of "Edition of 1" and unique, but might be a useful marketing tactic for photographers, nevertheless.

I thought there was a catch to the prints being limited to a run of one. There's a few tricks people could use to create a print that's technically unique and when I got to the part of the catalogue that mentioned the heart shaped highlight it became obvious.

Clever and wise are not the same thing. It's this sort of "cleverness" that makes the world more complicated than it needs to be, mostly, so people can show how powerful they are or make money. But we know how that ends don't we?

I read today that a US court found someone not guilty for making casual online threats to kill President Obama. A victory for free speech? Tell that to the UK disabled and the victims of the Oslo attacks. That is what politicians creating a climate of cleverness and greed gets you.

Mike Mitchell's example has let the genie out of the bottle and will create a market of copycats. Like a slow burning fuse leading to a crate of dynamite the limited edition and the value it brings to the market has been effectively destroyed. It will go bang. The only question is when.

I find it baffling that a self-portrait of Cindy Sherman sold for $3MM while the complete series of Mitchell's archivally printed 1/1 special edition b&w photos sold for about 10% of that. Go figure.

All you need is love but three hundred big ones ain't too bad either when you're tapped out.
I think I'll go downstairs and pull out Revolver on vinyl and kick back for some Sunday tunes. Nice call on the soundtrack Mike.

"Anyway, the story is that Mike took a bunch of pictures way early on in his career—he was just eighteen at the time—of the Beatles, in one of their very first U.S. appearances, at the old Washington Coliseum, in February of '64."

When I saw Paul McCartney's most recent (I believe) concert in Washington DC about 2-3 summers ago, his stage banter included the remark that while their '64 show in NYC got all the attention, their first actual concert in America was in Washington. So the photos by Mike Mitchell may include the very first Beatles show in the US (and not just one of the first). Just thought that was interesting.

The example photo you show looks a bit like it might be one of those that needed digital to come along before it could be printed. But I'm looking at an online image of a good print, not the original negative, so I don't really know. (Also, it remains true that there were people who were a LOT better B&W darkroom printers than me; I was "pretty decent", not "a master", so maybe they could have even if I couldn't).

So, possibly, he HAD to wait nearly this long to realize anything from the prints.

The gimmickry about the editioning sounds like it may be very very clever.

Damn it, I can't view the catalog. Dunno what's wrong; Christie's sends me off to some third-party site, which doesn't work. It incorrectly decides I don't have Flash installed, and refuses to try to run. Since I do have Flash installed, and unblocked for the damned third-party site, I can't figure out what to do to try to get in.

Call me a cynic, but well.. just call me a cynic.

Best band in the world, ever, BTW.

Since the "limited edition" is essentially always a gimmick (certainly every one I see in person) convention (for photography in particular and digital prints in general), I can only hope that "Random Photog" is right that this, or something, will finally blow it up.

As a crazy Beatles fan, when I saw a headline about "Never-seen before photos..." I was quite excited. But when I saw the actual photos, it was a let-down - as Beatles photos go, they quite good, but don't look much different than any number of shots that I've already seen.

On the other hand, I'm delighted that Mike Mitchell was able to profit so nicely from these photos!

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