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Friday, 28 June 2013


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Aren't Scott's smaller prints what are called artist proofs in the fine art world? As such, would they not have a value, if Scott were selling his larger finished prints?

Left & Found -- http://davidduchemin.com/2013/06/left-found/

Seems like a good use -- 'free-range' art!

Well, I'm not a pro, so I don't have a portfolio to show off to anyone.

My test prints tend to hang around on my desk for a couple of weeks before eventually making their way into the wastebasket.

Sometimes my wife or other family member will see one that catches their eye and take it before I throw it out, but that's pretty rare.

I tend to think of these types of prints as "work product". As a result of that thinking process you have two options (in my feeble little mind).

1. store them for future printing to use as a benchmark for consistency.

2. dispose of them.

I know it sounds bad to talk about throwing away images/art, but often it's the best thing.

If the paper is double sided, I keep rejects in a recycle box that I will use side B for a test print in future.

If I have a reject print I never want to see again, I usually destroy it.

I recently bought a photography book (Live Through This) from Tony Fouhse and he wrote me a nice little note on the back of one of his work prints. I was happy to have it.

Perhaps this isn't the best answer, but I save some of my test prints in a big plastic bin about 8 inches deep, just right for sliding under the guest bed in the room with the printer. It's the shoe-box approach. I also recycle a fair number of the truly bad ones.

But I do make some smaller prints to show people, and I keep them in a plastic sleeve portfolio. They look good, and visually it's easy to take in the whole scene when holding it in your lap like a magazine.

Simple answer: If I have doubletes, I throw them away. For the others I have a box in my office, where I store them. Which means: They never get to see the light again :-(

But, other than that: I once initiated a go-around-box in a small photographer forum. Everyone could lay 2-3 small (8x12) sized prints in and take the same amount out and send it to the next person on the list. That was a great idea for the small prints - and I got some great work for my collection (most of the people involved did actually only send fine baryta darkroom prints). That doesn't get you rid of all the test prints, but it may make some people happy.

Best regards,

This may sound dramatic to some, but if the print is one on the long road to the final that I don't want to show to people I shred them and use them for packing material. Sometimes the shreddings get thrown into the recycle bin (hoping it's all recyclable). Some could be kept as "artist proofs" but I subscribe to "print early and often" during my process so I end up with quite a few that don't need to be shown.

I was told by one of my workshop instructors to destroy all draft versions of prints. He said, "Somehow they WILL end up somewhere with your name on it. DON'T let drafts see the light of day."

Make sense to me. Plus I just don't have the room to keep all those drafts! ;)

Shred and recycle...

I have a 24 inch printer that I mostly use to print B&W "blueprints" and the like. Mostly I use 20lb bond. I save my "mistakes" and give them to various Mothers with young children, a 10 foot long drawing on the playroom floor and a box of crayons is a great way to keep a kid busy when the weathers bad. I also give them the roll ends, but the "mistakes" with lines are much more popular.


I don't have an answer but I do have a very large collection of boxes full of photos.

Trash/recycle them. I tried the "save money, print small first" idea. Didn't work. Many flaws are just not visible in an 8.5x11 that scream at you in a 13x19. I work to produce the best 1st print that I can, study it, discuss it with colleagues, and then make a final (hopefully). On rare occasions, I have an epiphany and do a third. Is this cost effective? Of course not. Is being a fine art photographer? Same answer. Destroy all test prints. This has worked best for me, and I just accept it as the "cost of doing business." And it teaches you editing :)

Give them away to friends, family and potential exhibitors. If you sign them, label them as artist proofs

They could be kept as bad examples of your work to compare with the finished examples.

However I'd run them through a really good paper shredder and recycle the shredded paper.

You really don't want those "test" prints falling into the wrong hands.

I feel your pain.
For my personal use, I've found that 2x3 or 5x7max seems to give me the information I need to finalize the process.
It's easy to make margin notes of adjustments and compare side to side.
If necessary, I'll take a "slice" of the 13x19 and print that as well in the same manner-often helpful with problem areas.
You can save them for future reference or not feel guilty about throwing away acceptable prints.

A wise man once told me that the most important tool in the print shop isn't the printer. Rather, it is the humble garbage can. I don't want to look at anything but my best and I don't want to show my friends and family anything I don't want to look at myself. I keep my 8.5x11's to watch the progression until I have my final 13x19. Then they are discarded like yesterday's proverbial news. I confess it hurts a little, but it is part of the prerequisite discipline in photography of relentless culling and editing.


Work prints get looked at on a simple print viewing board I made up out of foamcore under a good light for a day or two - I need to see a print for a while to decide what I want from a final and if its an image that I want to be a part of my portfolio. Once I have a final print that I'm happy with, the work prints get torn in half and put in the paper recycling bin. Which is tough, but being tough on yourself is part of the process - and one that is rewarding in the end.

And I prefer to make work prints at the same size as the finals, because size has an effect on the image. Yes, there's a cost to that, but paper and ink are not the costs to focus on. The real costs are your time, your attention, your commitment, the things you choose not to do or have in order to pursue your vision.

Just a thought; the folio covers from Dane Creek-www.danecreekfolios.com- will hold about ten 81/2x11 prints and would make a nice gift. Or if you want you could sell them as "proof" print folios which lets people know they are not part of your limited edition fine print offerings.

[...] I wouldn't want to send out prints that didn't represent my very best efforts [...]

That just sums it all, for me.

Some A5 (about 5"x7") proofs that got the same treatment as my final print may end as greeting cards, but 8.5x11 is a tad large for this.
The Left&Found idea does not seems bad, for that size.

No, on the outside.

Sounds like a small investment (some money, fair bit of time) in calibrating your system will pay dividends soon, Scott. Why hang on to proofs ? If you are going to repeat prints, keep a book with a proof in with some appropriate notes: if you change paper, calibration should get you close to what you expect. If the small versions are identical to the 'finished' article they aren't strictly 'proofs' just smaller prints. Proofs are generally done on a cheaper paper to assess where the printing is going to end up. After hanging on to these myself for years previously, I now bin the proofs as they have served their purpose.
What I realised was, that I was spending/wasting time deciding what to do with, to me, second rate pictures. Put your efforts into the good stuff and move on, don't show people what you aren't satisfied with.

Regards, Mark Walker

"Shoe box". In 20-30 years it will be a blast to look through the stacks.

And on the eighth day God created shredders.

My initial reviewing is all on-screen.
A couple of big screens have replaced small work prints. I also share them on-line at this stage.

I print everything 14"x21" on A2 paper.
I've standardised on Epson Enhanced Matte paper, which is a reasonable price.

Work prints get stuck on the office wall so I can look at them for a while, then I try to improve them.

When I've get a better version, I destroy the old, less good, version.

If I could reduce my print collection to one box of 100 A2 prints, I'd be happy.

Very very occasionally, I'll print a big print (A1) and frame it.


In the old days (darkroom) the few work prints that repersented clear steps toward the final result were saved in the 'jacket' usually with notes.
That isn't necessary with digital.
However even with attention to a color managed workflow, and a software RIP I get my share of 'not quites" --as hard as it is to trash them, I do.
I have found that most images have a size where they look best.
Some work best, as big as I can make them, some benefit from a smaller size. If I'm honest with myself, relatively few work equally well in any size. So I always print at final size. I view it as one additional but necessary component of the high cost of printing.
For me, if it is not representative of the best I can do, I trash it.
Sometimes I have to go back and "Trash in Retrospect" things that would no longer make the cut.
I don't know that there is anything particularly right about this process, but it is what I do.

One use is what I call my 'sample book,' a binder of 8x10 prints I keep in the car for those times when people see me out and say, "Why the hell are you taking a picture of that?" They may not be the final version, but they give people an idea of what I do and most people who see them get a lot more friendly as they look.

Before that, anything I don't want people to see goes to the shredder, so anything that hangs around more than a few days is something I don't mind sharing. Even if it's not the final form or format. Some are given to friends or family, some are attached to greeting cards or included in letters. Sometimes I'll put a nice small print or fragment in a mat and take it to a dinner or party as a gift to the host.

One note: I make sure no picture of a person goes to the garbage in recognizable form - all the reject portrait and figure photos go through the shredder.

I feed them to my shredder.

There are lots of places where your cast offs could bring some joy or smiles or thoughts.
Retirement Communities, Half way houses and the like.
To you it may be a "test print" to someone else it could be just the ticket to a happy day.

I keep my work/test prints in a series of folders for future reference, mostly because it's harder than you might think to match a previous print, and because I don't trust my visual memory as to what a previous print iteration really looked like in the hand.

What an image looks like on screen is never exactly what it looks like printed; different media and all that. I've been through many generations of inkjet printers over time, and while the general trend has been toward better quality, there have been some photographs that really *sang* using a particular combination of ink & paper. I continue to find it helpful to have a work print of those images in hand to avoid 'improving' them into something that simply isn't as good.

Test prints, work prints... tear them up throw them out... I only keep the keepers and those get matted and framed as needed.

A photographer acquaintance who became well known had thrown away a bunch of workprints. A dealer later brought them back as 'his property' and asked if she'd please sign them!

Following this example (without planning on fame), I make my workprints on Photo Rag Duo. After printing on both sides, I tear 'em in quarters.

When I make final prints and one is only a little better than another, I save the second-best, pencil "AP" on the back, and keep 'em in a box as trades or give-aways.

Print 5x7 test prints and then glue those to the front of good art paper folding card stock. You'll have a nice set of cards to mail to people. The gallery where I showed took quite a number of 5x7 test prints and made them up into one of a kind art note cards that they then sold.

Dear Scott,

I tear'em up and throw'em away.

I used to save that stuff, under the mistaken notion that I'd find some future use for them. Never happened.

On RARE occasion, I'll save one of those proof prints when it's essentially perfect and the kind of thing I might be able to give someone as a gift some day. That's like 1% of them.

Otherwise, trashed.

(In case someone's wondering, no I wouldn't donate the to-be-trashed prints to some worthy cause because I don't want my second-best/reject work circulating in the world.)

pax / Ctein

Softproofing.....I never print without it. Then I go directly to large (if needed). Paper and ink are valuable resources (to me and to the planet) and I use as less as possible. I don't keep a portfolio....my portfolio is a Blurb book (Blurb makes a living for printing decent quality and I must say they do).

Greets, Ed.

First of all, my test prints are at the same size as I plan to finally print (usually A3, sometimes A2). Often a test print will have three or four different "exposure settings" on one print, and as such this is striped and not of much use for display. I shred and recycle them all except for the rare cases where I am testing out a new paper or have produced cold and warm versions and cannot decide which I prefer.

regards - Peter

dispose of them tear up recycle, simple, less clutter, not my best. I'd rather give away a free proper 8x10 than a "second"


Urm, I put them on a roughly horizontal surface and there they stay until they get marked, stained or mutilated, then they get put into the round file, where they should have gone in the first place.

Keep them around on the premise that you will eventually be a famous photographer. It will then give us all something to discover, dissect, and discuss after you've left this earth.

Truly bad prints (which I'm still very good at producing) get recycled (don't worry about the contents of the paper and ink, the recycling process boils out or otherwise filters out all this stuff).

My wife cuts them up and uses them in her kindergarten classroom for who knows what. She likes the weight of the paper. Since they are in pieces I don't care.

Most of my final prints from a period in the 80's have disappeared in moves, fires, floods, building collapses, apartments accidently filling with concrete etc.

Consequently the work prints are all I have of some images. Since it turns out that the slightly dark prints reproduce the best anyway, I'm glad I saved a lot of them. On the other hand I have no idea why I printed some of them at all. There are a few pictures that I can't remember taking at all, like when was I at a party with Ali MacGraw and Jerry Hall?

Currently, my test inkjet prints are in the range of 24 x 96 inches on cheap paper. I write "test" on them and give them to friends who aren't in my target audience.

I have a huge pile of them that I can hardly bear to throw away. A bunch of it is printing I've done for others —  sometimes the flaw is just a tiny speck or two. Some part of me knows that they will be torn up and trashed but I'm putting off the moment.

This won't help - it's just a story I find interesting, and one similar to the 'lost & found' comment, second from the top.

I recall reading that Araki, the famous Japanese photographer, used to just randomly pick total strangers out of phone books and send them photographs, all over the country.

If one is selling prints, then I understand there is a tendency to think that those prints before the final print are sub standard.

But imagine they are not prints but, say, soft toys.

Maybe the ears on this one are not quite equal size like I would like them to be.

But maybe the wonky ears appeal to someone?

Of course, maybe someone will say - don't buy his/her/their soft toys - they've got wonky ears.

But maybe someone will says - buy his/her/their soft toys - they have ones with all kinds of ears, some wonky and some straight.

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