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Friday, 09 November 2018


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Why so down on Paypal. I like it better than giving my credit card to some unknown local bank that may not have the best credit card security.

Terrific news, Mike -- please keep up the good work.

Sounds like very smart moves to leap that gap between pastime and business.

All for it!

I have that Lincoln print hanging in my office. It has gotten several very positive commments. Thanks to DDB for that.

I second the idea of more frequent sales. I can't always participate, but I have some very nice pieces that I never would have been able to collect in the absence of your sales. Thanks to Mike and the other photographers for that.

You might have a hard time believing how often I don't put down the laptop to go get my credit card to buy something offered online. If its PayPal, I do it frequently. Just my two cents.

What about the photo of the week/month and then a TOP print sale with no profit for the photographer? excluding professionals by design, this would give exposure to outsiders that would be more than pleased just to know that his/her photo has been appreciated by a valuable audience.

Good news! But this is so sensible I doubt you’ll ever follow through. A question: “credit cards”, does that include bank cards (as we call them in UK, so maybe a terminology problem), ie sakes credit cards but not credit.

I would only add that you were a custom printer.
You have a new printing machine that you could use to pay yourself instead of someone else.
My advice would be to take the initiative to start a custom printing business.
Even if TOP print sales are your only client, you would make more money, your printer would get the exercise it needs, and people would probably get better prints.
You would charge the same as the outsourced price, and make the same profit they would make.
You could still hire a book keeper and maybe get that same person to do the fulfillment.
Seems like a no brainer to me.

[I might move into doing that at some point when it's comfortable, but for now the real goal is to minimize the workload so that decisions can be made independently of those concerns. Quite honestly, I already have enough to do...you haven't seen that X-H1 review yet, have you? (tugging uncomfortably at shirt collar) --Mike]

This is embarrassing. You know why I want prints signed, or something like it? So I can keep track of who they are by in the future! However, there are many ways besides signing-on-the-front to achieve that, including my writing it on the back in pencil when I receive it. (So, now that I've realized this, I can just take care of it in any future cases, and you don't have to worry about my weird needs.)

Huw asked why so down on Pay Pal?
I refuse to use Pay Pal for my own purchases and am always willing to supply my credit card since the charges instantly are reported on my phone.

As a photographer whose print was offered in a TOP sale awhile ago, I still remember the panic when I had shipped all the prints at quite a bit of labor and expense and Pay Pal shut down my account and said “tough luck” until Mike talked me down from a cliff with the words, “Relax they do that to everyone new.” In the end after imploring to Pay Pal by phone ( and good luck getting a phone call answered ) that I was not stealing people’s money and the buyers already had the product, I got the funds released in dribbles over several months. If I were Mike I would stick to the idea of NO PayPal.

And Mike, while I truly love the idea of you starting up the print sales again, please postpone Michael’s suggestion you start your own printing business. We need your time spent writing not printing.

I must say I do love when there is a Paypal option. It’s just one click, no filling in a cc number and address.

I have a large collection of photos and never buy photos that are not signed. I also sign every photo of mine I sell.
At photography shows I have seen dealers sell prints that are decades old of unknown photographers and the signed prints are more valuable than those unsigned.
It just seems that the signature says that the photographer feels it is a print he is willing to put out there as his work. For example, I never sign a work print.
Cheers, Jim

I care much less about a signature than I do about being able to prove / remember who the print is from. From my perspective, it is just as valuable (maybe even more so) to print the name of the picture, the print date, and the photographer’s name in the corner, as it is for the print to be signed. I like it to be out of the image area, preferably centered below the print in black ink. That way I can decide whether to cut a window in the matte to show the information, or cover it up (but have it there, if ever needed). Frankly, I don’t care at all about resale value (I buy pictures I like — if I like them, I don’t want to sell them), but I care a lot about being able to find the photographer in the future, in case I want to buy / explore more of their work. Too often I can’t remember the name of the photographer...

...and I’m only 41!!!

Best regards,

I also would prefer Paypal. Hated them but recently made my peace with them; not because they are better or more reliable than before (They're not!) but because the endless list of failure and issues reported with online CC Processing.
On another topic: What has happened with the TOP Photo book offerings? Retired? Under the weather? Dying a slow death? On vacation?

Is a signature important? That depends on what you (Mike) are selling and what buyers think they are buying. The essential objective of a signature is, of course, authentication. If you’re going to sell a print of an image made by a committed artist with a catalog of collected work then yes, a signature will be absolutely essential to establish a line of provenance even if the buyer has no intention to sell it. If the print will just be a nice image made by a hobbyist/non-artist who is has not established a genuine collectible catalog of work no, a signature is not essential. The buyers are buying the image, not the artist.

As an example of sales that represent something in the middle, I have been purchasing prints offered by Magnum’s various print sales. These prints are, of course, of works made by some of the best known photographers in the world many (but not all) of whom are quite established as collectible artists. Many of the prints are mass-produced ink jets produced by a service that can also mount and frame them (at additional cost). Each print has come bearing some form of authentication. All have a Magnum stamp on the back. Some, by living artists, feature a genuine signature on the back. Prints of deceased artists’ works bear an estate stamp on the back.

So one potential compromise would be to have the printer place a customized authentication sticker on the back of each print. It’s a bit cheesy (and would never serve as genuine authentication in the art world) but it’s often done in tourist galleries and seems to make many buyers happy.

I think this is a smart move. Nothing brings me more panic than the rare person wanting to purchase a print from a photo that they have seen online. I have declined to do so for the last 7 or 8 years.

The stress of wondering if they will like the print like they did the online version, the depressing thought of trying to perfect a print for someone who is paying hard cash for it, the attempting to fulfill a request to print a photo at a larger size than it should be printed, the packing, and often international shipping is just more than I want at less than about gazillion dollars per print. Were I ever to agree to do one for someone, I supposed my printer would choose that time to repeatedly clog it heads, create mysterious banding, or flat out die. The only thing I have common with Cartier-Bresson would be to get someone to do my printing to my satisfaction for me, even if nobody ever see it be me.

I hated darkroom printing, and now I am coming to hate printer-printing. At least darkrooms didn't break down so often.

Interesting comments on PayPal. As I am in the UK PayPal is just extra "cost" in the system and you lose security.

In the UK credit card companies (VISA / MasterCard) are responsible for any fraud, not the customer, unless the customer is committing the fraud. Guess it is not like that in the USA?

Actually someone said that chip and pin, rather than signature is still used in USA. Hard to believe for us, is it true?


In the art photography world these days, buyers generally do want signed prints, but they like them signed on the back, not on the front. The use is for provenance and to attest to the vintage (date) of the printing, rather than for display.

I used to sign prints in pencil on the front of my matte BW prints, but I've never liked the look of an ink signature on my luster inkjets. For a long time, I stopped signing on the front and just signed in pencil on the back. A large majority of my customers wanted their prints signed on the front, so much so that many of them would bring the prints back to me for signing, or ask that I visit their frame shop to sign before it was framed.

I’ve since relented and sign everything on the front. I’m not at all famous and the “art world” explanation didn’t hold any weight with my customers.

Re the question of signing prints.
Putting your signature on your work, weather you are a painter, Photographer or cabinet maker is for me a way of saying 'I'm sending this off into the world as a representation of 'the best I have to give'.
I stand by it.
It is not so much about adding value, though in some cases it clearly does, or an ego thing to say 'I am an artist' I really don't worry about that stuff at all. It is a Maker's Mark.
It is one of the reasons I like physical prints so much-- it takes away the weasel room of 'You should see this on a calibrated display" The print has a finality to it.

I also realize that you have real logistical issues because the prints are being made by a service bureau.
I suppose photographers could provide small signed archival 'stickers' with the photographer's name and date with a signature below to be included with each print--- that would at least provide identification into the future.
Signing your work is an important thing, I think.

Hi, Mike. Love to see you're cranking up the print sales big time. They're a win/win/win for all concerned. On a related topic, any plans to also rev up your book sale ventures with participating museum shops? I participated in two of those in recent years and would love to do so again. (Sorry, I know that makes for extra work!)

If you move to more frequent, smaller sales you might consider creating a judging board. That is, get a diverse group of judges to look at submissions and decide which images(s) to offer.

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