Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Future Of Fine Art Photography

Scenario: you create a wonderful fine art image, edit it with skill and artistry and make a gorgeous print. You don't normally make really big prints, but this image suits it and deserves it so the final image is 20X20 inches.

Now what?

You beetle off to the local framing store, check out the framing and matting options and with care select the best possible combination for your work of art. You even splurge on that new really low reflection glass and without waiting for the price, head out.

A couple of weeks later you get a call, your frame is ready. It looks every bit as good as you had hoped, but My God!, the bill for the framing is $750. How are you going to explain that to the spouse?

You take the image home and having spent that kind of money, you'd better find someplace good to hang it - but guess what - there's no room at the inn!

You end up taking down some other piece of artwork so you can justify this (admittedly very nice) expensive picture.

Well, you won't be doing that again very soon.

Sound familiar?

Fast forward to a year or two from now. Electronic picture frames now come in big sizes, for relatively reasonable amounts, say in the order of $1200.

You can now put a single 24 X 24 inch frame (hey, I can dream about square format can't I?) on the wall and of course images can change at a whim. It's even practical for you to have a different selection than your spouse, or a different selection for when the grand kids come over.

More to the point, do you not think that the fine art consumer market isn't going to do the same thing? It just seems obvious that this is the way to go. No more delicate, expensive, HEAVY framed images sitting at the back of a closet for lack of hanging room.

We're going to have to figure out how to market, price and deliver high resolution files to the fine art image buyer. Boy, sure will make shipping images a lot easier, but now that people can have hundreds of images on their walls, a whole new pricing system will need to be invented.

How will we make sure that our images aren't duplicated? We are going to find ourselves in the same spot as the music and movie industries with pirating issues.

I hope someone is working on the security issues because the technical capabilities are basically here now, and where it was only Bill Gates who could afford to put his art work on large flat screen TV's in the past, I can't see any way that this won't be the way of the future - it's just too darn sensible.


Sharon said...

I love the art on my wall but then tend to tune then out. I can see where changeable art would make me more aware of my own home.

My Camera World said...

I was just reading at the luminous landscapes and convergence of the digital and video camera and about the shock to the photographic world. (maybe I exaggerate a little)

The I read here about the printmaker is dead and all fine-art prints will be either sold with an expiry date or selling like micro stock.(maybe a little more exaggeration)

I agree the world will change and some technologies and the way we currently do things will also disappear.

How do we adapt and still stay creative or is our creativity built into how we do things?

Theft has always been a problem, normally was the stealing of the only item (original painting) in the most secure of facilities. Theft will be a problem in the future.

At one time it took a lot of skill to make good photographs. Now almost any person with a good camera can make a good photograph and sometimes they are there at the right moment will all the other conditions that will make it a great photograph.

In a few years with all the on-line storage type sites we will have almost every conceived photo possible and then where will all the fine art photographers be?

There will always be a need for specialty studio type shooting for unique events but even then there will be enough images to make any new one form the pieces. Just look at the work and Photoshop disasters and how they can combine things.

I am not sure where it is going, but I do hope I am able to adapt and have fun doing what I love best which is creating works of art, either with the camera or paper and pen (brush etc)

Niels Henriksen

Tim Gray said...

I already have that little 5x7 lcd image player on my desk. Certainly I'd buy a larger unit - and it would solve some of my display problems. But here's the interesting thought - context is the next 5 years - what resolution will be displayable at 24" x 24"? Given the technology trajectory over the next few years, it doesn't look like I'll need the resolution of a 1ds3 for that media. I have a NEC 2690 - that's 26" diagonal - resolution is only 1920 by 1080 - a tad over 2 mpx...

chuck kimmerle said...

We do NOT have to offer high rez images for these photo displays. Even at HDTV standards of 1920×1080 lines of resolution, we only need provide 2-meg worth of data for a full-screen image. And that is, in my opinion, why these screens can never really replace printed artwork. They lack the resolution for serious study and investigation.

Sure, they'll be nice for family and vacation photos as well as for virtual posters from famous photogs such as Ansel Adams or Les Blacklock, but I doubt they'll ever really be a serious threat to fine art prints.

George Barr said...

I wonder. Just like Nikon with the 3X resolution on it's LCD for the D3, it would seem sensible for higher resolution LCD's to be made in large sizes - do we really believe that HD is the end of the line?

In general it is photographers who look at prints 'nose on' though not entirely. Given the technology, would it not make more sense for someone who wants to look at finer detail to simply zoom in?

It might become the norm to supply twice the resolution of the standard HD screen just for this purpose or for a 'Ken Burns' effect.

Lastly, when was the last time you saw a photographer comfortably flogging 2000 pixel wide versions of their images? After all at that size you can actually make decent small prints.

So, though I think Chuck's points are all valid, the same issues I raised originally will, I think; still exist.


Robert Hoehne said...

An electronic picture frame, just when we are supposed to be reducing our carbon footprint on this earth we find another way to consume even more power.
We first need to work on technology that will enable the unit to be 'written' to with a little power and that can then be turned off but keep the impression of what is written. Something like this exists in very small displays and hopefully companies will have the forsight to use only this type of display.
But for now it is just another power consuming device.
Maybe the way forward is back to printing on paper.
Who says we need to frame the pictures anyway, paintings in my house are not covered in glass, why do photographs have to be?

David Wong said...

This is nothing new, why not a home version of those information/ad kiosk we see in the mall? Where it scrolls to display the next picture, this way, we are using the same frame over and over again to display art work, same space, low emission?

Robert Hoehne said...

works for me David, good idea, not new, but good.

Gary Nylander said...

I'm sure for some folks they will just have to have the latest and greatest, even if that mean a 24 inch wide electronic photo frame hanging on their wall. The problem with a lot of electronic technology as it moves along a the fast pace that its going, is that no one will want "yesterdays" model, so there will be one more thing that will either sit in someone's closet unused or worse yet in the landfill. There is one low tech solution that people can try if they get tired of a print hanging on their wall and that is to buy picture frames, like the ones sold at Opus Art Supplies ( in B.C. here ) that make it easy to use the same existing frame, they have spring clips in the back so one can change the print as often as one likes, thus saving on he cost of having to buy a new frame each time a great print comes along.

Anonymous said...

George, interesting topic. Especially interesting as you can display not just still images, but also videos. Sometimes I think small videos would better tell my story. HOWEVER I already have a 1800 x1000 Plasma on my wall that is my TV and it will take a compact flash with photos. But why do I prefer to hang printed photos. I think partly because really the plasma image quality is in reality pretty poor for a still image. We are still 10 years away from a 24" Eizo quality monitor at $1000. But your point is well made and I think about it often as I am working on my printing skills. One day they will be pretty much irrelevant. Mike

mike o'donoghue said...

More electronic smog. A screen isn't the same as a print — can't be. I'd say not to worry — keep doing what you like to do (making pictures) and let the market take care of itself. I for one am not interested in selling — I take the pictures for myself. We should each decorate our cave walls ourselves.

Adrian said...

The time will come, and it probably won't be plasma/tft technology.

Epson just presented an A4 sized e-paper prototype with 12MP (over 360ppi):