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  • Welcome to the new site. Here's a thread about the update where you can post your feedback, ask questions or spot those nasty bugs!

News: The New OPF Print Exchange

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
We're glad to have the new OPF Print Exchange. Some pictures, intended only for sharing though a screen, are perfect for the internet. For photography intended for prints it's a different matter.

Print exchange, can, therefore, be a wonderful way for sharing ideas and technique beyond seeing what's on the backlit monitor. Many factors modify and modulate the viewers experience. The print size, kind of paper, choice of inks and final adjustments as well as print size and milieu in which the print is shown. The viewer most often does not have the power to alter any of these. So we just arrive.

Does the print itself hold attention? Can it pull us in to it's world? What value does it have to us in person? The print is the final interface between the photographer's mind and the viewer and it's therefore the only real way of getting to fully experience such a work.

There are many practical issues in running print exchange, the least of which is it being expanded too fast and diluted by poor quality work. It cannot be that one has to make 50 platinum prints to distribute to anyone who has pictures of their pooch on the porch or aunt Bessie drinking punch ant a barbecue.

So Mike, Cem and others are designing a system that would be fun and not a burden and have the opportunity to get a good number of folk involved. If you have any ideas on methodology and approach or hints to make it not a bug burden, then please share your thoughts here.

In the meanwhile, feel free to comment on Mike and Cem's work, although you'll only see, at least this week for sure, the picture here in OPF!

Asher :)
 

Ken Tanaka

pro member
I wonder if I'm the only person baffled by this "print exchange" announcement. Mailing each other prints? Solicited? Unsolicited? Why is this a "program"?
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
I wonder if I'm the only person baffled by this "print exchange" announcement. Mailing each other prints? Solicited? Unsolicited? Why is this a "program"?
Hi Ken,

Ken,

It's a custom in places to have friends exchange prints they have made. That way one can experience first hand pictures one might only see through the LCD monitor. It's not unsolicited but limited to a set amount of copies. There are different ways of organizing this. I hope you might think this could be worthwhile. We want to make this work. Mike has already good outlines of how we might do this. Here are possibilites:

Fixed groups: Say 10- photographers each make available 10 prints. One sends a print out to 9 other people plus one for me. We then have 20 pictures to discuss as prints for the first time and not just for what is seen on the screen. To get in a group one is invited. We have a number of group leaders.

Print repository: Photographers offer an image for the exchange. If it's accepted, then they can request a set number of individual prints they choose. To build up an inventory, the plan would be provide 12 prints and choose 9. That way there will be a widening selection building up as the exchange grows. We could have a panel vet submitted images online so it would be fair. We don't want images that have little wall value being deposited to obtain the finest prints we have collected.

The idea is to increase the enjoyment of each other's pictures and hopefully get even better feedback.

Asher
 
We do several of these on apug.org, the Analogue Photo Users Group, and I've gotten a lot out of them, both in terms of seeing the work that other people are doing in it's actual form, and in printing to a standard that I would consider acceptable for prints that other photographers are going to see. I always find a world of difference between the prints themselves and the versions I've seen in the online galleries.

Some are small group exchanges, where all the participants may split up into groups of 4-6 and make a set of prints for the group, and there are larger group exchanges, where all participants print for the entire group.

We've got a postcard exchange where some people may print for a small group and get the same number of postcards in return, and others may make a set for the whole group and maybe get around 40 prints in return, and some people have even made alt-process postcards in batches of 40+.

There are traveling portfolios, where a portfolio case is mailed around the world, and each participant adds a new print to the portfolio and takes out their print from the previous round and mails the portfolio on to the next participant.

Some exchanges are open to all non-digital processes, others regionally focused, others limited to alt-process or a particular process. We've had Polaroid exchanges and we've currently got a Kodachrome exchange, where people are exchanging actual original Kodachrome slides.

We've tried a negative exchange where a neg is sent from one person to the next and each person interprets the neg for themselves, and then all exchange prints at the end, but this has been difficult to coordinate, because it seems to take too long for everyone to make the prints and mail the negs around for it to be meaningful.
 

Ken Tanaka

pro member
Thank you Asher and David for your patient explanations. I think you have advanced my understanding; it's rather like a book reading circle for members' prints. I'm still hazy on motivations but I endorse any methods and media that enable people to enjoy photography in different ways.

So by all means enjoy this "print exchange"!
 

John Angulat

pro member
To get in a group one is invited...
If it's accepted...,
We could have a panel vet submitted images...
Hi all,
Doesn't the concept, or at least the offered proposals go against the essential theme of this forum?

It is named "Open Photography Forums", not "If you're chosen by a select few Forum..."

The overall concept of sharing prints is a good idea. Agreed, the LCD screen is not the best medium for display. However, I'm concerned the average member will be left out. Consequently, they will be left out of the excellent critiques one finds here.
Past threads and responses have included comments by Ken regarding appropriate color background on which to display, Asher has spoken of print size and viewing distance, etc., etc.

I print with a reasonably decent printer. However, for what I have (in printed form) I am esssentially ignorant of in terms of "correctness".

I for one would feel left out, know most of my images would not pass muster in the on-line vetting process.

Just my thoughts...
 

Kathy Rappaport

pro member
Hard to implement

I think that it would be hard to implement and have exchange among all the members. One thing that is good about the internet is it is open and there is no expense. Some of my prints have cost me in excess of $50 since I don't print (I can...but there is enough going on).
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
I think that it would be hard to implement and have exchange among all the members. One thing that is good about the internet is it is open and there is no expense. Some of my prints have cost me in excess of $50 since I don't print (I can...but there is enough going on).
My idea is that we might have an bank of images. Perhaps a platinum print of great quality might merit a one for one exchange. However, if that same print could be aquired by giving a snap of aunt Tilly, then people wouldn't contribute their finest images. So that's why there might be several waqys of having print exchange amongst different groupings. Unlike the internet, prints cost to make and have great value sometimes. Also mailing a print can be expensive.

If we organize it so one gets 10 prints in one package, then the cost is decreased tenfold. Still, it requires payment for at least the mailing!

We'll come up with a plan that helps the most folk and is fair. To that end, we're fully open to ideas, in line with OPF.

Asher
 
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Indeed there is expense involved in making and shipping the prints, and there's no getting around it.

Generally in the APUG exchanges, most people go into it expecting some variation in the quality of the prints, since in part it's a learning exercise where less experienced printers will see the work of more experienced printers up close, and each photographer has the challenge of printing for the group at the level of his or her own standards. Some of us are fortunate to live in major cities where we can see fine prints in galleries and museums, but print exchanges open that possibility to anyone with mail service, presuming that in any given group, there's going to be some really strong work, and indeed, there often is.

Some people will get some additional exposure through the exchanges. For instance, whenever the APUG Traveling Portfolio comes my way, I have a gathering at my place with wine and cheese, and people can come and look at the portfolio, and they may also bring some of their own work, and I usually bring out archive boxes with the prints I've received in other print exchanges. Another APUG member participated in a collector's show in New England, where photographers displayed the work of other photographers in their personal collections, and he decided to show a selection of prints he had received in various print exchanges. So if you give stuff away, sometimes good things come back in unexpected ways.
 

Kathy Rappaport

pro member
Umm

I like the idea of packaging them and circulating them - that would be interesting.

One of the things I am doing is making a gallery within my portrait studio. The idea was to generate some traffic and have a vehicle for some PR too. A few open house events. That could be worthwhile.
 

Cem_Usakligil

Well-known member
I wonder if I'm the only person baffled by this "print exchange" announcement. Mailing each other prints? Solicited? Unsolicited? Why is this a "program"?
Hi Ken,

Your honest remarks are always welcome and I am certainly glad to read this inquiry of yours. Because it certainly strikes a chord with me.

Sometimes, one starts a snowball rolling down the hill and soon it turns into a bigger one. My personal reasons as to why I have gone into this print exchange thing with Mike had nothing to do with any "program" or anything else which has an ambitious sounding name attached to it. I just wanted to experience how it would feel evaluating an actual print which you can hold in your hands versus the electronic ones we see daily on our monitors. Visionary/creative people like Asher, however, see some other possibilities this may open up for us. So that is how we’ve gotten to this stage of brainstorming about those possibilities. We shall yet discover if we can turn this small scale experiment into a larger scale program/exchange. We also need to organize it properly and establish the ground rules to make it work. But I want to make it clear that whatever we shall do, it won’t be my project (from the ownerships point of view), but I’ll gladly participate just like any other OPF member can. I hope that the OPF community, if there is a real demand for it, will start owning this project jointly under Asher's guidance. If not, then the project will not develop beyond the experimental stage. Such is life :).


Cheers,
 
I like the idea of packaging them and circulating them - that would be interesting.
It's a fun and interesting way to do it, but one thing to bear in mind is that it's slow, and international shipping does get costly, but most people who decide to participate justify the cost on the basis of infrequency. A portfolio with 15-20 participants can take 12-18 months to make the circuit, and the participants at the top of the list for the first round won't get to see many photographs until the second round.

Since I'm the organizer for this project on APUG, I researched various portfolio options, and settled on the Tenba Port-Ship portfolios, which have proven to be very rugged, don't need to be boxed, don't have too many straps that can get caught in shipping, and have an airbill window. We have one that's been shipped at least sixty times by now and still looks pretty good.
 

Mike Shimwell

New member
As an idea this really is in its infancy and we will develop ideas over time. My original thought was something very informal that allowed anyone who was interested to share work on paper rather than just on the screen. In the context of OPF, which has been and I hope remains a supportive community, we should be able to share some things that we care about and take a risk to receive constructive feedback from our peers. The other ideas from Asher are great, and I'm sure that we'll reach some consensus through discussion and practice.

A couple of thoughts from me though:-

- I don't want anyone to feel left out if they wish to participate - I'm just an average member (if that!) so hopefully can remain included.

- Cost can be an issue. Postage soon racks up and we may want to think about ways to make this work

- It's great to have David's input. The practical points about speed etc are important.

- In terms of motivation, I enjoy seeing other peoples work as well as sharing mine. When I come across work that inspires me I am encouraged to try and do better.

- Finally, the nature of an exchange is that sometimes you will receive a print that you don't like the content of or which is technically less good than you might desire, but that's part of it. Sometimes the boot will be on the other foot.

Mike
 

Jim Woodard

New member
Print Exchange

I like this idea. Personally I like to hold and view photographs. You then see them as the photographer intended. It can make all the difference in the world. It is true, from my experience in past exchanges, that the quality both in print and of the photo as a whole can vary tremendously. Thats a chance you take. Have the participants send an extra mailing folio with postage to cover getting prints back to them. The organizer gets "free prints" for their efforts. But by invitation only? As earlier mentioned that kind of goes against this forums title.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Thanks for these suggestions. I will be rereading every one of them again and trying to set up a draft plan for your approval.

My current idea is to have folk host an afternoon with wine and cheese when the pictures arrive at your location. I'd provide a pamphlet for each set of prints and we'll have a way of people buying new prints (available here on OPF but only if photographers happen to want that option). However sales are not the engine behind this and there is no need to agree to that. They and inviting friends are just extras we can think of as a group.

I want to offer photographers the idea of pages for that here too.

Asher
 
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