That’s one word, like trainspotting, please. Two would make it an act, I wanna talk about the concept. And project.
Sooo, continuing my two obsessive themes of the year, printing and (collecting) art, as means of becoming a better photographer … here are some thoughts behind printswapping.
Learning. Learning is a continuous process of idea, implementation and feedback.
It ranges from our comically outmoded, industrial revolution incepted education system, where the idea is to learn stuff (irrespective of whether you give a damn or not) in order not to get pounded into the ground by parents and teachers, the implementation is a fascinating 25 years (feels that long) of tests and essays and feedback comes in the form of a single letter ranging from A to F that determines whether you’ll live on food stamps or drive a Bentley for the rest of your life, to that gut-wrenching desire to do that thing you don’t know how to (idea) that leads to experimenting and finding inspiration in the work of others (implementation) and whatever form of putting your work out there (feedback).
Now, that was a sentence, right ? My Flesch Reading Ease score is taking a mighty battering. D minus, drat.
In all areas of that spectrum ranging from educational waterboarding to maniac lust for knowledge, the motivation for learning is always fueled by conflict. The conflict between where you are (a school bench) and where you want to be (riding a bike on a windy hill road with Kate Upton strapped to your back), your capabilities (pictures of a lady baking pancakes in a shed) and those of the people you admire (Solovki, White Sea, Russia, 1992).
Those who are neither chained to a school desk, nor eaten from the inside by the desire to improve one of their skills can rejoice in the fact that they know bliss. Others need all the help they can get channeling their muses and daemons. This project is for them.
Collecting. Collecting is a double-edged sword. It brings both a deep passion & knowledge and an unnatural thirst for more & loss of perspective. Just like gambling, collecting can drive you off the cliff bonkers. But, in moderate measures, it is one of the most fulfilling vices in life. Remember being a kid trying to find that perfect marble, that last Harry Potter or football card for your album? And as an adult, the legendary recording of that once-in-a-lifetime concert your missed, made by elite amateurs with their Nagra reels?
It’s great to print your own photographs. But it’s even better to see the best work of others. That brings inspiration, drive, excitement, awe, OK – some jealousy too -, and a lot of satisfaction when you turn to the well curated collection you have assembled over the years. And while it’s possible to visit lesser known galleries that highlight rising, affordable, talent, most art photography today is … pretty expensive.
If you don’t give a (insert rude word of choice) about collecting the work of other artists, skip this part basking in the acknowledgement that your own creative efforts are enough to satisfy you fully. If you do (give a …), this project is for you.
Sharing. The sharing economy is upon us. Why own assets that you don’t use when you can borrow someone else’s and offer those you do own to others who don’t ? If you still go to hotels when you travel for long periods of time, you’re in for a wonderful surprise when you first AirBnb instead. A whole flat for the price of a room. The freedom to cook for yourself. Interior design that doesn’t reek of corporate indifference. Very often, a very welcoming personal touch from the owner …
There’s a deep satisfaction in the accomplishment of reciprocity, a clan-building tendency we are hardwired for.
Remember trading those baseball cards with your best chum, as a kid? Ever helped a pal move houses and then shared pizzas on cardboard boxes in casa nueva in the evening? There’s a simple a deep feeling of satisfaction that comes from helping others, from being helped by true friends. It’s primal, and it beats buying expensive stuff for yourself any day of the week.
If you’ve never longed for that feeling of mutual satisfaction that comes from sharing, please ignore this section knowing I envy your self-sufficiency 🙂 If you have, this project is for you.
Galactic Peace. Yup. Nothing less. Just look around, anywhere, and try to find a leader (big corporation or government) that’s not trying to rise to power by turning people against one another. Just sit back and admire the tearing down a continent that had ensured 75 years of uninterrupted peace within its borders, a feat never experience before in human history, by glorified traitors pushing nothing but division.
It’s very easy to separate people into clans. You filthy Nikon users. Shithead Canon freaks. Dimwit Sony suckers … Basically, forum talk 101. But it’s just as easy to find common ground and shared interest. Remember when you were besties with someone and share everything, candy, secrets, books, holidays, Mandy (oops, did I just write that out loud) … ?
If you’re happy with the way Nigel, Donald, Matteo, Vladimir and the rest are raising their armies of perpetually bitter and angry citizens, nukes in one hand, A. Lange & Sohne in the other, then ignore this project and enjoy the news. If not, I’m hoping this project can bring us closer, even a tiny bit.
“What the heck is that project, then ?”
Oops, maybe I should have led with that 😉 Well, it’s in the title. Let’s swap prints. It’s that simple.
So, I gave 4 rational arguments, including saving peace throughout the galaxy, for starting a print sharing project. Only on DS, right ? 😉
However, the more emotional component follows. A glorious print by DS contributor Bob Hamilton hangs proudly above my settee. When Chris Stumb and I were discussing the printing of my photographs, he showed me several of his I’d really love to own. Last week, Adrian sent me his two timeless Pola-style distant storms, which I really love. Paul has published scores of pics I’d love to have prints of. Ditto many of Philippe’s flower galaxies and fog-draped river scenes. Then there’s Adam’s 7Artisan masterpieces that Kertesz would have been proud of. And Dallas’ gorgeous depictions of Oz and the poles are no less desirable than some of the stuff I’ve paid handsomely for. Steven Bennett’s stunning Grand Canyon. Steve Mallet’s Tuscany. Steffen Kamprath’s leopard and orchids. John Wilson’s incredible Man with the Umbrella and Third Person Anonymous. Kristian Wannebo’s wintery mornings. Plus all of those I’ve forgotten but will pop back into my mind later.
The reality is that, among DS contributors alone there is a wealth of high quality art that I would dearly love to have in print and I’m hoping some of these tremendous togs feel similarly about some of my pics.
And you, reading this but whose photos I’ve never had the luck to view, likewise. It would be so great to see your best work and swap with mine, on mutually pleasing terms. Right ? Think about the riches out there, if a printswapping community got going …
Implementation could be very basic or more elaborate. I can create a website with galleries, baskets, forms, and private sections, or simply link to your own individual blogs and websites. It really doesn’t matter so long as anyone can view anyone else’s work and “shop” around. For starters, if you’re interested, I’m happy to create dedicated pages on DS, with a dedicated menu and sidebar so that visitor can access the project pages very easily.
If you’re in, just send me a message (contact button at top right). Eventually, I’ll need pics of your prints and your email.
Then, in a few weeks, just look around and get in touch with the author of prints you like and offer something in exchange.
On a very personal level, I find this interesting because of the notion of shared value. This basically creates a free market in which two of us decide what value to ascribe to a given print in order to proceed to a fair swap. There are a number of ways anyone can increase the value of a print :
We can explore all of these (and other ideas, such as anonymity, recommended by Adrian) if the project takes off. In the mean while, I’d just like to hear from you in the comments or privately or both. I really think we can all benefit from this, on various levels and hope some of you will feel the same. Just let me know. And if you can think of any one else (individual, facebook group, club …) who might enjoy this, please please please share the link. Sharing. It’s all about sharing. A tiny bit of it goes a long way. Thanks 🙂
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
― Edmund Burke
If people cannot write well, they cannot think well, and if they cannot think well, others will do their thinking for them.
― George Orwell
This applies to photography every bit as much as it does to writing.
Oh, and, the food series here has nothing to do with the subject of collecting, other than highlighting the notion of variety. I’m French, food matters 😉
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I’ll share with you, übergladly, every day of the week. Please, please, pretty please let me have one of your glorious Jappys. You can have one of my inglorious Philbers and beautify your (at best) garage, or, more likely, your version of “là où le Roi va seul” [not fit for translation]. Besides, what format do you have in mind? Swapping with frame,or rolled up?
Thanks Philippe 😉 We’ll sort out the details later (but, yes, frameless seems easier, unless the creation is a complete package). For now, I just want to know whether enough people are interested to get started.
Spread the word and you’ll be free, have you heard the word is love ? (aah, les scarabées)
Oh yes, include me in as well. Real printed images? When I’m home (weekend) I’ll fire up the Epson and make something for you both. Delivery to London late December. Address for local drop off please Pascal.
Then choose some of ours for a trade 🙂 I’ll have my printer up and running by then !
a great idea!
Now, considering all the prints you say you wish, I almost envy you your amount of wall space… 🙂
Me, at the moment I lack wall space and a printer, so I’ll pass for the time being.
Hi Kristian, thanks for the vote of confidence.
Now that my 2 children have decided life was more fun away from home, we have access to 2 bedrooms and new walls. However, I’ve also been influenced by the less-is-more decorative principles of Japan, so I think we’ll actually have fewer stuff on the walls than before.
The truth is that I feel prints on a wall soon become decoration, not art. Plus they tend to fade. So 90% of my prints are in boxes and I prefer to view them in my hand than on a wall.
I don’t own a printer either. Mine is no longer functional and hasn’t been replaced yet. In the mean time, Chris Stump does a lot of printing for me (and for other discerning amateurs). His work is exemplary (he optimises files for print) and more affordable than the pro labs I used to go to. Holding prints in my hand after such a long time of viewing pictures on a screen felt like drinking after a thirst 😉
I hope we can sway you back one day 🙂
All the best,
Oh dear – I think I scored an “F” around about the point where you started talking about “Flesch” and I found myself completely bewildered.
Sharing stuff? – high quality art? – could you settle for a bit of “low quality” as long as it’s art?
Seriously – I am not an never have been a “blackboard learning student”. One of the most illuminating films I have ever seen was about a teacher who defied the Scottish School Board – because as she put it, her role in life was not to “instruct” (remember the blackboard?), derived from the latin “instructere” or whatever (meaning “to drive in”). But to “educate” her children, derived from the latin “ex ducere” (meaning “to draw out”). In other words, to give her kids a way to “learn” – to expand, to grow, to develop – from within, albeit with stimuli from without.
Which is, in fact, how I HAVE learned. In many ways I had the most peculiar childhood. And from the age of 8, I was doing my own thing to a very high degree. I’ve been a loner, a maverick, ever since.
I HAVE learned from others. Of course I have. Everyone does. But “rote learning” and “blackboard teaching” were never any good for me.
Oh dear, that’s not quite true – when I was doing roman law at university, the lecturer used to shut his eyes, ignore the students, and chatter away for an hour or so in latin. Bored to death, I used to ignore him completely and read what had been left written on the blackboard, behind him, by the lecturer who’d used the room before him/us – all about philosophy. And like a promo on TV for some new gadget that nobody wants or needs, I got a “2 for 1” offer – roman law lectures in latin, and a free philosophy course chucked in.
I also had an aunt who I adored, who adored me too (we fell in love when we first met – she was married with 4 kids, and about 40 years old – I was only one! – but it was love at first sight, for both of us). And she infused into me an understanding of art (in two or three dimensional forms) in a matter of hours or days that you probably couldn’t replicate with a year or two in art school.
That said – that’s about where we all start. Other people’s stuff is highly educational. And unless we suffer from an ego complex like that little hitler in America, Dumbo Tramp, we generally stand in awe in front of other people’s work. Which doesn’t mean ours is bad. It’s a sign that we are humble enough to believe – and acknowledge – that there is room for improvement – and that we can do it.
Which is where articles like yours come in, Pascal.
There’s only one bit I didn’t understand – where’s the mandatory shot of a bicycle?
Pete. In the same day, I read an article saying that art should always be beautiful and another saying that art should always be subversive. The fact is that no one has a clue. Best we can do is talk interestingly about art. And realise that good artists only do it for themselves, because they have to. I think your aunt would have approved of that last part.
In the process of doing something for yourself, there is the need for inspiration and for learning how to formalise and express what it is you want to say. And, to me at least, viewing the work of others really helps a lot (see the book stealing like an artist). By “work”, you and I mean prints, not pics on a screen.
Bicycles, drat ! Our resident bicycle expert is Philippe, but I did photograph a few. So here’s one to compensate for my omission 😉
God knows how it will work, but yes, yes, yes, count me in. I’ll just have to brick up some windows to create wall space….
Great, Steve 🙂 I’m not exactly sure how it will work either, we’ll figure it as we go along 🙂
I love the idea of exchanging prints with other photographers. I would love to participate in your project but I doubt anyone would be interested in my “work”.
I’ve been an avid reader of dearsusan.net as well as Adams “Ode to the X-Pro” and really enjoyed the content all of you created over the years. This would be a chance for me to participate in the community.
Looking forward to whatever will come of this.
Hello Johannes, thank you for your kind message! It’s much appreciated 🙂
The more we are in the community, the more we’ll get people interested in niche work. What is your work about? I’m sure a lot of people will be interested and look forward to seeing it. More updates are on their way as we figure out how this should best work 🙂 Your ideas and feedback are welcome at any point.
Kind regards, Pascal
I usually print A3+ on textured papers. I think shipping these rolled up would be the easiest/cheapest way of exchanging prints. Regarding my “work”: I feel it is somewhat lacking in composition and subjects. IDriveSync be happy to provide you with links to my 500px/Flickr/IG if you’re interested. I just don’t want to spam the public spaces here with self promoting links.
Philippe, you’ll need to find out what size prints will fit between the mirrors, in that room – the Rol might not like blue tack on them. 🙂
Count me in. What a fun project!
I want to agree that prints would be shipped unframed in a tube. Sounds much safer and cheaper. However.
This does put the onus on the buyer to frame and glaze…which, let’s face it, can be a pain. I hear Pascal’s opinion re: holding prints, but I prefer to have them on display…favorites anyway.
I bought my first Magnum print unframed, to save money. It was quite a savings…$100 or so on a $100 print, so, significant. But, I wouldn’t do it again. Since then I’ve bought them framed and signed, and they go directly up on the all, done and dusted. It’s the way to go.
I find myself wondering about affordable, nice looking, frames that we all might use for this project. I prefer black wood these days. Everyone’s taste is different. But let’s consider that as a standard.
Now, what about size? I’ve been struggling with a strong desire to print big…I mean A1 or even A0 big. Big problem: Few people have that much wall space to spare, nor would I want to ship a print that unwieldy.
So for my last run I purchased some very affordable 12″x12″ frames intended for Instagram prints. They came with a pre-cut mat and glazing, for just $30US apiece. Not too bad for good quality. And, this intentionally limited my offerings to a reasonable size.
Only problem is the mat is square, but I like square and adjusted this print run for that ratio. Not every image will work this way, obviously.
Question for the group: Is anyone aware of a source of nice quality frames, with mat and glazing, in a +/- A4 size, that we might all take advantage of?
I am glad I saw this. There seems to have been no more inputs since Nov 22 or so.
Once there was a print sharing on some site …rangefinder or dpreview and I participated once in kind.
How is this coming along? How can we post swappable quality images for others to view and say: yes i want one of yours … if you will have one of mine …
Hi Frank, the project has been maturing with reader inputs since that post. I’m waiting for my own printer to arrive and will soon start writing about this again. I look forward to your feedback. Cheers, Pascal