For thirty-five years now, I’ve been a strong advocate of the virtues of gelatin silver photographic prints. Until 2005, all of my prints have always been fiberbase gelatin silver, archivally processed and toned in a traditional wet-darkroom. Even as the publisher of the LensWork Special Editions and LensWork Folios I’ve used language like "No inkjet compromises!" and "Nothing can replace the depth, tonality or presence of fiberbase silver photographic paper." We used such language to clarify that the LensWork Special Editions were not the “inferior inkjet prints” we feared people might assume they were. Our mistake was thinking that the inkjet technology of late 1990s was not going to evolve. Boy were we wrong!
Jensen goes on to argue that 'inkjet' is the wrong term in any case - the inkjet is the process not the medium - and settles instead on 'pigment on paper'.
I am now offering inkjet images – the correct terminology is actually "pigment-on-paper." I refuse to call these giclée – a term I’ve always thought was meant to disguise rather than to elucidate. Gelatin silver and platinum/palladium prints are so designated because they indicate precisely the nature of the imaging chemistry and/or substrate. Neither of these are defined as their mechanical means of production – "projection prints" or "contact prints" although these would both be technically accurate terms that are occasionally used as supplemental descriptions. Similarly, "inkjet" is an accurate term describing the mechanics of delivery used, but pigment-on-paper describes the material – chemistry and substrate – and is a better equivalent for comparison to "gelatin silver" or "platinum/palladium" prints.
He also has some interesting things to say about pricing and editions that chime well for me .
While I don't limit my prints, I do know that a clear and precise provenance is important to some people and may have historical importance long after I am gone. All of my prints now specify the date of their production, the source (negative or digital file), the precise number of copies I made that day, and which is the number of this print. Here is an example of that text.
A typical First Edition, First Printing will be three to five copies, sometimes as few as two, on rare occasions as many as thirty. Time marches, we change, our creative vision does, too. It is not uncommon for me to see new ways to interpret an old image. I am not opposed to improving an image when I see a need to. Each time I fuss with the digital file, usually to change it a bit to more closely match my creative vision, I call this a new "edition." It's a different interpretation of the raw data, so to speak - a new "performance" in Ansel Adams-speak. Sometimes that might be a little tonal adjustment, sometimes a contrast change, sometimes a dodge here or a burn there, sometimes I'll crop something or digitally remove a bothersome spot, occasionally I go all the way back to the negative and re-scan or back to the original in-camera file and start over. In one way or another, the new "edition" is a new artistic rendition of the image.
Contrary to the contemporary zeitgeist, therefore, the later editions are the ones I would generally consider the more valuable because I perceive them to be the more mature interpretation of the image. Having said that, additional editions may also be a result technology improvements.
The designation "Third Edition, Second Printing" would mean that this is the third time I've worked this image from a creative point of view and the second time I've printed a batch of prints from this third rendition. The print # is simply a count of how many prints I've made from that digital file on that day.
I produce and sell my prints on a first-come, first served basis. Orders are filled in Edition/Print Number order. Obviously, editions are not reprinted except where identified as a later printing.
I also reserve the right to withdraw from sale any image at any time.