When Photographers Say “I Can Do That Too…”

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Panasonic 20mm f1.7 II first impressions images (12 of 22)ISO 2001-250 sec at f - 1.7

“It’s less this, and more this…” said an archival rep to me at Magnum Photos years ago when I interned there, first motioning to shooting photos and second motioning to talking by using hand gestures. That piece of advice is still ranked amongst the most important lines I’ve heard about the industry.

One of the most common things that you’ll hear photographers state is “I can do that too!” For example, think about the Peter Lik sale: many other photographers came out and literally stated “I can do that too.” Typically though, this is associated more with the means of capturing an image rather than creating a scene or an idea.

And you’re right. You can do it too. You, and everyone else with a camera, a knowledge of manual mode, an idea of how metering in a scene actually works, compositional framing, and Photoshop knowledge can totally create that image by yourself, at your home.

But did you? And are you a photographer with a famous name in the art world?

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The Psychology of Pricing Your Photos

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer DNP DS40 printer review images (4 of 10)ISO 4001-50 sec at f - 2.8

“I’ll charge you four hundred for this…” is what a friend told me on New Year’s day when I came over his apartment to hang out and when he started asking others if they’re interested in purchasing his photo prints. Some of them were nice, but honestly I understand pricing much better than he does. I wouldn’t pay him that price for an image considering many factors, one being that I’m a friend and I know that photography isn’t his dedicated living. I generally give friends of mine the “Friend rate” too.

But in front of me was a buddy of mine with a problem that many photographers face: what to charge for their work. And to be honest, it’s more about what it could be worth to the person than to you in some cases.

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Infographic: The Most Expensive Photographs In The World

Basic RGB

Infographic by Paul Dorrell. Used with permission

Recently, photographer Peter Lik broke the world record of the most expensive photograph ever sold. But there are a number of other photos that have also fetched a very hefty price amongst the list of the most expensive photographs in the world. Lik’s photo isn’t included in this infographic by Paul Dorrell, but it shows what the list was previously. Poor Billy the Kid would be knocked off of this list.

Peter Lik’s “Phantom” Image Sells for $6.5 Million

LIK USA Peter Lik's Phantom

Image courtesy of PR Newswire

I’m sure that we all aspire to one day have an image sold for a giant wad of money. Today, that award goes to Peter Lik, who now has the record for the most expensive photo sold. Peter’s “Phantom” image is very famous and there have been many trying to recreate and copy the photo, but the original sold for a whopping $6.5 Million. But that’s not all.

According to PRNewsWire:

“The purchase also included Lik’s masterworks “Illusion” for $2.4 million and “Eternal Moods” for $1.1 million.  With this $10 million sale, Lik now holds four of the top 20 spots for most expensive photographs ever sold.  He already has a position in the ranking with a previous $1 million sale of famed image, “One.”

$10,000,000. So why so much money? Peter is well known for his landscape photography and his color work. To see landscape and black and white together is very rare. Combine that with the very ghost-like look due to dust and the little sliver and light, and you’ve got yourself a winner. Technically, this is a very tough image to accomplish because of the high amounts of contrast. According to Lik’s news post today, it was shot in the Southwest part of the United States.

The buyer preferred not to be publicly identified for security reasons. And considering how much money was dropped on the photo, we don’t blame them.

Via PRNewsWire