Fine-art Photography Gifts

Let's just say it: it requires some nerve

I'm timing this blog for Christmas, because giving art as a gift can fall anywhere between the following two extremes:

  • pick up a piece, ready to go;

  • commission a new work.

With the former: easy, done. With a commission, especially in the case of photography, this could include the photo-artist:

  • travelling;

  • waiting (seconds to seasons) for a good light;

  • making the photograph in the camera;

  • editing the photograph in the "digital darkroom";

  • printing the photograph, either in-house or at a fine-art photography printing service;

  • waiting for delivery of the print;

  • making decisions about and then getting the print matted and framed (and framers get busy at this time of year);

  • shipping.

So, even mid-November can be tight with the timelines, depending, but never hesitate to ask at any time.

Note: the "ctLow Photography" logo is removed for printing, and then the work is signed, front or back.

But before we even think about the steps, we first need to think about "whether"! Let's face it: giving a gift of art can require some confidence, both in one's own taste, and in predicting the taste of the recipient.

Any rule about this does not exist. I have sold art which the recipient had previously raved over (much to my pleasure), so the person giving already knew that. I have sold art of which the recipient knew nothing, and sometimes without even much of a history of interest in art.

So far, this has all worked out splendidly, also much to my gratification.

A new piece of art can require an adjustment period, and this gets into one of my favourite topics, that of why we all perceive art differently, but the bottom line is that if the work is good, and the giver knows the recipient well enough, I have nonetheless on the rare occasion said yes, I sense the hesitation, and I will make this right one way or the other, but ... may I ask that you first live with the piece for three weeks?

That has—so far—always worked. A new work of art changes a familiar room, and acclimatization can take a little time. I got in touch with one client, the exception who I knew had taken a while to warm up to a work, and I asked what I could do about that, and was told joyfully but in no uncertain terms that they loved the piece just as it was (as did I or I wouldn't have made it like that), looked at it with great pleasure every day, and not even to think about altering it in any way whatsoever!

All right. I didn't.

Price. For commissioned works, the details of size, print-quality, single- or double-matting, what colour, what frame, what glass, all make it i) fun and ii) difficult to specify a price-list. At the moment, I could produce an unmounted 18-inch print for about $100 (shipping extra, but not often required), maybe less if a budget is tight. I have a 30-inch print currently listing at $1,000, matted and framed, and it's worth it (but I don't really want to sell it).

This is all custom work, and I give a firm quote after establishing with each individual client what they want.

Most of my custom framing I do at Hang Ups. We are so fortunate to have a framer of this calibre in Brockville; I love it when Anne, Jess and Ingrid say, "Oh no, Charles, this matte isn't white, that wouldn't be right for this piece; can't you see the undertone of blue?" (Sure I can!) So one option, which would generate a bit of savings, would be to have the print framed yourself, at the provider of your choice.

Galleries. Having just finished two exhibitions, both galleries have asked and/or offered to hold onto the works for a while longer. At the incredible O'Connor Gallery in Gananoque, I have gathered digital versions of the available works in a Flickr album (click that link). At the AOG, just outside of Frankville, open only by appointment (not really a commercial gallery, but rather an amazing private collection), many of the works come from this album, but feel free to ask me and we can review all of that quite quickly.

So, things which are in a gallery one could see there, and purchase from the gallery. The art is generally already matted and framed, so it's really easy.

Smaller items. More along the stocking-stuffer line, I currently have three options:

  • Note-cards, blank inside, photograph on the front, description on the back; these are about 4x6-inches, come with envelopes, and list at $6 each, less if bought in bulk. Recently, I have sold several lots of twenty, and if all the same that will be in the range of $4 each.

  • Small prints, as in 5x7-inches, on a stiff foam-core backing, and currently these go for about $15 each, again depending upon quantity. Clients have had these framed themselves, and in all humility may I say that they look great.

  • A fine-art photography book! Check out Brockville in Photographs, currently available only from me, because of pandemic-related retail-store disruption (well, there are a handful of copies out there, but for practical purposes: me). The retail price is $27.

  • A fourth option would be "anything else you can imagine". I often think for example about coffee mugs, but I can get you pretty well anything you can think of which might have a photograph on it.

  • A fifth option would be "other services", such as a family portrait, or the gift of a Photo-Walk (both currently suspended for pandemic reasons, but the day will come, soon I hope!). Do you have a pretty house or a beautiful automobile? Let me photograph it for you. Check out other Services.

4x6 notecards, blank inside

5x7 prints on foam-core backing

Choosing. My primary gallery is here. Have a look around, and check out some of the other albums while you're there (including "Large Prints for Sale" which are ready to go, some framed, others not. The main challenge would be, I hope, that there is so much from which to choose.

Remember the old art-choosing mantra: "It doesn't have to match the furniture". Well, I'm not saying that it should clash. But in overall terms, people have easily found ways and places to display almost anything.

Think if you will about other occasions: birthdays, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, anniversaries. There are lots of ways to say "I love you", but a gift of art is a good one, and it lasts.

Contact. Every order is custom. I don't want to rush you, but Christmas is coming! You know where to reach me.

Thanks so much for reading. Click on the subscribe button here (consider your thoughts on Internet privacy first, of course). Kindly i) comment and ii) refer a friend.

Charles T. Low


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