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The Gift ? A Photography


Thierry Maindrault’s Monthly Chronicle

We have already come to the end of an important year for photography as a whole. Photography has clearly passed a point of no return in many aspects of its evolution. I have shared  with you throughout this year my findings and my questions about the new positions of this particular image and the microcosms that surround it. I am not going to tarnish this end of the year with rather pessimistic repetitions that a large part of you, famous or modest, fully agree with, if I believe your very many comments, appreciations, and encouragements.

I therefore offer you the joys and happiness of sharing which remains, let’s not forget, the great specificity of the photographic image. To do this, I allow myself to remind you of some ideas to apply and some mistakes not to make to allow a photograph a great complicity with its beneficiary.

Beforehand, let’s avoid cheating, consciously or not, with the object that will be offered. We can please, or please ourselves, with any photograph; but, please, no confusion and unjustifiable presentations. There are, excepted in very specific exceptions, three main categories of photographic works:

• so-called Art photographs;

• decorative photographs;

• so-called poster photographs.

The “Art Photos” must meet a whole series of very clear criteria, and the absence of a single one of them cancels the classification. The image must be conceived, realized, worked, prepared and printed by the author in person or under his utter control from the beginning to the end of the entirety of the operations. The final document must be signed and authenticated by the author during his lifetime, and in no case “post mortem” or by delegation. Before the first print, the author must set, definitively and irrevocably, the maximum total number of prints he will make of his image, all sizes, all supports, and all colours combined. This total number may not under any circumstances exceed 30 copies, and it must appear on each of the prints opposite the logical sequence number assigned to the print. In the case of under-numbering, which is totally useless and without any value, the total number must always appear next to the logical number in succession (all proofs combined). A certificate signed by the author with validation by a double hologram or by a digital chip can be something more, but not mandatory.

Decorative photographs are much less restrictive. In general, they are made on a photographic support and by a printing process, analog or digital, dedicated to photography. At first sight, these photographs are very similar, in their aspect and in their technical structure, to “Photos d’Art”. Except that they are made sometime without the author who is often already deceased, without his direct interpretation, without his authentication and without his signature. Moreover, if they are numbered, it is not in the strict sense and within the limit set by the Law. If a number has been affixed, it is not uncommon for it to be in the hundreds, I have even seen thousands with a very prestigious signature affixed mechanically. These images can be very beautiful and give the change; but be careful, it is only decorative work and the prices must not exceed one or two hundred dollars, whoever the author and his notoriety.

The posters are generally very beautiful photographs, because they must appeal to the greatest number; given their printing, in very large quantities, by industrial printing processes. You can always have your poster signed by the author, which is psychologically nice, but without no intrinsic value.

Everything else is folklore with photographs on T-shirts, mugs, fans, place mats and many other fantasies.

After choosing your type of photography, the question arises of where to get it. The best solution is always to acquire it directly from the creator. This often offers you the opportunity to really exchange and discover a much larger choice of photographs that will be adapted to your possibilities and your research. By the way, it is better to flee the chameleon photographer who offers you his realization adapted to the size of your sofa or matching the colour of the room. Do not confuse photographic creation and interior decoration! The second reliable source is found in the few real galleries dedicated to photography. These true professionals offer a good choice of works in their stock, and they honestly respect the regulations of which they are the guarantors. They should not push you towards an imperative purchase, and they will provide you with answers that meet your expectations. The third source, which is also quite reliable, is under the hammer of the auctioneers. Except very rare exceptions, laws, and regulations are respected with exact technical and historical descriptions. The only drawback lies in your irresistible desire for one loved photograph or your sneaky taste for gambling, which will lead you into a financially unreasonable bid.

Then, for the other proposals, these are other adventures that are very rarely likely to satisfy you. An artwork of art or even decoration cannot be bought on the internet. Because, you have eyes to see and hands (with gloves) to touch, to feel and to appreciate your choice. Even on the author’s site, avoid this type of sale for any purchase over 50 euros. Finally, estate-galleries without any art knowledge, franchised sellers and other great brands – supposedly specialized – are to be avoided like the plague. They will try to sell you, hand on heart, an unpublished and authentic artwork of art by a highly publicized author. This picture will bear a number 361 (!), and it will be certified by the signature of a mistress of the genius or by a scribble of his one little daughter. You have to know how to change sidewalks before you get bamboozled.

I would like to go back to basics, your feet firmly on the ground, your choice must be emotional, sensual, and beneficial. I am not kidding, a photographic artwork is a symbiosis that necessarily tells something between a subject and the creativity of a person, the photographer. It is essential that the beneficiary of this artwork who will frequently come into contact with this image can exchange with it, find satisfactions by passing in front of it, discover answers and appeasement in contemplation. Beware of the instant crush on the form of an image, which will not last over time with the deciphering of the background. As with any work of art, the acquisition of a photograph is a marriage around a dialogue whose duration is not known (as with any good marriage). Premature divorces often evoke unwise choices.

Last essential point, if your purchase is not your selfish little gift, and it is intended for a third party, I must enlighten you on the recurring error. Your friend – even very close – is not you, you must make sure that your gift will please him/her and that he/she will take pleasure passing in front of the photograph. You must be certain that the image you have chosen will bring everything you would have wished for yourself. The money invested in your present is not the most important, vector that will bring serenity to the person you want to honour.

End this year well and long life to photography

December 09, 2022

your comments about this chronicle and its photography are always welcome to

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