LensWork Special Editions
What are Special Editions?
LensWork Special Editions are photographs produced by us to the photographers specifications and approval. As "reproduction prints," they are more affordable than investment-quality, collectible originals available directly from the photographer or their galleries.
Typically, LensWork Special Editions are smaller than the photographer's originals. Although we do occasionally offer individual prints, our Special Editions are mostly produced as "folios" of unmatted, unbound prints intended to be viewed handheld.
Special Editions are meant as an introduction to a photographer's work at an affordable price.
Why Special Editions? Why so affordable?
The gallery world serves a purpose for collectors and institutions which we understand and applaud. Unfortunately, individuals on a family budget typically can't compete with the purchasing budgets of the elite collectors and large institutions. We believe that photography — with its easy reproducibility — ideally lends itself to the perfect democratic art that everyone should be able to afford.
Following the lead set by Ansel Adams (with the Ansel Adams Special Editions program), we offer our LensWork Special Editions as an affordable alternative to high-priced gallery originals. Our original philosophical statement that lead to our first Special Editions program in 1998 is available in this PDF.
Working with LensWork alumni photographers, we select portfolios or projects that we feel include particularly compelling images. We then work to create a folio (or individual print) that reproduces the photographer's original with as much visual fidelity as possible. Once the photographer has approved our reproduction proofs, we create the reproduction prints and offer them for sale. By the way, it is important to know that the photograpers do earn a substantial commission on the sale of their work — an important source of funding to support their ongoing artmaking process.
About the Folios
What is a folio? Think of it as a hybrid between an individual print and a book. It’s a collection of unbound prints – book-size rather than wall-size prints. Because they are unbound, they can be handled individually, are meant for viewing by hand, but can be matted and framed if you choose to. The prints in a folio are presented in an embossed and die-cut art paper enclosure, and feel more like a single collection than a random pile of prints. Like a book, they are typically monographs or thematic, and contain a number of prints that explore a photographic theme more deeply than is possible with a single “greatest hits” image.
The LensWork Special Editions Folios are typcially either 5, 10, 15, or 20 prints, priced accordingly.
Our technological objective is to create images that are visually indistiguishable from the photographer's original — whether their originals are gelatin silver, platinum/palladium, or pigment-on-paper. We use appropriate inkjet papers to create as close a match to the originals as possible. Here is a more detailed discussion of the methods and materials we use to make the LensWork Special Editions.
The History of LensWork Special Editions
We first began LensWork Special Editions in 1998 and continued offering both prints and folios through 2004. Here is a history about that original program and the technological reasons why it was discontinued in 2004.