by Sharon Hudson
Archival prints of over 500 fine art photographs are on sale from the PHOTOGRAPHY GALLERY of Sharon Hudson. The ordering and printing is done through Fine Art America, and the buyer deals exclusively with Fine Art America, rather than with me. However, feel free to contact me with any questions or feedback about my images or your purchase. Artists always like to know people are enjoying their work, so I would love to hear from you!
I am very concerned with the presentation of my photographs, so I am delighted that I can recommend this print service. I have personally ordered, inspected, and tested for color permanence a number of prints and cards from this company, and am impressed by the quality of their prints and papers, and the hassle-free delivery and no-questions-asked return policy. I believe that Fine Art America treats both customers and artists fairly, and provides a great service by enabling artists to offer excellent photography and fine art prints for sale at reasonable prices.
How do I buy photographs?
Go to my photography website www.sharon-hudson.pixels.com, which is associated with Fine Art America. The site provides detailed enlargements, and a choice of paper finishes and sizes, and guides you through the buying process. You will also see many other products, like coffee mugs, tote bags, and throw pillows, that can be made with the images.
Fine Art America offers a choice of papers, from matte to high gloss, along with some special surfaces like canvas texture. The default paper is "archival matte," with a very smooth matte surface. Be sure to specify another paper if you want one. All their papers are equally archival, but be advised that dark tones don't print as richly on a matte paper as on glossier paper. Therefore, if you want the full impact of rich darks, I think a nice option for photography is the semi-matte photo paper. However, if the photograph does not contain deep blacks, such as many of my multiple exposures, then a smooth matte surface like the default "archival matte," or a slightly rougher surface like the "Somerset velvet," are nice choices. If you like a high-gloss photographic surface, get the "glossy photo paper."
All the prints come with a 1" white border all around, in excess of the print size. This is convenient for handling, and permits framing to the very edge of the print..
All images are available in a selection of sizes. I have set a maximum size for each image that yields a professional quality print in terms of sharpness and resolution. You can preview any part of the image with Fine Art America's full-resolution preview function. However, this previews the image at a much larger size than it will be printed, so the grain that you see in the enlargement is not visible in the print. (For those too young to remember film, it has grain, which is simply an intrinsic part of the medium, just as brushstrokes are an intrinsic part of painting.) Remember too that many of my images are manipulated images, meant to be viewed more like paintings than photographs, so in many cases there is intentional "painterliness" to the image, utilizing soft focus, film grain, and other photographic tools. Some parts of the image may be crystal sharp while other parts are intentionally grainy or blurry. It's art.
People often feel insecure when ordering something as personal as artwork online. However, as mentioned earlier, I have received a number of prints from Fine Art America, and the quality has been outstanding. I have several on display in my home. The prints were entirely true to my original digital files, which the buyer can preview onscreen. The main uncertainty comes from the color accuracy of the buyer's own computer screen, so if precise color is a concern, view the image on a couple of different screens before buying. However, Fine Art America has a money-back guarantee, which they honor promptly, no questions asked.
Fine Art America print prices are set by the artists and photographers themselves, who determine their their own markups, which are added to Fine Art America's base printing costs. This is why you will see that print prices vary considerably between artists. We are in a transitional period as digital printing has permitted photographers and artists to offer quality prints at much lower prices than in previous eras, and artists and photographers are struggling to determine how to respond to the new marketplace. Some are pricing their work as if it were posters; others like traditional, hand printed fine-art photographs.
I have chosen pricing between the two. I believe that because Fine Art America's print quality is as good or better than a handmade photography print, and their papers are archival, the prints merit much more than "poster" prices. In addition, although photographs usually cost less than paintings because artists can make many of them, as with any other kind of art, photographers must be compensated for their talent, vision, and the hours they spend shooting and editing their images. On the other hand, prices must be competitive. Therefore...
I have set my prices in the mid-range of the prices on Fine Art America. This makes them a very good buy for archival works of fine art.
Shipping of Photographic Prints
Fine Art America handles the shipping. Larger unframed prints will be shipped in mailing tubes. It's always a good idea to remove art from tubes promptly so they don't get accustomed to being cylindrical!
For framed prints, understandably, the packaging and shipping of large pictures framed with glazing gets a bit pricey: in the $50 range for a frame size about 30" x 36"; $25 to $30 for smaller sizes. But I do not recommend ordering framed prints.
Framing of Photographic Prints
I always advise custom framing of art works on paper if economically possible, because the outcome is always much better. The available proportions, mat colors, and frame styles of store-bought frames are rarely ideal, or perhaps even acceptable, for any particular image. For medium to large pieces, allow at least $200 to $300 for conservation framing under glass, depending on size and media. Shop around for price, because prices vary considerably, but don't let a 10% or 20% price difference determine your lifetime enjoyment of your art work.
Although you might want to consider Fine Art America's non-traditional alternatives to framing (print on metal, floated print, print on wood, etc.), please DON'T try to use Fine Art America's framing service to frame your print. (Why?)
However, DO use it to preview your potential print in various sizes using their viewing options. As Henry Moore once said, "There is a right size for every work of art." Some photographs are too intimate for a large print, and other images may be overwhelming if too large. On the website you can see what the framed print will look like in a room setting. (Oddly, however, they think everyone has minimalist decor with white walls.) The final size of a framed and matted picture will be about 6" to 8" inches larger in both directions than the print size. So measure your wall space!
Another thing you can do with the framing function is to experiment with mat/frame color, design, and proportions. This is highly educational, especially in conjunction with the principles found on my page: Picture Framing & Art Conservation. Doing this, you will understand what to seek and what to avoid in custom framing.
The bottom line is: Picture framing is a significant expense, and a well-designed custom frame adds greatly to almost any work of art. On the other hand, a bad framing job can make even the best artwork look uncomfortable, cheap, or tasteless. Even (or especially!) experienced picture framers would never attempt to design a frame without the physical components in front of them.
Oakland, San Francisco Bay Area, East Bay, northern California