Thoughts On Signing Photographic Prints



Much like anyone probably reading this, during my day to day routine I pass in front of a lot of artwork on the walls. Not just galleries, but everywhere I may need to be during a given day. Waiting rooms, coffee houses, restaurants, business offices, etc. One thing I notice far too often and don’t quite understand is when the piece is signed with a doctor’s signature like this.

Bad Photography Signature?
Bad Photography Signature?

St3v? Never heard of him or her and can’t track down any web presence on who the image might actually belong to. Compare with this other photograph seen in a restaurant.

RL Hargesheimer
RL Hargesheimer

RL Hargesheimer? Heck, that is downright legible. Fifteen seconds later after consulting the Goolges and I’ve tracked down his website and can browse all his work. Neat.

I hope it is obvious by this point that what I’m getting at is to maybe, just maybe, sign your work in such a way that people viewing it don’t have already been aware of who you are, and already familiar with your signature to know it is by you? Photography is such a powerful vessel to leave your ideas and memories around for people long after you are gone, why do it a disservice by picking a signature may look stylish, yet completely nonfunctional?

Captioning Prints

I’m also a fan of seeing a short caption or title on the finished print as in the above photo. I’ve found that in sometimes a few words is all it takes to go from “Well this is an alright looking photo.” to “Oh my god this photo!” when looking at a photographs on a wall, so long as it helps clarify what I’m looking at that may be outside of my sphere of knowledge, and not some second year artist schlock-title.

Considering how signatures and other markings on a photograph can aid in how it is understood for decades to come, I’ve been finishing my prints as seen in this photo.

Photo caption and signature
Photo caption and signature

Photo title on the bottom left with my typed name on the right initialed and dated by hand next to it. It bypasses issues that may be caused due to my terrible penmanship, yet still, has the hand made mark to signify that it is a finished piece to my approved set of standards. If the purchaser doesn’t care about display who made it, they can frame right up to the image. If they do want to show off that I’m the artist, there is enough blank border around the image that it can be framed to expose the information and signature.

And since I’ve spent too many of my most impressionable years being exposed to overly pedantic people on photography forums, I can’t seem to help hear a little voice in my head saying “Yeah. But if you put clean typed text on the print. Then everyone will know it has been printed digitally and it won’t be as valuable.”

Much the same way that I don’t advertise my archival inkjet prints as GiclĂ©e prints to try and blur the perception of what print actually is, I’m not going to try and fake it by hand writing everything to make it appear like it was wet printed. I don’t doubt that hand made wet prints would be more valuable on the collector’s market. They do indeed take more effort to create and thus end up being a rarer commodity. Mine aren’t wet printed, so why try commit some light fraud in hopes of making a few more bucks?

End semi-cohesive, rambling blog post.


Category Reflections