What Makes your Work so Special ?
An Open Answer

Essay by Alain Briot
in response to an email by John Smith

Other essays in this series

Dear Sir, 

I am looking for large prints of the Southwest, and I saw that you had really nice work. However, I am wondering why your prints are so expensive ? I have seen some images quite similar to yours (not those I am interested in) offered by other photographers for a fraction of the price.

What makes your prints so special ? 

John Smith

What makes my prints “so special" is everything that makes creating these images possible: inspiration, passion, knowledge, imagination, training, high standards, curiosity, integrity, craftsmanship, lifelong dedication, print quality, Natalie, artistic abilities, skill, genetics, my audience, uniqueness, enhancements, personal style, mastery, upbringing, writings, warranty, this website, reflection, my parents, talent, care, courage, beauty, lifestyle, education, service, fame, my students, determination, attention to detail, love, my teachers, experience, creativity, facture and more.


I received the email above on July 28, 2006. After I responded to it several of my students sent me their own response to the question asked by John Smith. Two of these responses, by Jeff Ball and ., are published below.

1-Answer by Jeff Ball
I don’t like to spend much time on what goes into making a fine art print, but I think it is necessary to briefly capture the value behind the print from time to time.  There is also a need to reiterate that the final performance is the fine art print and not web-display.  Web-display can be so limiting when presenting the true quality of a fine art print.  It is not simply a “point and click” proposition as each image is carefully crafted to exacting standards.  So to borrow an approach from Alain Briot in his well-crafted reply to a question about the value of his prints, please allow me to share with you the individual qualities that comprise the value of my prints.

The value of a fine art print by Jeff is comprised of the unique combination of many individual qualities, namely dedication, tireless study, self-criticism, vision, inspiration, motivation,  frustration, education, failure, success, pride, attention-to-detail, a pursuit of excellence, uniqueness, up-bringing, compassion, passion, gratefulness, graciousness, humbleness, respectfulness, environment, Appalachian culture, my mentors, perseverance, imagination, experimentation, intelligence, appreciation, teamwork, openness, flexibility, and focus. 

Old Oak Tree
Jeff Ball

While it may seem trite to write this explanation of the value of a piece of art, it is important to emphasize that there is a tireless effort behind the scenes that goes into creating unique and high-quality fine art prints.  Thanks for allowing me this opportunity to present these ideas to you and now let’s let the prints speak for themselves. 

As an afterthought, upon reflection on this writing I realized that I never mentioned equipment.  That is certainly no accident.  While I certainly use the finest equipment available today, it is not what determines the value of my artwork.  That is why I rarely discuss equipment on my website.  Those discussions often put a disproportionate weighting on the value of equipment with regards to photography while I see those values listed above as the primary contributors to the final value of my artwork.

Thanks and take care.

Jeff Ball

Essays and photographs Copyright © respectively: Alain Briot &Jeff Ball, 2006
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