About a year ago, I mentioned a lawsuit by a collector, filed after William Eggleston decided to re-print older photographs, using inkjet printing and a larger size. A judge now ruled that the photographer had the right to do that. On the surface, that’s great news for photographers. It also blows a huge hole into the whole editioning game that galleries have been relying on. (more) Most photographs can be printed in large numbers, so it’s not all that obvious why someone would pay a lot of money for a photograph. Editions provide an easy solution: Even though there could be thousands of copies of a single photograph, the promise is that there will be merely, let’s say, eight. If you buy a print you got one out of only eight, and this - artificial - scarcity then justifies your investment. Thus, as a photographer you need to think about editions if you want to work with a gallery, since that’s part of the game.
What this means is that if you want to re-print a photograph that was issued in some edition you can’t - unless, and here’s the trick, you can show that your new edition is very different. That’s essentially what the Eggleston lawsuit was about. And why wouldn’t a somewhat different size plus a somewhat different process truly be a different edition, right?