What Are Limited Edition Prints?

Limited edition prints are the most valued type of fine art photography prints by virtue of their limited supply. The value of artwork increases as the availability becomes more scarce. For some serious art collectors, not only do they want a fine art photography print that they like but they also want a unique showpiece for their collection that not too many other people also own.

In the pre-digital era, artwork had to be created by-hand and each piece was truly one-of-a-kind. This method was limited edition by-nature of the process. In today's digital world, the artist has to determine ahead of time what the edition size will be. Some photographers choose to create limited editions that number in the thousands. That is a very large number to be honest. While it may technically be limited, the edition size is essentially mass-produced. I’ve even heard stories of photographers who sell out of an edition then decide to create another size or produce the piece on a different medium. While there are no rules when it comes to fine art, I feel there are ethical issues to consider there. Just be an honest, hard-working artist.

Let’s answer some questions here:

  1. Are limited edition prints better than open edition prints? Not necessarily. Whether a print is limited or open edition has no bearing on the quality of the photography. Limited editions are for art collectors who desire to have a unique showcase piece for their art collection that hasn't been mass produced by retailers with poor production value.
  2. Why are some fine art photography prints limited edition and some are open edition? It is at the discretion of the artist. The photographer may want to limit an edition because certain photos have special meaning to them and don't want to make them available for sale indefinitely. In other situations, the photographer wants to create a special offering for top art collectors. However, sometimes past sales history may also prevent certain images from being designated as a limited edition print. Such reasons include being licensed for artwork or posters, having sold previously as an open-edition print, and having been licensed as royalty-free stock photography. In general, it is not recommended to participate in royalty-free stock photography licensing if you want to offer your photos as limited edition. To be honest, I wouldn’t recommend participating in royalty-free licensing agreements for any situation as all it does is cheapen the value your work and the perception of your work. Rights-managed licensing is fine as long as the photo hasn’t been licensed for 3rd party printing.
  3. Do limited edition prints cost more than open edition prints? It depends on the photographer. Print sales early in the edition size tend to be more modest. Limited edition photography pricing tends to increase at designated intervals as the edition gets closer to selling out. Limited-edition photography print pricing can be tricky in that the artist wants to maximize the lifetime value of a photo but at some point the print could sell out. Charge too little and you leave potential income on the table. Charge too much and you have no market. Keep in mind that $100,000 x 0 is still $0. On the other side of the equation, creating a limited edition at a low price point makes no sense either.

Do I sell limited edition prints?

A small collection of my best photography is currently available for sale as limited edition prints. Each limited edition print will be limited to an edition size of 25 prints. These exclusive limited edition photography prints are produced as ready-to-hang Gallery Ultra Lumachrome HD TruView Acrylic prints and come with a signed and registered Certificate of Authenticity. The most important thing is I feel that people should purchase fine art photography prints because they feel an emotional connection to the print and the photographer. I would like to keep the edition sizes small so there is value to art collectors while using the absolutely most cutting-edge printmaking techniques available today.

I do occasionally retire photos. I may have created the original master file years ago but my artistic vision might have changed over time so I’ll create a new version of the photo then take the older version out of circulation. If you see a photo on my website that you really like then I would encourage you to purchase the print. It may not be available for sale in that same version forever. I number these versions like this for example: RW1890, RW1890-2, RW1890-3, etc… The edition size will remain consistent regardless of which version of the photo is currently available for sale. Creating multiple limited editions from the same original photo is unethical in my opinion.

Make It Limited

If there is an unsold open-edition print that you really like and would like to make it a limited-edition print, you can. I can offer certain photos as an exclusive limited-edition print upon request if it hasn't previously sold as an open-edition print.

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Fine art photography prints by Richard Wong. This online gallery features my photography from the past two decades. In addition to showcasing my fine art prints, fineartphotographyprints.com was created as an educational resource to answer common questions for prospective art collectors. I mainly specialize in landscape, nature and travel photography. My photography has been published worldwide and I have publishing credits in many different publications. My fine art photography prints have sold to private collectors, art consultants and business owners. Exclusive limited-edition prints and premium open-edition prints are available for purchase. Please reach out to me via phone or email if I can assist you with your art installation project.