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Monday, 20 October 2008


Congratulations! Well deserved.

When you're good, you're good. ~L And this doesn't even count the people like me who would have ordered if the only our bank accounts could have handled it. Congratulations.

Just to ease Ctein's workload and avoid ambiguity, I included in my message the "Transaction ID:", "Buyer:", and "Your CONFIRMED Address" data from the Paypal receipt email.

I'm not surprised by the success of this offer. As I'm sure is true of others, I've admired Ctein's work for some time but I can't spend $1,100 for a print. This is an opportunity to own, in a small way, Ctein's work.



I add another "Congratulations! Well Deserved". Your work is extraordinary on every level.

I admit to vicarious elation. It looks like people are truly appreciating a handcrafted print. That has to be encouraging to those of us who work with traditional materials.

There are, of course, a great many beautiful digital prints (I own a few myself) but I want to believe that collectors of photography will continue to recognize 'made by hand' as a value in, and of, itself.

Thank you for setting the standards so high.


If yadda asd me, I cudda tole ya. :-)

Congratulations Ctein, it's nice to see people who deserve such success reap it in such large volumes :)
I will cross my fingers you come into another cache of materials you need to do more prints in the future!


I'm with Eolake. Somehow I doubt that anyone other than Mike and Ctein was particularly surprised by this. Never underestimate the combined drawing power of T.O.P. and Ctein!

I don't really know whether to congratulate Ctein or express my condolences. While it is great to see this level of interest in dye transfer prints generally and Ctein's work specifically, I suppose there will always be mixed feelings at watching the supply of dye transfer materials dwindle. And I can't even begin to imagine the daunting (and eventually mind-numbing) task of manually printing the same two images 720 times over 4 months. As Mike would say, "Just thinking about it makes me want to go lie down and take a nap."


As your comment came in, I was *just about* to go take a nap. [g]

We probably did underprice the prints...should have charged double and sold half as many. But you never know how that's going to go, before the fact.

Mike J.

I don't know what the motivating force behind this offer was. I can't image the goal was to make a lot of money, not at these prices for such labor intensive work and using up irreplaceable materials. That leaves two possibilities (a) you guys did this out of the goodness of your hearts, or (b) you did this as an educational measure to allow people to experience, enjoy and possess an example of an art form they otherwise might never even be able to see. Either way, it seems to me that a low-ish price is a precondition and that the offer was a resounding success. At double the price, I am fairly sure you would have sold less than twice as many. And whatever the labor and economic implications of that would have been, it also would have meant that less than half as many people would have been able to seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and to experience the joy these prints will bring.

That said, the price probably was too low to compensate Ctein for his back pain and boredom. Thus a slightly higher price probably would have been appropriate. I can only hope that Ctein REALLY likes these pictures (though without even having received my prints, I'm pretty sure that "Kahili Wild Ginger" could hold my attention for four months).

Anyhoo, many many thanks to both of you!


Once amazement and congratulations have been expressed, curiosity and practical sense kick in, wondering:

How much printing do you typically do as "normal business"?

Although you seem pretty positive about the outcome of this sale, is this not cutting into supply that could have been used to make larger (and presumably more profitable) prints?

Dear Eolake and Adam,

Your confidence in Mike and me is flattering, but you should understand that the biggest previous such sale under either Mike or my auspices pulled in less than 1/3 this number of orders. We really thought we were on very safe ground with me being able to handle more than 50% more than the maximum plausible number of prints.

Coming in at more than twice that number is truly not something anyone would expect.

Lots of folks have graciously agreed to receiving their prints late, but I still need another 100-150 to volunteer to avoid disappointing someone.

pax / Ctein

Dear Adam,

This is really a classic case of 'doing well by doing good.' Mike started this type of offer at Photo Techniques magazine with the specific idea that it would be a way to get examples of fine quality photographs into the hands of readers who couldn't otherwise afford them. The master plan was to price them as low as possible consistent with the artist making a decent return.

This sale did not violate that plan. I priced the photos high enough that even after all expenses I would make a healthy amount per hour of work. In fact, I'll have a couple of months more "cushion" money in my bank account when the printing is done. While I am certainly a victim of my own success, I am absolutely not being taken advantage of.

With 20-20 hindsight, a *modestly* higher price probably would have been better. I might have made 1/3 less money, but I'd be having to do only half as much work. Then I wouldn't find myself in the embarrassing position of having to ask people to wait for their prints. And I would get a life back months sooner! But foresight is not so 20-20; I picked price points that I thought would be likely to help sales. Little did I know...

pax / Ctein
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com

Dear Cyril,

In a normal year, I make considerably fewer than 100 prints, for myself and for clients. There have been exceptions. The first print offer I did through PHOTO Techniques brought in over 200 orders. So I have some experience with having to produce in volume, though it's hardly at the same level. (Much the way running half a kilometer is not quite the same as running two kilometers.)

You've made an incorrect assumption, which is that I could sell any print I make. I wish! I sell a modest number of prints a year. I have hundreds of prints in inventory. It's true that the paper that will go into this project could be used to make prints that are theoretically worth five times as much as what I'll make on these... but that assumes I have buyers for them. I don't! Maybe I will, someday. But someday does not pay next month's bills.

Fact is, if I could simply sell all the prints I currently have in inventory, at their given prices, I could retire. Heck if I could even sell them all at 30 cents on the dollar, like in this offer, I'd be in very good financial shape. 'S'truth!

Fact is, I can't.

Dye transfer paper is a precious and largely-irreplaceable commodity, but it's only good for making prints, and those prints are only good for something if people have them. This is as good a use of the paper as any.

pax / Ctein
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com

Yet another example of how low pricing (some would say "appropriate" pricing) can make a huge difference in sales. I see Brooks Jensen of Lenswork Magazine nodding his head. All experiments in my neck of the woods (Portland, Oregon) at pricing right around or even under $100 for prints have been phenomenal successes with photographers making way more than they ever have in print sales compared to when they priced their work at "multiple hundreds" price levels.

I recommend this pricing for everyone. You will be amazed!

Ah yes, the old supply/demand issue.

I for one am glad that the price was "right" as I would probably not have bought one if it had been substantially higher (add that to the slipping canuck dollar...).

Here is hoping that following this opportunity, some will decide to purchase larger prints... in maybe just a few months ;-)

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