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Author Topic: Long Road Down The Making of a Fine Art Photogra  (Read 37189 times)
alainbriot
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« Reply #20 on: July 27, 2006, 10:20:15 PM »
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I think it may be useful to lay down my "philosophy" so that no stone is left unturned concerning my approach to photography.

1-I think it is way easier to tell everyone who wants to know exactly how I do what I do, from the time I print the photo to the time it has been sold and is in someone else's hands.  This includes Vision (as much as I can explain it, with the previously mentioned caveat), field work, processing & optimization, matting & framing, and marketing & salesmanship.  As of today, I have published essays and tutorials and have offered workshops on all these aspects of photography.  If I have somehow overlooked one aspect of the medium, just let me know and I will remedy to it.  This is a promise and you can hold me to it if you like.  I don't have a problem with that and I do appreciate your help.

2-The reason why it is easier is because there is nothing that infuriates people more than being told they can't have access to some specific information that they want, at any cost.

3-There is a risk in hiding things, and that is that when revealed these things turn out to be less than impressive or have lost their cutting edge interest.

4-Regarding marketing, I personally find that being totally open regading technique and approach, allows me to price my work significantly higher.  Why?  Simply because it is one thing to know how something was done, and another to do it.

5-Revealing technique makes people focus on the art.  Why? Because knowing how art was done, does not explain everything about the art. There is much more to art than technique and this is why technique should be transparent.  To explain the uniqueness of your art through technique, is to eventually cause people to overlook the art entirely.

6-Knowing how something is done is half the battle. I know how to climb Everest, but I would die if I tried to put this knowledge to use. I know how many great artists created specific masterpieces, but that does not mean I can do what they did.

7-Sharing is nice.  And, as a teacher, this is what defines you.  Since I am both an artist and a teacher, I find it to be my responsibility to both create and explain what I create.

8-I want to return something for all that I have received so far.

This being said, the above views are not an imposition upon others to do the same.  It is simply a description of my approach.  And if you are skeptical of what I just said, simply look at the essays I wrote for this site.  You will find out that there is a wealth of information there and that all the doors are open.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2006, 10:28:34 PM by alainbriot » Logged

Alain Briot
Author of Mastering Landscape Photography, Mastering Composition, Creativity and Personal Style., Marketing Fine Art Photography and How Photographs are Sold.
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« Reply #21 on: July 27, 2006, 10:24:19 PM »
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There probably is more than one way to get the same effect.  That is usually the case when it comes to image editing.

I think the point of the article had more to do with using the tools you have to form the original capture into your own vision than secret photoshop techniques.
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« Reply #22 on: July 27, 2006, 10:29:05 PM »
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And one other gripe that is not necessarily in direct relation to this article. Pete Myers shoots predominately with a 35mm camera, which I don't necessarily have a problem with. But, I do have a problem with taking an image, blowing it up to 60", and then selling it for $35,000! Granted, I haven't seen one of his prints (and I would very much like to), but 60" from 35mm?!? I've made prints that big, but they've been from 8x10 chromes that have been drum scanned. I would never contemplate enlarging 35mm to those porportions. But if he's found people willing to spend that kind of money, then more power to him!

Just my $0.02!
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71878\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Pricing of prints is an interesting subject all on it's own.

I personally cannot see the justification for selling 'by the square inch' as some photographers do ie double the size = double the price.

The prints might cost double to make but double $100 is $200 not $2000.

Personally I take the approach that I am selling 2 things packaged together: the image and the print. The size of the print is up to the customer, the image is what they are really buying. To that end my biggest prints (60"x30") are only 3 times the price of the smallest ones (20"x10").  I make more out of the bigger prints anyway but I choose not to be greedy given that the real cost to me is not much more than for the small prints.

This approach also makes it much easier to up-sell to larger sizes since they are percieved as being better value by the customer - all these things help close a sale.

This is just how I do things, with 5 years of print selling experience behind me. Like they say YMMV.

OTOH, to those who do charge huge price steps between sizes - what do you say to a customer who asks why the next size is so much more expensive?
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alainbriot
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« Reply #23 on: July 27, 2006, 11:24:27 PM »
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The prints might cost double to make but double $100 is $200 not $2000.

Personally I take the approach that I am selling 2 things packaged together: the image and the print. The size of the print is up to the customer, the image is what they are really buying. To that end my biggest prints (60"x30") are only 3 times the price of the smallest ones (20"x10"). I make more out of the bigger prints anyway but I choose not to be greedy given that the real cost to me is not much more than for the small prints.

OTOH, to those who do charge huge price steps between sizes - what do you say to a customer who asks why the next size is so much more expensive?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71949\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I personally price from the largest size down.  In other words, my primary size is my largest size because it is often my best selling size.  I then apply a division factor to get the other prices.  In recent years, I have started taking out one or two size per year.  Eventually, I will only offer my work in a couple of sizes.  

When asked about my prices, I explain it exactly like I just did.

You can take a look at my prices on my site and find that division factor easily.  But hurry because I will be taking out sizes before the end of the month (July is one of the months during which I make this kind of changes, for personal reasons).

Pricing from the smallest size up is a good option when your best selling size is your smallest size.  I started doing things that way then turned the table around so to speak.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2006, 11:28:52 PM by alainbriot » Logged

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« Reply #24 on: July 27, 2006, 11:29:33 PM »
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I personally price from the largest size down.  In other words, my primary size is my largest size because it is my best selling size.  I then apply a division factor to get the other prices.  You can take a look at my prices on my site and find that division factor easily.  When asked, I explain it exactly like I just did.

Pricing from the smallest size up is a good option when your best selling size is your smallest size.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71953\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

That's a pretty good way to do it. And it's a very sound way to explain it to your customers, I like that!

I find my best selling size is the middle one - 40"x20". Mostly because the bigger sizes, when framed,are hard to fit on a normal home wall. My biggest normal size ends up at 80" wide and weighs 25kg with glass!
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« Reply #25 on: July 27, 2006, 11:32:13 PM »
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This type of article leaves a bad taste in my mouth. This not the first time that I've had a problem with articles by Pete Meyers either. I think what kind of gets my goat is that he comes off more as self-aggrandizing than providing useful information that readers here might find insightful.

The image itself I find to be somewhat interesting, however this notion of "proprietary techniques" rings a bit hollow with me. In the images used in the article, I've seen nothing that looks as if it would be so difficult to do in photoshop. This whole I've got a top secret ex-NASA image manipulation technique using a sophisticated "math process" (but I can't tell you about it) comes across as kinda childish. Ansel Adams was a master fine arts photographer, yet I never read anything of his where he tooted his own horn so blatantly. Nor do ever recall AA teasing us with a secret technique.

Derek
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« Reply #26 on: July 27, 2006, 11:53:29 PM »
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I really wish that Meyers was able to respond to some of this, I would be interested to hear his view of some of this.

That being said, I suppose I can understand if he (through either choice or contractual obligation) didn't reveal all of his processes, however to blatantly dangle that bit of information in front of the reader isn't conductive to learning, nor in good form.  Speaking for me personally, I would say I have a decent and growing,  but not amazing, understanding of digital image processing.  But, I would also say that it's somewhat tenuous.  I'm not always happy with the fact that there can be so many different means to a similar end, because often I feel like I don't know if there could be some better method of doing something.  This makes me wonder if I'm doing my photos justice or if there is something better that could be done.

Then, something like this comes along and well, apparently there is something better but....can't tell!

Again, I suppose I can understand (though not really sympathize) if he doesn't reveal something, but maybe don't tell people.  Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.

As for the whole "sense of feeling" thing and all that.  I both agree and don't.  On one hand I do think that each person has their own sense of art and vision and trying to convey that is a good thing.  Often, when I do landscape work my aim is to try to capture/reproduce/whatever a bit of what it was like to be at that location at that time.  But you can't expect someone to automatically aggree with that vision, much less try to push it on them.

If you love macro photographs of flowers and make it your mission to convey the beauty you see in those flowers that is fine.  Howerver, you have to learn to not be offended if someone doesn't like those images.  It's still your vision, they just might not like it.  And just because it is <b> your </b> vision doesn't mean they automatically <b>should</b> like it.

There's my thinking on this.  Hope it was coherent, I sort of got off track at the end there.

Oh, and give up on the monopod thing.  Sometimes tripods aren't a viable option.  Learn that, live with that.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2006, 11:56:50 PM by macgyver » Logged
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« Reply #27 on: July 27, 2006, 11:53:36 PM »
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First of all, I believe that Alain's teaching method is clear, concise and very well constructed. Not at all unlike Ansel Adams'. Whether Alain is able to move the "art" of photography forward like AA did is something that only time will tell.

Secondly, Pete's teaching method is concept-based. He's sharing a concept, such as his pixel-melding process. It's nothing new--it's something that we've been doing from close to the beginning of photography. Actually, it's something that predates photography and is practiced in other mediums.  Implementing this into our own workflow will be based on our set of tools available to us.

Let's digest what he said and what it might mean to me. If we were to assume that he's referring to a custom uprez process, he might be doing so with multiple scaling operations that scale different brightness levels with different step sizes. That would homogenize the image and bring a higher level of "organic" (ie analog) to the final result.

I am concerned with something expressed in this thread. Some people think that it's all about the technology/technique. If you throw enough pixels at the scene and use the most expensive CF tripod with ArcaSwiss head, only then can you make a "fine-art print". Never mind that the rest of the picture is meaningless. "Fine-art Photography" has nothing to do with megapixels, film-format or final print size.  Unfortunately, it's very difficult to say what "Fine Art Photography" is, so we glob onto whatever "tangible" aspect we can find. I believe final-print size is not dictated by technology, but by the photograph itself--I have one that has a printed image size of 5x5 inches. Not that the image isn't sharp larger, but that the image just doesn't look right printed larger.  Another one is impossible to print smaller than 24x30.

Ken
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« Reply #28 on: July 28, 2006, 12:31:27 AM »
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Nick, how much it costs to produce it has little bearing on the value of a print. On the other hand, the scarcity  does. There are much less large prints (I mean quality prints) available than small prints, for technical reasons. Besides, those who sell in limited editions often have smaller numbers for larger prints. There are also sudden jumps in costs/work. For instance, for prints up to a certain size, I use my own scanner. Beyond that size, I get a drum scan done at a lab.

But the main reason a prints are priced that way, is that the market accepts it. I have seen some photographers who price the prints the same regardless of size. This makes sense if you think that you do not buy an object, but you buy a piece of the vision and skill. However, I have the feeling that most buyers do not think that way.

Alain, pardon my lack of sophistication, but I fail to understand if you price the prints as a function of the surface area, what difference does it make to start from the small print and multiply up or to start from the large print, and divide down ?
« Last Edit: July 28, 2006, 12:32:21 AM by luong » Logged

macgyver
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« Reply #29 on: July 28, 2006, 01:01:32 AM »
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Cost of production anyone?
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Nick Rains
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« Reply #30 on: July 28, 2006, 02:05:48 AM »
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Nick, how much it costs to produce it has little bearing on the value of a print.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71962\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

My point exactly, the price of producing the print is often insignificant compared to the final price - so why have cheap prints at all (off the same image)?

If you are going for the high ground and want 35K for a big print, why not go the whole hog and charge big money for the small ones too? It's the image which the print is being bought for, not its size.

One of my colleagues here has a price scale which increases as the edition runs out and you get the interesting situation of a 75" print being, say, $4400 and a 30" print being $4000.

It's the image - not the print size - that counts most, particularly if it's a genuine limited edition.

The only way I see consistency in this price/size concept is if each size is considered a different edition and the smaller sizes have a longer run. Then the scarcity angle comes into play and it would be self-consistent to have 500 A3 prints at $400 and 10 A0 prints at $20000. Each edition being worth $200K when finished.

My colleague did an edition of 3 once - 50K each. They sold on novelty value I think but it is interesting to note that he made less out of this edition than out of his normal run of 300 at about 1K each.

Alain, are your prints sold as numbered editions or open?
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« Reply #31 on: July 28, 2006, 02:09:01 AM »
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Cost of production anyone?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71963\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Depends on the print process and the time to make them.

Pete Myers seems to use an injet process so the costs would be low-ish. I use digital Ilfoflex and it's fairly expensive at about AUD300 for a big print (60"x30")
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« Reply #32 on: July 28, 2006, 03:38:48 AM »
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Alain, are your prints sold as numbered editions or open?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71969\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I start numbering at 18x24 right now, but I will be removing sizes, so this will change.  Most likely I will start numbering at 20x30.  I am less & less in favor of numbering anyway.  People think its a marketing ploy, and it is a lot of work to keep track of the numbers.  At the end of the day I doubt if anyone actually benefits from numbering. Adams did not number his prints and that did not hurt him that I know of.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2006, 04:00:27 AM by alainbriot » Logged

Alain Briot
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« Reply #33 on: July 28, 2006, 03:41:34 AM »
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Alain, pardon my lack of sophistication, but I fail to understand if you price the prints as a function of the surface area, what difference does it make to start from the small print and multiply up or to start from the large print, and divide down ?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71962\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I do not price in function of the surface area. I never said so either in my previous posts.  This is an assumption. In fact, if you re-read my posts, or look at my price list on my site, you will notice that I am pricing per MAT SIZE and not print size.  This means that if I was pricing by the square inch, I would be pricing the mat at the cost of the print.  The reality is that I am just selling the piece.  It also means that in this mat size, the print can be ANY SIZE.  Meaning, if for a particular image I feel that 8x10 in a 16x20 mat is what works best for this image, then this is what is delivered for that particular image. It also solves the problem of panoramic prints which are always odd sizes.  

In fact, when talking to customers, I don't even mention sizes.  I use the name for that size.  For example, my large pieces are called "Museum Colection" "Master collection" and so on.  I am selling art, not lumber or drywall or windows.  Nothing wrong with selling the later, simply that in art size isn't the emphasis. The art is.  As a matter of fact, when you get to top quality widnows & doors construction, you let go of the sizes quickly to focus on the materials, built quality and so on.  The size is addressed quickly, and the product quality is focused on primarily.  

Here as in just about everything that I do, I focus on quality vs quantity.  I personally do not believe one can do both quality + quantity.  I have an open challenge in which I invite anyone who knows how doing quality & quantity can be done to contact me.  I am willing to make you a wealthy person if you can prove and teach me it can be done, provided you offer a warranty about your services, proof that you have done so yourself, and evidence that you can do so with my current artwork as presented on my site.

I digress...

What I do, is price my largest piece, then apply a reduction factor for smaller sizes.  One could also price all pieces the same, regardless of size, but I find this approach illogical and people perceive it as dishonest.  As I said, eventually there will be just a couple of sizes available.  My approach is to simplify things, and in this view it makes sense to have only a few sizes.   I think that 40x50, 20x30 and 16x20 is most likely what I will be doing.  Too many sizes confuse customers and make my life complicated.  As I said, I want to simplify things.

The difference between moving up or down is that when you go from smaller to larger, you assume you are selling mostly the small sizes.  When you go from large to small, you take it for granted you sell more of the largest sizes.  What does that mean?  Simply that in my situation I am not that concerned with selling small sizes. Threfore, the price is a percentage of the large sizes, rather than the other way around.  A look at my price list on my site will show this better than I can explain it here.  Again, I will be  removing sizes soon so don't delay to take a look.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2006, 03:58:47 AM by alainbriot » Logged

Alain Briot
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« Reply #34 on: July 28, 2006, 04:05:21 AM »
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It would be nice if any business could run on the basis of simply taking your cost and adding a markup, and being guaranteed a sale.  Sale value and cost of sale often bear no relationship whatsoever, except that the former should hopefully be larger than the latter!  Sale price in most capitalistic economic models tends towards what the market will bear - price elasticity of demand.  If Pete's market will bear $35k for one of his prints, then that's the price.  Doesn't matter if he shot it on 35mm and printed it in vinegar in his bathroom - if there was no market for it at that price it wouldn't sell.

I sell the majority of my stuff at the low end; mostly to families / parents of shots taken at performance events a family member has participated in, mostly A4 sized.  I'm often asked for 4x6" prints and often asked why I charge more for them than than the local lab would.  I politely tell them that they're very welcome to take their own pictures and get them printed at the local lab, if that's their determining factor.

My point - charge what the market will bear.  Justification is that the image is uniquely created by you, and realised by the application of your craft to produce the art.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2006, 04:34:41 AM by pobrien3 » Logged
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« Reply #35 on: July 28, 2006, 08:39:40 AM »
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I realise art is in the eye of the beholder, and in this case it clearly must be. The photo under discussion does not create even the faintest flicker of interest from within me, either in its original form, or post-processed. I cannot help but think that the four or five hours spent trying to create something out of it could have been better spent finding a more interesting subject and composition. But then that is only my opinion.

What REALLY staggers me is the asking price of $35 000 for such a creation. Where I come from $35k will buy you a brand new luxury motor car (BMW, Audi, Volvo or Merc), or a small suburban apartment, or over a dozen round-the-world airline tickets!  To pay that kind of money for a blown up photo just boggles my mind . . .
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« Reply #36 on: July 28, 2006, 09:16:57 AM »
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I am agreeing with those who point out that 1. There are artists who have "secrets" but just never let you know about them.   2. This is a free article and from a business stand point why let everyone know about your techniques for free.

True, the guy is showing off with his secret techniques or whatever and rubbing it in your face by not sharing.  But how many of us here are not conceited photographers ourselves and tooting our own horns whenever we mention, without being asked, how so and so image is not so great.  Art is in the eye of the beholder and someone else may find the same image meaningful so all those negative comments are worthless and annoying.  BTW does anyone remember the satire on some blog site where famous works were posted followed by narrow minded critiques?  I'm reminded of the point of that article right now.  And hey, the whole "proprietary techniques" thing isn't anymore annoying than the guy who constantly talks about himself and weaves his high self opinions into every bit of what he write (he's got stuff to sell too) or the constant praise from his fans.  

I don't know much about this Pete Meyers guy is but the main point about this article, no matter how sidetracked it got, is about an example image that is transformed into something that the artist wishes to express.  To him it has reached a satisfactory level and means something to him.  Therefore in that sense it is successful.  It doesn't mean squat that someone doesn't get the image (even if it was explained to you in the article), it was just an example.  

One last comment:  If you already know about pricing, perceived value and such then you wouldn't be complaining about art being overpriced.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2006, 09:30:31 AM by Blind Photographer » Logged
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« Reply #37 on: July 28, 2006, 09:34:22 AM »
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What REALLY staggers me is the asking price of $35 000 for such a creation. Where I come from $35k will buy you a brand new luxury motor car (BMW, Audi, Volvo or Merc), or a small suburban apartment, or over a dozen round-the-world airline tickets!  To pay that kind of money for a blown up photo just boggles my mind . . .
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71991\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Hilton, in this world, if there are customers prepared to fork-over 35K for such a photograph, then it is worth 35K, because the market has so declared it. It is no different than valuing a house - it is worth the price the transaction achieved. That is the objective reality in a market economy. I don't think Pete Myers would be asking those prices if he knew in advance he couldn't achieve them -and he's been in business for a while.
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« Reply #38 on: July 28, 2006, 09:37:38 AM »
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. . . Art is in the eye of the beholder and someone else may find the same image meaningful so all those negative comments are worthless and annoying . . .   

. . . If you already know about pricing, perceived value and such then you wouldn't be complaining about art being overpriced . . .
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71994\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I am sure many folks, both here on LL and at art exhibitions, do find this work meaningful. I'm simply saying that I do not, a comment which I believe I am entitled to make without being considered worthless and annoying.

Yes, I do understand pricing and perceived value. I was merely commenting that in most parts of the world those two clash more often than not.

I actually found the article to be an interesting read. It was informative to see how a photograph could be "worked on" methodically and systematically until a goal was achieved.
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« Reply #39 on: July 28, 2006, 09:47:10 AM »
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SNIP

I actually found the article to be an interesting read. It was informative to see how a photograph could be "worked on" methodically and systematically until a goal was achieved.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71997\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I think that is the important piece to take away from the article -- all the finger-pointing going on about Pete's not sharing certain secrets sounds to me like, well, sour grapes...
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