Peter Lik :: Art, Investment or the Emperor’s new clothes?

Large Format Photography Introduction

Back when Peter Lik opened his first few galleries, large format photography was quite a rarity due to digital cameras being low in resolution which meant that a large format film camera was the only option. Today the situation is quite different and whilst producing extra large images still requires a very specialist skill set, the availability of such equipment to produce this kind of work is becoming more prevalent.

Large Format Photography
Antelope Canyon

With the arrival of another Peter Lik gallery, this time in my home town of Dallas, I am getting, even more than usual, the comparisons between his and my work. There are often times when a potential customer is deciding to buy one of my pieces or a Peter Lik and for this situation I have a fairly standard reply.

There is a very high perceived value to Peter Lik’s work mainly because as well as being an excellent photographer, he is also a master at marketing. Stories of a black and white version of one of his Antelope Canyon pieces selling for $6.5 million (see this article here about this supposed sale) plus highly strategic placement of his galleries that you will often find next to extremely high end luxury stores also helps to create the illusion of a very high end product.

There is also the question of resale value and investment potential. Again, there is a lot of hear-say around this topic but one only has to scour the pages of ebay, especially applying the previously sold filter, to see that prices are in most cases close to the original price or less. Add to this the fact that the number of editions is high (950) which somewhat dilutes is rarity value.

In terms of quality, there is really no difference between a Peter Lik and one of mine and in some cases I may have a higher resolution image but that is only down to the fact the my method of shooting is a longer process and involves a lot of shots.

Framed Large Format Photography
‘Spirit Rising’ by Phil Crawshay

The finished piece is the same process having been printed to a metallic based paper and face mounted to acrylic whether it be framed or frameless. With a piece destined to be framed, Peter Lik generally uses Roma Mouldings and in some cases, the addition of a linen covered deep bevel mat.

The real question though is price. A Peter Lik piece can be extremely expensive, plus they get progressively dearer as the edition comes close to selling out. In fairness, there is a lot of overhead to keep the Peter Lik machine rolling and ultimately it all boils down to whether or not you like the work enough to justify the higher price tag. Just be wary if you are thinking in terms of an investment as evidence has shown that it is not likely to produce a significant return, which is fine because I firmly believe that art
should be bought because it is something that you love to see every day hanging on your wall…Much like a beautiful piece of furniture that contributes to making your space a home. Personally I think Peter Lik has been a great inspiration to myself and to the few and far between large format photographers that are around today, but I do wonder whether the extremely high pricing can be relevant in today’s market where newer technology has opened up the market significantly, but then the other day a wealthly ‘collector’ bought a Banksy in London recently and as part of the art ‘experience’ it was shredded as soon as it was paid for…so what do I know!

Finally, here is another take on this subject which I found quite interesting: