Once again, we send our warmest greetings. We also send hopes for a peaceful and prosperous year for our country and the world. September 11 has given us weeks and now months of re-thinking, evaluating, and adjusting to this major turning point for the civilized world. How very privileged and grateful we feel to be able to do our work and have close contact with friends and family.
This newsletter will bring you up to date on our photography activities over the past year and plans for 2002 and beyond. The three-page addendum lists current prices for prints, portfolios, books, and other items. Please note the changes in our print pricing structure.
Each year we try to send out this newsletter after our winter sojourn in the darkroom and before we head out on the road. We are sending our newsletter much earlier this year because we are leaving around January 10th for Photo LA, which is from January 17 - 20. More about Photo LA below.
We returned from photographing in Tuscany at the beginning of November and began our seemingly endless hours of darkroom work in an effort to finish printing all the new negatives by the end of the year. It is our custom to deal with all of our negatives before we make new ones-we either print them or discard them. We believe that at a certain point in any artist's working life, one learns most from one's own work. We feel that if we have not fully dealt with all of our negatives, we have not had the opportunity to learn from them, and we certainly do not want to deprive ourselves of that. Somehow, we managed to complete this Herculean task last week-something we would normally finish by February or March. Now we head for LA.
After this West Coast trip we will be traveling throughout much of the United States in February and again during the spring. We hope we will have a chance to see you soon for a personal visit. If anything, the hectic pace of our photographic activities has escalated. We wonder if it is only us, or if we are reflecting the tenor of our times.
Photo LA is a photography fair that is held each January in Los Angeles. About 75 photography galleries and publishers have booths where they exhibit photographs. This will be our first year to participate in Photo LA, and if it is anything like the AIPAD fair (Association of International Photography Art Dealers) held each February in New York, it will be something very special. One important difference, however, between AIPAD and Photo LA: AIPAD is an organization that allows only its gallery members to have booths for exhibiting photographs; Photo LA is a private entrepreneurial venture of Stephen Cohen (Stephen Cohen Gallery) in Los Angeles that includes publishers of fine photography as well as galleries. Since we are also Lodima Press, we will be having a booth there. Because of our publication of Richard Miller's very beautiful Passage: Europe and the forthcoming Stones and Marks by Peter Elliston (in addition to our own books), it seems appropriate and a fine opportunity to meet new collectors. We'll not only have Lodima Press books with us, but many photographs on display as well. If you are in the Los Angeles area between January 17th and 20th, we hope to see you there.
We are thinking of returning to the West Coast in July for Photo San Francisco (if we do not go to Iceland this summer), to participate in the other photography fair organized by Stephen Cohen.
Photographs/Travels: Tuscany 2001
We had a successful photographing trip to Tuscany in September and October-our first trip in the fall after the previous two in the spring in 1999 and 2000. Unfortunately, it was an unusually rainy September, but in between the raindrops we still managed to make many new negatives. Paula had the good fortune of finding an Italian writer (and also a translator) for her upcoming Madonnina book, courtesy of our dear friends in Cortona, George and Francis Reid who have been visiting and living in Italy part time for over 40 years.
In previous years in Tuscany, our photography assistants have come from Europe (one from Italy and one from Germany), but this year our assistant came all the way from New Zealand. Since we had met each other only through email, neither of us knew if we could travel together for two months. We were reasonably confident, but were especially relieved and pleased to find that we and David Boyce got along great. He was also a terrific assistant. Once again we shipped over our old Land Rover, fully equipped for living and working, and this year we shipped over a second vehicle for David to use. Both vehicles were transported in a locked container aboard ship, the logistics of which have been one of the more complex, yet worthwhile, arrangements of our overseas photographing journeys. These things take practice.
On September 11th we were photographing in a marble quarry high on a mountain near Carrara. On the way down the mountain, during a short stop at a small curio shop owned by a sweet Italian woman whom we had met the previous year, we learned (in Italian) about a major tragedy that had just happened in America. We were hoping she spoke from an exaggerated news report, but we soon learned at a friend's home where we were visiting, that it was even worse than we thought. For two days we watched live broadcasts (in English) from BBC, CNN, and NBC. We were shocked and drained with sorrow, and were eager to learn as much as we could about what had happened. Since we do not own a television, we were probably better informed by being in Italy than we would have been at home! The film footage remains indelible. During the rest of our time in Tuscany, we were surprised to find that the Italians readily and openly expressed their sadness and deep sympathy toward us because of the grossa tragedia in America. It made being away from our home soil during this frightening time more tolerable.
As always, it was a joy to be in Tuscany again among these warm, generous, and friendly people. We are pleased with our new photographs and look forward to showing them to you.
Photographs/Travels: 2002 and beyond-Iceland and Provence
We still have tentative plans to photograph in Iceland during July and August of this year, although it could get put back to 2003. Much depends upon our current and ongoing construction and publishing projects. Iceland is nevertheless still on our agenda for one of these years.
After this last photographing trip in Tuscany, we spent a week traveling and photographing in the south of France, a place Michael had visited briefly many years ago. In Provence, we found we were responding more to the small towns and villages than to the landscape and realized that we did not want to photograph in the same way in each country that we visit. In Tuscany, we traveled throughout the countryside and photographed mostly in the rural landscape, although occasionally we did photograph in the small villages. In Provence we would like to photograph extensively in a small town or village. We have always liked the opportunity to get to know any one thing or place in depth. We hope to rent a house in Provence, set up a darkroom, and live, photograph, and write there for a year.
Since Provence is quite large, too much for us to investigate top to bottom and side to side, we have just begun inquiring among friends and acquaintances about any places they particularly like in Provence that might be suitable to our quest. Our criteria? We're thinking of a small village of approximately 300-500 people, or a small town up to about 3,000 people-a place that would enable us to get to know almost everyone-one not so large as to have the impersonality of a city. Since we currently have no personal contacts in the south of France, we would greatly welcome thoughts and suggestions from any of you.
This spring, we will be going back to Belgium to print new books, and we hope to have several days afterward to take a scouting trip to Provence where we would try to locate this village of our dreams. That would be our chance to follow up any suggestions you have given us.
This year-long stay in France is still a few years away, but we have learned that the years pass all too quickly and that we can never start preparing too soon.
Other Photographing: Our Collaboration
Last year we completed photographing the bonsai trees at Longwood Gardens. Right now we are working on the book of these photographs. There will be two versions-one regular book, and a special limited edition. The limited edition will be an accordion-fold book that allows all of the bonsai to be viewed at once. The text will be in a pocket in the front of the book and an original photograph of your choice from the book will be in a pocket in the back.
Publishing: New Books
At this point we are not entirely sure which of our books we will publish this year. We have five books of our own in various stages of completion and one book by another photographer that we will definitely publish in 2002. In the works are:
The Bonsai of Longwood Gardens, our collaboration.
Tuscany: A two-volume set-a long book of Michael's 8x20s and a regular size book of Paula's 8x10s. These books will also be available individually.
Madonnina: photographs by Paula of the small shrines to the Madonna that one finds throughout the countryside in Tuscany.
Trees: 8x20 photographs by Michael.
Stones and Marks: by the Australian photographer Peter Elliston.
Peter's book, Stones and Marks, will consist of photographs of petroglyphs, pictographs, and stone ruins and markers from around the world. His photographs are very fine (or we would not publish his book), but what makes his work particularly fascinating as a book is the research he has gathered of 19th century writing and engravings about many of the things and places he photographed. These early writings and engravings are paired with the photographs and provide historical context. We have found it fascinating to read how these places were viewed and thought about over a hundred years ago.
Publishing: Black and White Magazine
We continue to publish our two-page spread in Black and White, the new magazine in the world of photography devoted to the collecting of fine black and white photographs. Many of our photographs that appear there have not been published elsewhere.
If you don't already know this new magazine we encourage you to look into it. You can subscribe by calling 805-474-6633 or by writing to Black and White Magazine, P.O. Box 700, Arroyo Grande, CA 93421. Henry Rasmussen, the editor and publisher, has again agreed to send a free copy to anyone who calls if they mention that they learned about it in this newsletter.
Although there are still no photographs up on our web site, we have been making significant progress. Most notably, we instituted a sign-up page so that we can notify you of special offers, changes and updates, and generally keep you informed of what we are up to in the world of photography. If you have not been to our web site and signed up, please do so. We have some very special things planned for the site that will only be available to those who have signed up.
Last year, we had almost 4,000 photographs scanned into our fully searchable data base. As soon as we get the data base information completed, our photographs finally will go on-line. Getting our photographs up has been a monumental task, and too long in coming.
Last year, in addition to conducting two Vision and Technique Workshops here at our home/studio in Bucks County, we conducted one in Pforzheim, Germany. Participants came from as far away as Scotland, and it was a great success. We also lectured to photography students in Bozeman, Montana, and conducted a workshop for the students at the Waterford Institute in Salt Lake City.
Because of our demanding schedule, we will be conducting only one of these workshops this year, our Vision and Technique Workshop here at home. It will be held the weekend of September 27-29. It is already partially filled and if you are interested, let us know as soon as possible. Full information is available on our web site.
We've had requests to teach a one-day "Printing with Azo" workshop. We'll conduct it when there is sufficient demand. In the course of our travels we are willing to conduct either of these workshops at a location other than here in Bucks County. Let us know if you have an interest in either of these and perhaps we can bring the workshop to you. Last year's workshop in Pforzheim is an example of such an arrangement.
In a newsletter several years ago, we wrote about Azo, the photographic paper we use for making our prints. At that time we said:
Our photographic paper, Azo, made by Kodak, is the last of the silver-chloride contact printing papers. One can achieve a longer and smoother tonal scale from the old silver-chloride formulas, and Azo has the longest tonal scale of any photographic paper in use today. We dearly hope this paper will continue to be manufactured, as we would rather not have a virtual repeat of the film purchase. With Azo, we are able to make prints that have a distinguishing and strong presence to them, and we believe that the combination of this paper and the now discontinued Super XX film yields prints that are as fine as we can possibly make them.
The following year, the continued production of Azo came into question. We spoke with Kodak about it and they told us that in order for production to continue in all sizes and grades at least one of the camera stores had to "step up to the plate" and commit to buy a sufficient quantity. Then they gave us a list of camera stores that would be the most likely ones to stock Azo. At the same time they asked us if we would like to become "limited dealers," so that we could stock and sell the paper ourselves. Although we could see an advantage to doing that (we would get our own paper at cost), the burden of having a business to run amidst all the other things we do was just one thing too many. Fortunately a camera store on the West Coast, Freestyle Sales, "stepped up to the plate" and agreed to stock Azo, and the continued production of this fine paper was assured for the moment.
But that moment came and went. Last March we received a phone call from Freestyle notifying us that they no longer had an interest in carrying Azo (we subsequently learned that they had new ownership), and they asked if we would be interested in buying their remaining inventory at cost. We agreed to do so. Then, with grave concern about the continuance of this paper, and feeling a little bit like Frederick Evans, the English photographer from the early years of the last century who stopped photographing when platinum paper ceased being manufactured, we contacted Kodak and asked if we could still become limited dealers of this one product.
It took a few months, but finally an account was set up for us and we are now in the business of selling Azo. In addition to the time we must spend taking and filling orders, the burden for us is the cost of the minimum yearly order from Kodak-$25,000. But we are committed to trying to keep this paper in production so we feel we have no choice. One example of our commitment is our lobbying Kodak to keep 100-sheet boxes of 8x10 Grade 3 paper in production. Kodak had discontinued that product making only 500-sheet boxes available. That would have effectively precluded all but the most committed photographers from using it, as no new potential users would spend over $300 just to try it out. With essentially only one grade of paper available, that would have greatly speeded up Azo's demise. After what seemed like endless discussions with Kodak, they agreed to reinstate 100-sheet boxes, but only as a higher-priced "special order." This meant that our required minimum order jumped from $25,000 a year to over $32,000. We are now the only place in the world where 8x10 Azo Grade 3 in 100-sheet boxes is available.
Our ambitious building project continues-much more slowly than we would like, but as quickly as we can afford. By the end of this year, we hope we will have completed one of the additions, the one that includes the carpentry shop, additional storage space, the film and paper freezer, and Paula's painting and work studio. And we hope to make considerable progress on the other addition, which will contain the second darkroom, other work and storage space, the guest suite, and much else.
Many of you have requested updates on our print prices for your records. This addendum contains those updates, and also provides information about our books, exhibition catalogues, portfolios, note cards, posters, and (singular) video. Please note that there has been a change in the pricing structure of our photographs and there have been some additions. These are all designated with an asterisk.
PHOTOGRAPHS: Silver Chloride Contact Prints
* Last year we wrote, "We are making so many new photographs and seem to be doing so much else that we simply have less time to print our old work. We are therefore instituting a two-tier price structure. This is a prelude to all older photographs being individually priced by image."
Now that we are not printing from older negatives (except in a very few instances), we are pricing all "older" work individually by image. Since we are no longer printing from these negatives, the edition size of the printing is fixed. It is different for every photograph: for some photographs it may be as few as 4 or 5; for others it could be 12, or 17, 26, or 33, or some other "odd" number. Although we have never editioned our photographs before, we have always numbered each print and kept exact records of how many photographs of each image we have made.
Each year we expect the photographs that fall into the "older" category will change by one year, although that is not fixed. We may consider certain work "current" for more than two years or we may consider it to be current for only one year. Here are our current prices:
Current photographs (those made in 2001):
Michael: 8 x 10 $1,250 Paula: 8 x 10 $800
8 x 20 $1,500 5 x 7 $600
4 x 5 $600
* Older photographs (pre-2001):
Michael: 8 x 10 $1,500 - $10,000 for certain pre-1975 photographs Paula: 8 x 10 $1,000 - $2,500
8 x 20 $1,800 - $5,000 5 x 7 $750 - $1,500
18 x 22 $3,000 - $5,000 4 x 5 $750 - $1,500
The price for Michael's 2' x 5' enlargements, made directly from his 8" x 20" negatives is $4,500 except for the two prints of which half the edition has sold. Those prints are priced at $6,000.
SHIPPING CHARGES for PHOTOGRAPHS:
Many years ago Michael shipped a print to the Cleveland Museum of Art that was carefully wrapped in corrugated cardboard but nonetheless got bent in transit. He then made a second print and wrapped it even more carefully, still using corrugated cardboard. That one was also damaged in transit. Finally, he made a wooden box with a screw-down lid and shipped the print in that. It arrived safely. Compared to corrugated cardboard, the box was relatively expensive to make, both in time and materials, and he asked that the museum return the box. They did, and, as many of you know, we have been shipping our photographs in wooden boxes with screw-down lids ever since.(In recent years we have sometimes shipped the prints sandwiched between wooden boards.) With this method, we have never had even one photograph damaged in transit. We have always asked that the boxes, which are pre-addressed with our address, be returned so we can reuse them. As long as we have been shipping our photographs in these wooden containers we have never charged for shipping. We figured that having the boxes returned so that we could reuse them would be fair compensation for our shipping and wrapping costs.
As we write this, the shipping box shelf is bare. The pre-addressed boxes and boards are not being returned. We understand that in today's busy world it is difficult for many to find the time to go to the post office or to a UPS pick-up point to return the boxes to us. And we will no longer ask you to do that. Instead, to cover our costs, which have risen dramatically in the past 25 years, we are instituting a $35 charge for shipments of our photographs within the United States. We trust you will understand.
BOOKS and CATALOGUES:
* Landscapes 1975-1979: These collector's items are going fast. Only fourteen sets remain of Michael's first book (last year at this time there were nineteen). It was printed in a signed and numbered, limited edition of 600 two-volume sets. Landscapes 1975-1979, with an original photograph as the frontispiece, letterpress text, and tipped-in plates, is a rare and beautiful set of books for fine book and photography collectors. Published in 1981, and with an essay by James Enyeart, it was awarded "Best Photography Book of the Year" at the International Festival of Photography in Arles, France. This set is now priced at $1,500 (plus $10 S&H). The price will go to $1,750 when only ten sets remain and will then go to $2,000 when only five sets remain. Thereafter the price will increase by at least $250 for each set.
* Landscapes 1975-1979: An exhibition catalogue with the same title (and essay) as the book, but with different reproductions (12). Published in 1981. Very rare; fewer than fifteen copies remain. $50 (plus $3.50 S&H). At this time we will only sell up to five more copies.
Michael A. Smith: A Visual Journey: Photographs From Twenty-Five Years: Published in 1992, this book accompanied Michael's twenty-five year retrospective exhibition at the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House. Foreword by Marianne Fulton. Essay by John Bratnober. 176 duotone reproductions. $85 (plus $7 S&H). Signed and numbered, slipcased limited edition: $250 (plus $7 S&H).
Princeton: An exhibition catalogue with five reproductions and an essay by Richard Trenner. Published in 1985. Rare; only thirty copies remain. $20 (plus $3.50 S&H).
Natural Connections: Photographs by Paula Chamlee: Published in 1994 and Paula's first book-photographs of the natural landscape accompanied by selected writings from her journals and an essay by Estelle Jussim. Printed in Laser Silver-Lit Tones™, 42 tritone reproductions. $60 (plus $6 S&H). Signed and numbered, slipcased limited edition: $200 (plus $7 S&H).
High Plains Farm: Published in 1996, a book of Paula's photographs and writing about the farm where she grew up on the High Plains of the Texas Panhandle. Foreword by George Thompson. 81 duotone reproductions. $70 (plus $6 S&H). Signed and numbered, slipcased limited edition: $200 (plus $7 S&H).
* San Francisco: Twenty Corner Markets and One in the Middle of the Block: Paula's third book, published in 1997. Printed in a signed and numbered limited edition of only 550 copies, 21 duotone reproductions and hand-tipped plate on the cover. $50 (plus $7 S&H). The Collectors Edition, of which only three copies remain, comes with your choice of any photograph in the book for only $750 (plus $25 S&H).
The Students of Deep Springs College: A book about the most unusual college in America. Michael's newest book, published in 2000. Essay by L. Jackson Newell. Afterword by William T. Vollmann. 53 reproductions printed in 600-line screen quadtone. $50 (plus $7 S&H). Signed and numbered, slipcased limited edition: $200 (plus $7 S&H).
* A Field in Tuscany: An edition of ten portfolios self-published in 2000, each containing eight 8" x 10" photographs archivally mounted and overmatted, and two sheets of deckle edged Arches paper printed letterpress. The portfolio comes in a handmade box covered in heavy textured linen. $4,500.
San Francisco: Twenty Corner Markets and One in the Middle of the Block: An edition of three portfolios self-published in 1997, each containing twenty-one 8" x 10" photographs archivally mounted and overmatted, and three sheets of deckle edged Arches paper printed letterpress. The portfolio comes in a handmade box covered in heavy Italian linen. $10,500.
High Plains Farm: A Unique Portfolio: An edition of fifteen portfolios self-published in 1996, each containing twelve photographs archivally mounted and overmatted, and four sheets of deckle edged Arches paper printed letterpress. Each purchaser chooses their twelve favorites from the entire High Plains Farm series. The portfolio comes in a handmade box covered in heavy Italian linen. This portfolio is sold out.
The Stones of Monteriggioni: A suite of six 8" x 20" photographs archivally mounted and overmatted. $4,500. Printed in an edition of ten.
Eight Landscape Photographs: An edition of twenty portfolios plus two artist's proofs published by Regnis Press in 1983, each containing eight 8" x 20" photographs archivally mounted and overmatted, and two sheets of deckle edged Arches paper printed letterpress. The portfolio comes in a handmade box covered in heavy linen. Upon completion of this portfolio, the negatives were retired; no further prints were made from them. $15,000.
Twelve Photographs 1967-1969: Self published in 1970 in an edition of twenty-five, this portfolio contains a representative selection of Michael's work from this period. The 8" x 10" archivally mounted photographs and two sheets of Arches paper printed letterpress come in a custom-made portfolio case covered in heavy linen. $25,000.
* Michael A. Smith: Note Card Set One and Paula Chamlee: Note Card Set One: Two sets of note cards, one set from each of us. Printed by Salto in 600-line screen quadtone. Both sets have three cards of each of four photographs of the natural landscape, making twelve cards altogether. Each boxed set includes twelve envelopes. In our fanaticism to make these cards as fine as we could, we found a card stock that is coated on the outside for optimum reproduction and uncoated on the inside for quick-dry, non-smear writing. Both sets are limited to an edition of only 1,000. $19.95 for the first set, and $16.95 for each additional set. $4.00 S&H for one set plus $2 for each additional set.
The four High Plains Farm posters are exquisitely printed in 300 line-screen duotone on heavy cover stock and were run through the press an additional and fourth time for extra luster and brilliance. Size: 19" x 26" for three of the posters and 19" x 27" for the fourth. Posters: $25 each or $80 for all four. A limited edition of signed and numbered posters is also available at $50 each or $125 for all four. We will send reproductions of the four images upon request. For posters, add $6 S&H.
The PBS half-hour documentary film, High Plains Farm: Paula Chamlee, produced by KACV-TV is available from us for only $25 (plus $4.00 S&H).