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Photography Question 
Jared L. Loftus
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/11/2007
 

How to Sign Prints?


I just got about 20 of my images printed for the first time to hang around town, and I was wondering if anyone had an opinion about what kind of pen I should sign them with?


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8/20/2008 7:01:46 AM

 
John Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
  Normally, people frame their pictures, mounting them on mat board. Spray adhesive or a "window mat" are used.
The color of the mat board is the maker's choice and should complement the print; in competition, however, many judges demand that the maker use white mat board. I mat my prints using white or black mat board exclusively.
Once the image is matted, the maker signs the mat board and usually includes the image's title, the date it was made, and often, the number of the print - if it's one of a series of the same print.
If you use a light-colored mat board, sign on it lightly with a sharp pencil! Do not sign any print with a pen on the print surface, front or back.


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8/20/2008 12:52:56 PM

 
Bruce A. Dart   Jared,
Very nice gallery for one so young. Keep up the good work. While paintings and many portraits are signed on the print, photographic art is usually NOT. John is correct about signing on the mat. Matting and framing, however, is an extensive and somewhat complicated subject. "It depends" is often a frustrating answer. Creating a "look" for a show or gallery often requires a white mat; sometimes having all your work on black as John suggested creates a consistent look that is desirable in that display setting. Other times, a complimentary color that does not draw the eye to the mat instead of to the work fits better. Some have double and even triple mats with a "reveal" of usually 1/8" or 1/4" to accent or make the viewer visually notice a particular color in the print. While some people seem to have a knack or "eye" for these combinations, it usually takes working with lots of prints and combinations over a long period to develop a real skill at this. Remember the real goal is to focus attention on your work, "not a pretty mat." In a gallery situation if the walls are white and all the mats are white with a black frame, what stands out is the print. With most any other mat, the color has to be in the print and one you wish to accentuate or it will not work. Different mat combinations will accent different parts of your print and some will create a better overall look than others. Keep working with it but keep your final display criteria as the goal. Best wishes.
Bruce


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8/26/2008 4:54:10 AM

 
Julie MS Shackson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/17/2004
  Ha ha - I love the image this conjurs up of hanging images willy nilly all around town. If you are hanging images on lamp posts and trees, then a Sharpie will write on anything!


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8/26/2008 8:37:59 AM

 
James H. Enterkin
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/26/2004
  I have shown in art shows for miney years and I found out pretty quick that if you sign just the mat then it is easy to change mats and have your photography stolen. I always sign my print with a pen made for signing photography. That is just what I have learned through the years.


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8/26/2008 8:55:30 AM

 
ROBERT  F. CUMMINGS   I AGREE WITH JAMES E. IF YOU SIGN THE PRINT ITSELF, NOBODY CAN EASILY STEAL IT WITHOUT DAMAGING PART OF THE PHOTO IN ORDER TO HIDE THE PROOF. I ALWAYS STAMP ON THE BACK SIDE OF THE PHOTO, WITH A COPY WRITE RUBBER STAMP, THAT YOU CAN HAVE MADE UP AT ANY KINKKO'S OR PLACES LIKE THAT. USE YOUR NAME, ADDRESS, CITY, STATE, THE PROPPER COPY WRITE AND THEN STAMP IT IN FIVE DIFFERENT SPOTS ON THE BACK SIDE, USEUALLY CENTER, EACH CORNER SQUARE. THEN I SIGN THE LOWER RIGHT CORNER WITH A 22KT GOLD INK PEN THAT YOU CAN GET AT A STATIONAIRY STORE OR OFFICE SUPPLY STORE. I ALSO ANGLE MY SIGNATURE AT A 45% ANGLE TO THE LOWER CORNER AND THE MONTH AND YEAR GOES UNDER MY NAME. IT GIVES IT A CLASSY LOOK AND PEOPLE KNOW YOU ARE PROUD TO PUT YOUR NAME ON THE ART WORK OR PHOTO. TRY IT, I THINK YOU WILL LIKE THE WAY IT LOOKS. BOB


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8/26/2008 12:24:34 PM

 
Jared L. Loftus
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/11/2007
  Thanks so much for all the great advice!


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8/27/2008 9:19:07 PM

 
Bruce A. Dart   The gold pen at an angle is classy and shows off your work well. STAMPING IT IN FIVE DIFFERENT PLACES IS PARANOID AND JUST PLAIN NUTS!! Last week at a photography meeting another professional went on at length about the methods he uses to "ensure someone won't steal his work!!" To be sure, the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) has gone to great lengths to guard against copyright infringement -- much to the benefit of all photographers. We all should take reasonable care to let others know that our work is valuable and especially whose work it is. However, when our precautions seem to outweigh the reasons we created the work in the first place, I have to question what is really valid. My photographer friend is so concerned with "protecting" his work that his digital senior previews are so small that his customers can't really see what kind of work he is doing. What is wrong with this picture?? Protect your work, certainly, but don't focus on it so much that all else is lost.
Bruce Dart, (PPA) Certified Professional Photographer, Craftsman Photographer, professional photographer since 1976


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8/28/2008 3:48:10 AM

 
ROBERT  F. CUMMINGS   I DON'T ALWAYS MOUNT MY PRINTS IN A MATTE, SO THE STAMP IN FIVE PLACES ON THE BACK OF THE PHOTO, JUST PROTECTS YOUR PHOTO ENOUGH THAT PEOPLE DON'T WANT TO STEAL IT. IT'S NOT PARANOID, IT ONLY TAKES A FEW SECONDS TO DO AND IT IS TOTAL PROTECTION. THAT WAY IT IS TOTALLY PROTECTED FROM SOMEONE THAT MIGHT JUST WANT TO CUT OFF THE SIGNATURE AND PUT IT IN THEIR FRAME. THE STAMP DOESN'T COST MUCH AND IT TAKES NO TIME AT ALL. IF YOU REALLY WANT TO TOTALLY PROTECT YOUR VALUEABLE PHOTOS, IT'S JUST AN EXTRA PRECAUTION THAT TAKES NO EFFORT TO ACCOMPLISH. AND I HAVE HAD PHOTOS STOLLEN BECAUSE I DIDN'T HAVE ANY KIND OF COPY WRITE ON THE PHOTOS OTHER THAN MY SIGNATURE. THE HOSPITAL THEY WERE HANGING IN NOTIFIED ME THAT THE PHOTOS WERE STOLEN FROM THEIR PEDIATRICS DEPARTMENT. THEY WERE VALUED AT APPROXIMATELY $300.00. I DON'T KNOW WHO TOOK THEM OR WHERE THEY ENDED UP, THEY ARE GONE JUST THE SAME AND THERE IS NO WAY TO TRACE THEM OR PROVE THEY WERE MINE EVEN IF THEY EVER DID GET FOUND. I CAN ONLY GIVE YOU ADVICE, IT IS UP TO YOU WHAT YOU DO WITH THAT ADVICE. MAKE NOTE OF WHAT EVERYBODY HAS SUGGESTED AND DO WHAT YOU THINK WORKS FOR YOU. BOB


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8/28/2008 8:03:58 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Notwithstanding what's been said here already, Jared, if someone wants to steal your work, they will. It's a lot easier than say hot wiring a car.

Originally you asked what to sign your work with. I think you'll find that's a matter of personal preference. Some use pencil on the corner of the matt board, others use a fine-point sharpie. If you blow your signature with ink, you need to replace the matt. That's why personally, I prefer pencil.

As far as registration protection, on the back of the print, place your copyright notice. Just once, usually in the middle of the back in indellible ink is sufficient. BUT that's only part of the process. You need to register the work, in bulk if you like, with the copyright office and do so in a timely manner after the work is reduced to "any tangible means of expression" i.e., print. Check out form VA (Visual Arts) at http://www.copyright.gov.

That simple process is well worth the time and effort in case you discover your work has been used for something other than what you gave permission for. In that respect, make sure any sales receipts you use, note that "the work entitled ______, sold herewith, is protected under federal law and copyrighted by ______ on _______ with registration pending. This work may only be displayed for personal use and not duplicated or published in any form absent the express written consent of the author (you)." Got it? ;>). Piece of cake. Now...got milk?
Latah.
Mark


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9/1/2008 4:10:38 PM

 
Ed Estes
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/17/2008
  When it comes to signing your photographs and art, there many ways to do it and pens and pencils and rubber stamps but as others have stated, if its theft your most concerned with, ultimately if someone really wants to take it, they will. As for my input on signing:

Always sign the print. If its matted, you can leave extra white space around the image to sign, number, date, etc just under the bottom edge of the printed area. If you do not wish to leave this space, sign the mat BUT also sign the print in the area covered by the matting. Adding copyright and contact info on the back is good also as long as it is not going to bleed through the print. At the very least, putting a business card or other contact/bio/print information in with the matted print in the back is good also to complete the package.


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9/17/2008 9:49:29 AM

 
Lora Perkins
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/20/2008
  I always sign the print itself... Why is it a painter can and a photographer is not suppose to? If it is a portrait.. then no, I don't..

I have never understood the reason behind using pencil and signing the matte.. I have tried searching but never found an adequate answer.


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8/12/2013 4:04:47 AM

 
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