Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Post 1,500 in the bygone Age Of Silver (Updated)

Photo: Vivian Maier

This post is not about the book Age Of Silver, a very good looking, greatest hits tribute I mention only because it's published by powerHouse- the same publisher of Vivian Maier, Street Photographer. Age Of Silver is gloriously printed with rich cold tones that bespeak the glory of well reproduced black and white photography. In contrast, Vivian Maier's book looks as if printed with mud. Silver costs $45, Maier- $40.

I've held both books in hand, and all I can say is that $5.00 US cannot possibly explain the difference in quality between the two. One is about as good as B&W reproduction can possibly get, the other good enough to return for a refund (my option). Obviously, had powerHouse really wanted to create a worthy homage to a noteworthy photographer (with an already built in audience no less) they could have chosen to do so. Many a person interested in her work would have gladly paid $60.00 for a quality monograph doing justice to her work- I would have certainly saved my change for the chance! Instead, powerHouse inexplicably(?) chose to go the cheap knock off route... Inexcusable!

UPDATE: powerHouse was actually gracious enough to reply to my inquiry, and informed me that they decided to go sepia on Vivian Maier, Street Photographer in order to present a different look from the other work they publish- that sounds logical. I was then assured that both books were printed to equal quality standards. That being true (particularly after seeing both) I can only assume that there was a quality control issue somewhere down the line, or that the files themselves were not the best- pure speculation and conjecture on my part. But even photographers who can live with the production values of the Maier book are quick to state that the quality is uneven throughout.

Anyway, props to powerHouse for responding in this day and age.


Eric Rose said...

Rather than blame the publisher I think it might be worth considering that the owner of the images/rights might have opted for a cheaper product quality to cash in on expected high demand. I am sure if it was up to the publisher they would have printed at the better quality. Unfortunately this would have reduced the profit to the person contracting for printing.

Stan B. said...

I'll be the first to mention my knowledge of the publishing biz is limlted at best, but it strikes me as doubtful that anyone but the publisher has final say on how "their" product is ultimately produced- unless the artist is footing the bill.

Then again, powerHouse does have a record of having (at least some) of their artists foot a substantial portion of the publishing bill- and perhaps that's where the answer does, in fact, lie. Perhaps Mr. Maloof got what he could pay for.

Nevertheless, pH could have still published a quality product had they chosen to do so. I've submitted my inquiries to both Mr. Maloof and pH, but have yet to receive a reply...

Eric Rose said...

Would be interesting to find out how the initial printing sold. Don't hold your breath on getting any replies from Maloof.

Stan B. said...

I believe the initial printing sold out (and currently still unavailable)- with most of the reviews on Amazon quite positive!

Had I known it would sell out- I would have sold mine, instead of returning it. But still willing to wait it out for the definitive version years on down the line.