Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I have written before about my “originals” but I feel some changes coming on and I need to revisit that subject.

When I printed in the darkroom, each black and white print was hand processed – no two were ever the same. Add the hand-coloring to one of those prints and it was truly a unique piece.

That’s not really the case anymore. Once I have made all my adjustments and set my printer to the correct settings; the black and white print can be duplicated exactly every time it is printed. Now all that really makes each “original” just that – an original – is the hand-coloring. And that’s ok – because I can never duplicate how I apply the color to each print.

From the beginning, I have limited the amount of times I hand-color an image to 25. All 25 of these are considered “originals” but that has started to bother me. Painters only have one original, but what I do is a little different.

Maybe I should call them something other than “originals”. Another option could be – I don’t state a number – each one is an “original” so there is no reason to limit it – right? No….that doesn’t feel right. Like I said earlier, the starting point – the black and white print – can be duplicated exactly now, so I really feel the need to place some sort of limit to what is considered an “original”.

Then there is the act of actually hand-coloring the same image 25 times. How do I feel about that? Do I have the same excitement and anticipation on #12 that I had on #1 or even #4? I don’t think so.

The exception to that was when I switched over to digital prints and started hand-coloring with pastels. There were quite a few images from my film days that I had hand-colored using oil paints on darkroom prints. My favorite negatives were scanned so I could hand-color using my new technique. Everything about these images seemed brand new to me – but I kept the same numbering. If # 8 was the last print I colored with oils and the next time I colored that same image - I used pastels – it was #9.

I think I know where I am going with this and I will probably write about the changes I want to make in my next post, but I am curious what others think about this subject…………

©2010 Dianne Poinski

Another street scene from Paris - I finished hand-coloring this in December.


  1. Dianne, I read about your quandry over doing your work. I do hope some great opportunities do come your way. You sure have an eye for what you are doing. Beautiful Photography. I didn't catch where you are located so I'll do that after posting this comment. I too was in a quandry over doing shows etc to sell my work and have for 4 years now run my own gallery along with 3 other artists, A sculptor, a Silversmith, A painter who also is a master at doing museum quality Indian craft work and myself doing Oil and watercolors. We have in 4 years expanded to take in other consigned art and finally have quite a gallery. Is that a way to go? Location makes the difference.

  2. Dianne:
    I see your "dilemma." You generate multiple prints from an original image but each hand colored print is really a different version or "edition." I wish I had a creative answer right off the bat for you, but I am still pondering how to clarify and identify your process and your work.

    The hand coloring of your images definitely adds to their uniqueness and separates your work from that which is done all digitally. Hmmmm.

    You mentioned your enthusiasm waning as you worked on each image up to 25 times. Do you approach each one in a different way? Or does the black and white print lend itself to really only one resolve? Just curious!

  3. I am a photographer, but don't do hand-coloring, so I'm not exactly in the same situation as you. But I also found myself questioning how to edition my work. I eventually decided to stop selling my work as limited editions.

    With digital photography, creating an edition is a rather arbitrary exercise: an attempt to create the feeling of scarcity. Since it doesn't have a tangible meaning (like in print making), I don't like doing it.

    But secondly, I feel editions lock you in a creative trap. If you have a photograph in an edition, each print should look the same, be on the same medium, etc. But my problem is, with digital technology advancing so quickly, I feel compelled to revisit old photographs every year or so. Each time I do, I am able to reinvent them, capture new details or render greater depth and range. My most recent prints of a photo are always my best. Yet if I sold them in a LE, I wouldn't be able to experience this.

    (I wrote about this on my blog last fall.)

  4. Thanks Gary - I am located in Sacramento. Congratulations on your gallery - not an easy thing to do!

    Marianne - How I approach each black and white print depends on the image itself, but most of the time the coloring is similar on each one. Thanks for your comment!

  5. Thanks Daniel! I too have gone back to older images and created what I felt were better versions of my earlier efforts. This is due to improvements in both technology and my own skill level.
    I remember your post but am now going to revisit it. Thanks again!