Monday, January 07, 2013

Lik what I found...

Peter Lik Australia Images of a Timeless Land
As I've learned more about photography and gradually improved my modest skills in the art form over the past few years, I've made no secret about my admiration for Australian photographer Peter Lik. Were I to become a full-time photographer (which I'm not) and given my choice (which I haven't), I'd most enjoy being a landscape photographer and traveling the world to fantastic and exotic places to ply my trade.

That's pretty much what Lik does, and he does a great job of it. He's as close to a superstar as any landscape photographer is these days. He does with color what Ansel Adams once did with black and white. Lik has a long way to go to attain a body of work comparable to Adams' but I believe he is capable of such lofty heights. Unfortunately, the only thing that might stop him from doing so is the marketing hype machine Lik has built up around himself. This whole smoke-and-mirrors bit about not using Photoshop on his images? Laughably bogus--especially since Lik himself raves about the greatness of Photoshop in interviews from just a few years back. Likewise, consider Lik's "Tree of Life." It's a pretty picture, I'll grant you. But that particular Japanese Maple is an extremely popular attraction in the Portland Japanese Garden, and thousands of comparable photographs of it exist. Why does the Lik version sell for such astronomical sums and the others don't? That Lik marketing machine. Maybe I'm a fuddy-duddy, but I'd rather the art speak for itself, rather than the brand name speaking for the art. (To be fair, limited edition prints of "Tree of Life" are available from Lik's website for $950 for this kind of work, but IIRC the initial release went for far more).

Still, grousing aside, I remain a fan. So imagine my delight this past week when perusing Half Price Books I discovered Lik's oversized coffee table collection, Australia: Images of a Timeless Land for a mere $12! I've been collecting Lik's smaller souvenir books for a while now, but haven't been able to afford any of his large format works. A quick check of Amazon shows that copies of Australia: Images of a Timeless Land are available starting at $180 for new (!) or $47 used. Considering the fact that my copy is in very good condition with only slight dust jacket wear, I'm very happy indeed. And the images inside are an inspiration--I want to travel to Australia more than ever, now.

I will give credit to Lik regarding his self-promotion in one area: His books are very, very shrewd. They are self-published, but Lik has gone about the publishing process with a very business savvy approach. He owns Wilderness Press, which seems to have morphed into Lik Publishing in recent years. This is the way to go if a major publisher can't be attracted to the project. This point was driven home to me a few days ago when I picked up another photo art book, this one by a body paint artist I greatly admire. His work is magnificent, but sadly, he published his book through a vanity press--one that generally forces the "author" to pre-sell (read: purchase) a thousand copies ahead of publication. I can't help but think this other artist would've been better served by self-publishing via the Peter Lik model. If nothing else, he'd have saved the extra fees this vanity publisher charges and maintained more control over the final product.

And yes, this talk of self publishing and vanity presses is relevant to a project I have fermenting, but it's way too soon to go into any more detail. Suffice to say, I hope to have more news in the coming months.

Now Playing: Dave Brubeck The Best of the Dave Brubeck Trio
Chicken Ranch Central

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