Tracking Ownership of Fine Art Prints and Preventing Fraudulent Copies

Earlier this year I wrote about Certificates of Authenticity, and how they add value to fine art prints. There is an additional tool available, called the ARTtrust solution that can help track and verify the authenticity and ownership of each print.

Read more in my article on the HP Pro Photo Blog.

Image Storage, Protection, and Photography

Every six to twelve months, I have to upgrade the size of my storage system to hold all the image files and related documents and web pages I generate. Being on a budget (like so many people) I developed a workaround that provides speed in storing information, and reliability in backing it up.

I’ve also developed a short checklist for maintenance that may prove useful to others.

Keep in mind that although I use a Mac most of the time, I do own two Windows boxes (gasp!) and many of the ideas and practices described here help in the Windows world, as well.

Hard Drive Storage

I don’t use a RAID setup, or even one of those new-fangled RAID boxes. They’re good, but also expensive.

Instead, I use a pair of 1TB external hard drives made by a reliable manufacturer. Lately it seems like the Lacie is one of the better ones, offering a 1TB, 7200 RPM drive incorporating four connector types (eSATA, USB, Firewire 800 and 400), and a three-year warranty. All this in a metal case, all cables, for about $150. Not bad at all. (by the way, I won’t buy a drive that has less than three-year coverage).

I have these two new drives connected via an add-on eSATA PCI card, which gives the 7200 RPM drives room to breathe at up to 3GB/sec speed. On my Mac tower, the eSATA card is an add-on, for about $45 – and increases throughput speed dramatically as compared to Firewire or USB.

Drive A is the new primary data drive, absorbing all my photo shoots, galleries, new web pages, and the like.

Drive B is the backup drive. Rather than use a RAID setup, I’m most comfortable with using a backup utility like Silverfast (many others like this around) that, on a regular, set schedule, will copy all new files/information from Drive A to backup on Drive B. This creates a virtual clone of the A drive, without any attention from me at all – which means it will get done every day!

What about off-site storage? There are a number of options; I can upload critical image files to my iDisk or to Amazon’s new data storage service, burn them to a reliable metal-based CD and store them in a bank vault, or copy large numbers of files to another drive and store it in a fireproof safe. The idea is to get the information in a protected place away from your main place of work. Another building will do, if only to help protect against fire or theft.

I’ve found this system to be very reliable. I’m pretty sure that in the past six or seven years I have not lost any images to equipment failure in storage. If one drive fails, the backup is there to “protect and serve”.

Not bad for six to twelve months’ protected storage – for just over $300!

On the maintenance side:

At least once a week, if not more, leave your computer on overnight – it runs important automatic maintenance routines in the early morning hours while you are sleeping.

Using Disk Utility, run “repair disk permissions” at least once a week on each drive that you use regularly.

From time to time, use a utility application like Tech Tool Pro and check the condition of the components in your system – memory, video, drive controllers, etc. A down to earth user interface makes this pretty easy.

Create an extra admin-type user account (system preferences>accounts) so you can still access your desktop and other important files if your primary user name becomes unusable. This little tip recently saved my bacon!

Create an extra boot drive, essentially a clone of your home boot drive. If your main drive goes south, you can still boot from here and, hopefully, make repairs.

Here’s a link to a related article on Tom Hubbard’s (PMPN)  on the archival nature of CDs and DVDs. It’s a good one!

PPS – see this link for my 3rd annual digital fine art printing workshop, Santa Fe Workshops, early 2010!

Blog Link: Why Finish Your Prints?

Today there are many new sprays and liquids that can applied to protect the entire print surface, as well as gels that can be applied either to the whole print or selected areas of the print for artistic effects. Plus, independent testing groups such as Wilhelm Imaging Research have shown that products such as Premier Eco Print Shield can extend the display life of a print….

For the rest of the story please follow this

Selected Comments and Responses

I get a number of comments each month that ask great questions – so I thought that once or twice a month I would post the question, and a brief reply, so that we could all read them without scrolling until our fingers get blisters :)

Here’s a couple, more to follow: (I have edited to keep things space requirements manageable). The first theme this month is art, and art reproduction:


(I have been told that there is ) software that will fix the single sheet feed problems on the Designjet Z3100-I would like to know how I can obtain this software.


I believe the sheet-feeding issues can be solved through a firmware upgrade. It has been about a year since I looked at this issue, and I know that HP moves resources on its web site from time to time- so the best thing to do is to go to the main HP Graphics portal, and search for z3100 and a combination of parameters such as sheet feeding, firmware update, and the like. You can also contact Jack directly through his web site at

 PS – depending on the size of the sheet – if the sheet edges are not ‘square’, you’ll have issues. It you can trim the sheet to 90 degrees on each angle, many of your issues will be addressed.


In the capture process, do you use a black surround to envelope the artwork and then direct the two lights at 45 degree angle from both sides into the inside of the surround toward the artwork? Do you use polarizing filters over the lights as well as on the lens? I have not used the surround yet but other photographers have said that I should. Maybe that’s why not all my colors are perfectly reproduced.


In capture, I usually use a dark neutral grey, or black surround. Color bounce is a big, big, headache. The angle of the lights depends on the reflectivity of the artwork. W/ the HP Artist software, one can light the artwork from one side only. I do not normally use polarizers; however, I do not hesitate to use additional lights and change the arrangement to use a shallower angle, lighting for fill and to kill reflections, etc. Hope this helps.

PS – remember to protect the lens using flags or other barriers – lighting that spills directly past the lens shade will help kill color and contrast.

Focus 2009 Tour and Seminar Series, Fine Art and Photographic Reproduction

Instructor: David Saffir

In October 2009, we begin a new tour and seminar series: Fine Art Printing and Photographic Reproduction. This series provides an in-depth review of the subject from several viewpoints: first, for photographers wishing to make fine art prints, and second, for curators, galleries, and other organiztions in dealing with artists and their work in the context of creating open- and limited reproduction editions of their artwork. Third, for artists who wish to expand their marketing efforts and created editions of their work for exhibition and sale.

Beginning October 2, 2009, and continuing through October 20th, the Tour covers seven cities in three states (Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico).

Designed for photographers, artists, galleries, printmakers, students, and organizations this series provides a number of learning experiences:

  • A full-day workshop which covers the complete scope of work involved in producing reproduction of fine-art watercolor, oils, and acrylic artwork. We begin with art selection, proceed to planning workflow, image capture, processing, color management, output devices media selection, printing, edition management, certificates of authenticity, print finishing, and more.
  • A Tech Expo which provides an opportunity for hands-on experience with a number of printer manufacturers’ equipment, color management, displays, and more.
  • A bonus summary session which provides real-world, practical building blocks for running your own business and achieving profitability in the Business of Fine Art Reproduction and Fine Art Printmaking.

We will have the summary business session the evening before the main seminar event. The main event, held the next day, runs from 9 am to 5 pm. In Denver, for example, we will have the Tech Expo on October 2, summary business session on the evening of Oct 2, and the full day seminar session on Oct 3rd.

The schedule:

Denver, Colorado

Friday, October 2nd Tech Expo and Summary Business Session

Saturday, October 3rd Fine Art Printmaking and Art Reproduction Seminar

Location: Denver Pro Photo Studio Complex,

235 S. Cherokee St. – Denver, Colorado


Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Monday, October 5th Tech Expo and Summary Business Session

Tuesday, October 6th Fine Art Printmaking and Art Reproduction Seminar

Location: Glenwood Recreation Center,

100 Wulfsohn Road – Glenwood Springs, Colorado


Santa Fe, New Mexico

Thursday, October 8th. Tech Expo and Summary Business Session

Friday, October 9th. Fine Art Printmaking and Art Reproduction Seminar

LOCATION : Holiday Inn-Santa Fe,

4048 Cerrillos Road – Sante Fe, New Mexico


Flagstaff, Arizona

Monday, October 12th,Tech Expo and Summary Business Session

Tuesday, October 13th, Fine Art Printmaking and Art Reproduction Seminar

LOCATION : Flagstaff Ranch Golf Club Community Center

3605 So. Flagstaff Ranch Road – Flagstaff, Arizona


Phoenix, Arizona

Wednesday, October 14th, Tech Expo and Summary Business Session

Thursday, October 15th, Fine Art Printmaking and Art Reproduction Seminar

LOCATION : Hampton Inn & Suites ,

16620 North Scottsdale Road – Phoenix, Arizona


Tucson, Arizona

Friday, October 16th, Tech Expo and Summary Business Session

Saturday, October 17th, Fine Art Printmaking and Art Reproduction Seminar

LOCATION : Sheraton Four Points University,

1900 East Speedway – Tucson, Arizona


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Monday, October 19th, Tech Expo and Summary Business Session

Tuesday, October 20th, Fine Art Printmaking and Art Reproduction Seminar

LOCATION : Holiday Inn & Suites Airport,

1501 Sunport Place S.E. – Albuquerque, New Mexico


This schedule may be subject to change. PLEASE BOOKMARK or subscribe to this page to keep up to date.

For registration links, go to the here  or CALL FOR DETAILS 303-934-2777.

New Info: Archival Prints, plus Defining Fine Art Photography

Tom Hubbard, editor of the Portland Metro Photographic News, author of numerous articles, and photographer, has recently published two articles that are worth a careful read. 

What “Archival Photographic Print” Really Means, offers a fresh look at this subject:

From the first part of the article (quoted from an interview with Harald Johnson): “”Archival photographic print” is hard to pin down. Why? Because there’s no uniformly accepted definition of what is “archival” and what is not. In fact, the word “archival” just means something that is in an archive, being stored, not necessarily monitored or preserved.”  Tom goes on the provide one of the best reviews, and suggestions, I’ve seen in quite a while.

The other, part of an ongoing series, When Is A Photograph Fine Art?, begins:  “Although nearly every… respondent agreed that art (let alone fine art photography) is subjective, nearly every professional forged on to provide insights that can contribute guidance and some direction when photographers evaluate their own bodies of photographic work.  After reading scores of replies, there are commonly-held views on what determines when a photograph reaches the level of fine art.”

While you are on his site, I strongly suggest that you take a look at his other articles. Tom is an experienced, thoughtful commentator and author.