Like the print numbering rules, there is no consensus on where or how to sign photographs. In fact, there seems to be some controversy. Some insist that putting one’s signature on the face of the photograph detracts from the image and should never be done (even though pre-photographers (a.k.a. painters) have done so for centuries). We don’t agree with those critics.
Our policy has long been to print the title/description and location in the lower-left corner of the image, followed by the print number (as appropriate – read our numbering policy here). Nancy would sign the print in the lower right corner. Initially, Nancy would do all this by hand in one of four colors (black, white, gold, or silver). Finding a good pen for this task has continually been a challenge. Because of that, she recently decided to add all of this information to the file electronically before printing. Besides improving print quality, it also expanded our color options by several million. We started using the same philosophy in choosing a text color commonly used in selecting mats – picking one that would complement the subject. Our policy has now evolved once again.
Our Latest Technique
Now, we’ve adopted a stealthier approach in what could (erroneously) be seen as an attempt to please everybody. We base the text color on the image’s color around the text, lightened or darkened enough to be readable but not obvious or distracting. Achieving the correct shade is a balancing act between those two requirements – one that we will continue to struggle with.
This decision may not please everybody. There is some concern about whether a hand-signed photograph has a greater value than one signed otherwise. After careful consideration, we can’t say we’ve seen any evidence of this. If there is such a benefit, then the fact that our Certificates of Authenticity are hand-signed may mitigate this concern. [For the status of our certificates, click here.]
Finally, I would like to point out that although this policy now represents standard practice, we are considerate of the needs of our customers. We are perfectly willing to make adjustments to this policy for special orders. We’ve already accommodated one customer who wanted the signature in its normal lower-right-corner position but preferred the title on the back of a large gallery-wrapped canvas print. If you have any questions or special requirements, just let us know.