There are a number of issues to address when the question is asked, “Is this a limited edition print?”
Sometimes there is an assumption that, without setting a limited number of prints, the market would become flooded with copies of the image. “Flooding the market” implies that it would be possible, given no constraints, to quickly produce large numbers of prints. This certainly applies to mechanical processes such as offset lithography, whereby literally thousands of images can be printed a day on a printing press. Or, if the photographer has a commercial photographic lab make his prints, (or if they are printed digitally), then in theory, hundreds of prints could be produced whenever desired. In these cases, limiting the editions does make sense.
Let me assure you that this is not the case with my images. I will be the only one to print my images for sale. Traditional photographic printing is a painstaking procedure and one that I approach with great care and meticulous craftsmanship. No image goes out of my darkroom for sale that does not meet my (very high) standards. I work on my prints until, at any given time, I have printed the image to the limit of my abilities and can not find any way to further improve it. This, by necessity, limits the number of prints available. I have only so much time and energy; I have many different photographs to work with; and even aside from these considerations, I do not plan to issue a huge number of prints of any image.
I limit the number of prints available by a simple method that protects everyone’s interests. As an image continues to sell, I raise it’s price. As the price is raised, fewer prints are sold. Eventually a price is reached which effectively halts the sale of the image, but still leaves the possibility open if a person wants a print strongly enough, (and has the funds available). For those persons who purchase a print early, their print has increased in value. The number of prints becomes limited.
Another issue to be addressed is the relationship between the quantities of prints available and their value, monetary and otherwise. I believe that the intrinsic worth of a print is independent of how many prints exist. When you are viewing a photograph, does the quantity of prints available of that image change its appearance? Oftentimes, even the monetary value of an image is not related to the total number of prints made. Ansel Adams printed over 1,000 Moonrise photographs, (many more than any of his other images), and yet this image is still his most monetarily valuable.
I would prefer to be able to keep the print prices as reasonable as possible so that more people can afford to purchase them. I hope that people purchase my photographs because they find the images uplifting and inspirational, rather than because they consider them to be good financial investments.
This method of limiting the quantities of prints is my attempt to have a balanced and fair method to address everyone’s concerns and seems to be acceptable to most people.