Antelope Canyon Photo Comparison - Gavin Hardcastle vs Peter Lik

Did you fall for my little trick there? The image above isn’t really the record breaking photo from Peter Lik that
recently sold for $6.5 million dollars, but it’s pretty close. It’s actually a photo that I took in the spring of 2013 at the very same location entitled ‘Ancestors’.

This is Peter Liks picture below.

Peter Liks Phantom sold for $6.5 Million

David VS Goliath

I’m not for one minute suggesting that my photo is any better or worse that Petes. I also understand that Peter has spent decades building an exclusive clientele and a very slick marketing sales force with a strong brand.

While Peter enjoys the many fruits of his labour, I harbour no bitterness for his success. There are thousands of world class photographers out there producing amazing work but it’s only the ones who dedicate their entire lives to their work that can eventually command the big bucks.

In that respect I’ve got some catching up to do, but this recent record breaking sale of Peters poses some interesting questions about the value of contemporary photographic art.

What is it really worth?

As great as Peters image is, we’re not talking about a rare antique from a centuries dead artist of which there is no peer. A quick search for ‘Antelope Canyon Photographs’ will yield thousands of excellent images of that beautiful location, some of them better than mine or Petes, but then, that’s all in the eye of the beholder I guess.

What do you believe contemporary photographic art is really worth? If money was no object and you fell in love with a high quality print from a highly successful photographer, would you pay the asking price even if it was outrageous?

Maybe the print was attached to a house which became part of the sale?

What’s Your Opinion?

I’m aware that Peter Liks success has attracted a lot of haters over the years so I don’t want this article to end up as a Lik bashing exercise. Love him or hate him, I’m willing to bet that most people will admire at least some of his impressive body of work.

Where do you draw the line on placing a monetary value on a particular art piece? How much is too much?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Oh, and if you fancy a lovely high quality colour print of Antelope Canyon at a price that won’t bankrupt a small country click here.

Published by Gavin Hardcastle

Gavin is a professional landscape photographer from Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, BC. He teaches photography workshops all over the world and writes extensively about his experiences on location. You can read his photo guides and tutorials here at Fototripper.com.

12 Comments

  1. Hi Gavin, I agree with your summary great shot, great marketing and obviously someone who has to much money to spend. Will you be shooting Antelope Canyon in 2015 ?

    Reply
  2. You have to remember that while we as landscape photographers may have seen dozens of images from this location most people from the general public have not. Art is a strange thing, people buy art for one of two reasons. One reason could be as an investment, the other just because it moves them. Would I pay millions for this image, no probably not (or any art for that matter). Do I think it’s a publicity stunt, yes probably so. However, if someone did pay millions for the Lik image they obviously found some value in that photo that perhaps we can’t see, art is a personal thing. Really when you think about it it is no different than purchasing any luxury item. Would I buy a Lamborghini if money was no object, probably not as I don’t see the value but many people would highly disagree with me.

    Thanks for your post.

    Reply
  3. An excellent article Gavin! There’s no doubt that Peter is a master salesman, and a decent photographer, but I think this one’s a little over the top marketing. I suspect that investigation will show some manipulation, or possibly exaggeration of the facts, but we’ll see. At the very least this has drawn some eyes from the artworld to photography and that’s a good thing for all of us.

    Reply
  4. I think I would rather go for a Bugatti Veyron 😉

    Reply
  5. While I like some of Peter’s pictures I was shocked that someone would pay so much for a print of this particular photograph. It’s good but not great. If it is true, why all the secrecy? Looking at the print it’s also hard to believe it hasn’t been photoshopped as well. Peter would also have a few top notch photoshoppers on staff so anything is possible. The art would is mostly about hype and this photograph proves that.

    Reply
  6. I agree that you have done a good job of this article, Gavin. I remember visiting the Lik Gallery in Vegas. While the images looked great int he gallery, I have heard that you need the same/ similar lighting to get the same effect as his images in his galleries. I also agree with what Dean was saying about photo manipulation. I am assuming he is referring to the “phantom” in the light beam. To me it looks manipulated as well. I have never seen residual dust in the canyon beams act in that manner. They usually spread out quite a bit more, and extend outide of the light beam. Am I jealous of Lik’s success? Anyone who says they are not is lying. You have to give the guy credit for good promotion, although it seems like a pyramid scheme to me. Having said that, people buy what they like, and if they are that foolish then so be it.

    Reply
    • I don’t know about the manipulation of the dust in the beam. I’ve got hundreds of those shots and in each one there are patterns and shapes that could be all kinds of things, many of them resemble human shapes if you squint a little. Remember it’s the way the light hits the dust in the air from being tossed upwards and then dropping, so there’s a lot of chaos involved.

      As for the gallery lighting, that’s the same for many high quality prints or paintings. Art shows better when properly lit and if you’re spending big bucks on wall art, it’s crazy not to have the correct lighting.

      Reply
  7. I just took a photo there with a lightbeam that clearly looks like a woman. I’ll take my 6.5 million now!

    Reply
  8. I have a pic of a clearly defined ghostly apparition that I took myself and it’s astonishing. I’ve never shown it on line and only several of my friends have seen it. Who do I show it to and how do I protect my rights to it until it’s validated?

    Reply
    • Congratulations David. You are the first person in human history to capture this phenomenon. I would get in touch with the Smithsonian museum or perhaps National Geographic. Perhaps they have a ghost verification depo that can validate your image and give it a stamp. Remember me when you’re world famous!

      Reply

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