Among Fine Art Photography Prints there are differences, three to be exact: Limited Editions, Artist Proofs, and Open Editions (sometimes called “open run”).
Limited Edition Prints tend to be more valuable than open editions. With limited edition prints the number is fixed. An limited edition fine art photography run includes all variations of the original RAW image: size of print, print media, even cropping. Some photographers would consider variations as different. For me, that is less than ethical. The number of prints stated is the true number. In some cases, limited editions will include only a certain size or print media. This will be noted in the limited edition offering. If say, note cards are also going to be printed, that fact will be noted along with the limited edition information. Any other pertinent information will also be included.
All limited edition fine art photography prints will be signed, numbered and come with a certificate of authenticity.
Artist Proofs are prints, often at the same quality lever as the end product, that are pulled before the final printing process commences to make sure all is well before proceeding. The initial prints have roots in the early days of printmaking to work out the color and quality issues of the prints. These days, Artist Proofs are standard in limited edition print runs. Artist Proofs are not counted in the numbering of the limited edition, but are signed and numbered separately, and marked with an “AP” to distinguish them.
Artists Proofs are generally not sold right away, if sold at all. However, when they are sold, they are often sold a slightly higher price than the original run. The reason for this is twofold: First Artist Proofs are limited in number, making them “rare,” and that first run images are of higher quality (even if the vary in color from the limited run) than subsequent runs.
Open Editions have no limit on the number prints created and because of that, are usually less valuable than limited edition prints. They are usually signed with a hand written signature and/or with a digital signature, most often on the border. They generally are not numbered or marked as open edition.
All Fine Art Photography Prints come with a Bill of Sale for your records. A Bill of Sale is useful for insurance purposes and to authenticate value.