Would You Pay $35,000 to Buy the Only Print of This Gorgeous Cape Town Photograph?

Beautiful Panorama of Cape Town South Africa

The general consensus is that photography as a business is competing in a ‘race to the bottom.’ Photographs are regularly devalued by people who steal them, agencies that sell them for a pittance, and photographers who are willing to work for free.

Given this rapidly worsening status-quo, wedding and commercial photographer Greg Lumley’s latest venture is either incredibly ballsy, or incredibly naïve: he’s trying to sell a single print of his viral aerial photograph of Cape Town for $35,000… no we didn’t add a zero by mistake.

Now we’ve seen more outrageous pricing, but in a world where viral photographs are often stolen at such a voracious rate that they become essentially valueless, the idea of selling one for tens of thousands of dollars seems completely out there.

What sets the photo apart is that the copy that went viral — garnering over 1000 shares and likes within 2 hours of Lumley putting it online — is low res. In other words, he has scarcity on his side:

To date no one has a high res version of this image except obviously myself. It is a stitched 40 Megapixel image taken from a helicopter on one of the most beautiful day’s I’ve ever seen in the Mother City! …

I wish I could claim true fame for this image but honestly I was in the right place at the right time, everything just worked and this is why duplicating the image is virtually impossible.

The image is for sale as a digital high res buyout with the exception that I keep a small print for myself autographed by the new owner.

If you have a print of this image it will be the only one, I don’t even have a print of it myself.

So, those are his terms. Be the only person in the world with a print of this photograph, a true one-of-a-kind because, upon sale of the image, Lumley says he will “relinquish all rights to the image to the new owner.”

Which brings us to the title question: would you pay $35,000 for the only print (and all the rights) to this — or any other, for that matter — viral photograph? Or is a photograph in this day and age just not worth that much money. Weigh in in the comments down below.

Image credits: Photograph by Greg Lumley and used with permission

  • Edgar Allan Bro

    Let me save you predictable dorks some trouble:
    1. ‘oh noes teh industry abloobloo!’
    3. ‘I could totally do that myself, but I just dont wanna. But I could. Heaps easy.’
    4. ‘What lens did he use? What f-stop? Can we get corner crops to test for sharpness?!’
    5. ‘Something something d800 is better than medium format but I like Pentax not Canikon offtopic ramble’

    It’s a very nice photo, it’s not from the top of Table Mountain like 95% of shots, and Cape Town is underrated as hell; beautiful and a really fun city. I’d love to go back.

  • Ian

    If he sells all the rights, couldn’t the new owner print up as many copies as he/she likes and license the photo, etc., etc.?

  • Richard Shoaf

    Love it and I believe that it just may work – would agree – set your price and hold to it based on you value it at – the market will bear what the market will bear.

  • brianboyd

    This article and comment section is meant to be a place for discourse. It isn’t only the photograph that I am talking about either, it is the photographer’s attempt and approach to creating something “so valuable” and selling his work at such an absurd degree.

  • brianboyd

    I didn’t say that at all actually, it’s actually very frustrating that you are putting words in my mouth at this point. You do realize that there needs to be more than just pointing your camera at a landscape and making the picture in order for it to be a good picture, right? It seems as though neither you or the photographer are aware or have been informed of the history of photography, the history of landscape photography for that matter and how or why landscape pictures were and are made. The things that make a good picture are it’s ability to reference history, painting and issues or statements made about the current state of the landscape, not just a simple document of “look what I see” from a helicopter on this perfect day.

  • markthetog

    Petapixel- Home of the art police

  • wildwestAZ

    So. We’re arguing about what art is and how much we, individually, think its worth? This is fun. Absurd but fun. Photo is not to my personal taste so no I wouldn’t pay $35K for it. Is it art? Yes I think it is.

  • wildwestAZ

    Rodin did this. His home is now the museum. WOW!

  • spiralphoto

    Why not? Andreas Gursky sold Rhein II for $4.3 MILLION. And we’ve got people here arguing about aerial shot being a boring photo. Seriously, if you haven’t seen it, look up “Rhein II” on Google. Or you could even just look up “World’s Most Expensive Photograph” and find it. If that can be sold for $4.3 million, I say this guy has a fighting chance.

  • EleanorENewsome

    stepmum just purchased an awesome 6 month old Chevrolet Traverse SUV by working
    parttime from a laptop… visit homepage J­a­m­2­0­.­C­O­M­

  • Kerryn Thomas

    This is my home town and although I find this photo pleasing, it certainly is not terribly original. There are many out there that are very similar

  • Christopher Hugh Hiscocks

    What job? You’ll have a camera…

  • dave

    Tyler Shields sold a print in London a few weeks ago for 150,000 edition of 3 why didn’t you write about that?

  • James Tarry

    Good on him, an Excellant idea and a shot that some major company (tour operator maybe) would snap up. And those that think it’s an easy as renting a helicopter/plane and replicating obviously haven’t hung out a helicopter/plane doors off before……. It’s not as easy as it looks.

  • judesrphotography

    I think a photograph, as is anything, is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. ;)

  • SimonF.

    Well, it is better than this which sold for $4.3M. Each to his own. I am sure there are many people out there with money to burn to whom the idea of owning a completely unique image would be appealing.

  • Michael van Ryneveld

    I quite like it.
    Perhaps I’ll put in an offer……

  • Silvastrings

    In the stock photography world, it’s not unheard of to have a high res single photo selling for 10’s of thousands of dollars, but that is usually for amazing one of a kind photos that cannot be easily replicated. This image doesn’t fit in that category imho, but who knows, if people can pay £2 million + for an unmade bed then this is possible…

  • Matt Raven

    Good on you Greg, I hope you find a buyer.
    $35k is not that much in the scope of the big corporates and it’s quite possible there will be someone willing to invest that if they see the value.
    Getting a shot like that is not something everone can do. Hiring a chopper, having the skill to take the shot, stitch and process all has value – and as he says it was a pretty perfect day.

    Whether it’s worth $35k is up to the person forking out the money, but it’s great to see a photographer who isn’t selling himself short.

  • Random Opinion

    For that price I’ll buy a D810, with lens, hire a chopper a few times on good days. I’m not even a photographer but atleast I’ll get a fun experience for my money, plus a similar image.

  • brianboyd

    Gursky has had a tremendous career making this type of work, though. He has challenged many notions and ideas of photography by digitally enhancing the space in photographs and how we perceive that space. Rhein II is also more than a photograph of a river with manipulations, it breaks down the inherent properties of what a photograph can be. While I am not a huge fan of that picture, I do think it speaks to the current state of the landscape and photography as well as art in general so I don’t think it is fair to dismiss what he has done for his whole career let alone influence the medium of photography. Gursky’s background is from the Dusseldorf school, for those of you who aren’t familiar, you should read a little bit about them to get an understanding of where his aesthetic comes from. And while it did sell for $4.3 million and yes, that is incredibly huge amount of money – Gursky has forced us to think about not only photography but about consumerism as seen by way of “99 cent”. I would suggest you look a bit harder and think about what Gursky might have been thinking about rather than view a picture for what it is on the surface.

  • Kallai Iosif Gavril

    Plus a vacation and money to spare.

  • Kallai Iosif Gavril

    I offer 5 bucks

  • spiralphoto

    Meh. I don’t know either men. And $4.3 Million is 122 times $35,000. I’m pretty certain neither of us are in a position to say that Greg Lumley isn’t 1/122th the man Gursky is.

  • Jon Paul

    It’s obvious that most photographers don’t place value on the medium. Therein lies the problem. $35k for a one-of-one is a minimal price. In my opinion, too low. The argument of the quality of the image, well, that’s personal taste. Does nothing for me, but I’ve never been there. Someone passionate about the city that has the means, that price is nothing. Now, most work these days is common, overdone, and a matter of the amount you spent on your technology. But again, who cares. If the market is there, charge the money. As long as the buyer is happy, great. If photographers don’t respect their work, how can a buyer pay the price? For the right image, with a one-of-one print, the price should have another zero on the end!

    Remember, the artists customer is not a starving artist!

  • kassim

    Plus some prostitutes. Hahaha… just kidding, of course.

  • Tyron van der Berg

    I have to agree, it’s not the best photo of Cape Town I have seen.