What are the rules for making limited edition prints. Can you have two limited edition for a particular photograph? I was considering doing a limited edition mounted on aluminium, and a less expensive print and smaller print on paper (unframed).

Printing on aluminum is quite expensive. When doing a limited run do I have to print all copies in one go, or can I print as required up to the limited number?

These were going to be be very limited (10), but if I do this can I do a second limited run in the future or not?

For the aluminium print, I was going to write on the back on permanent pen. On the paper print, I didn't know whether to write on the front or back.

I was going to put the following information

  • x of y Limited edition
  • Catalogue No
  • Title
  • My (Photographer) name
  • \$\begingroup\$ You can try swiching the term "Limited Edition" to "First Edition". \$\endgroup\$
    – Rafael
    Nov 13, 2015 at 21:38
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Typically, after a limited edition, the original is destroyed so that no more prints/copies/reproductions can be made. That is the very meaning of a "LIMITED EDITION." To do otherwise is fraudulent in my doubtless opinion. I'm absolutely certain that every lawyer, museum, and gallery owner will agree with me. This is a legal issue as soon as you make a false implication about your product. Catalog #? You can't sell limited editions through stock photo services. I think you are confused as to your goal(s). \$\endgroup\$
    – Stan
    May 23, 2016 at 3:08

3 Answers 3


I wouldn't say that there are any rules for it. You are the photographer, you make the rules and you decide to how many prints you want to limit yourself.

Some points to think about:

  • Make clear that there are two options, one aluminium and one paper, this way people won't be upset if they shell out for the alu option without knowing that there is a cheaper version, too.
  • In my personal opinion it wouldn't be nice if the photo has something written on it so the back is probably the better option
  • You could do another limited run, but then you would take away from the "special experience" of those who buy first. At the beginning they had a photo which is 1/10th of a set. If you do a second run, the same picture is only 1/20th of a set and far less unique.

One idea to get around the last point would be to use different high-end materials for each limited run, so you have e.g. "The limited aluminium edition" first and later do something like "The limited glass edition".

This way you would have two limited runs but each seller has an equally valuable / limited photo.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I suppose by rules I meant 'etiquette' or 'norms'. I wouldnt intend to do a second limited run any time soon - I just meant maybe in a few years time if I have more success in which case I assume a photo from the 1st edition would be better than the second edition, but as you say it would be better if the 2nd edition was different format (and size) \$\endgroup\$ Nov 12, 2015 at 12:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PaulTaylor Yes, that's how I interpreted it. Best of luck with your career then and that there'll be a second run :) \$\endgroup\$
    – MDschay
    Nov 14, 2015 at 23:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ There are rules (laws) that govern the selling of any art as a limited edition several US states. \$\endgroup\$
    – Aaron
    Oct 6, 2018 at 21:14

Limited runs are typically different in some way. The first limited run might be printed on aluminum while the second is on canvas, for example. If you were to do a second limited run on aluminum then you should also look to differentiate it some other way -- minimally, noting the date, but after you're dead and these are faked because of their great value I bet that changing the dates would be an easy way to forge them to show they are part of the first limited edition.

A limited run typically identifies the numbered print and the total number of prints in a way that the art can still be displayed and visible. That doesn't necessarily mean it needs to be written on the front, but it does mean you should think about mounting methods. If you expect the photos to be dry mounted for framing then they should not have the information on the back where the dry mounting will make it impossible to see.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Good point, regarding aluminium i meant on the back of the aluminium so it would still be visible. I have to admit Im unclear with the aluminium printing the image is actually printed on the aluminium on on some kind of paper that is mounted onto the aluminium. I suppose if printing on dirabond because there is a layer of alumimum then something in the middle and then another layer of aluminium that if I write on the back of the aluminium not actually writing on the print but there is no way round that is there, what do other photographers do ? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 12, 2015 at 14:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I can offer no insight about how aluminum printing might work! \$\endgroup\$ Nov 12, 2015 at 16:09

You can get certificates for limited edition prints. As others have said, you make the rules, but don't dilute your brand. The games company 'Games Workshop' are mocked for doing a 'Limited Edition' production run of their very popular 'Space Hulk' game and then a couple of years later, doing another. I think they are on their 3rd or 4th now...


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