Are you curious about Peter Lik and the stories behind his stunning landscape photography or his high-priced prints?
Well, you’re in for a treat!
In this guide, you’ll see Peter Lik’s gorgeous photos in a whole new light.
Plus, I’ll walk you through his galleries and the controversies surrounding the talented Australian photographer and savvy entrepreneur.
Table of Contents
Who Is Peter Lik?
Born in 1959 in Melbourne, Australia, Lik got his first brush with photography at just eight years old. He snapped his first picture, a spider web in the family garden, using a Kodak Brownie box.
From that moment on, photography became his lifelong pursuit.
Peter Lik moved to the US in 1984 and fell in love with panoramic photography, which became his signature style. Upon returning to Australia, he started his publishing company and gallery.
His passion for photography led him back to the US in 1989, where he embarked on a mission to capture landscapes in all 50 states. He ended up selling several pictures for calendars and postcards.
If you want a closer look, you can find photos from his cross-country tour in his 2003 coffee-table book, “Spirit of America.”
However, this wasn’t Lik’s first venture into publishing. His debut book, “Australia: Images of a Timeless Land,” came out in 1997.
What is Peter Lik’s Photography Style?
One thing that’ll instantly catch your eye about Peter Lik’s pieces of art is that they practically glow.
How does he achieve this effect?
Lik popularized the acrylic face mount print style, developed by Swiss chemist Heinz Sovilla-Brulhart. This method creates a stunning visual effect, with the prints appearing backlit.
And no, this technique isn’t some exclusive trick, as some photographers claim. Instead, it’s a widely available process used by many labs worldwide.
What Is Acrylic Face Mounting?
The process begins with printing a photograph on high-quality paper. Peter Lik uses silver halide Fujiflex Crystal Archive canvas for most of his fine art prints.
The image is then sandwiched between a clear sheet of acrylic and a sturdy backing material.
Surprisingly, there’s no lighting behind acrylic prints. But when you illuminate an acrylic face-mounted piece, the light bounces within the acrylic, causing the image to appear as if it’s radiating from within.
The resulting large-format acrylic prints are nothing short of spectacular. The vibrant, three-dimensional effect gives Lik’s hefty pieces their timeless allure.
What Camera Does Peter Lik Use?
Peter Lik uses a Linhof 617 Technorama camera paired with Fuji film stock.
How Much Do You REALLY Know About Photography?! 🤔
Test your photography knowledge with this quick quiz!
See how much you really know about photography...
When Peter Lik shoots digitally, he relies on his Phase One camera, which is famous for its modular XF medium format.
He’s also fond of the Nikon D850, a 46MP full-frame camera with an impressive dynamic range.
Where are the Peter Lik Galleries?
Peter Lik’s dream-like collection of glossy photos will take your breath away because of their sheer size.
You can view his amazing acrylic prints at any of his 13 galleries in these locations:
- Aspen, Colorado
- Chicago, Illinois
- La Jolla, California
- New York City
- Queensland, Australia
- Key West, Florida
- Miami, Florida
- Mandalay, Las Vegas
- The Forum Shops at Ceasar, Las Vegas (Casino Level)
- The Forum Shops at Ceasar, Las Vegas (Terrace Level)
- The Grand Canal Shoppes, Las Vegas
- Lahaina, Hawaii
- Waikiki, Hawaii
Peter Lik’s Most Famous Work
The Australian landscape photographer has amassed an extensive portfolio throughout his career, snapping everything from wildlife to cityscapes.
Among his most iconic shots are limited edition prints, and here are a few you don’t want to miss:
- Phantom: A black-and-white photo of a ghostly figure in a slot canyon, veiled in billowing sand dust.
- Ghost: A color version of Phantom, shot in an underground cave within Arizona’s Antelope Canyon.
- One: Peter Lik’s first million-dollar sale taken along the serene Androscoggin River in New Hampshire just after daybreak.
- Inner Peace: A beautiful print of a Japanese maple tree with its twisty branches stretching out all over the place.
- Splendour: A purple explosion of a Tasmanian lavender field captured under moody skies.
- Moonlit Dreams: One of Peter Lik’s most controversial photos, featuring an oversized moon looming over a cliff.
- Sacred Sunrise: A magical shot of sunrise peeking through a canyon’s stone formation.
Peter Lik Awards and Honors
Peter Lik has bagged countless accolades over the years.
One of his standout achievements was having his photos “Ghost” and “Inner Peace” displayed at the Smithsonian for the National Museum of Natural History exhibit.
In 2010, Lik clinched the top spot in the “Art in Nature” category for “Ghost” at the Nature’s Best Photography, Windland Smith Rice International Awards.
His “Inner Peace” also won the Plant Life category the following year.
Peter Lik hit another career high in 2015 when he received the coveted PPA Lifetime Achievement Award. This massive honor recognizes individuals who’ve made an indelible mark in the photography world.
Aside from these incredible accomplishments and hundreds of other distinctions, Lik has earned the following titles:
- Master Photographer, Australian Institute of Professional Photography
- Master Photographer, Professional Photographers of America
- Master Photographer, Federation of European Photographers
- Fellowship, British Institute of Professional Photographers
- Fellowship, The American Society of Photographers
- Fellowship, The Royal Photographic Society
What Is the Peter Lik Debate About?
Peter Lik has stirred quite a storm in the photography field, but not all in a positive light.
He boldly positioned himself as the ultimate fine art photographer, claiming to be the most famous, most sought-after, and most awarded photographer on the planet.
Take the HARD Photography Quiz! 🤯
Now it's time to really test your photography knowledge!
(99% of people can't get all the questions right...)
Not everyone’s buying it…
Issue No. 1: Inflated Prices of His Landscape Prints
Suspicions began to swirl around some of his pieces and their reported sales.
The self-taught fine art photographer sold the world’s (potentially!) most expensive photograph of 2014, the single print “Phantom,” for an eye-popping $6.5 million.
Meanwhile, another Peter Lik item, “Illusion,” had an impressive $2.5 million price tag.
Many questioned whether the transactions were legit. Both went to anonymous buyers without any public proof of sale.
While prestigious auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s handled the deals for the priciest prints, Peter Lik opted for private sales.
Critics saw his methods as a mere ploy to play the market and jack up the prices of his photography prints.
You can make a fortune with fine art photography, no doubt. But if there’s no concrete evidence that the cash exchanged hands, your artwork won’t make it onto any official list of the most expensive photos.
Issue No. 2: Allegations of Heavy Editing
There’s ongoing chatter about the potential over-manipulation of some of his art pieces.
But here’s the thing: Peter Lik dabbles in landscape photography, which is all about capturing nature’s raw beauty. So, it’s no wonder digital manipulation isn’t well-received in this genre.
He has maintained that his breathtaking prints stem from his exceptional in-camera techniques. However, an interesting twist came when confronted about his 2017 piece “Moonlit Dreams.”
His representative finally came clean a year later. It turns out it was a composite photograph, after all.
Issue No. 3: Lower Resell Value
Peter Lik’s galleries are constantly abuzz, with hundreds of thousands of beautiful prints flying off the shelves each year, as evidenced by their sales records. You can snag one if you have $5,000 to burn.
The kicker is that Lik’s prints, for all their glitz and glamour, don’t hold their value that well.
In fact, Peter Lik famously drew a not-so-flattering comparison between his photographic prints and a swanky Mercedes-Benz.
Like a luxury car depreciating when you take it for a spin, Lik’s work doesn’t fare well in the secondary art market.
10 Fun Facts About Peter Lik
Here are some interesting stories behind the lens of famous photographer Peter Lik:
- In 2011, Peter Lik became a household name when he hosted his documentary series “From the Edge With Peter Lik” on The Weather Channel. It aired for one season.
- His coffee-table book, “25th Anniversary Big Book,” isn’t just big; it’s a behemoth. The leather-bound tome has 580 pages, weighs 40 pounds, and contains over 500 photos.
- Peter Lik isn’t a fan of Ansel Adams, one of America’s landscape photography heavyweights.
- He ditched college and worked as a salesman for a packaging firm and then a greeting card company.
- Despite a successful business in his native country, Peter Lik always dreamed of moving to the US.
- His first gallery in San Francisco, which drained most of his savings, flopped.
- All Peter Lik art consultants must complete a four-day training program to ace the eight-step sales process. It starts with a “greet and engage” and ends with a “post-sale button-up.”
- Lik’s galleries have a relaxed vibe: dark walls and piped-in old-school rock music.
- The $6.5 million “Phantom” is a black-and-white spin on an earlier piece called “Ghost,” which surprisingly only sold for a modest $15,860.
- Peter Lik is a complex figure, renowned and notorious, with his career shadowed by controversies for years.