Visiting Peter Lik galleries across the United States ranks among the most pleasant free activities of any vacation—or one of the most pleasant expensive activities.
It depends whether you browse or buy.
Peter Lik is a broadly acclaimed if heavily commercial international nature photographer. He’s known for his technical skill in composing and capturing dramatic images, often of the panoramic variety; for the meticulous preparation and patience that are key to that process; and for images so vibrant when specially mounted on aluminum-based paper that they appear backlit.
You can marvel at them—or buy them—at Peter Lik galleries in vacation destinations like Las Vegas, Aspen, New York, Miami and Key West. Lik owns 15 galleries in all, and in less than 20 years, the Australian native born in Melbourne has sold almost $450 million in numbered prints. In 2014, Lik controversially announced that an anonymous collector had paid a world-record $6.5 million for a photo called “Phantom”—one of three images in an alleged single purchase and total outlay of $10 million. Lik’s critics in the fine-art world—who, perhaps enviously, disdain the commercial nature of his enterprise—dispute those figures. But a lawyer for the anonymous purchaser has asserted their accuracy. Either way, the price tag for “Phantom” is an extreme outlier. But the truth is people worldwide are willing to spend $4,000 and up to have a print custom framed and shipped to their home.
The backstory to each Peter Lik photo is almost as intriguing as the work itself. Lik stakes out his locations, often traveling to remote canyons or forests—areas seldom trespassed by humans. Then he frames his composition and waits … and waits … and waits. Eventually the lighting and other environmental conditions deliver him the exact shot he came to get. “Phantom” is a black-and-white variation of a reddish-dominant earlier Lik print, “Ghost.” The composition was photographed in Antelope Canyon, Arizona, 4½ hours north of Phoenix. It captures sand particles, sunlit through an unseen craggy aperture, that appear to form a kinetic paranormal figure.
Lik specializes in nature photography. No humans appear in his works, or even animals (with the noted exception of the haunting, sepia-toned “Ele Dreaming”, which he marketed but actually was photographed by his ex-girlfriend under his choreography). At a Lik Gallery you can browse through collections of trees (“Tree of Dreams,” “Tree of Life,” “Tree of the Universe”); arches (“Majestic,” “Stone Temple”); volcanoes (“Pele’s Whisper,” “Ocean Fire,” “Forbidden”): perspectives of wooden piers leading to the horizon (“Painted Shores,” “Infinity,” “Into the Blue,” “Moon Over Montauk”); deserts (“Mysterious Skies,” “Almighty”); and the like. He also markets a few cityscapes, including a collection called “New York 2012.”
Lik travels the world in search of subjects. Though he seldom publicizes specific locations, you can see photos at any Lik Gallery from the Australian Outback to the African plains, and from the Great Wall of China to everywhere in the United States from Hawaii to Cape Cod. And his U.S. galleries are almost as far-flung.
On the Las Vegas Strip and Beyond
The heaviest concentration is Las Vegas, where he has four locations. All are on the Strip, including two separate galleries in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. The other two Las Vegas galleries are at Mandalay Bay and the Venetian.
If you’re vacationing in South Florida, you can find galleries at the eclectic outdoor shopping experience Lincoln Road Mall in South Beach and legendary Duval Street in Key West. If you’re vacationing is Southern California, there are Peter Lik Galleries in San Diego and neighboring La Jolla as well as in Beverly Hills and Rancho Mirage near Palm Springs.
The Lik Gallery in Aspen is downtown on Hopkins Street. The Manhattan location is in Soho, on Broadway one block south of Houston Street. You can visit two locations in Hawaii, in Lahaina on Maui and in Waikiki on Oahu. And in Houston, Texas, there’s a Lik Gallery in the Galleria.
If you’ve ever been to a luxury car dealer even just to browse, you can imagine the experience that awaits you at a Lik Gallery. Lik’s sales consultants are highly trained and knowledgeable, many to the point of being helpful in, and good at, matching images with your home décor. The consultants are highly proactive; expect to be approached if you don’t immediately approach one first. They’ll engage you and invite you to a private room to view your favorite image in all levels of controlled brightness. Naturally, they can be persuasive. But they’re also polite—if you make it clear you’re visiting only to browse, you’ll be left alone to enjoy browsing for as long as you like. But be careful, because when it comes to Peter Lik photography, the longer you browse…