Photo Festivals like Les Recontres d'Arles with their exhibitions and portfolio reviews ( (seen here) are a good opportunity to get a perspective on what's going on in the Univers of Art Photography

  Collecting photographs is much about personal taste. If you see collecting photographs only as an investment possibility then maybe I am not the right person to give you advices. I know up to nothing about  investments. And personally I don‘t like most of the „most expansive photographs“, don‘t see any artistic values in them. But thats my personal opinion, is reflecting my personal taste. If you want to make investments to increase your money I can give you only a short view on the market and keep in mind: While many photographs can be fine investments, an increase in value is never guaranteed.
In the global art market the medium of photography represents  only a tiny fragment of about 2%. In 2014 all photographs sold at auctions brought in about $180 million (just to compare: the 2014 auction at Christie‘s  of Picasso‘s Les Femmes d‘Alger achieved with $179.5 the same sum).
   Arthur Goldberg, a major US collector of contemporary photography for the last 40 years, said that it is up to history to decide if there should be equality. However, he thinks that buying photography is a real opportunity to own great art at a lower price. “Great art is great art,” he said, “whatever the medium.”

"To collect photographs is to collect the world." 
[Susan SAuctionsontag]

   Whether you’re buying for profit, pleasure, or both - there is no right or wrong way to collect. There are only some things you have to keep in mind to avoid spending money more than necessary.

   Whatever your approach to collecting, the crucial thing is to enjoy it. “Buy what you love. Buy what speaks to you,” says Laura Noble, gallerist and author of the „Art of Collecting Photography“. “It’s a reflection of who you are.”
First and foremost, a collection should reflect your taste and interest (and budget). 

   So make the first step. Decide what you want to collect. You can collect by genre (e.g. travel photographs from the 19th century) or on artist you like. You can collect prints done with a special technique (like platinum prints). You can collect prints made in a certain timeframe (e.g. the 1950s). It‘s only about you. Go out and find what you like. It is waiting there to be discovered.

Some considerations to take into account...

  Whatever you decided to collect, there are a number of criteria to follow (which are often the same ones for establishing the value appraisals). 

  There are many different circumstantialities one has to take into consideration to find the right value for a certain print. I want to show you this fact on one striking example:

Edward Henry Weston was a 20th-century American photographer  He has been called "one of the most innovative and influential American photographers…" and "one of the masters of 20th century photography." One of his most famous series is the „Shells“ portfolio. But prints from this portfolio are in a range from about $ 15.000 up to more than $1 million (for the same image!). Why?

Well, it very much depends on the kind of the print. Weston‘s photographs come in four varieties: vintage prints, signed by himself and prints late by himself (e.g. in the 1930s from his 1920s negatives or in the 1940s from his 1930s negatives). Then there are so called „project prints“ made under his supervision by his son Brett in the 1950s (when Edward developed Parkinson‘s disease). And there are posthumous prints by his other son Cole...

Left: April 2012 Christie‘s
EDWARD WESTON (1886-1958) 
gelatin silver print, printed 1970s by Cole Weston 
signed, titled, dated by Cole Weston in pencil and credit stamp 
(on the reverse of the mount)
image/sheet: 9 3/8 x 7 3/8 in. (24.3 x 19.2 cm.) 
mount: 15 x 13¼in. (38.5 x 34 cm.) 
Estimated: $6,000 - $8,000
Lot Sold: $18,750

Middle: April 2014, Sotheby‘s
Edward Weston
mounted to buff-colored card, signed, dated, initialed, and editioned '18/50' in pencil 
on the mount, titled and dated in pencil on the reverse, framed, 1927
9 1/4  by 7 in. (23.5 x 17.8 cm.)
Estimated: $300,000 - $500,000
Lot Sold: $905.000

Right: April 2010, Sotheby‘s
Edward Weston
Estimated: $300,000 - $500,000
Lot Sold: $1,082,500

As I said before:  A collection should reflect your taste and interest. And it will be very much influenced by your budget...

More to come soon...

Filed under [Collector's Basics]

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