Collecting Fine Art Photography


What is Fine Art Photography?

These days everyone is taking pictures and posting them everywhere on social media, and of course everyone is saying how beautiful they are and telling the photographer that they ought to sell them. So, given the prevalence of photos, how does one distinguish fine art photography from other types of photography?

Simply put, fine art photography is art created in accordance with the perceptions and emotions of the artist as photographer. Fine art photography stands in contrast to representational photography, which is about digitally recording a subject. Fine art photography does not produce purist images that record the scene exactly as it appears at a precise moment in time, nor is fine art photography about post-processing effects.

Fine art photography is about capturing what the artist-photographer sees, not what the camera sees, nor what digital pre-sets produce. In fine art photography the camera merely is a tool akin to the painter’s brush.

Ansel Adams, perhaps said it best, “Art implies control of reality, for reality itself possesses no sense of the aesthetic. Photography becomes art when certain controls are applied.”

Fine art photography goes beyond the literal representation of the subject. It expresses the feelings and vision of the photographer, and most importantly, reveals an image that is the creation of the artist that flows from the artist’s vision.

Some Thoughts on Collecting Fine Art Photography

There is no higher praise to an artist than being included in a fine art collection that is being collected for aesthetic value. And while I am a fine art photographer, I am also a collector of fine art photography. For my collection there a few simple guidelines that I follow:

I spend time learning about fine art photography and individual photographers. If the photographer has a Facebook or other social media page or profile I try to follow them to keep up with their work. I visit galleries and attend opening for the same reason. Most importantly, I collect what I like, what speaks to me, rather than what is the latest trend or style, or even whatever photographer is popular at the moment. Popularity does not quarantine that the work of a photographer, or any artist, will go up in value over the years.

Educating myself about up and coming photographers helps me purchase outstanding works while I can afford them, before their work becomes artificially inflated. While there is nothing wrong with purchasing expensive fine art photography from an already established artist, if you can afford it, it is not the only way to build up an exceptional collection, nor is it the most profitable way in the long-run. Remember that often the more popular an artist becomes, the more saturated the market becomes with the artist’s work, which ultimately drives down value.

I buy what I love.This cannot be stressed enough. The artwork I purchase will be with me for a long time. I don’t want to become bored with a piece that I’ve collected. I want it to add quality to my life every time I look at, for years to come. I also want to make sure the piece enhances both my lifestyle and my décor.

Early on, I learned that there is no “right” way to collect art. I needed to find the style of collecting that best suited my needs. I personally buy irregularly and what I can afford, when I can afford it. Everyone has their own style of collecting. Don’t let someone dictate to you what’s “right” and what’s “wrong.” There is nothing wrong with buying a select piece or two every few years, just as there’s nothing wrong with buying several pieces at one time, or commissioning a favourite photographer to create an individual piece that has personal meaning. (Psst… I do commissions!)

I ask questions, lots of questions. I talk with the artist when I can. Knowing the back-story to an image enhances the personal value of the piece to me. When I go into a gallery, I ask questions. A reputable artist, art dealer, or gallery should never hesitate to answer whatever questions you may have about a piece. Provenance, condition, print editions, artist information and history are important aspects of the piece that are important to your enjoyment of the piece and its value. Knowing about limited edition size and general run is especially important with fine art photography prints.

While there are many talented photographers out there producing high quality fine art photography, I hope that you might find one or more of my fine art photographs worthy of being in your collection.

You can download instructions (pdf) that will explain how best to preserve your Fine Art Photo Prints Here

Corporate Collecting of Fine Art Photography

Every fine art photographer, myself included, hopes that his work will become part of a corporate collection. And there are times that you see the work of a particular photographer and you know immediately that it is a fit with your company’s overall image. Still there are some guidelines that should be kept in mind.

Identify a style of artwork that expresses your company’s overall image and/or purpose, while also complimenting the office aesthetic. The style can be thematic, e.g., "Texas,” or it can be focused on one type art media, e.g., photography, oil, canvas, etc. When identifying a style think about what that style says about your company, as well as the space it utilizes. For example, an established law firm decorated with dark woods and conservative lighting might find the muted tones of many of the “Ineffable Texas” fine art photography prints suited for their space. while a high-tech company open space may find some bright, poppy “Urban Paradoxes” or the graphic art fine art photography prints better suited for their space. Don’t rush into a purchase. Take the time to think about what best fits your corporate image.

[Using Fine Art Photography as Décor]

If you are not sure about corporate collecting in a way that fits your company image, meet with a reputable professional corporate art consultant before making any costly purchases. Know the difference between a corporate art consultant and corporate art broker. The consultant is focused on your needs. The broker is focused on selling from their catalogue and making their commission.

Support the local community. Many companies build their collection around local artists. The advantage to this is that it demonstrates to clients, employees, and the city the company’s appreciation of, and commitment and loyalty to, the community. This sort of commitment often leads to some excellent opportunities for local and national publicity and press.

Keep your clients in mind. The artwork that your company displays sends a direct message to every visitor and client, often leaving an indelible impression. You may like a particular piece, but if it is offensive or confrontational, you run the risk of alienation a potential client.

Keep track of details. Appoint an employee or hire an art consultant to catalogue the artwork as it is purchased, to update records as necessary, and to see that the pieces are properly cared for. Careful record keeping can prevent issues in the future concerning damage, loss, and value.

Understand what you are collecting. Limited Editions are limited print runs. General print runs are not limited in number. Of particular importance to fine art photography is knowing what sort of digital file your Limited Edition print is printed from.

Lastly, it is always good to meet the artist if you can. At the very least learn about what motivates their work, and the back story behind that particular piece. Add this information to your records. Share it with your employees. What better publicity for your company’s corporate art collection than to have your employees excited and talking about it?

You can download instructions (pdf) that will explain how best to preserve your Fine Art Photo Prints Here