How to Buy Your First Fine Art Photographic Print

How to Buy Your First Fine Art Photographic Print

Prints by established photographers can sell for thousands of dollars, and, if you choose wisely, can increase in value over time while also looking good on your wall. If you have a lump of money burning a hole in your pocket, why not consider a limited-edition, signed print by one of the art world's most recognized photographers?

This week sees the start of Photo London, an art fair at Somerset House, bringing together photographers, curators, exhibitors, dealers, and the public for four days. For anyone wishing to begin a collection of valuable, fine art photography, this is a great place to start. By paying close attention to art trends and listening to dealers and art buyers, it might even be possible to pick up a piece of one of the much-discussed "emerging photographers" in the hope that they go on to become the next Edward Burtynsky.

In a recent interview, Richard Kalman, director of the Crane Kalman Brighton gallery in the U.K., explains how photography is both accessible and affordable for first-time buyers. Cheaper than painting and sculpture, there's a vast amount of variety, but still at a very high quality, making established names affordable when compared to similar artists working in other mediums.

Notably, Kalman believes that, while digital continues to be the dominant factor shaping photographic culture, the art world holds great value in traditional image-making methods, such as cyanotypes and wet plate collodion prints. The involvement of the artist can be seen more clearly at every stage of the creative process, reflected recently in Sony's choice for the overall winner of the annual World Photo Awards: Alys Tomlinson shot her project, "Ex Voto," entirely in large format and on black-and-white plates, allowing her to explore a relationship between her methodology and her subject matter.

Often, the term, "fine art photography," conjures ideas of still life or black-and-white nudes, but these are only a very small part of what features in galleries. Kalman mentions the importance of conceptual work, where images do not present an obvious narrative and often refer to their own means of production, exploring what the photographic process brings to the image itself.

Investors should take note — there should be no assumption that an artwork will increase in value over time. Value is purely speculative, and buyers of Peter Lik prints should take particular note here. Kalman is keen to point out that your choice should be based on an artwork that you have fallen in love with, not on any assumption that you will one day be able to sell it for more than you paid.

Photo London runs from May 17 to 20 at Somerset House, London.

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1 Comment

Paul Adshead's picture

I'll be down at PhotoLondon later this week. Looking forward to seeing whats on show...