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Leopard in a tree, Kwai River, Botswana.

Collecting Photographic Art

Many aspiring photographers visit my Gallery, which is lovely. You can spot them easily as they always tend to look at a print from about 30 cm away – looking for the details. When our staff approach them and ask if they are a photographer, they look surprised and ask, “How did you know?” This is because photographers are often more focused on the quality or sharpness of an image, than its aesthetic qualities. When our staff identify a photographer, they will often ask whether the person would like to be able to sell their work. Most of the time the answer is yes. So, then they ask who’s work the person has collected. At least 95% of the time, the answer will be that they only collect their own work.

Now, we are not concerned whether people buy my work or not, because we already have a large and ever-growing clientele – people who understand the value and collectability of photography. But to aspiring commercial photographers, I say if you have never collected photography, how will you ever convince people about the collectability of photography as an art form? Because possibly the first question a potential buyer will ask is, if you really believe photography is an art form – and collectable – who have you collected? And when you answer, “only my own work”, it shows that possibly you do not believe in photography as an art form, because you have never collected other photographers’ work. So, you have no real experience to speak from. Buyers can be forgiven for thinking that if you don’t believe it, why should they.

For me, one of the most important things, if you do ever aspire to sell your work commercially, is that you understand – and believe in – the photographic art market. Whether you realise it or not, the market is very real and is growing exponentially with those who understand it and who participate in it. It’s important to be in love with the art of photography, not just with your own work. And when you collect, it makes you think about what is special; who you consider to be doing something very different or unique. Over time, this will give you a great understanding of the photography market because if you understand the market – and photography as an art form – you should know what is collectable.

When I am selling photography, I am not interested in telling people what they should like. The buyers will determine what speaks to them. I’m more interested in educating people to the process of photography – why images are printed on certain media – how the limited edition process works and what happens when editions are sold out.  People are fascinated to learn more about the investment potential of photographic art and the fact that this is an investment they can enjoy over a long period of time. It’s easy for me to share my love of the photographic industry, because I’ve always been a collector, as well as selling my works. I have many examples of prints I bought years ago, that are now valued at far more than I could afford to pay. The only reason I have those works, is that I could identify what I thought was truly inspiring at the time they were originally sold.

So, if you ever aspire to sell your work, start collecting now.

If you have an interest in photography and would be interested when we launch a new photography tour or workshop, then please join my free VIP Club by clicking here.

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