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Ken Murphy, Landscape and Architectural Photographer

Buying and Collecting Photographs

Purchasing any type of art is one of the most personal things we can do as humans. We seem to have an almost uncontrollable urge to satisfy some unknown, innate impulse to own something that "speaks to us".

That is why we collect things. "I don't know, I just like it!" That is how collections of anything gets started.

The main thing to look for when buying any art, especially photography, is "Do I like this enough to spend good money on it and to possibly have to look at it for years on end".

If the answer is yes, then you are good to go. Buy it! 

If you are purchasing a piece of art or a photograph to try and make money on it, go to the casino instead. Your odds are probably a little better.

That being said, it does not mean that you will not make money on photographs or any art.

According to Patrick Collinson of the Guardian, Sept. 16, 2017; 

"Old Masters have fallen from favour, with prices down 40% from their peak a decade ago. Oriental carpets and rugs are completely out of fashion, with prices back to where they were in 2005. Even the boom in classic cars has stalled, with Ferrari prices in reverse by 10% last year. But Coutts said photography has emerged as the hottest new investment for the very well-off. Photos by Gilbert and George, Robert  Mapplethorpe and Andreas Gursky all fetched more than $400,000 at auctions in 2016. Photography has until now had an ambivalent status in the art collecting world, and for good reason: collectors value scarcity......Photographers have responded by limiting their reproductions to just a few signed images Provenance is crucial. At Sotheby's Head of Photographs Brandei Estes says, "The most important thing is for there to be a signature or the artist stamp. If there is not one, then just forget it."

However, this is where it gets a little tricky. It is almost like picking a horse in a race. Is he or she gonna do good? Um?

Not all photographers and photographs are created equal.

If you hope to buy photographs that may increase in value, look for the following attributes:

1.) Is the photographer well known?

2.) Does she or he have any formal training, degrees etc.. 

3.) Does he or she have any publishing credits, books etc..?

4.) Are the prints signed & numbered with a Certificate of Authenticity?

5.) How many prints make up an edition?

6.) What type of print are you buying? What is the quality/permanence level of the print?

7.) Can he or she be trusted not to make more prints than promised?

8.) Can the image be easily recreated?

Note: It is not in the photographers best interest to print more photographs than promised because when found out, all of his or her work would be worth less if not worthless.

At the end of the day, the best advice I can give is buy art that you love and take the intrinsic value of the pleasure you gain from interacting with whatever it is that you enjoy. If something brings pure joy, it is valuable.

If you are like me, I hope that my kids make a little something from my passion after I am gone.