In Review

How to start collecting photography

Sophie Wright, Magnum’s global cultural director, explains how to start snapping up quality images

Photography is considered a universal language in this era of social media, with many of us documenting our lives by posting images online. Yet despite the mass move into amateur photography, or possibly because of it, demand for quality printed works by professional photographers continues to grow.

Indeed, photos sold at the top end of the market command prices similar to those for contemporary art, with single images by renowned snappers Andreas Gursky and Richard Prince achieving as much as $4m (£3.25m) each. Classic works by 20th century masters such as Edward Steichen have also sold for millions at auction.

Fortunately for collectors with less cash, far more affordable quality photos are available too, including Magnum Photos squares, which sell for $100 (£80) for a signed or estate stamped print and can be purchased online or directly off Instagram.

The internet is a good place to start searching for work you like, as well as providing an easy way to purchase. But to get a true sense of the market, aspiring collectors should visit photography fairs, where they can look at a wide selection of different content and also meet the gallerists and dealers that sell it.

For would-be buyers in the US, the Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD) fair in New York is a great option. Over in Europe, Paris Photo is the leading fair, but Photo London and Unseen in Amsterdam are well worth a look too.

These events give visitors the chance to view diverse print types, papers, and types of framing and presentation, as well as a broad range of content and approaches. And the organisers also strive to provide insight into trends, institutional collections and curatorial approaches.

On a more general note, don’t be afraid to seek out and talk to gallerists either: it’s in their interests to support and encourage interest in the market.

Ultimately, however, the key to making the right choice is to buy what you like. A lot has been written about investing in art as a source of assured returns in a turbulent economy, but you should always select images that speak to you. After all, you're the one who's going to live with it.

For more information, visit magnumphotos.com

Recommended

The favourites to replace Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak, Sajid Javid
In Depth

The favourites to replace Boris Johnson

Vivian Maier: Anthology – this MK Gallery show is ‘pure pleasure’
Vivian Maier photo of a child
In Review

Vivian Maier: Anthology – this MK Gallery show is ‘pure pleasure’

Why Boris Johnson clung on so long – and what finally made him resign
Boris Johnson makes his resignation speech outside 10 Downing Street
Talking point

Why Boris Johnson clung on so long – and what finally made him resign

How Boris Johnson lost the support of his party
Boris Johnson
Getting to grips with . . .

How Boris Johnson lost the support of his party

Popular articles

Are we heading for World War Three?
Ukrainian soldiers patrol on the frontline in Zolote, Ukraine
In Depth

Are we heading for World War Three?

The favourites to replace Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak, Sajid Javid
In Depth

The favourites to replace Boris Johnson

Nato vs. Russia: who would win in a war?
Nato troops
Today’s big question

Nato vs. Russia: who would win in a war?

The Week Footer Banner