top of page

Collecting Photographic Art

Updated: Jul 1

What is Photographic Art?

It's a relatively young medium in the art world when compared to paintings and sculpture. But photographic art is fast gaining in popularity amongst collectors. However, given the saturation of photographic imagery in society today, it can be a daunting task. How to decipher the difference between a valuable work of art and someone’s happy snap, you will know, these are photographs that will stand out from the crowd. For you they have that intangible something that captures and drawers you in. Fundamentally you will know because you love it and want it in your photography collection.

Child Watching over Granny in South Africa
“Watching Over Granny” by Mike Rossi

How to Buy Photographic Art?

For you to purchase a piece of photographic art has never been easier with the rise of online galleries. You can now access a range of world class photographers without having to leave home. Much like traditional art, the contemporary medium used to only be available from bricks and mortar galleries or straight from the photographers themselves.

Given the general preference towards more traditional paint and brush works, photographic exhibitions were hard to find. This has led to the genre being a challenge to access for the general public. However, things have changed, now in the digital age, anyone can start their dream photography collection!

Seascape in the Isle of Skye
“Coruisk Rock” by Chris Page

With this accessibility and saturation comes the challenge of finding valuable works that are of high quality. Sourcing photography art that will be a true addition to your art collection can be tricky. But there are a few key things to look out for. For our Six Top Tips to help you find the perfect artwork for your photography collection, keep reading

Our Six Top Tips

#1 Limited or Unlimited

You will find Photographs and prints gain value through the scarcity of editions. Given that each print is based off a negative or digital file, you would think that photographers can print as many as they want. However, in doing this it would reduce the value of the edition. By limiting the number of copies of a single image, photographers can control how much the work is worth. Indeed, prices can vary for a single image across the different editions, with the value changing as each print is made. Additionally, even large or unlimited print supply can be some of the most successful pieces have been sold this way.

You don't have to be put off by this. Do you like? Ultimately it comes down to this, if you are thinking of added it to your photography collection?

Family in South Africa with their Turkey Birds
“Turkey Kiss” by Mike Rossi

#2 Creative Craftsmanship

As you would do with any other art mediums, look at the craftsmanship of the photograph. The skill of the photographer, the consistency of their portfolio and the equipment they use will affect how the final image is valued. Research, read the artist’s biography and learn how the photograph was made. After all, an image may take seconds to capture, but it takes a lifetimes knowledge to know how to make the most of it. Photographers like those at OPENPHOTO have been approved by a curatorial team. Therefore, this ensures top quality and professionalism before their work is available for purchase, so rest assured that you’re purchasing quality work.

Often artists early in their careers will charge lower prices that match their experience in the industry. It’s not all about the Professional, look out for the Semi-Professional or Amateur that could be the next up and coming thing in the market. Which means, as their popularity, reputation and experience grows, the value will increase. Therefore, meaning it’s an excellent time to invest and buy yourself a piece that grows in value!

Church on the Romney mash landscape
“Pastoral Church” by Chris Page

#3 The Production

Pay attention to how the image has been printed and presented, there may be different options available that are reflected in the price. Photographs do not always get printed the same way, there are many different types of photographic paper and methods. For example, C-type prints, Fine Art Giclee prints, Baryta prints, Lambda prints, Endura prints, on Canvas, on Metal and many more.

Each method of printing will have a different appearance in the final product, and different types of paper will have various lifespans. Generally, fibre-based papers will produce higher quality results which is why they are standard for exhibition prints. For works that won’t yellow as time passes, the paper should be acid-free. Take note on whether the final image has a matte, silk or glossy finish and any framing details, as these may vary across works.

More often than not the Photographer will have selected the printing method, size and presentation that best reproduces the image. However, for some pieces there may be different options available for you to select from. Please refer to our Production Guide to help with the specification of these different products and methods. If you are in anyway unsure, please contact us and we will guide you through.

three photos of a dark forest in a frame on a brick wall
“Dark Forest 1,2,3” by Frankey Craig

#4 The Story

Every image has it’s own story. Each element within the frame was included deliberately by the photographer to tell that story. The narrative behind the image gives it meaning and is where the connection we feel comes from. It may not always be the subject matter that tells the story, but instead the how and why behind the photo. It’s also important to note the photographer’s story. Why did they take the photo? What was happening at the time the photograph was taken? Many images become interesting looking at the circumstances surrounding them and take on a whole new meaning!

boys playing in the street in South Africa
“Street Racing in Naledi” by Mike Rossi

#5 Its More Than A Photograph

It’s important that you make sure the Photographic Art comes with a certificate of authenticity. This document is proof of the value of the piece, when it was created and that it was created by the photographer. It’s also the place to look to find out which edition and number if part of a Limited Print Run. There may also be Signed editions by the Photographer for certain prints that will add more value to the piece. Special Collections of prints are sometime made available, such as Proofing Sets or First Editions, these are the most prized for collectors.

From time to time we have Vintage Editions that become available. These are photographs taken on film some years ago, digitised and newly printed using modern methods. However, they still retaining the unique quality of film photography. When buying Photographic Art through OPENPHOTO you are purchasing new prints that have not been owned or used by anyone else. Every print is produced at the highest quality available for the specified product and method. In the unlikely event that you are unhappy with the condition you received your artwork in, we will we replace it free of charge.

Seascape of Ben More mountain on the Isle of Mull
“Ben More” by Chris Page

#6 Do You Love It

There are lots of factors that determine what is a ‘good’ image or a worthwhile investment to be in your photography collection. However, ultimately it all comes down to what matters is you. If you’ve fallen in love with a piece, then everything else falls away. All that is important is that you’re happy to look at that photograph on your wall for years to come.

framed black and white photograph of a South African  landscape
“Theebus & Koffiebus” by Mike Rossi

Explore & Discover a World of Photographic Art

33 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page