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5 Tips to Start Collecting Photography by Gallery Director Anne Kelly

photo-eye Gallery 5 Tips to Start Collecting Photography by Gallery Director Anne Kelly Gallery Director Anne Kelly lists 5 great tips for anyone looking to start collecting photography.

 Works by Brad Wilson installed at photo-eye Gallery 
If you've contemplated collecting prints and just didn't know where to start or even think it was possible – well, this is your guide. In my 10 years at photo-eye Gallery, I've heard anxieties from people considering collecting their first print, sometimes even apologizing for not knowing more about photographic processes, a specific artist, or collecting work. Don't panic – you don’t need a degree in Art History to appreciate or collect photographic prints. In fact, informing clients about photography, and giving them the details they need to select the right photograph to start, or continue, their collection as become an absolute passion for me during my time at photo-eye.

Beginning today, Gallery Associates Savannah Sakry and Lucas Shaffer, as well as myself, are launching a blog series aimed at answering many of the questions frequently asked about collecting, and I want to begin with 5 Tips to get your collection started:

Unpacking Tom Chamber's 20 x 20" print,
A View from The Bridge

#1 Collect Work You Love

This one may sound simple, but it's perhaps the most critical piece of advice: love the works you collect and don't make the mistake of trading artwork like stocks and bonds.

Artworks, including photographic prints, have value, and while some of that value is certainly monetary the real value is the experience of enjoying, contemplating, and adoring an original print in your home for years. I can attest to this myself, and the experience of viewing an original artist-made work in your home on a daily basis is a game-changer.

Every work of art has a story  – who made it, how, when, and what it means – and hanging the work in your home makes its story a part of your own.

#2 A Little Bit of Research

photo-eye is an incredible resource of photographic knowledge including detailed project descriptions, bios of our artists, and excellent interviews. Get familiar with the kind of work we offer by taking a look at the portfolios and get a feeling for the kind of work you most respond to most – what affects you, what delights you, and what does the work generally cost.

Investigate the inspirations for the photographers you love. For example both Julie Blackmon and Cig Harvey list Keith Carter as an early inspiration for their work, so if you respond to their images it's worth taking a look at his portfolios.

Here are some additional resources on collecting photography that we offer via photo-eye Bookstore:

Works from Golden Stardust by Kate Breaky

#3 Establish a Budget

Hands down, photographic prints are one of the most affordable ways to collect original artwork.

If your collecting budget is on the conservative side, take look at the Photographer's Showcase. The Showcase features works primarily by emerging artists, photographer's new or fairly new on the scene, and prints are usually very affordable. Some established artists, such as Kate Breakey, offer prints for less than $1000.

Open Editions, prints that aren't restricted to a certain number of sales, are also a great value. Represented artists Steve Fitch & Richard Tuschman both offer a few of their images as Open Editions for less than their Limited Edition prints.

If there is a piece you JUST have to have that pushes the limits of your budget, we totally understand and can offer you the option of making payments over time. Just let us know what you’re looking for and we can give you the details.

Make sure to leave room in the budget for framing and finishing. With a few exceptions, prints from photo-eye are sold unframed but we work with an INCREDIBLE team who can archivally prepare your print in either traditional or contemporary treatments. Framing and finishing for each piece is hand-made, and custom cut, so we provide quotes on a case by case basis.

15 x 15 inch Silver prints by Keith Carter

#4 Pick a Theme

So much great work is being produced, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Chose an aspect of the work you respond to that serves to unite and focus your collection such as:

  • Subject Matter
    • landscape, narrative, portraits, etc…
  • Artist
    • collect work by the same artist
  • Print Material, or Print Process
    • Silver Gelatin, Archival Pigment, Tintype, Platinum …
  • Style
    • Black-and-White, Large Format …
  • Location
    •      Work made in a one location such as the American West.
  • Print Size

#5 Connect with a Gallerist

Gallery Director Anne Kelly
Reach out! Build a relationship with Savannah, Lucas, or myself, and we can guide you through the process. ASK US ANYTHING– sometimes collecting can be jargon-heavy, and we can make sense of it for you!

We send out the latest information to our clients about photo-eye artists, including new releases, which helps collectors secure the base price on new work.

We make recommendations based on your previous interests, and can suggest work by an artist that you may not be aware of that will be a good fit for your collection.

Because of our access, we can also find you sold out works available on the secondary market.  Please feel free to call or email anytime!

Next week the three of us will be offering up a few of our favorite works by photo-eye artists, as well as sharing a bit about ourselves and our own stories and collections.

Get ahold of us in the meantime if you have any questions or requests:

Anne Kelly, Gallery Director 
505.988.5152 x121 •

Patricia Martin, Gallery Associate
505.988.5152 x116 •