Signs of Success – Investing in Fine Art Photography
Most people will tell you that the secret to a good investment is to invest in an undervalued market. If you were to apply this philosophy to the art market then contemporary fine art photography would have to be the way to go at the moment.
The market for photography is currently hugely undervalued compared to other sectors of the art market which means that you can purchase a top rate photographic work for a small amount of money compared to a painting or sculpture.
With works by internationally renowned Australian photographers Tracey Moffatt and Patricia Piccinini both having sold for over $50,000, the indication is that people are quite willing to pay big money for top quality photographic works.
The highest price ever paid for a single photograph is US$2,928,000 for “Pond-Moonlight” by Edward Steichen but for a few thousand dollars you can purchase a top quality photographic print by a known artist.
If you are not familiar with the fine art photography market then the best way to demystify the market is to visit galleries and auctions, ask questions and do some homework so that you are well informed when it comes time to take the plunge.
Many people worry about editions of photographs being re-issued in the future but the market is relatively self policing as any wrong doings by dealers would be detrimental to their business. You should still always do some research on the gallery or dealer that you are considering buying from before you make any purchase.
As with all artists you should be looking for signs of commitment to furthering their career such as being involved in exhibitions and entering prizes as the more exposure an artist has the better. You should also make sure that the prints you are purchasing are in excellent condition and have appropriate documentation in regards to authenticity and edition number, etc.
You may also have to live with the artwork hanging on your wall for a while so make sure that you purchase an image that you will be able to take pleasure in viewing. The subject matter does become less important if purchasing purely for investment so you should decide beforehand whether you are purchasing purely for investment or for pleasure as well.
The Australian market is blessed with many talented photographers who are receiving significant exposure in Australia and overseas. Organisations such as the Australian Centre for Photography http://www.acp.au.com and the Centre for Contemporary Photography http://www.ccp.org.au have been established to promote the photographic medium and nurture the emerging talent. These organisations are also a great place to do research on the artists who may well be the next big thing.
With the fine art photography market receiving increased exposure, interest and acceptance, there are bound to be significant movements in the market in the near future so it is well worth considering an investment in the photographic medium.
**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectables for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.