David LaChapelle. Deluge, 2006. digital C-print on aluminium. David LaChapelle. Deluge, 2006. digital C-print on aluminium.

1. Photography is usually divided into two categories: documentary photography and fine-art photography. High prices achieved at auction have mainly been attributed to art photography, black & white documentary photography doesn't reach the same numbers. Learn who the leading photographers are and why, and you'll see that you can get away with a bargain from an auction!

 

Josef Sudek. Head of a sculputre by Matthias Braun, 1944. vintage silver print Josef Sudek. Head of a sculpture by Matthias Braun, 1944. Vintage silver print

Henri Cartier-Bresson Henri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson. Siphnos, Greece (Girl on Stairs). Gelatin silver print Henri Cartier-Bresson. Siphnos, Greece (Girl on Stairs). Gelatin silver print

 

2. Documentary photography can simply be boiled down as the result of a photographer with the help of a camera captures an image of their surroundings that is as truthful and objective as possible. Documentary photography is built on a tradition of analogue photography, the photographer is often alone behind the camera and usually develops the negatives in the dark room themselves. While today's art photography mainly deals with composed shots where the artist uses the camera as a tool to create their art piece. It is not uncommon for the final piece to be created in part by a computer, and sometimes with more than one person behind the camera.

Wolfgang Tillmans, Badezimmer (Bathroom), 1999. Wolfgang Tillmans, Badezimmer (Bathroom), 1999.

David LaChapelle "Mariah Carey: End of the rainbow, c-print. David LaChapelle "Mariah Carey: End of the rainbow, c-print.

 

3. Dating photography entails dividing it into three categories: Vintage – A maximum of five years between when the photographer has taken the picture to when the print is developed can have passed. Late print – Later development, but the photographer is still responsible for developing the negative. Modern print – The development is executed after the photographer's death with permission from for example a living trust.

Hans Hammarskiöld, "Agitatorn, London", 1955 Hans Hammarskiöld, "Agitatorn, London", 1955

Robert Doisneau. L'enfer, 1952 but printed later. Gelatin silver print Robert Doisneau. L'enfer, 1952 but printed later. Gelatin silver print

 

Charlotte Gyllenhammar. Fall VII, 1999. C-print Charlotte Gyllenhammar. Fall VII, 1999. C-print

 

4. The first question a first time buyer usually asks is: How large is the edition and how can I be sure that the artist won't make more? Today galleries, photographers and artists are usually very vigilant when it comes to numbering and signing their prints. If there is a set number of editions you stick to them. However, further editions can be produced in different sizes. The photographer Hans Hammarskiöld for example, initially decided that each image could exist as a maximum amount of 100 prints, regardless of size. He recently passed away, which means that his most popular photographs exist in editions of 100 while there are only a few versions of others.

Candida Höfer. Barock Brasilien (a), 2005. Chromogenic Colour Print from 2006 Candida Höfer. Barock Brasilien (a), 2005. Chromogenic Colour Print from 2006

Helena Blomqvist. Girl with red coat, 2006. Lambda print Helena Blomqvist. Girl with red coat, 2006. Lambda print

 

5.There are many different techniques for developing prints. Here are explanations for some of the most common techniques: Gelatin silver process – a traditional black & white photograph developed on fiber-based paper that has been made sensitive to light with a gelatin emulsion containing silver bromide. These prints are usually very durable. C-print –an enlarged color print on paper and traditionally means a regular color photograph. Cibachrome – a silver dye-bleaching process that in one cycle produces a photograph from a transparency, which will remain intact for around 35 years before it begins to fade. PLATINUM PALLADIUM is a qualified copying method where platinum is used instead of silver nitrate. Durability and beautiful tones are identifiers. LAMBDA PRINT and LIGHTJET-PRINT are digital printing methods. You expose regular photo paper (c-print) with lasers. The durability depends on which paper is used and can be compared to analogue c-prints. PIGMENT PRINT is an inkjet print with color pigments. On the correct paper (acid-free rag paper and alpha cellulose paper) you can count on a durability of at least 75 years before any bleaching becomes apparent, if the photograph is exposed to daylight from behind glass.

Cindy Sherman, UNTITLED FILM STILL #48, 1979. gelatin silver print Cindy Sherman, UNTITLED FILM STILL #48, 1979. gelatin silver print

 

6. As usual, to make a bargain you need to have the upper hand in terms of knowledge. This is easiest achieved through looking around and reading as much as possible. Go to galleries, museum exhibitions and auctions and look up as much as you can about the artist and the medium in order to learn how to distinguish the more exciting pieces of a collection. Buying early at student exhibitions for example is usually both cheap and fun since you're getting involved in the early stages of an artist's career, but these investments don't always pan out financially.

 

7. As with all art, follow your heart! Buy what you like. You're the one who has to live with whatever you purchase!

 

 

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