Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Tips for Collecting Photography

5 Essential Tips for Collecting Photography

  • A man looks at artworks entitled 'Untitled (Claudia Schiffer series)' by Austrian artist Erwin Wurm, displayed at the 'Performing for the Camera' exhibition at the Tate Modern gallery in London on February 16, 2016. Photo by LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images.
From a price-point perspective, photography is one of the more accessible mediums to collect. Enthusiasts looking to find and champion emerging photographers can often purchase several prints on a limited budget of a few thousand dollars, and even works by some of the most famous people to ever wield a camera can be snapped up for affordable sums, at least relative to their prestige and talent.
We asked experts for their tips for new collectors on navigating the market for photography.

Gut Punch

At the outset, guidance for collecting photography isn’t much different from what experts say about purchasing any work of art: Start with images you like, and that you think you’ll like for a long time. “Does it hit you in the gut?” asked Darius Himes, international head of photographs at the auction house Christie’s. Some collectors begin from a price point, others a time period, others a particular artist.
When it comes to amassing a larger collection, even professionals can be guided by their subconscious. “My husband noticed I kept buying things with airplanes in them,” said Laura Noble, a gallerist and author of The Art of Collecting Photography. Today, her “key collection” is of photographs with things that fly. Developing some direction for what to collect “keeps you reined in a little,” she said.

Understanding Editions

There is a difference between an image—say, the photographer’s JPEG file—and the print. Individual images are issued in an edition, which is the artist’s binding statement as to how many prints of that image will be made, said Himes.
“One thing people get hung up on is, what’s the “original” photograph?” said Caroline Deck, a photography specialist at the auction house Phillips. “There are many originals. Anything printed from the negative is an original photograph.”
Not all original photographs will cost the same amount, however. Different editions can have different numbers of prints. An edition of 50 and an edition of three are both “limited” but they’re not equal in terms of value. Generally, the smaller the number of prints in an edition, the more expensive they will be. (“You’re paying for exclusivity, after all,” said Noble.) The same image can have multiple editions in different sizes, and Noble recommends asking about the total number of copies across sizes that will be offered and sold.
Today, editions of even 25 prints are seen as relatively large while editions of around three to five are seen as small. It’s not always known how many prints of an image there are. Some photographers—particularly those working prior to World War II—didn’t edition their works. A photographer can also decide to sell her artist proof, generally defined as the first perfect print of a negative, once the print run of an edition sells out.
A print’s order within an edition doesn’t alter its price (excluding other factors, print number one isn’t more valuable than print number 1,000). That doesn’t mean all prints from the same edition will cost the same when they surface on the secondary market: As with all fine art, provenance plays a role in the price of photography. If a print is signed, that can also increase its value.
In photography, there is what Himes calls “the myth of infinite reproducibility.” But while there aren’t any laws preventing a photographer from simply printing more photos above the number in the limited edition, if they did, “that artist has ruined their career overnight,” said Noble. Further rarifying photography, some artists are even going so far as offer editions of just one single print, giving their work the same unique quality of fine art. And some artists like Adam Fuss and Christian Marclayuse photographic formats, such as cyanotype and daguerreotypes, that inherently create unique objects that are not reproducible.

A Vintage Print

One word you might hear used to describe a print is “vintage.” This doesn’t necessarily mean the print is old, and not all old prints are “vintage” (stick with me). Rather, “vintage” refers to prints created around the time the original negative was made. “Think of vintage as like wine, rather than something old,” said Noble. For example, “if the negative is from 1920 and the print was made around the same time, then that’s a vintage print,” said Himes.
There isn’t a universally agreed upon definition of what qualifies a print to be vintage. Noble said a print created within five years of the negative is generally considered vintage, but others might say the printing should be even closer to the creation of the negative. Deck also noted you might hear the term “early” instead of “vintage.” The key is to not let the nomenclature bog you down—check the print date and never trust that something is “vintage” just because you’re told that it is.
Prints can be created shortly after the negative (vintage), or after that but still during the life of the artist (modern prints), or even after the artist’s death (posthumous). Indeed, the proximity between a print and the negative is a significant determination of value—vintage prints are generally the most expensive. But this doesn’t make them the “best” in an artistic sense, nor does it mean that it’s not worth collecting. Himes noted that many museums keep posthumous estate prints in their collections.

Condition and Storage

As with any artwork, check the condition carefully. Damage to a photograph can include scratching, handling marks (those half-moon-shaped creases in the surface), and even color changes. Collectors who are drawn to older or “vintage” prints might have more tolerance for wear and tear, but if you’re collecting works by contemporary photographers, whose prints are often created only after they’re ordered, blemishes should be nonexistent.
If you want the photographs you buy to avoid damage, be sure to properly frame them. Sloppy framing can result in damage to a print over time, which may only become noticeable once you’re having the piece inspected before a sale. Certain glass glazes can also filter out the UV light that changes the color of the photograph. Framing may not seem like the most exciting part of buying a photograph, but it is among the most important.

—Isaac Kaplan

How to Declutter Your Studio

How to Declutter Your Studio for Maximum Creativity, According to Marie Kondo

  • Detail from Betty Tompkins’s  New York studio. Photo by Emily Johnston for Artsy.
If you close your eyes and imagine an artist’s studio, chances are you will picture a messy room. Perhaps its walls are stacked with canvases, or its floor a tangle of wires and cables, with teetering piles of books, all covered in the rubble of plaster casts. There’s a certain mystique attached to messy artistic types, as if true creativity is only possible amid chaos.
However, Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, sees artmaking and organization not as opposites, but as kindred pursuits. “The depth of concentration and the respect for materials involved in creating artwork is similar to the focus and connection with belongings associated with tidying,” Kondo tells me via email. As an undisputed expert on tidying, she should know. The Tokyo-based organizing guru’s books have sold over 7 million copies, and her consultations currently have a six-month waiting list.
Kondo’s trademarked KonMari Method is based on Japanese philosophy and unsparing minimalism: Any object that does not “spark joy” should be discarded. The desired result is that we will be surrounded only by things that inspire and delight us.  
Because she believes that art and organizing can be simpatico, I asked Kondo to share her tips for how artists can better organize their studios. I also asked artists who work in a variety of media to weigh in on the challenges and rewards of what Kondo calls “the art of tidying.”

1. Understand what kind of environment most inspires you

  • Rachel Grobstein, Ajax, 2015. Courtesy of artist.
  • Rachel Grobstein, Eggs and Toast, 2015-16. Courtesy of artist.
Does a cluttered workspace spark new ideas or just make you anxious? “There have been instances where individuals who thought they thrived in a messy state actually prefered the comfort of tidiness once they had completed the KonMari Method,” Kondo says. “On other occasions, artists ended up uncovering many more things that sparked joy for them in the process of tidying, and enjoyed their scattered space more than ever.”
For many artists, a “scattered space,” one full of objects that are arranged according to some rationale, can serve as a vital source of inspiration. Rachel Grobstein, whose sculptures are constellations of tiny objects precisely rendered in gouache on cut-out paper, uses one wall of her studio as a sort of atlas or scrapbook. “It’s the place where I can put a Masonic beer koozie next to a tumbleweed, an image of Basquiat’s notebooks, and a pin given to me by my grandmother,” she explains. “The stuff I’ve collected serves multiple purposes: It presents a visual web of my interests, connects me with threads far away and long ago, and sparks new associations.”
Sometimes disorder can spark ideas, too. For artist Sophia Narrett, piles of clothing and even wads of used tissues have prompted ideas for her complex embroideries, which often tell stories about love and desire. “Clutter can be a good narrative clue,” she explains. “It has always accumulated for a reason.”

2. Treat tidying as an important project and give it your full attention

  • José Lourenço, Let's paint...!, 2015. Courtesy of the artist and Things Organized Neatly.
I recommend that artists dedicate a block of time to organizing their studios—perhaps an entire day—to tidy up all at once, rather than tidying little by little over many days,” Kondo says. In her experience, it’s important to reject the conventional wisdom that tidying should be approached piecemeal. “By tidying with concentration, the ability to decide which tools and materials spark joy will become clearer,” she notes. “It will be easier to take inventory of all the categories of items an artist owns in one sitting.”
Organization is important if for no other reason than that a disorganized studio can lead to a loss of income. As artist Jason Peters points out: “There should always be a certain amount of order in your space because art is a business.” Peters, who creates large-scale installations from mass-produced and found objects, notes that being an artist usually entails a considerable amount of multitasking, and a tidy studio can help when it comes to running things smoothly.
“These days artists have to wear many hats,” he says. “We not only have to consistently create work, but manage a web presence, network with galleries and collectors, and find new avenues to show work.”

3. Categorize your materials and tools, then divide and conquer

  • Detail from Genieve Figgis’s County Wicklow studio. Photo by Doreen Kilfeather for Artsy.
“Artists’ belongings could be roughly divided into two categories: ‘Materials,’ or things that can become part of the artwork, such as cloth, thread, buttons, and clay, and ‘Tools,’ such as needles, color palettes, and patterns,” Kondo says. “If artists have many things to tidy, they can create subcategories, for instance dividing ‘Tools’ into ‘Brushes’ and ‘Threads.’” She recommends that each category be tidied completely before moving on to the next.
Sophia Narrett categorizes her embroidery thread by color, which keeps the tangle-prone material relatively in check. “I use the lids from large plastic storage bins as palettes. One holds blues, one is for greens, another is reds, pinks and purples, the fourth is yellows and oranges, and the fifth is neutrals,” she says. “I’ll sort them when I begin a large piece, but as the piece develops the palettes get progressively wilder.”

4. Keep only materials that spark joy and let go of the rest

  • Rachel Schmidhofer, wax owl, 2017. Courtesy of artist.
  • Rachel Schmidhofer, Rox, 2015. Courtesy of artist.
In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Kondo suggests holding each object, asking yourself if it sparks joy, and discarding anything that doesn’t meet that standard. She specifies that “an artist might determine which materials spark joy by imagining how they would feel using them in future projects.”
For painter Rachel Schmidhofer, this question presents the biggest organizing challenge. “Which objects are actually generating ideas and which ones are an impediment to the physical and mental clarity I need to make the next thing?” she wonders. Schmidhofer’s still lifes and domestic scenes are deceptively calm—a goldfish lazing in a fishtank or crystals displayed in a specimen box—but their surfaces are often drippy or jittery, suggesting a tension between order and disarray. “I’ve started to view the inside of my studio as a reflection of the inside of my mind,” the artist says. “There’s definitely a relationship between clutter in my space, anxious thoughts in my brain, and scatteredness in my paintings.”

5. Always remember to thank your work

An essential element of Kondo’s method is showing appreciation for the objects we use and enjoy. “It’s a good practice to express gratitude toward artwork, whether out loud or in your heart by saying, ‘Thank you for making me happy,’” she tells me.
This appreciation for objects and the suggestion that they have an inner life is a familiar idea to many artists. Peters is sensitive to the sadness of neglected things and observes that “if you have objects that are not picked up and touched, you can almost sense their unhappiness at collecting dust.” Schmidhofer, on the other hand, wonders what our clutter is saying about us behind our backs: “Sometimes when I open someone’s refrigerator door it almost feels like I can hear the echo of the old, half-empty condiments chattering to each other. I love to think about what societies of objects might talk about when people aren’t listening.”
Kondo also suggests that artists might find it rewarding to send their work out into the world already imbued with feelings of gratitude. “The artist can send positive energy to the people who might buy or experience the artwork,” she says. “For example, whenever I find my book in the store, I always pat the front cover and say in my heart, ‘Please make the person who purchases you happy.’”
—Ariela Gittlen


At some point in its 22-year history, the Victoria's Secret Fashion Showbecame the be-all, end-all gig for bright-eyed models everywhere. With just 50-odd spots (many of which are reserved for contracted Angels), the casting process is notoriously competitive, to the extent that Gigi Hadid — whose genetic makeup basically established her to be a shoe-in — had to audition twice before finally making the cut in 2015. Alas, VSFS hopefuls still show up to the lingerie giant's New York City headquarters year after year with their books in hand, aspiring to at least score a spot in the runway show's more covered-up, cutesy Pink section. 
VSFS castings for the 2017 extravaganza kicked off late last week, significantly earlier than in years past, and photographers have been quick to document the gaggles of long-legged humans flocking to Ed Razek & Co in droves. In analyzing the shots, we noticed some undeniable outfit similarities among models — an unofficial dress code, if you will. Let's review it below, shall we?


It's the color of New York. It's also the color of "cool." Don't mess this up.

2. ABS.

If you don't wear a cropped shirt, how will the casting directors know you even have abs? 


No regular purse will do in this competitive scenario. 


The actual runway show will likely provide hair extensions and Beachwavers aplenty, but for the casting process, you're on your own.


Do not put it in your bag where no one on the street can see it — are you kidding me? 





Surely your agency can set up a playdate. Moral support is crucial in situations like these.


Wear heels to make sure everyone knows how long they really are.


We all know how the game is played by now. Get those numbers up as fast as you can, ladies.
Good luck to all of the models auditioning this year. May the Angels smile upon you.