Collecting A Photograph

Wow! I was admiring your work…it’s breathtaking! Your work is fantastic! This is a beautiful photograph are you the artist? What’s the name of this piece? “Conversations with Grandma,”  It reminds me of the times I spent with my grandmother down south. I love the way the light enters the room and caresses their faces. I like color…but I really love good black and white photography. It’s really nice. Is this a digital or fiber-based print? Is it limited or open edition? What size is it? And is it archival? It’s a16x20” archival, open-edition print. That’s good!

How much does a photograph like this cost? Fifteen hundred dollars…that’s a lot of money! The  price includes framing; that’s good to know because I like this frame. Do you take credit cards? No! Well, I tell you what, I can give you a deposit of $500.00 for which you can give me a receipt. I’ll pay you another $500.00 at the end of the month. Can you deliver it next month whereby, I will pay you the balance of $500.00? Good! Thank you Mr. Cash, I can’t wait to hang “Conversations with Grandma,” in my home. Mrs. Franklin, the pleasure was mine.

Now, what took place was quick and easy. Collecting is suppose to be informative, easy going and fun. Mrs. Franklin took the initiative; complementing Mr. Cash; respectful of his fine work. His art allows her treasures moments to reminisce about the wonderful times she spent down south at her grandmother’s knee; loving and learning about life. She took the decisive approach; taking her time, identifying the image she wanted to collect and began asking the proper questions.

Quiet as it’s kept, good black and white images, because of the many tones of grey inherit in the film are more difficult to make come alive than color. The process for making digital black and white prints usually requires photo-shop; a digital form of cropping, dodging, burning and removal of dust through spotting. Epson makes a series of pigment printing inks which are archival; whereby, the print is guaranteed to last at least 75 years or longer.

A fiber-based print, better known as a gelatin silver print, printed in a traditional darkroom; whereby, light sensitive material is spread across light sensitive paper. Properly fixed and washed; a process whereby, all the fixer is washed and removed from the paper after development has occurred the fiber-based print also will last more than 75 years.

Photographs are issued in editions. Open-editions photographs can be sold  without restricting the number of sales of a particular print. They usually are less expensive than limited-edition prints which have restrictions on the number of prints which can be sold in that particular medium and at that particular size. Usually, limited-edition photographs can be restricted to 1/15 or 1/25. However, much larger editions can be issued. Because of the restrictions on the number of prints being sold the price of each photograph may increase after each sale.

Size matters in the sale of photographic prints. 16×20” prints usually sell for more than 5×7” prints but not as much as 20×24” prints. This rule usually applies, except in the case of vintage prints; photographs printed 20 years ago or more, being sold at print auctions where a print can sell for over a million dollars.

Mrs. Franklin was not a ‘pretender.’ She came prepared; ready to do business…with a plan for acquisition. She respected his/her time; getting the most out of this experience. Most experienced fine-art artists are more than happy to provide quality framing and when possible deliver their work to the home of their newest collector. We are curious; anxious to see the space where our creation will adorn their home, knowing the work will immediately be place on their collector’s wall, garnering interest, opinions and conversation; possibly helping us acquire new collectors from her family and friends.

Please keep in mind, if an artist has spent time setting up his work and you’re interested in purchasing his work then by all means make that clear. Many artists resent it when their work is visible for your viewing and you ask for his/her card. You’re not buying a refrigerator you’re collecting the heart and soul of a person whose visual imagery can comfort your life. In other words you are collecting one of his/her children; raised from infancy.

Contrary to popular opinion, many seasoned artists are astute businessmen/women. Don’t disrespect yourself by thinking the money in your pocket or in your bank account is the only opportunity he has today to sell a print. If an artist feels you’re a pretender with no money to back up your interest; wasting his/her time, playing power games or trying to drive him below a comfortable price for the sale of his art he may dismiss you without a second thought because in his mind your foolish attitude makes you un-deserving of his/her work.

Be sincere, keep it light…have fun! Very often the artist will become a friend to, as you become a multi-collector; inviting him/her to special events, parties and family gatherings. On a personal note I and a friend attended a birthday party in Providence, Rhode Island where I was hailed by her guests as the ‘truly gifted artist’ who photographs adorned the walls of her newly renovated home. That was cool!

Yes! You paid good money for their work but the spiritual return towards the enrichment of your soul; especially during those chaotic days…becomes priceless!