How do you collect photographs?
On the one hand, photographs make perfect sense. They are everywhere in the digital age. We live with them. We think we know them. But on the other hand, photographs make no sense at all. The word “art” conjures images of paintings and prints and works of art in other media but it does not always conjure images of photographs. These works of art are so visible, they are invisible. Photographs are an obvious, non-obvious cornerstone for your life with art.
Photographs exist in two states at the same time. They exist as images, whether as digital files or analogue negatives, and they exist as fine art photographic prints. Photographers create images and print them later, whether they do so later that day or after years of reflection.
For example, the artist Josué Rivas spent seven months in 2016 and 2017 at Standing Rock, North Dakota living as a part of the community of Indigenous peoples that gathered to protect Indigenous sovereignty and water rights against the encroachment of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Now, Rivas is offering three of his most iconic images from this time through Passage Arts. Each image is printed in an edition of five, 48 inches by 32 inches, each signed and numbered by the artist.
The presence of the artist is reflected in the value of the photographs. Rivas’ photographs from this series are valuable because they are special images representing important stories. It helps that they are printed at a relatively large scale in a relatively small edition.
The artist is the most important factor in determining the value of a photograph. Photographers like Rivas perfect their craft over years and they pay close attention to the quality of their prints. Rivas plays a central role in his printing process, like a painter to a painting.
There are several factors to consider when buying photographs but you should buy what you love. Photographs invite storytelling and conversation in a way that few things do. So you should find a photograph that resonates with you, works for you, and you should put it on your wall.
Image: Josué Rivas, Freedom (2016). Inkjet printing on Hahnemuhle William Turner Paper. 48"x32" © Josué Rivas 2016