When buying and collecting art there are two things to keep in mind:
- You don’t need any special skills to start collecting fine art photography. Anyone can buy and collect art intelligently.
- There is no right or wrong art, and there is no right or wrong way to buy or collect art.
One should consider that the only thing prerequisite to collecting fine art photography is a love of fine art photography. If you are willing to familiarize yourself with at least a few techniques that will help you evaluate the pieces you look at, then you will develop a more critical eye over time. However, anyone can buy whatever pleases them for whatever reason and at whatever price they want to pay.
Art is personal and can communicate to a diverse population for diverse reasons. If a photograph speaks to you, ultimately that’s all that matters. Know what your own tastes and interests are; who you are in relation to the world around you. What inspires you? Then you can move on to ask yourself more specific questions regarding subject matter, and whether you’d like to collect certain artists, or specific works of art.
But how can you evaluate fine art photography in a manner that goes beyond personal taste?
The quality of the piece should be what you focus on to answer this question. Quality can depend on a variety of factors. Is the essence of the piece strongly connected to the artist’s ideas regarding its subject or themes? If you can get in touch with the artist to have a conversation about the piece, you should do so! See what the have to say about the work and the inspiration behind it. The more information available to you, the better.
Another important factor regarding the quality of a piece is the finesse of execution. In other words, look at the skill and craftsmanship of the shot.
Fine arts photography is an expanding medium. As stated by Sara Friedlander in an interview by Kevin Moore:
“…photography is breaking out of its old forms as a
single picture on the wall and becoming series and installations…”
Finally, try not to get stuck on the digital vs. non-digital post manipulations issue. Really, production manipulations are no different than old practices and techniques of montage, combination printing, etc. Digital photo manipulation is not a values issue, so there is no need to worry yourself over it.
Buyers tend to rely on instinct, but taking the time to become familiar with photographic techniques that you find appealing will helpful to you in be determining what sort of fine art photography resonates with you.