Book review: Collect Contemporary Photography

and UK.

Publisher Thames & Hudson writes: The individual photograph exists as both image and physical object, and often the same image may be printed in different versions or media, which makes collecting decisions more complex.

From discovering photographers to determining editions and displaying prints, Collect Contemporary Photography accompanies collectors through the whole process of acquiring photographic works, while providing guidance on practical matters including information about different photographic techniques.

• Price guide to cover all collecting budgets
• Expert advice by leading specialists in the field with many years’ experience in the auction market and a vast knowledge of the subject
• Compact, handy format with beautiful colour illustrations
• Vital background information about materials and techniques
• How to take care of precious pieces, storage and display
• In-depth profiles of forty established and emerging contemporary artists from across the world
• Biographies of the artists with details of exhibitions and awards
• International galleries, museums and art dealers
• Fairs, events and schools

Forty photographers to consider when collecting are profiled in detail, with information about their background and training, and sources of inspiration.

_intro001.jpgView inside the book

_alexs009.jpgView inside the book (with works by Alex Prager)

Last year, a photo by Andreas Gursky, Rhein II (1999) sold for £2.7 million at Christie’s, breaking the record for most expensive photograph. Such prices are still rather rare and the reason why collectors are starting to pay attention to photography (apart from the inherent quality of the medium) is that photos are still regarded as affordable. The price of a print from a young photographer is around 200 pounds.

I don’t have the budget to collect photos, not even from emerging talents -not until i stop stop collecting Swedish Hasbeens- but that doesn’t prevent me from being tempted once in a while.

Collect Contemporary Photography outlines in a few pages the basics of photography: its history, the techniques used by the photographers, the format, the ideal storage conditions, the importance that framing can have, etc. Although the book is not the ultimate weapon that will make you an expert in negotiating the price of a photo you covet, it does a good job at telling readers what to look for and at explaining why a photo can fetch a relatively higher price than another by the same artist.

The biggest section of the book traces the careers and illustrates the work of 40 photographers worth collecting. Some are fashion photographers, other documentary photographers, some are decidedly fine art photographers. The game for me was then to think about whom i’d want to collect. Martin Parr obviously and he’s among the magical 40 but the other photographers whose work i’d want to buy were not represented in the book: Pieter Hugo (i’d become the biggest collector of Hugo’s work if i could), Guy Tillim, George Osodi or Don McCullin. I was also very impressed by the Thomas Ruff’s Nude series i saw at Gagosian a few weeks ago. Besides, i can’t see how any self-respecting collector could do without a few pieces by a German photographer.

The fact that readers might not agree 100% with the choice of photographers selected in the book illustrates what is probably the most sensible piece of advice dispensed by the authors: take your time, visit as much photo exhibitions as you can and develop your own taste.

Here are some of the 40 photographers appearing in Collect Contemporary Photography:

0gt.gicorcia_head184.2.650.jpgPhilip-Lorca diCorcia, Head No. 13, 2000

0_nadav_kander_01.jpgNadav Kander, Yibin III, Sichuan, 2006

0GnadavMETALPALM-6935.jpgNadav Kander, Metal Palm, Nanjing, Jiangsu, 2007

0souvenir6o1_500.jpgRuud van Empel, Souvenir #1, 2008

0jonasbendiksen-satellites.jpgJonas Bendiksen, Villagers collecting scrap from a crashed spacecraft, Russia. Altai territory, 2000

0bendiksen_moldavia6.jpgJonas Bendiksen, Transdniester, Moldova, 2004

0NkiberaYC78128.jpgJonas Bendiksen, Scenes from Kibera, Africa’s largest slum, where almost one million people live on less than a square mile. Funeral of a young Kibera woman who died of stomach problems, 2005

0ory_crewdson_01twilight_02.jpgGregory Crewdson, Untitled (Twilight, 1998-2002)

0acreadson200482411aefa.jpgGregory Crewdson, Untitled (Beneath the Roses), 2004

0arollerbladegirl9.jpgIzima Kaoru, Reika Hashimoto wears Milk

0alecsoth9niagar2834.jpgAlec Soth, from the series Niagara

0a2bogota0061-05.jpgAlec Soth, from the series Dog Days, Bogotá

0aaaanothrcountry01.jpgMitra Tabrizian, from the series Another Country

0g_hmilesaldridgi_series_pic_332_1459.jpgMiles Aldridge, Home work #3, 2008

0p4britfood028.jpgMartin Parr, British Food, 1995-1996