GUIDES TO COLLECTING PHOTOGRAPHY
‘Collect contemporary photography’ by Jocelyn Phillips (Thames & Hudson)
FROM THE INTRODUCTION: Forty of the most influential practitioners of contemporary art are presented in individual profiles in the book. Given the number of photographs being produced at any one time, this selection can be only a snapshot, representing those who have made significant contributions to the medium over the past four decades – both established photographers and new names to watch.
Jocelyn Phillips dedicates most of her book to profile most influential photographers of today. Short essays are not only captivating but also give the readers big picture on the artists’ practices which is very important. The names have been carefully selected, the list is up-to-date, showing diverse artistic approaches and including photographers from all over the world among others: Miles Aldridge, Peter Beard, Gregory Crewdson, Nadav Kander or Hellen van Meene. The author spots quite a few interesting young talents, too. Each profile is illustrated and I find the choice of images very good. It’s a very useful introduction for all who enter the world of contemporary photography and wish to collect topical images.
As the part discussing artistic issues will give an impression of being truly exhaustive, the texts on buying pieces or conservation might seem very limited but even though they’re short, they do include the basic information that you need at the vert beginning. Additionally the appendix contains biographies of featured photographers (including price levels), lists galleries and dealers as well as the main photography fans.
The book is really handy, soft cover and small format make it easy to take it with you while visiting art fair or shows. I also like the layout, it’s simple but very clear and images selected to illustrate the texts give a good insight into photographers’ oeuvres. Big + for a fantastic cover featuring of Julia Fullerton-Batten’s photos.
The Art of Collecting Photography’ by Laura Nobel (ava publishing)
FROM THE INTRODUCTION: … by setting out a clear framework by which one might structure a collection, I aim to clarify the parameters of photographic development, which will provide the budding collector with sufficient knowledge of the medium to act as a springboard for further study, and allow access to the many pleasures that can be obtained from collecting photography, ranging from the financial to the spiritual, and all points in between.
According to Laura Nobel the most important knowledge a beginner should obtain is the history of the medium which is why the book begins with historical context and the following (the biggest) part featuring profiled photographers is a mix of classic and contemporary practitioners. Laura Nobel doesn’t go for obvious in her selection which is surprisingly wide (includes artists like Fay Godwin, Todd Hido or Werner Bischof). Each profile includes a note on one iconic image and a paragraph about its author.
Just like the profiles of photographers could become a separate book, the chapters dedicated to conceptual and practical aspects of collecting are also seriously expanded. The author suggests how to consider the structure of future collection before buying the very first piece and presents a handful of ideas or advises professionally on aspects like purchasing the prints, valuating them, managing the collection or protecting prints. I also like very much the recommendations from photography experts and the way thet share their experiences. Another good appendix listing additionally auction houses, further resources and a glossary.
The visual aspect of the book is unfortunately its disadvantage. Given the selected font it’s simply not really pleasant to read (especially longer texts). Another thing is the weak binding and massive format in hard cover (25x30.5cm) which is definitely good for featuring the photographs but force you to discover the book at your desk.
Both guides present another approach and sort of complement each other. The first one is in many ways more contemporary – design-wise, in terms of selection and the way the photographers have been presented. The second one puts a stress on historical values and gives a good lesson on practical issues. Both authors are insightful in exploring the subject and give professional advises. Now all depends on you - what kind of collection would you like to create? I believe knowing both titles can be helpful in answering this question precisely.
Collect contemporary photography, Jocelyn Phillips, Thames & Hudson
The Art of Collecting Photography, Laura Nobel, ava publishing