Ask A Curator

How to Start Buying and Investing in Art: Part 6

Photography is a great medium for first-time buyers to focus on. The prices are typically lower than for painting or sculpture, and often it is a particularly arresting medium that is very easy to fall in love with and live with.

But, there are a few additional elements that need to be considered and understood, as opposed to painting or drawing:

Do you love the photograph?
Your first criteria before making a purchase should be that you love the work.

What kind of photograph is it? What is the medium?
Find out if the photograph you are interested in is a C-print or digital or a nearly extinct Polaroid. Learning about these different processes will expand your knowledge about the medium of photography.

Is it a limited edition?
This means that the photographer will only make a certain number of prints, unlike an open edition where the work can be printed endlessly. As a result, limited editions have greater value and are more expensive.

Typically, a photograph which is large scale in terms of its dimensions will usually exist in a small edition, and will be more expensive. A work which has more prints available in the edition will usually be cheaper.

Is it unique?
Is the photograph unique? Some artists do make unique, one-off photographs. This is especially the case if the artist has started with a photograph and then added to it with perhaps collaged elements.

What’s an AP?
If you see this after a photograph, it means that the photographer will be able to reserve a certain number of artist’s proofs of the work in addition to the number of prints available. The number of APs is usually 1 or 2.

Ready to start building your own collection? Read Saatchi Art’s complimentary ebook 7 Essential Steps to Collecting Emerging Art, written by our Chief Curator Rebecca Wilson.

About the Author

Katherine Henning is Senior Associate Curator at Saatchi Art. Need help finding art? Contact her via our free Art Advisory service here.