A few tips on starting your own photography collection.
I started collecting photography when I was very young, around 23 years old.
The reason that pushed me towards this wonderful art is simple and quite instinctive: my family home had art everywhere, even in the bathrooms. When I found myself my own place, I felt so much angst. My dad had given me a few pieces, yes, but it wasn’t enough to fill the spaces of my new home,
I was already working, but could not afford the pieces my family collected, nor did I want to pick sleazy posters. This is how I became a photography collector: a simply aesthetical need, the need to watch something beautiful.
At the time, in Milan, only very few galleries offered photography as a form of art and collectibles: Photology, where I bought my first pieces, is among them.
There are several reasons to collect photography: the pure pleasure offered by the work you observe, social prestige and simple investment.
I’ve always trusted my guts and, in the end, my finances benefited from it, too. Photography has a great advantage: it is immediate, it speaks to you looking at you right in the eyes and tells you about a moment, a place, a story. My true love at the time was Luigi Ghirri.
His pictures show the interior of houses, workplaces, countryside flatland and urban architecture, they are the places from which the topics of identity, time and memory emerge, topics which Ghirri has focused on during his whole career.
Soft colors, almost pastel hues, give the long-gone artist’s works a unique and surprising poetry. I bought them before he was famous, paying very little. Now Ghirri is one of the most renowned and sought-after artists in the collectors’ market and his works have increased in value tenfold.
My journey in the world of photography collection has continued over the years, with constantly growing passion. I started attending galleries in London and NYC, exhibitions such as Art Basel and MIA, reading specialized magazines, following auctions on contemporary art. My collection has grown, together with my investments. I felt a thunderbolt with Nan Goldin, which I bought in New York in 1993.
Nan documented New York’s underground movement, with its drag queens, transgender people, junkies and HIV-positive people. She dedicated her works to the outcast, in a world many refused to acknowledge. In this case too, after a few years, Goldin’s fame grew with the price of her works.
The world of photography is wide, ranging from classic photographers such as Ansel Adams, Henry Cartier-Bresson, up to contemporary Thomas Strut and Andres Serrano.
My tips to start a collection are few but truly precious:
- Visit galleries, museums and expositions.
- Buy what you like, without thinking how much it will be worth in the future.
- If you don’t feel a specific sensibility, ask reliable gallerists who have been on the market for quite a while.
- If you want something beautiful hanging on your wall but your finances are limited, remember there are young galleries promoting young artists and a fair, Affordable Art Fair, which allow you to buy beautiful prices at good price.
Art is food for your soul.