Photography used to have an ambivalent status in the art-collecting world, as buyers value scarcity, while a photograph could technically be endlessly reproduced. But with the rise of vintage photographs and limited editions, the days of abundance are over. Prices are rising and so are the opportunities for savvy investment.

Ickingham (c.1890), Charles Smerdon Roe Lot #1. Ickingham (c.1890), Charles Smerdon Roe. Courtesy Forum Auctions.

The Spring Photography auctions in New York were relatively timid, with competition for mid-value photographs limited. The photography market has experienced sharp up-and-downs in the past decade, peaking in 2013 and dropping in 2016 before rising again this year according to an Artnet Study. Sales in London are ongoing, with sales at Sotheby’s and Phillips last week and Forum Auction's sale coming up on 1st June.

Photo London 2016 Photo London 2016. Photo: Erol Birsen.

Coinciding with the international photography fair, Photo London held this past weekend, the auctions offer the chance for established and first-time collectors to acquire works by renowned photographers. Phillips, that has asserted its leading position in the field after a rather late entrance in 2013, put forward premium vintage photographs by Helmut Newton, Irving Penn and Robert Mapplethorpe, with high estimates in the £250,000 range. But pieces by living artists such as Martin Usborne and Sarah Michael were priced at much more accessible levels, starting at a few hundred pounds.

Photography Photography. Photo: Hanny Naibaho.

This could be your chance to invest in cutting-edge work that could yield a high return… But as we have seen, the instability of the market means you should buy something you love first!

Check out the Photography category on Barnebys here!

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