Fotograf Magazine

How to recognize a photograph that has a future?

Sales of fine art photography have been on the rise in recent years. This poses questions: which prints make sense to buy and from which artists? How to identify work that has investment potential?

Tomáš Zapletal Cermak / gallery owner, curator and co-founder of
the Cermak Eisenkraft Gallery

Photography is now a traditional medium, just like painting and sculpture. But there is a little problem – everyone is a bit of a photographer these days. But since art is all about the idea, I would focus on those artists who bring bravura ideas to this world. They’re also recognized by institutions that include them in their own collections, they exhibit all over the world, and they’re ideally represented by a good gallery. In such cases, you are unlikely to go wrong.

If you are the type of collector with a vision, then you will choose to vote for the talent you support with your purchase. You’ll have to accept a certain amount of risk but, at the same time, you’ll be part of a story that, at its conclusion, can affect the entire world. And I think that’s worth the risk. Plus, it’s a lot of fun and that step into the unknown carries a lot of appeal and emotion.

I’d like to point out that an artist doesn’t always have to be overly expressive with their personal presentation in the media. Most geniuses, such as Kupka, Boštík or Sudek, primarily let their art speak for them, and in my experience, it is often similar with photographers. What I mean by this is that in the age of the culture of overrated self-presentation, I prefer fewer words and more action.


Mark Gisbourne / curator and art historian

There is still some value in Barthes’ original distinction between the studium and the punctum, though not always as the French thinker defined it. Issues of composition through craft have become an established given but sometimes, the inner life of the photographs remains as allusive as ever. That which ‘pricks you’ (the ‘punctum’) comes less from craft and more from an internal tone of the image. And what is meant by tone? For lack of a better description, the conveyance of an inner phenomenal quality of presence. We might speak of an immanent (operating within) alongside an imminent (a feeling that something is about to happen) quality or, as Deleuze defines it, ‘a becoming within’. For while photographs arrest the immediate state of things, a good photograph simultaneously infers an ongoing state of expectation.


Lucie Drdová / art historian and gallerist

Just like with different media in the field of contemporary art, I rely on my experience and knowledge. I prefer authors who use photography as a sovereign medium and analyse its very essence. As such, the possibilities of the image are not only specifically photographic but also serve as a means of expressing an artistic idea. There certainly are many photographers in the true sense of the word who move forward the perception and craft of the medium. I, however, choose artists who are capable of using the photographic “material” to express multilayered information – how an image works on its own. In such artists, I see the potential for appreciation of value in the future.