Fotograf Magazine

Survey: Photography Fairs

Do you visit art fairs or specialised photography fairs? Which ones in particular are important to you? What would you recommend to aspiring collectors to primarily pursue at these fairs?

Bea Puskás & Tomas Opitz / Founders of TOBE gallery

Yes, we do. We mainly attend specialised photography fairs. Paris Photo, UNSEEN Amsterdam, and MIA Milano Image Art Fair are important to us due to their diverse photography approaches and the opportunities they offer.

To aspiring collectors, I would recommend primarily pursuing artworks that resonate with you. When you find those kinds of artworks, don’t hesitate to engage with the artist if they’re present and speak with the gallerist; they can provide comprehensive information about the works. Be proactive in asking questions; there are no silly ones. Additionally, we recommend visiting galleries, festivals, and exhibitions at museums or institutions. This will help you gain a broader perspective of the photographic scene.


Katy Hundertmark / Managing Editor at Foam Magazine

Both! But for my work as Managing Editor at  Foam Magazine, I mostly visit specialised photography fairs because it is a great way to engage with contributors and galleries and the artists they represent. Mostly, I enjoy small fairs because they make it easier to really absorb the works on view. The photobook sections at Offprint, Polycopies and Unseen are some of my favourites. 

And regarding recommendations? Follow your intuition! Think about what you would like to collect and why. An art fair is a great place to see a lot of works in a short time, which can be helpful with such questions. Consider the medium, the themes, the styles. After that, I would focus on conversations. My recommendation is to approach the owners of the booths you enjoyed and ask them about the artists they represent. This way, you will get a better understanding of the industry and start shaping the vision for your collection.


Dejan Sluga / Director Photon Gallery

Photon Gallery is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and we’ve been going to fairs since 2007. Initially, we mainly attended two relevant regional fairs for contemporary art in Vienna, and a little later in Budapest. In 2010, we attended Paris Photo for the first time and Madrid Photo the following year. Since then, we have been focusing much more on specialised fairs, especially the biggest ones in Europe, such as Photo London and Photo Basel, in addition to Paris Photo. 

Paris Photo is by far the most important for everyone involved in the photography scene. However, it is not easy to get there because it is very selective and very expensive. To increase our visibility and sales opportunities, I think it is also important to maintain our presence at two other fairs, in London and Basel. Regarding regional networking, we participate in Art Photo Budapest, the most important platform of its kind in the region.

Any interest in cultural products presupposes a certain curiosity and love of things. If we like to read, we buy books; if we like to listen to music, we probably have a record collection or a database of music files. Art fairs are a great opportunity to see and learn about a huge number of works and to get first-hand information from artists, gallerists and experts. For any art lover, this is invaluable. 


Kateřina Havrlant / Collector, investor

I visit art fairs. In June this year I saw ArtBasel and Liste, where I was interested in the galleries Sultana, Gianni Manhattan and Wschód, with whom we are now in contact and thinking about purchasing some artists. As far as purely photography fairs are concerned, I haven’t visited such fairs yet. This is due to the fact that I don’t yet specialize specifically in the medium of photography in terms of collecting, but I’m certainly interested. We do have a few photographs in our collection, though, such as Jakub Jansy’s from the filming of the last episode of Club of Opportunities, or Evžen Šimera’s Ghost of Substance series. I would like to visit the Rencontres festival in Arles, France in the future and see if I can get to Photo Basel in Miami or Switzerland.

During our visit to Basel in June, we tried to be thoroughly prepared in advance and study all the exhibitors of both fairs. We then selected a few galleries whose artists we were interested in for possible acquisitions for our collection. So in general, I would recommend that beginning collectors who are going to one of the big fairs prepare a bit for such an event – find out in advance what might be interesting and then confront it with reality, because otherwise you will be completely consumed by such events. At the same time, it’s good not to be afraid to approach gallerists, who are often able to show a wider range of works by a given artist or recommend someone else. However, in the end you choose art based on your emotions, feelings and intuition, so even without preparation you will get something beautiful, you just really have plenty to choose from.


Menno Liauw / Director of FUTURES

Paris Photo is the most important photography fair. I go there every year. And because I live in the Netherlands, I go to the main local fairs: Art Rotterdam, Art Brussels and Unseen Amsterdam. As the use of a specific medium is less and less important, the importance of general art fairs for photography is increasing. So, in the future, I will also visit fairs like Frieze and Art Basel more often.

The offer at fairs is usually overwhelming. You can no longer see the forest for the trees. You might consider a rational approach: look at the list of galleries and artists in advance and familiarise yourself with their work. Then make a priority list and start your visit to the fair with those specific galleries and artists. But you can also consider a more emotional approach; go to the fair unprepared and with an open mind and focus on work that touches your heart.


Daniela Kozáková / Expert in art law

I regularly attend art fairs, including those specializing in photography. My main event is Art Basel in June, which presents the best work created that year, and I like that one can also attend other “smaller” fairs and excellent exhibitions in Basel and its surroundings. As for the smaller fairs, I am partial to the highly pleasant atmosphere at Photo Basel, which focuses primarily on photography.

The second art fair I visit regularly is Frieze in London. Just like in Basel, Frieze Week offers much to see in the field of art. Based on my personal experiences from the first editions, one must be prepared for a great concentration of artworks and galleries, which can easily overwhelm the visitor. It’s good to leave ample time for the fair, enjoying primarily the present moment and the art of perception. If the fair offers this opportunity, I recommend always looking at the online preview first, choosing the galleries whose artists and works speak to me, and then prioritizing them. And finally, in the case of an artwork that I like, I wouldn’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with the gallery representative, ask about the work, the artist, everything that caught my attention, and then the price – the incipient collector can thus acquire an overview quickly. The gallery representatives are accommodating and will be glad to speak to you.