Photography as an Art Form

Photographs are fascinating, they tell a story – they talk of a journey through life, through places, through events. Photographs chronicle an experience.

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It is human nature to use visual depictions to showcase life. We have been doing this through the ages – starting with drawing major events on the cave walls, to now using our phones to capture every moment of our lives. Through this timeline, one major invention changed the way we recorded our experiences visually. It is the camera. Once we learnt how to use the camera to bend light in a way that stamped a reflection of events and surroundings in true copy, we started to communicate in a new way; that is visually.

 

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So now photography is the most powerful medium of visual communication. In fact today photographs touch our lives in many ways – they talk of a simple event, or evoke powerful emotions that even have world-changing impact.

 

Even as we continue to appreciate paintings and sculptures as representations of human creativity, we are slowly seeing that photography, and photographs connect with us at different levels – they are creative, and they depict life in true form. They capture a moment, which a painting or sculpture might not be able to do. While a sculpture or painting is about the artist’s imagination, a photograph actually freezes a moment in time – it shows real life may be as its happening or how the photographer perceives it.

 

So when does a photograph become a work of art? Technically, it is when a picture depicts beyond the regular life. A photographic work of art generally takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary. It depends on how the photographer captures the light, the dark and the colours. In all this you find a photograph that speaks to you more than the others; and it may not even be of the people or things that matter. It may be of an object, or the play of light and shade on that object that seems to touch you. This is when that simple picture – monochrome or in saturated colours – transcends as a work of art.

Statement Decor with Black and White Photographs

 There’s something classic about black and white photographs. No matter what the subject is, the play of light and shadow; the merging of black white and grey in the photographs create a sense of understated sophistication. The best thing is that the black and white prints can easily flow into any home decor.


The monochrome hues in the black and white are quite multi-dimensional really. They can be incorporated into any decor style that you have through your home. You can use these prints to add character to a wall or a room without worrying much about disturbing your existing colour scheme. With these you can create a theme wall or a room, and bring the gallery feel to your home.

Rich Photographic Narratives for your Interiors

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Photography is one of the most relevant, exciting and aesthetically stunning mediums within Contemporary Art. It is universal, a form that everyone can relate to, because everybody takes pictures, and because of its unrivalled ability to capture the incredible events, atmospheres, scenes, people and cultures of the world in an instant. When used as an artistic tool, the camera becomes a new eye that sees the world in an original way.

The influential French writer Roland Barthes made the poetic statement that each photograph is like the light from a star, shining back at us from the past. Every Fine Art photograph is a record in this way, with the skill and talents of the Artist capturing a moment in their own particular fashion. What is equally fascinating, beyond the image of the photograph itself, is the story that lies behind. In order to take incredible and unique shots, each artist has travelled to different parts of the world, trekked to inhospitable places, and captured unforgettable moments, or found and photographed the everyday beauty that they have discovered all around them. 

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The Artists here at Eyemage constantly push their technical skills and creative minds in order to find new and captivating ways to visually articulate their chosen subjects. Bringing these innovative artworks into your own home adds class, style and interest to your interior surroundings. When you hang a new photo, you also bring with it the rich narrative that unfolds from the image, the story behind the photograph.

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This adds even more to your interior design. The initial impact of the colours, textures, lighting, composition and subject of your chosen photograph can set a powerful atmosphere, air of elegance, and mood to a room. Upon further inspection, the deeper layers of the photograph unfurl, how was it taken? Where is the shot from? A great artist intuitively knows how to combine all these aspects in order to achieve balance and harmony and create a powerful, unforgettable image. 

 Robbie Wild Hudson

 

Bringing Nature into your home

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Photography has a long and fascinating history with the natural world. As a subject within Art, in many ways it extends from the traditions of Romanticism, where man is humbled and bettered through authentic experiences with the wild and beautiful natural environment. With the technical and creative developments that are being made by the most cutting edge Fine Art Photographers working today, these unique shots of nature can be immortalized as images and be hung in your own interiors.

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The currents that flow through contemporary Landscape Photography are varied and stimulating, and reveal Mother Nature in ways that you will have never seen her before. 

 

Kamal Chilaka is an Artist with a gift for finding the exact time and place to shoot in order to capture the essence of each landscape. His photographs of rocky terraces and confluences in Yellowstone National Park are excellent examples of an Artist with a fine sensibility for colour, texture and light. He balances perfectly the harsh textures of the rocks with the clear, crisp blue sky and icy sheets of glassy water.  Chilaka often divides his compositions into bands of texture and colour, like natural geometric grids and this effect concentrates our attention onto the contrasts between the different elements within his photographs. Atmospheric and engrossing, his Artworks are like windows into the natural world.

 

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In his project ‘Eye on Infinity’ German Photographer Michael Ruetz shot a mountain range, with an expansive valley in the foreground, once every day for a year. The Camera was kept in the same spot, and the resulting series of photographs is breathtaking. The singular positioning reveals the huge spectrum of weather conditions and seasonal changes. Over time the photographs document the shifting colours of the landscape, the falling of the snow and the movement of rain. Some of the most impressive large format prints depict huge lightning storms that split the skies with sheets of purple and tempestuous clouds fretted with golden fire. Using long exposures he creates powerful atmospheres, yet the rigorous discipline of the project ties the whole series together effectively and intelligently. 

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Roni Horn, an American Artist who works a great deal in the beautiful volcanic scenery of Iceland, constantly works on an ongoing series of photographs of water. She uses her camera to document different types of water from all over the island and the surrounding sea. In some places the rivers, streams and lakes are crystal clear and calm, in others, thick and peaty with minerals and iron, or even rough and stormy. Her photographs of nature fill the entire composition of each print, and the repetitive, analytical process reveals the idiosyncrasies that come to the surface when they are displayed together. 

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All these examples demonstrate how contemporary photography continues and develops our fascinating and ancient relationship with nature. They ask us to slow down and contemplate, and to appreciate the natural environment in all its magnificent ways. Top quality Fine Art Photographs bring this sense of natural wonder into your interior.

How do we see the world around us?

The page you are viewing right now is a collage masterpiece created by the peerless artist known as the brain. The science explains that our eyes, “the cameras of our brain”, record a number of fragments of a particular scene which are then simultaneously joined together by the brain in a whole. Forms, colors, depth, ..., all these elements of the image that you see are mapped from multiple viewpoints and composed into the whole picture by our mind in a blink of an eye.

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For David Hockney (1937 - ), one of the most influential British painters and photographers of the 20th century, this very process of seeing was the inspiration for the creation of his famous series of photo collages, which Hockney called “Joiners”.  Hockney’s photographic exploration of the way the human eye works and at the same time how its counterpart - the camera - operates,  took place mostly during the 1970s and 1980s. His earlier photo collages consisted of grid-like compositions made up of Polaroid photographs, which is not surprising since in 1972 Polaroid released its famous SX-70, a beloved creative tool for many of Hockney’s fellow artists at the time. Later he used 35 mm prints. In both cases Hockney attempted to depict the act of seeing, and especially in his landscapes to evoke the experience of seeing, by shooting the same subject countlessly from different perspectives and at different times.

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A numer of individually photographed details were then compiled into a complete mosaic-like picture that, according to the artist, should be much closer to the truth. “One point perspective is only a half truth”, Hockney once said.

 

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By applying the approach of multiple perspectives,  Hockney’s “drawing with a camera” has defeated the stationary, “one-eyed” feature of photography challenging viewers to understand the very act of seeing and, moreover, to see and feel the space in the picture as in real life. The famous artist held the view that we see space through time. This method of depicting the visual world that involved not only multiple perspective but, far more interesting, the sense of time, wasn’t new. Long before Hockney, the Cubists were practicing the application of multiple viewpoints in depicting space with the aim of illustrating the continuity in our perception of the world.

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The most famous “joiner” is certainly Hockney's “Pearblossom Highway” made out of thousands of photographs. Compiling multiple viewpoints into the whole, he came closer to evoke the actual experience and perception of three dimensional space on a two dimensional surface. Seeing space from numerous angles through time resulted in an almost 2 meters high and 3 meters wide work of art with the apparent effect of more “real” space. The conventional photograph of the same subject would not be able to achieve this.

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This technique allowed Hockney not only to conjure up how we see the world around us the closest he could but to push the boundaries and limitations of the photographer's perspective in particular and to maximize the potential of the camera. As such, Hockney's “Joiners” have had a significant influence on artists to come who will further elaborate the idea of continuity and veracity in digital media.

Stolen images if our society

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Anyone can make a good shot. Telling a story, however, is something entirely different and street photography is all about that - telling a story about life and the human condition in a public place in a single shot. This requires great skill. A true street photographer needs to have the eye of a spy and to be emotionally connected with the street itself to convey energy of everyday life on the street. Finally, a good street photographer needs to intuitively know when to click the camera in order to capture a once-in-a-lifetime moment.

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Anyone who has ever been interested to learn about the street photography, should have come accross the “decisive moment” term at least once. The term was coined and explained by the father of street photography Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908 – 2004) who believed that good photography largely depends on good timing. “Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative," he said.

 

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However, the genre has greatly evolved since the time Cartier-Bresson started “stealing images” on the streets of Paris. This concept is not considered essential in creating a candid street photography any more. Today’s passionate photographers of the street believe that the ability to express the pulse and energy of the street is much more relevant and to succeed in this one has to be associated with the street experientially and emotionally. 

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Different street photographers offer a different way of seeing and capturing life on the street.  Some try not to be noticed by their subjects while discreetly studying human behavior almost anticipating their actions as Joel Meyerowitz’s approach is. Others, on the contrary, like Bruce Gilden for instance, approach people in the street and snap them intrusively instigating actions. The fact that street photography features the human condition in a public place does not necessarily mean presence of people.

 

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The “Solitude” series of Varun Gupta, one of the artists represented by the Eyemage Gallery, is a chronicle of another side of life in the metropolis which does not capture the rush and crowd but rather traces of urban life.

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There are no boundaries for street photography. It is constantly evolving, following and reflecting the continuous changes in our society. There will always be something new and fascinating around the corner for curious eyes to make the perfect shot. One just needs to love the street and enjoy the thrill of the chase.

Photography as Activism

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Photography has the power to visually uncover the truth that would otherwise stay under the guise of ignorance. It helps us see and become aware of what is often very far away from us such as wars or living conditions and perspectives of people on the other side of the world, and to understand the issues that appear rather abstract as, for instance, civil rights. As such, soon after its invention photography became a popular tool used not only to document different realities but to advocate and fight for social change. 

 

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“To some degree, all photography is documentary because all photographs document something. Each photograph is evidence of something that appeared in front of the camera,” explains Michelle Borge in her book “Photography as Activism: Images for Social Change.” However, exploiting the medium to “change the world” eventually singled out a specific genre within the documentary genre called “activist photography” whose emergence is linked to the time of great social movements and upheavals in the 1960s and 1970s. Proponents of the genre travelled to photograph the injustices, social inequities, political unrests and conflicts around the world recording what was out of sight from afar and, more importantly, bringing “a living experience” to the public with the aim to influence the minds of the same. Affecting people’s consciousness through an image is the very essence of the genre that distinguishes it from documentary photography. However, this thought provoking and cathartic feature is not easy to achieve. 

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Activist photography is a very challenging genre for photographers in many matters. Capturing events from elsewhere suggests a detachment. Moreover, deciding what is worth capturing opens the door for the bias. Clearly being a witness is not enough. Although they are obliged to transfer accurate information, activist photographers are inevitably bodily and emotionally involved in the events they are shooting. They cannot separate themselves emotionally from misery and suffering they are looking at so their visual testimonies of people’s pain could never be one hundred percent objective. Nor they should. How else could one put a human face on issues that are difficult to comprehend?!

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Activist photography is deeply personal and overwhelmingly emotional for both the photographer and the viewer. Some may find that this opens up the possibility for misrepresentation and ultimately misinterpretation and to some extent they are right. Being a compassionate witness is not enough too. A good activist photographer also needs to be knowledgable and ethical to bring the truth to light responsibly. After all, activist photography is all about making the world a better place. 

 

The basis for building a valuable art collection

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Everybody collects something, be it holiday souvenirs, stamps or works of art. For most of us, collecting is pure enjoyment but it can also be much more than that – a lifelong purposeful project with the value. Whether you are buying works of art to decorate your living space or you plan to make money from your passion, it is important, as in any other project, to figure out your own motives at the very beginning. Why? Because this will define your future steps in achieving the ultimate goal. 

Collecting art is always personal. If you have already decided to embark on this exciting adventure, define your tastes and buy what you like. Personal preference will help you separate out specific works of art from the millions of pieces already in existence and eventually build a valuable and comprehensive collection. The experts in the field say that the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts.

 

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Once you have defined what you want to collect, do your research. Know as much as everything you can about what you want to collect, about the market and the art scene. Educate yourself because as an informed buyer you’ll be able to find good art and more importantly you’ll not overpay it. Every purchase involves risk, of course. Therefore, a balanced way to start collecting art is to invest in small works by both established and lesser-known names. They are more affordable, as simple as that, plus, it is a less expensive way to get acquainted with the artist's oeuvre for, possibly, a much bolder purchase in financial terms in the future. Leave big names and large works of art for big collectors, at least for a while. Ultimately, the value is found not only in the artist, but in the quality of a given work so always buy the best you can afford. 

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No less important is to know that buying a piece of art is not the only cost that awaits you. Many collectors, especially new ones, often forget that there are financial implications of owning and maintaining art. Therefore, take into account future expenditures for maintaining your collection. 

And finally, buy. Buy what you like looking at and choose well because one day you may be able to sell it for a profit. So have a plan, start small, and learn, learn, learn along the way. Both in terms of money as well as the experience, collecting is an evolutionary process. Some collectors believe that it takes a lifetime to master.

 

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Investing in Art

Investing in Art

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First of all, art is for pleasure and enlightenment. However, with the global art market booming, art buyers increasingly take into account making a potential profit from their purchases. Not so long ago, a painting of two Tahitian girls, “When Will You Marry?”, by Paul Gauguin has been sold for $300m, thus becoming the most expensive work of art ever sold. It had been owned by a Swiss collector Rudolf Staechelin who sold it to a Qatari buyer in February this year. Surely for Mr. Staechelin artwork has proven to be an excellent investment with staggering returns.

 

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But, is the case of Gauguin’s painting a rule or an exception? Well, it depends on the art. The old masters category is the least volatile, demonstrating stable results over the past years, but it has also the least growth potential of all other categories. Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works (like Gauguin’s), as well as Modern Art works are clearly kicking. According to the Sotheby’s sales report for the first half of 2015, global sales of Impressionist and Modern Art grew 21% worldwide compared to the same period in 2014, reaching $1.09 billion. Although expert opinions regarding investing in Contemporary Art still differ, Sotheby’s report shows encouraging figures. Its global auction sales of Contemporary Art in the first half of the year increased 18% to $1.26billion driven by a 16% increase in new bidders.

 

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The new bidders. Well, the art market, like most major business sectors in the 21st century, operates in a global environment. Thanks to the Internet, it is more global than ever. New participants, both buyers and sellers, are emerging every day making the global art market continuously growing. The first half of the year at the world’s leading auction house saw a nearly 49% increase in number of online bidders. This phenomenon is not only causing growth, but begins to alter and improve the art trade itself in many aspects, for instance, increasing price transparency. However, much remains to be regulated.

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On the basis of the above-mentioned figures and other latest reports (Artprice, TEFAF, etc.), it seems that today’s art market is more mature and liquid than before, therefore, thinking of art as a source of long-term profit doesn’t sound unreasonable at all. Art as investment is increasingly accepted in both the artistic and financial worlds altough it can be risky and costly. For most people who like art, the most sensible approach is to buy what they like and can afford. One day they might sell it for a considerable profit or keep it on the wall in spite of the prospective enrichment because artwork is never without a value.

Beyond Surface Appearance

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Taking into consideration what the digital revolution has brought to photography, it is fair to assume that Laurence Demaison’s surreal photographs are made with digital tricks. They aren’t. It’s a real film. Everything takes place in a darkroom.

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This, however, does not mean that manipulation is not present. It, indeed, has not been performed digitally after shooting, but was carried out using traditional techniques during the image-making process. The manipulation is inherent to photography and has been practiced since its beginnings.

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That said, the French photographer Laurence Demaison uses all the technical possibilities analogic black and white photography can offer striving to discover the performance potential of the medium itself and its complex relationship to visual truth. By experimenting with long exposures, flash, and the negative she explores the limits of photography creating intriguing images that show us what the camera can “see” i.e. what the eye cannot. Furthermore, Demaison is showing us what the camera tells and it is never the truth. With photography alteration and distortion of truth is inevitable.

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Demaison’s experiments principally revolve around her own appearance. Most of her photographs are self-portraits. However, they are not about her. She is a subject that becomes an object, but in fact not even that. In her experimental venture Demaison distorts her own appearance challenging the viewer to find representation, his or her truth, beyond the surface of the seen. It is almost like she strives to make herself unrecognizable and even invisible. She calls her creations "paper phantoms," which reminds us of Roland Barthes’ reflections on portrait photography in his book “Camera Lucida”, who argues that photograph “... represents that very subtle moment when, to tell the truth, I am neither subject nor object but a subject who feels he is becoming an object: I then experience a micro-version of death ... I am truly becoming a specter.”

 

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Indeed, the work of Laurence Demaison possesses a certain ghost-like look yet it is extremely poetic and, in terms of  form, extraordinary inventive. It’s not about the disappearance and death but rather about the quest for another appearance. Demaison sees the process of  image-making as an opportunity for endless experimentation, like many of her colleagues before her, which she carries out with excellence and intuition. Her bold efforts have led her to exceed the limitations of self-portrait and to reach beyond surface appearance. Through her mesmerizing work she has liberated photography from reality landmarks and of any expectations. 

Finally, whether she has done this in a darkroom or on a computer, we do not really care. We are interested in the end product, i.e. art, not tools. And Demaison’s work is definitely one of a kind.

Collecting Fine Art Photography

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Slowly but steadily, fine art photography is gaining in popularity among collectors globally. It is a particularly thrilling time for prospective collectors to own great art at a lower price. Although market prices for fine art photography have shown a gradual rise in recent years, buying  works in this medium is still a great opportunity in terms of money. 

Great art is great art whatever the medium, but it needs exposure for success. Luckily, more and more museums and fine art galleries give attention to fine art photography, which increases its exposure, and consequently encouraging demand from collectors. And the demand is now global. Photography is a language that everyone can understand and with its growing popularity worldwide the number of people who want to try their luck in building an art collection for a smaller amount of money is growing too. 

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Collecting photography very much implies the application of the same rules as those for collecting any other art form. That said, it is important to figure out your own motives at the very beginning, to define your tastes, and have a plan. All the while, know as much as everything you can about what you want to collect, about the market and the art scene. However, there are certain peculiarities when collecting photography that should be kept in mind if you wish to get value for money. 

We have already mentioned how important is the role of museums and galleries in promoting new photographers and creating a demand. One of the most common factors that affect the market value of the artist are his or her exhibitions and awards. Are their works already part of the museum and private collections? Which collections? Therefore, prospective collectors should consider this information as an important element in their selection.  Of course, this certainly should not be the decisive factor, but the real appeal of the artwork. One of the advantages of an anonymous work is that it forces us to focus on the work itself and not on the name. 

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Another important factor that determines the value is the rarity of an image. How many prints were in the edition, is it sold out? The difference in type and quality of print is also something worth considering if you’re thinking of starting a photography collection. For example, platinum prints often sell better than silver prints. A serious collector of fine art photography should also be taking into account that photographs can degrade. Color prints, especially those made before 1990s, have stability problems and require special care when stored or displayed.  Black and white prints, on the other hand, seem to be more stable as long as you keep them out of the light. 

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As you may see, there are a number of things that  should be considered when exploring and collecting fine art photography. They should be viewed as beginner’s tools though because nothing can help you become a serious collector except a real experience and long-term learning. Finally, photography is a subjective experience as any other art so  evaluating and determining the collectability of a photograph largely depends on the preferences of the viewer.  

Protecting Nature through Photography

A powerful medium as it is, photography has been used to advocate for social and environmental awareness since the early days of its invention. Ansel Adams’ images of wild America were not only visual testimonials of nature’s beauty but also calls for its preservation. As environmental concern grew, so did conservation photography. 

 

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What is conservation photography? The Wikipedia entry states, “Conservation photography combines nature photography with the proactive, issue-oriented approach of documentary photography as an agent for protecting nature and improving the biosphere and natural environment. Conservation photography furthers environmental conservation, wildlife conservation, habitat conservation or cultural conservation by expanding public awareness of issues and stimulating remedial action.”

 

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Conservation photography as a discipline is only 10 years old. It was recognized as a stand-alone category in 2005 when Cristina Goettsch Mittermeier defined the term and established the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP). What separates conservation photography from nature photography is the purpose of taking photographs. Photography can be a great tool to give a voice to those who need it most and, in this case, nature is the one that needs to be heard.  The goal of conservation photography is to create powerful images of the vanishing beauty of our planet to encourage people to take action in the conservation of nature. As such, this kind of photography is inherently political. It is both art and activism.

 

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Motivated by the continual environmental decline, conservation photographers visualize such issues in order to raise awareness, elicit concerns and emotions and ultimately affect human behavior. Counting that a picture is worth a thousand words, in the hands of conservation photographers it becomes a tool for change. They turn their lenses toward nature with the proactive approach to make images that will “work” toward the protection of the subject they are shooting. 

 

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Conservation photography is an art form born of environmental concern and conservation commitment. As conservation challenges continue to grow, the need for this kind of issue-oriented photography is also growing. It becomes instrumental in protecting the environment and saving endangered species from extinction and indigenous people culture from disappearance.

 

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Archivists Of a Lost World: Bernd and Hilla Becher

Over the past five decades, Bernd (1931-2007) and Hilla Becher (1934-2015) have become among the most influential figures in contemporary photography. The Bechers spent a lifetime documenting buildings that once defined the industrial landscape of their native Germany and other countries of Western Europe and the US. They only photographed industrial structures and when the pair was once asked why, Hilla replied: “Because they are honest...

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Buying New Art

Last year's study conducted by the AXA Art states that new works of art are more popular among the art collectors than older art objects and that tastes strongly depend on age. The study shows that 94% of the collectors under 40 years of age prefer to buy contemporary artworks, and that this category of collectables is the favorite among the collectors over 60, who claim 68% of the ownership over it.

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The data suggest that although contemporary art is considered to be the most volatile market it is highly sought-after by young collectors. On the one hand, contemporary art is appealing to them because they understand it and love it, and on the other hand, it's one of the means for acquiring the status in the community. Last but not least, precisely because contemporary art is a risky investment it can offer the top rewards, which is of the greatest concern of those interested in high returns. 

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But what about the new art by young artists? Is it appealing enough for art collectors and investors? In terms of financial rewards, the primary contemporary market is one of the riskiest. A huge amount of artworks by young and emerging artists sold in the primary market (i.e. where new art comes to the market for the first time such as a gallery or art exhibition) will never be sold again. But some will, which raises the possibility of their value to increase. It has happened. Remember Banksy! Some young artists did emerged rapidly and achieved astronomical values for their works. The chance that you’ll discovera new Banksy, of course, depends on many factors and demands a great deal of research, study, and visiting galleries and art fairs. 

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But if you, in the first place, love art, plus feel excited about discovering new names, buying artworks by young artists may not be risky as it seems. The cost of a work by a young artist is small, so you are intrinsically buying low for your enjoyment. At the same time, you are supporting the up-and-coming artists which is a great joy too. Finally, if you develop a sharp eye for spotting big and promising talents along the way, you may actually make money out of your passion. 

 

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