Here are some tips for knowingly accepting a price that you think is right when you buy or sell; this correct price is the cornerstone of a good transaction.

How is the price of a photograph :

the artist: his experience, his fame, his originality, his position on the market
the artistic quality of the work: its interest, its aesthetics obviously
the rarity of the work in the existing offer
the story of the work
the technique and support of the print
the number of prints
the format of the print
the use of shaping, printing and enhancement tools.

© Mathilde Nardone courtesy Luisa Catucci Gallery

A particularity of the photo (compared to a painting or a lithography) is the cost of shaping to transpose a cliché on a medium that values it; for example, a Diasec rack mounted on aluminum with a hooking device costs between 200 € to 800 € according to its format.

Avoid overpriced shaping for a less valuable test, it would be like having a poster framed luxuriously, unless there is a specific reason, history for example.

Estimate the price of a photo : find the artist

When you buy a photograph, you first reward the photographer as a copyright; so what are you interested in him, the author, the artist :
is he alive or dead, known or not, very exposed; do his works circulate in the world of art, are they even in institutions? These answers are in the documentation on the author, his biography; they can be given to you by the seller, it is particularly the work of the gallerists which, on this plan, will always be superior to that of the on-line sales...

if it is an important photograph for your collection, check the time of its creation within its production, its position in a possible artistic movement, the accidents of the life or the market which could have altered the print...

has the author just been awarded a prize in the art world? the Awards go from the most prestigious as the AFD / Polka Photo Award relayed by the MEP (European House of Photography), to the most specialized as the fotofever prize reserved for young contemporary photography...

has one of his works entered a prestigious collection such as HSBC or an institution? the media coverage of the event is an important factor in the recognition of the author

this one is young, unknown, but his work throws you such an emotion that you feel a nice becoming: why not, it's called a crush, beautiful disease! just the risk you take should result in a relatively moderate price.

The photography market is international

The international factor is important for authors and artists photographers from a certain level; the big collectors take care :

a paradox : art has become international but the origin of the artist and the place where he "lives and works" matter; what is its "transnationality", its ability (with the support of its agent or gallerist) to be visible elsewhere, to cross borders ?

There is a local or even nationalist impact on the art market :
The Chinese buy a lot of Chinese, Americans buy American, etc; unlike the little-known French authors here attain high prices by selling only in Asia or the Gulf countries. Some foreign authors celebrated here are unknown at home or little valued, as these African photographers recently highlighted in several major exhibitions. So that the savvy collector watches the emergence of the new geographical currents to be interested from their beginning on the market.

the economy of a country is decisive for the representativeness of its authors and atistes; this is not new, the arts have always been developed in the rich countries: Venice, Constantinople ... France between the two wars, the USA since the end of the 2nd war and, now, China. Thus we see on the market that the works of an artist living in the US are offered in France at a price almost double that it would be if he was resident here.

© Regis Sidney courtesy Redprint: dna

In photo do you have the rating ?

? The rating of an artist on the art market is based on auctions only, where there is a publication requirement; the sales in the galleries or by the artist do not intervene on the quotation because they are confidential: the quotation is an indicator concerning only the "second market", that of the resale.

The rating is an indicator of the value of a given work, obtained by official statement published at an auction. So to say that an artist is "well rated" is very relative: not only is his work that is, but the price can be very variable in time !

We can talk about the rating of an author if we consider the compilation of the statistical results of all his resales and their distribution over time; then it constitutes a public recognition of the market towards this artist.

But this photographer does not have a rating...

This good photographer, recognized by gallerists and collectors, has no or low rating: is this a problem? this is where you need to qualify, because the absence of a significant rating is not necessarily devaluing :

some well-known and appreciated contemporary photographers do not appear very often in the second market, simply because their collectors do not want to separate from their works, which they particularly appreciate.

or wish to wait for prices to rise; speculation about works is common

if the author, who is not sold at auction, has a well-known gallery that follows him, sells it well, then his reputation is sufficient to make him the sole authority by the prices that he practices.

How and where to estimate a photograph ?

In the field of contemporary photography, distinguish schematically two approaches to the value of a work :

the works of 2, 3 up to 5 000 € which is the agreed bar of the art said "affordable"; this domain is not very patrimonial, the artists are numerous, sometimes emerging, the purchases in this range form 80% of the European market in volume; the interest of making estimate a photograph is weak all the more since the work often does not have (still) side and that the galleries practice comparable prices

works over € 3-5,000 where the estimate is all the more important as you are in the sphere of speculative art; even if your motivation is essentially artistic, you necessarily keep in mind the financial effort necessary for the acquisition !

© Linet Sànchez Guitérriez courtesy Achillea Gallery