Investing in a quality fine art photography print with subject matter such as a landscape scene can be a valuable addition to your home. And to be specific, the ‘value’ that we are referring to is not the price tag attached to it, but rather the feelings and emotions you experience when viewing an art piece that speaks to you.
Although there are many reasons to invest in fine art photography, your home is your sanctuary, and the décor you choose creates an atmosphere that has a strong impact on how you think and feel. Your home is an extension of your tastes and should speak to who you are.
So while some people may choose a photograph because it is from a famous artist or it is trendy, remember that if the art does not speak to you on a deeper level, it has no intrinsic value and chances are you will not want it on your wall for the long term.
Similarly, it is always wise to invest in a photograph that is crafted with quality, so it will stand the test of time. Quality prints are made with intention and can be artworks unto themselves, which provide an exceptional viewing experience compared to a poorly made print.
For these reasons, it is worth exploring further to understand why intrinsic value and quality are of utmost importance when choosing fine art for your home.
The intrinsic value of art consists of what cannot be measured by numbers. A complicated element to explain, the intrinsic is a highly individual emotional value, linked to how a particular photograph or art piece makes the viewer feel.
As we know, the beauty of art is subjective and personal, as the cultural background, personality, and life experiences of every individual are highly unique. Therefore, every person who views the same piece of art will have a different experience with the way it is perceived.
Let us view the image below as an example. Person ‘A’ was born and raised in the mountains and grew up hiking, climbing, and skiing. Before they reached adulthood, their parents were transferred to the city and their lifestyles changed dramatically.
Person ‘B’ was born and raised in a large city, where they lived in a high-rise condominium. As a child, their parents took them on a trip to the mountains, where they had a close encounter with a bear. And on the same holiday, they slipped on a rock while hiking which caused a minor injury.
When person ‘A’ views the photograph, it brings back a flood of happy memories from their childhood and an instant connection is made that gives them joy, so the image has strong intrinsic value to them. When person ‘B’ sees the photograph, it may remind them of their fear of wildlife and the dangers of the outdoors which trigger a negative reaction; therefore the image has no intrinsic value at all.
Each person has a different emotional response, based on what the photograph reminds them of, either consciously, through reminiscence, or simply personal taste. When art triggers positive emotions, it touches the heart of the person in a way that cannot be measured.
These emotions of contentment are the intrinsic value and are far more important to embrace and consider when investing in long-term enjoyment of the art, regardless of its dollar value. When the feelings are strong, it is a good indicator that the art is right for you.
The value of quality
“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skilful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.” ~William A. Foster
This quote is perhaps a very fitting description of the fine art photographer who is dedicated to their craft, capturing moments in time with the intent of sharing them with the exquisite quality of a print that will last a lifetime. It is not only the camera that captures a compelling and meaningful image, but also the creative eye and heart of the photographer.
In addition, the sheer amount of separate processes involved that culminate in a fine art print is often unknown to the final owner of the piece, although they can immediately recognize the visual impact and beautiful quality of the art.
The high cost of professional equipment and travel is often necessary to capture the image in the mind’s eye of the artist. Unfavourable weather conditions sometimes necessitate returning multiple times to the same location to capture the subject in the best lighting or atmospheric conditions.
The experience and camera techniques of the photographer are important to render their image data in the best quality possible, being tack sharp in focus and free of digital noise. There must also be an adequate resolution so that fine art enlargements are even possible.
The notion that anyone with a cell phone is a ‘photographer’ is largely a myth, as almost any photo will look good on a five-inch screen. But that same photograph will usually fall flat and prove impossible to print with any size or quality whatsoever.
Printmaking is an art unto itself that is often entrusted by the photographer to carefully select master printers who have dedicated their lives to the craft. A large gallery quality print evolves not only from the talent and expertise of the photographer, but through the mastery of professional printers using elaborate, and often proprietary equipment and techniques.
The very best fine art photography prints are a sight to behold and have the power to transform a room. They will often include features such as a non-reflective surface to minimize distracting reflections and glare, along with vibrant colour and razor-sharp detail for the best viewing experience possible.
The archival nature of the materials used will also provide longevity, with the best prints having a life span of over 100 years. The physical print itself becomes an object of art and luxurious hand-made wood frames can also be added to accentuate the print, adding value and a sense of permanence to the piece.
Professional custom framing will take an art piece to a whole new level of sophistication, adding elegance to the environment in your home with the ability to remain eclectic in design on its own or to blend with your interior décor and architecture.
Finally, many artists offer their prints as limited editions, which also adds value to your investment through scarcity, rather than an open edition that will be produced in unlimited numbers. When a limited edition photograph comes to the end of its run, it is retired and never produced again.
If you are contemplating an investment and find an artwork that resonates with you and triggers positive emotions, take the opportunity to connect with the photographer and buy it before it is gone forever.
Directly supporting the artist
The emergence of print-on-demand ‘fine art’ internet retailers is an alternative that budget-minded customers may explore to acquire inexpensive photographs, but it is worth explaining how these types of prints are sourced and produced to determine who you are supporting and if they are for you.
Any photographer with a camera can upload their images to the retailer, who then places them for sale on their website. Although the photographer can dictate the amount of profit they wish to receive on each item sold, it is usually set very low because of the thousands of other artists they are competing with.
The customer can then browse the retailer’s website and order their favourite ‘fine art’ photographic print, or if they choose, have it printed on a yoga mat, tote bag, or shower curtain.
The resulting products cannot be considered ‘fine art’ with any serious definition of the term, and will usually be fabricated with inexpensive, mass-produced materials with similarly poor visual appeal. The generic appearance of the products often fails to create any visual impact in your home and becomes forgettable with no intrinsic value.
Additionally, the photographer receives very little support selling their work this way and is often poorly compensated due to the nature of the business model. At the end of the day, the buyer is only supporting the retailer, and as with many things in life, you get what you pay for.
Conversely, true fine art comes from the many talented, professional photographers who know the real value of their effort and skill. They go to great lengths to capture their images and take pride in sharing their work using the highest quality mediums possible, usually in limited editions.
Collectors and customers have a far more gratifying experience when they are able to connect with the artist on a personal level and purchase a print directly through the photographer’s own online store, physical gallery, or art show.
Investing directly in the artist gives them the greatest amount of support and is equally rewarding for the buyer who is engaging with the photographer, creating a friendship, and learning the stories behind the images.
These stories add intrinsic value to the art and can be retold to friends and family who see the prints, which gives the buyer a strong pride in ownership. Reputable artists are proud of their work, and very appreciative when you choose their art to display in your home.
“When you buy something from an artist you’re buying more than an object. You’re buying hundreds of hours of errors and experimentation. You’re buying years of frustration and moments of pure joy. You’re not buying just one thing, you’re buying a piece of a heart, a piece of a soul, a small piece of someone else’s life.” – Unknown
A final note
Buying photographic art from a strictly monetary standpoint in hopes that it will increase in value carries no guarantees. When choosing art, it is far more important to pay attention to the positive emotions that speak to you on a deeper level, which will ensure the enjoyment of the print for the long term. If you embrace this philosophy, it becomes irrelevant if the artist is famous or not.
Whether you invest in a fine art print to create a specific ambience in your home or express your personality, the excitement of the search and reaching out directly to the photographer is part of the fun. Many collectors enjoy the style of one particular artist and choose to follow them, investing in multiple pieces from their collection over time.
Whatever the reason, fine art photography prints are a valuable addition to your home, with stories for you to share that will bring happiness for a lifetime.
About the author
Dean McLeod is a Canadian landscape and nature photographer, raised in the prairies of Saskatchewan where he learned to love the natural world at a young age. Dean’s work as a fine art landscape and nature photographer has allowed him to keep that joy throughout his life. You can find out more about Dean and see his work on his website. This article was also published here and shared with permission.