Why collect photographic prints?

Photography is a favourite form of art to many. Showcased in museums, galleries, art fairs and festivals, many don't understand how to separate art simply taken to capture everyday memories, and that taken by an artist. If you are interested in adding to your art collection, or starting one, photography is a diverse fine art medium to collect.

Know that the subject of art photography varies. Photographers find inspiration in everything from scenery, to children, to flowers and people, and more. A remarkable shot is achieved by shooting an engaging subject while using the proper lighting in the best environment. After the image is taken, the photographer then creates a print, typically either a photographic print or a digital photographic print. Creating the print is an art in itself.

Choose a photograph

Many collectors of fine art photography are drawn to a specific subject matter, or the style of a photographer that catches their eye. Once you find a piece that you are interested in, ask the photographer about the photograph. Ask if there is a story behind it, or what connected the artist to the subject at that moment. Sometimes you're fortunate enough to speak with the artist one-on-one. At other times, you'll need to depend on phone calls or e-mails. Knowing more about the piece will give it value to you, both personally and financially.

Establish price guidelines and make the purchase

Decide if you'd like to collect fewer, more valuable pieces, or if you'd rather develop a larger collection of less-expensive pieces. Your interest in subject matters, or a specific artist, may help to set this level. More established artist's work will demand a larger investment.

Make sure the primary reason for your choice is because you like the piece. This is always more important than buying something you don't like but feel it's a good investment. Care for your purchase. Cared for properly, prints are expected to last anywhere between 20 years for digital prints (it varies depending on the ink used) and 70 years for photographic prints. Ensure longevity by placing the print in a frame using non-glare glass to help protect against ultra violet light. A mat is a must for both protection from the glass and to enhance visual presentation. Once framed and matted, avoid hanging the photograph in direct sunlight. Add additional pieces over time at a rate that is friendly to your budget.

Caring for your photograph

Your fine art photographic print is an investment and a work of art. By properly caring for your print, you will protect your investment and be able to enjoy it for many more years. Following are some recommendations for how to properly care for fine art photographic prints.


Treat your fine art print as if you were a museum curator. With careful handling, your fine art print will reward you with long life. Always use white cotton gloves to avoid any finger prints on the print, the mount board or the mat. Fingerprints can contain oils and other contaminants that will attack the paper over time, eventually causing discoloration and/or fading. Un-mounted prints and posters are especially vulnerable to crescent moon-shaped creases. Always lift the print by opposite corners (for example, top left and bottom right), letting the print gently bow or sag in the middle.


Selection of the right frame is important for both print longevity and aesthetic appeal. Metal frames are best. Wood frames can contain glue and other chemicals left over from finishing and these chemicals can leach out over time in the form of a gas and discolour the mat or mount board or the photograph itself.

The colour of the frame can be important. The eye is naturally drawn to high contrast areas. So if you use a white or light mat and a black frame, you may distract the eye from the print itself. For light coloured mats, I prefer a brushed silver or platinum colour frame. For dark mats, I prefer a black frame.

Select a frame that has sufficient strength to support the size of the image and the type of glazing selected. If glass glazing is used, the frame needs to be more substantial. Select a frame that is aesthetically pleasing and matches both the style of the image and your own decor. Be careful not to select too large a frame. Photographs typically appear better with smaller frames while paintings usually have larger frames.


Glazing is important to protect the print from various types of damage resulting from sources such as smoke, ozone, cooking fumes and human touch or abrasion. Glass is best. It is inexpensive, easy to cut, chemically inert, and resistant to scratches. Museum style glass has a transparent, anti-reflective coating that makes it nearly invisible. This is not the old-style frosted glass that was used to reduce glare. Museum glass has a coating similar to what is used on modern camera lenses. The coating minimises reflections, making the glass very difficult to see. If you've ever seen a print under glass where the glass was almost invisible, you've seen museum glass. If you live in an area prone to earthquakes or you have a larger size print you may prefer Plexiglas glazing. Be sure to use a UV-blocking Plexiglas.


Where you hang your print can have a major impact on its longevity. All colour prints fade over time. It doesn't matter what process was used to make the print. Some printing processes have better archival properties than others. Paul Reynolds prints are made with the most state-of-the-art archival printing process and materials to ensure that your prints will last as long as possible. Still, some basic precautions are in order. Never hang your print in direct sunlight, regardless of the type of glazing used Ensure that the location is not subjected to excessive heat or humidity or to dramatic shifts in heat or humidity. For example, it's best not to hang prints directly next to a heating duct.


Proper lighting can add drama to your fine art print. The first and most important rule of lighting your prints is that the amount of light should be pleasing to your eye and it should create the drama and effect you desire. Make every attempt to keep the amount of light even across the entire image. But, if that's not possible, make sure the centre of the image is well lit. Finally, enjoy your prints, but turn the lights off at night or when you are not in the room. Your print will last longer and you'll be saving energy too!

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