How to Buy Photo Art: The Complete Checklist - BRYCE Watanasoponwong
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How to Buy Photo Art: The Complete Checklist
bryce watanasoponwong
Feb 22, 2021
We live in an era where purchasing fine art photography can be a rewarding and fun experience. Over the years, print materials have improved. This has revolutionised how fine art photography is appreciated. Online marketplaces have simplified the photo art procurement process. As a result, you can quickly capitalise on fantastic opportunities in a fine art collection if you are mindful of what to keep an eye out for and where.

I have decided to share this checklist with you so that you can follow if when considering investing in fine art prints. Please note that I am not a professional curator or adequately educated in this field.

Should you buy fine art photos in-person or online?

It is totally up to you to decide between offline and online experiences.

In-Person (Offline) Method

how to buy photo art

Traditionally, the two trustworthy offline resources have been galleries and art fairs. Gallery prices tend to involve margins to cover the costs of running the place, so procuring your artwork from a gallery comes at a slightly higher cost. However, with the price you pay, the selection you get is curated. Professional gallerists can give you some insight into an artist. They also provide you with the documentation for the work's provenance. At art fairs like The Other Art Fair or Mango Art Festival, you can buy a piece that has caught your eye directly from an artist. That usually means you pay less and have the opportunity to talk to the artist.

Online Method

how to buy photo art

This can be done through eCommerce platforms and e-marketplaces namely;

Online Marketplaces: today, there are more online art marketplaces than ever. Saatchi Art, Artfinder, Eyestorm, and Artsy all have sections devoted to fine art photography. These are convenient ways to find photography for sale from a wide range of artists.

Online galleries: if you are looking for a gallerists' touch, an online gallery is the first place you should look. Some platforms – such as Citizen Atelier, Daily Overview, Tappan Collective, and Lumas – offer curated spaces. Because gallerists run these shows, you can expect the prints you get to be of high quality.

Photography website: website like Magnum Photos offers online photography as well as other related content. You can stop by for a combination of interesting reads and a shopping experience.

The photographer's website (if buying from an artist directly): you can also buy art through e-commerce portals of photographer personal websites. 

Canvas, Photo Paper or Fine Art Paper - Which One Is the Very Best Medium?

how to buy photo art

No universal answer exists for this question. The paper that the artwork is printed on will be chosen as per the type of artwork it conveys. Ultimately, though, you have a few options:

Photo Paper

Most family photos are printed on photo paper. Pictures receive a glossy finish and strong colour accuracy. They are reasonably scratch-resistant as well as enhance true whites and deep blacks.

Photo paper is a decent option, but it does come with some drawbacks. If you are concerned about fading, then go with either canvas or fine art paper. Glossy finishes are nice, but they do come with glare. Photo paper also does not have a wide birth of options in comparison to fine art paper.

Fine Art Paper

The material fine art paper is made from is cotton - and it has not been tainted with chlorine bleach. The texture is of archival quality. Fine art photography printed on this type of paper will last as long as items in museums and galleries. Fine art paper can have just about any type of tooth or finish, meaning it can be customised to your preferences.

As with other options, fine art paper comes with its fair share of drawbacks. Fine art paper is costlier. It also must be protected inside of a frame and kept in a glass. That can add weight to the piece, which could be detrimental to ones in large formats.


This medium is a worthwhile option and has grown in popularity as of late. Since canvas prints do not require matte or glass (or, in some instances, a frame), they are relatively light, no matter how large the format is. That makes these prints much simpler to transport and hang in difficult-to-reach areas. Besides, a canvas textured surface gives the artwork a special presence. It provides the illusion of artwork on your wall.

As practical as that is, Canvas prints do have some drawbacks. In comparison to fine art paper or high-quality photos, canvas does not come with the same detail level. Some photographers are willing to let that slide, but many won't. Since canvas prints are not covered-up by the glass, there is no protective barrier, making them vulnerable to splatter and scratches, among other common risks.

Carrying for and Handling Fine Art Photography Prints

how to buy photo art

Bringing your artwork home is one thing; maintaining its pristine condition on a wall is another. Handling the artwork will entail moving the piece from one place to another and rehoming, rehanging, and cleaning it. Each of these high-risk activities could negatively impact the print. Poor care and handling can result in a depreciation of the art's value. As such, you must do the following:

- Ask people handling the artwork to do so with precision and care.
- Retain the piece in a waterproof and hard container if it is being relocated with other items.
- Refrain from stacking prints.
- Gently dust using soft brushes.
- Make sure your hands are washed before making contact with the artwork.
- If possible, cotton gloves should be worn near the item.

Hanging and storing come with challenges of their own as well. Therefore, you should:

- Hire a professional if framing is something you want to do with the artwork.
- Keep the piece in relatively moderately tempered spaces, and be mindful of significant heat changes.
- Keep the artwork out of areas with high humidity levels (basements, attics, bathrooms, etc.).
- Prevent the artwork from being directly exposed to UV light.

In Closing

By following my suggestions, you should be able to enjoy your fine art prints for many more years to come. After a certain piece catches your eye, please make sure it can be displayed in a suitable medium before placing your order. Proper care and handling must be involved when the artwork is being transferred to its new home.

So, what are you waiting for?
how to buy photo art

About Me

Photographer and visual storyteller based in Bangkok

BRYCE Watanasoponwong is a Thai-Australian photographer and visual storyteller. He is interested in producing a narrative series that evoke emotion and make a personal impact. Becoming more involved in how is photography is... read on
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