Sometimes I’m asked what the best way is to purchase fine art photography.  As one who sells his art online, my default answer should be obvious, you should buy art online.  But there are two aspects to this answer:

– How physically to purchase a piece of artwork, and

– How should one select art to buy.

As for the physical act of purchasing art, the internet is a great tool for finding art that appeals to you. Before the internet, a person would essentially have to stumble upon something that appealed to him/her, or would have to hire an art dealer to do the searching for him/her.

Today it’s a matter of a simple google search. Hundreds of options will appear before you, and if something pops up that you like, you can dig into it further to make sure it is something that you will love prior to hitting “purchase.”

But you should consider several issues prior to making a decision on how to physically purchase the piece of artwork:

  1. Are you in search of painted art or photographic art? Both can appeal to you emotionally, there are hundred examples of each. The real issue is which format is right for your intended use.
  2. As for photographic art (which I specialize in), just as with painted art, there are many styles to choose from. There is journalistic photographic art (think Henri Cartier-Brisson), there is abstract photographic art, there is “unrefined” photographic art (think of literal interpretations of a landscape or wildlife scene, with very little modification), there is “impressionistic” photographic art (some modification to a landscape or wildlife image to enhance emotionally appealing aspects of the image, this is the area I specialize in), and there are more. Again, you should choose the style of photo that appeals to you personally.
  3. In what format would you like the art to be provided? Canvas is the format of choice for painting but canvas makes a poor photographic image because modern photography conveys great detail that canvas cannot replicate. So as appealing as it might be to have your favorite piece of photographic art delivered to you on canvas, you will lose both expressive detail and color dynamic range with canvas. A better choice for photographic art would be one of the metal-infused papers like FujiFlex Crystal Archive or Lumachrome, perhaps face-mounted to acrylic rather than mounted behind glass for richer, more substantial intensity of expression.
  4. What size should you purchase for the image? While it’s appealing to purchase a smaller image to limit costs, it takes a certain physical size for the image to “breathe.” Smaller means less emotional impact. A larger image allows you to be consumed in it.
  5. As for matters like mounting, framing, etc, those should be selected to suit the wall upon which the image will hang.
  6. Also make sure the seller has a very good warrantee and return policy before you hit the “buy” button. May be good to exchange emails to ensure you understand fully and have the policy in writing if it’s not absolutely clear on the website.

With respect to how one should decide on an image, I’ve always felt that it’s not enough to purchase an image you merely like to look at, one should purchase a piece of art that has personal meaning to you. Perhaps it reminds you of a place you’ve been. Or a person you know (or once knew). Or an event in your life. Or a meaningful cause you feel passionate about. Or a place you always wanted to visit but because of certain conditions know it’s unlikely you will.

If you purchase an image based on how it looks you will someday find yourself tired of looking. But you will never find yourself tired of feeling.

I hope this helps. If you have any questions on what I wrote above please feel free to reach out to me at https://blog.williamtotiphotography.com

Thanks for reading! And good luck in your search!

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