The event aims to raise interest in early photographs by introducing a new audience to the wealth of collectable material that today is both available and relatively affordable.
Ask a dealer what happened to the market in early photography and they are likely to point to the auction houses for an answer.
They will recall a time, 20 years ago, when Christie’s and Sotheby’s held dedicated sales that raised the profile of 19th and early 20th century photographs. Now those sales have ended and with them, dealers say, the strength in demand for early pictures.
However, plenty of material remains out there. The trick is getting it noticed.
All editions of the London Photograph Fair focus on vintage photographs but the special edition, which takes place at The Great Hall, King’s College London, is next to Somerset House and next week’s Photo London.
“We’re hoping that people will be back and forth between this and Photo London,” says exhibitor Pierre Spake, who brings a selection of 19th and early 20th century vernacular photographs. “People need to get an idea of the whole range of material that’s out there. During the past few years it’s been difficult to get people’s attention without the weight of the auction rooms behind the trade.”
The first special edition took place in 2015, coinciding with the inaugural Photo
London. Now returning, it is an event that organisers would like to make a regular part of the calendar. As well as being a way to attract a new audience, exhibitors value the chance to meet and speak with existing enthusiasts.
Fair director Daniel Newburg says: “I’m interested in keeping the market going, letting people know that early photographs like this exist. Twenty years ago there were dedicated photography auctions but now the photo sales are quite expensive and contemporary. What our fairs are doing is providing that marketplace again.”
Around 12 exhibitors are set to stand at this year’s special edition. As well as Spake, exhibitors include Bruno Tartarin of photovintagefrances, Lisa Tao and Adnan Sezer.