Francis Frith photograph

In Loco Parentis by Francis Frith, £90 at The Classic Photograph Fair from Richard Meara.

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With participation from 100-plus international galleries, Photo London runs at Somerset House from Thursday May 11 to Sunday May 14 while The Classic Photograph Fair returns to the Conway Hall, in Red Lion Square on Saturday May 13.

From brass and mahogany field cameras to classic Leicas and Nikons, and all the kit in between, Photographica, organised by the Photographic Collectors’ Club of Great Britain, will be held at the Royal Horticultural Hall on Sunday May 21.

Recent years have seen the expansion in the classic photograph field to include work by previously under-represented photographers and subject matter. Photographs by women and people of colour are now snapped up by collectors and institutions.

Second exposure

Launched last year, The Classic Photograph Fair launched last year is sponsored by Chiswick Auctions. Head of department Austin Farahar said: “When I started the photographs department at Chiswick in 2018 it was always a key part of the mission to offer a really wide ranging and eclectic selection and The Classic Photograph Fair occupies exactly this area of the photography market. You can learn, compare and buy across so many genres.”

Prices will range from £50 to thousands at the 20-dealer fair on May 13.

Finnish party photograph

Finnish print of a musical party, £125 at The Classic Photograph Fair from Paul Frecker.

A delightful Finnish 1893 gelatin print of a musical party which includes two men with their hands over their ears is priced at £125 with Paul Frecker while Richard Meara offers at £90 a 1890 study of a cool-eyed girl with some cute puppies by the famed Victorian photographer Francis Frith and titled In Loco Parentis.

The exhibitors include contemporary artists who work with early processes like cyanotypes and daguerreotypes.

Browning camera

A c.1870s small wooden box camera by John Browning, The Strand, London priced at £220 by Classic Photographics at Photographica.

Paul Cortes turned an interest into a full-time career when he launched his business Classic Photographics in 2001. He sold first at local antiques markets and small camera fairs and then shifted his focus to standing at Photographica, now the largest camera fair in the UK.

“When I started, the transition from digital to analogue was growing and I had no problem buying boxes of old equipment every week. Christie’s were having their camera sales in London and I would turn up with less than £1000 to spend but I learned to make it go a long way.”

And the market today? “Quality and rare equipment including lenses is sought with Leica being the big name but at last year’s fair people were buying good quality pieces like a Welta Perfekta as well as collectable Leitz, Leica and Hugo Meyer lenses”. Cortes added: “Although these are expensive items there are cameras and accessories to suit every pocket at this fair.”